The weakest point of Nathan Hamlin’s column on the Founding Fathers’ religious views (July 13) is his use of the one (only one) reference to Jesus Christ in Washington’s voluminous writings: a speech to the Delaware Indians. It was most likely penned by an aide more orthodox than Washington. On the manuscript of another speech to Indian leaders, we can clearly see the word God crossed out and the phrase “the Great Spirit above” in Washington’s handwriting.
In his self-published book “The Sacred Fire,” Peter Lillback makes a very poor case for Washington as an orthodox Christian. His offers his argument as a syllogism: Anglicans are orthodox Christians; Washington was an Anglican; therefore, Washington was an orthodox Christian.
Religious liberal Thomas Jefferson was also an Anglican, and he attended church regularly to the end of his life. Lillback, however, would never draw the conclusion that Jefferson was an orthodox Christian. This fact leads us to believe that Lillback’s major premise is obviously false. Washington was only a nominal Episcopalian who attended church irregularly, ceasing after his retirement.
Read my full response to Lillback at www.NickGier.com/WashRel.pdf. For the religious liberalism of the Founding Fathers, read my published chapter at www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/foundfathers.htm.
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Nick Gier, Moscow