Today, 279 years ago, George Washington was born. Over the course of the past year, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about Washington for my book on Christianity and the founding of the American republic. In that text, I explore his religious beliefs and wonder whether or not we can truly call him a Christian.
Today, Washington’s faith has become a minor battlefield in America’s ongoing culture wars. Tim LaHaye, an evangelical minister and the co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” novels, has called Washington “a devout believer in Jesus Christ” who, in good evangelical fashion, “had accepted Him as His Lord and Savior.”
In contrast, Joseph Ellis, a historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for his writing about the American founders, has described Washington as a “lukewarm Episcopalian.” Writer Brooke Allen recently concluded that “there are very real doubts as to whether Washington was a Christian or even whether he was a believer at all.”
Who is right? Or, more important, what is at stake in deciding who is right?
Read the rest here. Some of my regular readers will notice that this column originally appeared at Patheos.
At 4:20 today I will be discussing Washington’s faith on The Paul Edwards Program on WLQV-FM in Detroit. If you are not in the Detroit area, you can listen live here.
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