Happy Birthday, George Washington!

George WashingtonWell… not really. His birthday is actually in two days, but the rather idiotic holiday system in the U.S. attempts to force everything into three day weekends. Clearly we value furniture store and car lot sell-a-thons more than the things we actually pretend to commemorate. (Curiously, Washington himself would have celebrated his first 21 birthdays on February 11, since he was born while the Julian calendar was still in effect; not until 1752 was the Gregorian calendar adopted by the British Empire.)

But I’ll blow with the wind here, and offer my birthday greetings on the official holiday, Washington’s Birthday.

Often called the Father of our Country, Washington was part of the small group of founders with the greatest influence, and played key roles- not just militarily before our independence, but politically as well. He was one of the strongest supporters of a complete separation of church and state, and of complete tolerance for all religious beliefs. What his own beliefs actually were is difficult to deduce. I don’t think he could properly be called a Christian, because he never identified with any particular Christian sect, and his writings  make little reference to Jesus. In many respects his ideas align with those of Deists (particularly of 18th century Deists), but nevertheless he seemed to have a greater belief in a personal god than most of the other founders did. Certainly, he wrote many prayers, was known to pray himself, and often thanked “Providence” for the victories of his country (but not “Jesus” and not “God”).

While not anti-religion like Jefferson or Adams, I have no doubt he would be highly disturbed today by the grotesque way so many politicians wear their religion on their sleeves, in total contradiction to the most fundamental principles he fought for.

About Chris

I'm an astronomer and rancher, living in rural Colorado. My primary research interest is meteoritics- I run a network of allsky cameras in partnership with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which monitor the night sky for meteors over much of Colorado. I'm interested in politics and public policy, and how these are affected by education, critical thinking skills, and religious beliefs.
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