Was George Washington a Christian or a Freemason?

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Many skeptics of Christianity claim George Washington was a freemason and not at all a Christian. Many Christians claim the opposite. So which is it? Our first President is, obviously, not alive today to really set the record straight. It would be very helpful if he were. Since he is not, to form a conclusion on what George Washington believed we have to dive into his writings and documentation from contemporaries, and build a case from there.

 

First, it should be noted the practices of freemasonry in the 18th century were not necessarily incompatible with Christianity. It is completely plausible for George Washington to be both a born-again Christian and a freemason. In fact, records show George Washington was associated with both.

 

But can we draw a conclusion he was more of one than the other?

 

As a freemason, George Washing was a “member” for over 30 years. In that time, he attended only 4 meetings total. Many freemasons want to paint him as their most famous member, which, they literally did paint portraits of him in freemason garb. But he never once sat for one of those, and most were done after his time. In fact, George Washington claimed the one painting done during his time to be “mason propaganda” to paint him as such.[1] Not that you could blame the freemasons, would there be a better face for any organization to associate with than the most famous person in the entire United States of America?

 

So he didn’t go to many meetings and he wasn’t that closely associated with the freemasons, but that doesn’t necessarily make George Washington a Christian.

george Washington praying

Records show, George Washington had a very close association with his home church, Christ Church, in Alexandria, VA. You can go to this church today and sit in the very church “box” which belonged to the Washington family. His adopted daughter, Nelly, (who was, in fact, his step-granddaughter) noted he rarely missed a Sunday, even if roads were bad and it took them over 2-3 hours to get there.

 

While he was traveling with his military and political career, which was indeed much of his career, record after record shows he attended church. Whether he was wintering at Valley Forge, or while he was in the First Continental and Constitutional Congresses in Philadelphia, he would attend services and fervently prayed. Right after he was inaugurated as President of the United States at Federal Hall in New York City, he immediately went to church to commit his presidency in prayer.

 

But as everyone knows, just going to church does not make you a Christian. The character of Christianity must be found in the person as well. Rev Henry Muhlenberg, an active Revolutionary who served with Gen Washington at Valley Forge, recorded that the General “rode around among his army…and admonished each and every one to fear God…and to practice Christian values.”[2]

 

George Washington’s family did not doubt his convictions as a Christian. Nelly wrote much later of George Washington’s beliefs. Claiming him to be a private and quiet man, but undoubtedly a Christian. She said, “It the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men” [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].”

 

In his writings, George Washington very often attributed successes and happenstances to “ Divine Providence.” Many people have taken it to mean he did not believe in the power of Jesus Christ. However, “George Washington’s writings reveal 54 different titles [of the names for God].”[3]

 

And if he did not believe in Jesus Christ, how then would skeptics be able to define the following statement from George Washington’s prayer journal, “O eternal and everlasting God…Increase my faith in the gospels…daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.”

 

The lack of evidence for George Washington being an ardent freemason and the overwhelming verification (literal volumes of accounts) of his Christian character, one can make a good case George Washington was indeed a Christian, but also a believer of Jesus Christ. He drew his values from Christian sources and his hope from Christianity.

 

George Washington established his life and faith upon Christianity. Truly, a reflection of the nation he was so instrumental in founding. This is just one example of how America’s footing was founded on the root of Christianity.

 

 

[1] Findings concerning George Washington’s association with Freemasonry:
Barton, David (2005). The Question of Freemasonry and the Founding Father. Wallbuilders Press; Texas.

[2] Beliles, Mark A. & Stephen k. McDowell (1989). America’s Providential History. The Providence Foundation; Charlottesville, VA.

[3] Ibid.

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