Religion and Morality – George Washington


If a man…swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word…” – Numbers 30:2

In his Farewell Address in 1796, President George Washington put his finger on the importance of preserving a freedom of religion within a society:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness-these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.  The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.  A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.  Let it simply be asked, “where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the courts of justice?”  And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.  The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government.  Who this is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

The American Patriot’s Bible – Dr. Richard G. Lee, General Editor;  Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2009, pg. 183.

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