George WashingtonGeorge Washington, (1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President, 'Father of the Country'

George Washington Quote

“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 prop 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 courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge in 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... Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?”

George WashingtonGeorge Washington
~ George Washington

George Washington's Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

Ratings and Comments

dornth, AZ
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dornth, AZ    1/21/08

We have all but lost the battle against those that would prosper from the sale of the human body to the carnal lusts of those that will not display any form of human decency toward another, but seek only the exploit for profit the weakness of others. Our courts cannot seem to understand the doctrine of separation of church and state, but act as though elimation of religion and it's principles is what separation means. Our desire to uphold the freedoms of the few, which see nothing but their own wants, will be our deadly mistake.

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RobertSRQ    1/21/08

George, you may have been a great General and politician but his wisdom leaves much to be desired. Morality is absolute regardless of religion, morality needs no religion to support its position of men and women – it needs their good hearts who believe in justice for all peoples; it needs to be free from all attachment, including religion. Morality was there the first day we stepped away from the cave. Do not take to your bosom that which is not yours, attach yourself if you must but leave it there for All.

Russ, PA
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Russ, PA RobertSRQ 9/17/19

The problem is the outside of religion morality is not widely taught and it is not very uniform.  That is Washington's point.

Jack, Green, OH

I have to disagree with George Washington, but religion and morality are relative terms and mean nothing. There have been, and are, so many variations of religion and morality it cannot be said that any one, or all, is essential for political prosperity. In fact, it so happens, where religion has been dominant disaster has ensued. One man's religion is another man's cult.

Jack, Gulf Breeze, FL

The language of the 1700's was a bit thick yet the thread of truth is just as strong today as it was then. Those who believe the good morality of man can be cultivated without the belief in something greater and more honorable than the mind and ability of man is destined to relive the cruelties and injustices of human nature. Our country was founded on the belief in a free man who was guided by a good that exceeded his abilties; call it what you might - I call it religion, and in my heart I am convinced that the seperation of a specific organized religion from the state is wise; however, the seperation of state and the concept of religion and its precepts of justice and responsibility will eventually result in the downfall of any entity created by humans. The strength, or lack thereof, of the religion in your heart and soul directly influences the fight for purity in your thoughts, your words, and your actions

warren, olathe

Anyone that thinks that morality exists separate from religious influence is an idiot.

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    Anonymous    1/21/08

    I would rather be a moral idiot than an immoral Christian

    Logan, Memphis, TN

    This argument is as old as government itself. Such matters have yet to be disproven by the likes of Machiavelli who considered religion as a dichotomy--he hated religion because it made the people soft, but he accepted it as a necessary evil. Religion could deliver something that government never could: a means to establishing morality, humility, and self-government. We have become a stupid and ignorant people to believe that government is a great and wonderful catch-all to everything we ever wanted. Government is good at some things and terrible at others. Legislating morality is a quick step towards totalitarian government--this is one of the things government is horrible at--there can be no such thing as "forced virtue," I don't care what the Calvinists say. Government is good at rendering law and justice when the individual's life, liberty, or property has been infringed upon, and that's it... Nothing more, nothing less. While I agree with RobertSRQ that morality was with man from the beginning (morality existed before religion), we have to accept religion's place in relation to government and politics. To the ancient philosophers and our own founding fathers (even the "deists"), religion was an absolute necessity because it reinforced that morality that already existed within man. Government's ability to render law and justice is a poor tool in creating self-government--this is why legislating morality and government religions have never worked in maintaining the freedom and liberty of the people. A criminal, by defintion, is someone who incapable of self-government and breaks the established laws. It is interesting how religion is prisons is far more successful in rehabilitating criminals in becoming self-governing than mere justice and punishment has ever done. Justice doesn't change the nature of the person, it merely administers the law by associating the punishment to the crime. Justice itself is yet another poor tool in creating self-government. If religion can be used and relied upon as a tool in reinforcing the character, knowledge, and perception of moral self-government--then it is a tool that is not only useful but absolutely necessary in government's ability to render justice equally. George Washington is absolutely correct.

    Mike, Norwalk

    Jack Green, good to see you again, you need to jump in more. Its great to hear a well stated opinion I don't agree with. I always learn something and it helps to sharpen the thought process. AND Logan, excellent, you need to jump in more often also.

    E Archer, NYC

    Don't confuse Washington with a Christian -- he was a deist as were most of the Founders. Respect for Nature's God and 'his' Creation are indispensable supports for mutual helpfulness and humility -- Christians hardly have an exclusive monopoly on those timeless ideals (history shows they are just as capable of genocide as anyone else). Talking about 'morals' is futile without actually addressing what they are. Kindness, courage, charity, honesty, respect -- all are indispensable for a free nation. Religion often 'promotes' such virtues by threatening eternal damnation to those that do not fall in line. I believe goodness is its own reward -- why do we need to be terrorized into doing it? We never fail to hear from the preachers and proselytizers whenever a quote uses the word 'God' -- they immediately use it as 'evidence' of their own religious doctrine. I think you will find that Washington's religious views do not resemble at all the evangelicals and 'religious right' of today.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Good government and a good and just society needs mutual respect among its' citizens. If a religion provides that then it is optimal. The Book of Hebrews says in one place, "Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who finding himself in the fashion of a man thought it not robbery to say that he was equal to God. Even though he thought this way he humbled himself to be a servant to man." George was a servant and he was religiously broad minded. I suggest that his thinking above is how many Americans felt at the time. What Christianity teaches is equality among people and before God, that is a good start toward mutual respect and good government.

    Ken, Allyn, WA

    To anonymous above: both "moral idiot" and "immoral Christian" are oxymoronic phrases. An idiot does not have the mental capacity to know right from wrong and is hence amoral. A Christian behaves like Christ, and Christ was not immoral. People can call themselves what they want. I can call myself a tree, but that doesn't make me one. The benefit of religion to society is that it codifies morality. It takes the benefit of thousands of years of society's hard learned lessons and teaches them to each generation. When one depends solely on his own conscience to determine right from wrong and what is just, then he is arrogantly saying that he is smarter, better, more knowledgeable than everyone who has ever lived.

    Jack, Green, OH

    How can immoral Christian be considered an oxymoron when we have one living in the White House today?

    E Archer, NYC

    OK, folks, all 'Christians' (i.e. nouns) are self-professed -- indeed GWB is a Christian (no mater how immoral he may be) because he says so. However, to be Christian (i.e. the adjective) is the opinion/judgement of others -- not of oneself. If 'a' Christian is one who behaves like Christ, then I would say there are no Christians on Earth today (Jesus was 'a' Jew, but his acts were 'Christian' because of what others have said about him -- frankly to me the term Christian is vague and irrelevant - even Christians cannot agree on what is Christianity). When someone says they are a Christian, they are -- just like someone who calls himself a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever. That is religion -- and why there is so much war and debate around it -- because for the most part, few professing their religion actually live up to its ideals -- but that is the nature of religion and the quest for power, natural and supernatural.

    Greg, Chichester

    Excellent dialogue everyone! One point that I would suggest is that the concept of not "legislating morality" misses the mark. All laws are based on what the particular culture they evolve in considers "moral behavior." Seen in this way, every law is a "legislated morality." Additionally, while the Christian faith doesn't have a lock on positive moral values, and I fully believe that there should never be a state religion, examples of corporately aetheistic cultures (ie; Communist Soviet Union) are sure not something I would suggest modeling a government after!

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Archer is substantially right since in every religion there are cultural hangers on. You know the Christmas and Easter Christians etcetera. A lot of folks identify with a certain religious tradition but never go to their church but also would not think of switching to another. There are some however who do have heart felt religion and it effects their lives. Even those like Washington and Lincoln (who many considered irreligous) who did not wear religon on their sleeves were deeply by it.

    cassidy, felicity


    Anonymous, Ottawa

    morality is not absolute without god...because left in the hands of man it changes...and true morality should be timeless...therefore only a being with far more insight to humanity could truly set morality...hmmm i wonder if its been done yet...liberals believe God's law does not reflect the if these laws should change to reflect our society...our society should reflect God's law...

    anonymous, Houston,Texas

    There is only one truth! We can all toss our opinions on the table but the bottom line is God does not care about your opinion. He will not accept your lame excuses of how perverted men claiming to be of God distorted the truth so you just gave up. He will not accept your excuses about how mean "christians" were in the past so that makes your denial OK. BTW - do not confuse catholicism with Christianity, they are worlds apart. We will continue pushing God out because that is what all the other great nations have done. We are just too smart and sophisticated to need a God, right? History will repeat itself and man will never learn. He gave you the truth and His son to prove it, you either believe or you do not.

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      Anonymous    2/23/09

      The "Deists" argument makes me laugh. Their speaches are packed with word for word quotes from the Bible, OT and NT (i.e. see Christianity).. However, if you are ignorant to scripture you might not realize they are quotes from the Bible. Most of these men were Christians.. how politically incorrect of me to make such an accusation. You may not agree with them but call it like it is.

      Wes, Austin

      >Agnosticism understands that there is no evidence for either claim, intellectual integrity -- (Agnostic Cyborg) This is proof if it is authentic. ...we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the ... Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ...when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 2 Peter 1:16-18 The Church and everything associated with it does exist, it■s not logical to believe that it spontaneously came to be, Atheists and Agnostics need to address that fact. >"I am too weak"... The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: ...That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:5-6 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, Deut 4:35-36 ...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12 A world without religion is a world without charity, only competition. Nobody could survive that world. The only reason to avoid finding the truth is the abominable works. >...freedoms of the few, which see nothing but their own wants, will be our deadly mistake. (dornth, AZ) >...Morality was there the first day we stepped away from the cave. (RobertSRQ) Cavemen used their ownership of property to enforce their moraliy; money became a substitute for property. If you are King of the Jungle it is indeed a JUNGLE to which you are king. >Anyone that thinks that morality exists separate from religious influence is an idiot. (warren, olathe) >I would rather be a moral idiot than an immoral Christian (Anonymous) I would rather do Abominable Works at someone else's expense than hang them on the Cross where I can see them?

      Chris, Dudley

      Wow! I can't believe I just read a comments section where people aren't calling each other commies, racists or worse. great discussion!

      Anonymous, Virginia Beach

      I am not going to babble. I am going to make historical facts. The Faith of our Founding Fathers comes from the Middle East. People who want to debate religion need to learn the history and social dynamics of a culture that existed as far back as 1800 B.C. to understand the understanding of a Supernatural Being that we call in the Western world God. The common social battle was between polytheism, many gods created by human understanding, and monotheism, the total commitment of people to a Super Natural Being that is untouchable by doctrines made by the precepts of men. Our Founding Fahters knew this weakness. Many had ancestors who journeyed to our country to escape the European turmoil caused by the Reformation. Their purpose was too reestablish the community or nation where all families committed to support each other, not persecute each other. This unity was the most important to survive and exist as a community or a nation in that time as it is today. Division of a nation on faith, or money, or moral law, opens the door to other nations to divide further and conquer. Therefore, the fact is the Founding Fathers assertion of freedom of religion was a statement addressing the persecution of the Protestants in Europe by the Catholic Church power. The United States at its beginning had 95 % Protestants, 4% Catholics, and 1% Jews. The Founding Fathers just wanted unity between all these faiths. Therefore, many of their statement return to the Bible that reflects on one nation in the Middle East, Israel. The founding fathers were aware of King David whose brief 40 year empire united dissolved after his son Solomon. The founding fathers were aware of this story because in their time reading the Bible, not speaking against it without reading it, was a mainstay in a daily life especially on Sunday the Sabbath. The founding fathers understood that the division of the tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob, the states of Israel of that time, caused the destruction of Israel in 722 B.C. by Assyria and 585 B.C. by Babylon (Iraq). The Founding Fathers only understood because of their Bible. The Constitution is a repeat of the Instutes of the Church written by Jean Calvin that hindered the sole authority of the pope or pastor in a church. The people voted elders to represent the church to watchover the pastor like the Congress is to watch over the President for the people. The faith of the Founding Fathers was simply following the Ten Commandments. Thus, the first Supreme Court Judge Wilson stated "a human law cannot be made without the Divine law." The Divine Law is the Ten Commandments. In additon, this is why the picture of Moses with the Ten Commandments sits above the door of the Supremen Court door and the picture surrounds the whole building. Our social ignorance today that attacks faith is the knife that will sever the Constitution written by our Founding Fathers to sustain our nation forever. We are on the path socially, economically, and politically to be destroyed like King David's Israel or Rome by inner division caused by our selfish motives for social identity and power. History is a warning to us today not to follow our human past by taking the guidance of our Creator out. We are economically broke today because of our coveting, listening to false witness, adultry, paying taxes for criminals who kill, rape, or steal. This has caused our future leaders, our children, to not even be able to pass the basic requirement to even enter the military to defend our country as released by the Department of Defense. We need to return back to simple common sense that our Founding Fathers had that did not have so much babbling uninformed arguments. We need to unify as President Eisenhower stated after WWII as One Nation, Under God, Indivisible. This is the Ten Commandments again. We need to return to loving God without argumentation of type of worship and unify in loving each other as Christians, Jews, Islamics, Irish, Italians, etc. This is the history of our country. We need to know history before debating as if we do know history. The argumentation of understanding our Founding Fathers is very shallow and dividing our nation. Support by the people should not be given to babblers who base their supporting for their argument on false doctrines without historical context. Shalom Shaloma lachem Peace be with you

      Rick Lewis, Utah

      Where is George Washington when you need him?

      Wes, Austin

      Please take a look here - And here -

      Anonymous, Lenoir,NC

      Excellent and how true and profound. This country, because of its religious traditions and customs, is Christian of its very nature. The primary role of polititions is to establish a moral order and this is what Washington is saying. Notice that he speaks of a "political prosperity"flowing from the religous and moral order which are inseparable. Of the orders established the moral order is the most necessary,the polical order flows from the moral order, and the final order is the economic order which now rules the day and produces an inversion of the orders which causes chaos. If a person believes in God, as our Founders did, then if one believes in the moral order that He established and acts accordingly, then one cannot go wrong and happiness follows along with goodness, justice and obedience to this moral order as found in the 10 Commandments and the laws that flow from these guiding principles. If this is done, great evil will not arise. Today is full of the greatest evils and is caused by a "diabolic disorientation of the mind".


      Dont touch WIKILEAKS, faked DEMOCRACY!!! Hope for answer

      Anonymous, Lenoir,NC

      There are moral absolutes and then their are the difficult areas,"When indoubt do not do it" but their are exceptions to this as well.And each field has its own ethical standards which should not be breached. Morals can not last long without religion.That is not to say that there are not men and women of great moral stature who live virtuous lives but these are few.Religion ensures and is the bulwark for the continuation of a moral life since religion makes us aware of God's truth and how to live it and the necessity of a moral life.In other words, religion reinforces and strengthens our moral life and shows our utter dependence on God for such blessing for without these blessings we can do nothing of or by ourselves including living this moral life.We learn about this being and how much we owe Him by our prayers and adoration which is due him by all rational creatures. A good moral life obviously leads to a good virtuous life.

      Scarlet Rose, South West Texas

      "I have to disagree with George Washington, but religion and morality are relative terms and mean nothing. There have been, and are, so many variations of religion and morality it cannot be said that any one, or all, is essential for political prosperity. In fact, it so happens, where religion has been dominant disaster has ensued. One man's religion is another man's cult."
      -- Jack, Green, OH

      When you can do what George Washington did, read "Bulletproof President" for starters, then someone might consider what you say. George Washington has the Pudding in Proof for what he says - those National Leaders with YOUR views DO NOT.

      watchman 13, USA

      It is obvious the Bible, KJB is the rock upon which the republic rest. The word religion is used 5 times in the Bible, and all but one is in a positive sense James 1:27. The number 5 is internationally known as the number of death, Mayday is the distress call, May is the fifth month. There are five letters in the word, get the picture ? The thirteenth Apostle ( Paul ) states he was separated from that religious sect, Separated unto the sound doctrine of Liberty and freedom. Obviously he was not going to lay everything down at the other Apostles feet. You will find the ref in the fifth book , fifth chapter of what would happen if you did not. If the examples of liberty and freedom are searched out in the rock you will see clearly the position of the sovereign citizen set at liberty within the nation.
      Further more you will find 13 points of reference on the line of judgment that dictate the rules of lending to a sovereign and stranger. Theses 13 points are clearly seen for the word lend is found in 13 verses. Do you think God is slack concerning his salvation from generation to generation. The word lendeth is used four times, 4 is the number of creation, Proverbs 4:13 states, Take fast hold of instruction ; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Thirteen is the number of rebellion !! Christ was numbered among the transgressors. You will find him in Gen 1:3, also you will notice Gen 1:1 God the Father, Gen;1:2 God the Holy Spirit, Gen 1:3 God the Son. The trinity !
      You do ere not considering the numerical order, but that is passed down from generation to generation. To assure that some one gets the key. Not chosen of men but of God.


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