This article was first published on Dec. 23, 2015.
(CNSNews.com) - George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father of our nation, was a devout Christian baptized shortly after his birth by his parents, who were members of the Church of England.
The book, “George Washington the Christian,” by William J. Johnson highlights Washington’s religious foundation, his prayers, his religious habits, and his actions taken as a Christian soldier.
One of the stories that Johnson recounts of a 13-year-old Washington includes some verses that he copied on Christmas Day.
“Assist me, Muse divine, to sing the Morn, on Which the Saviour of Mankind was born,” Washington said.
“Some think that he composed poems himself, but it is more likely that he copied them from an unknown source,” Johnson explains. “It shows the manner of Christian training he had received at home. He had absorbed 'the spirit of the Day and the facts of the faith, as well as the rule and model of Christian life.'”
“George Washington descended from a long line of excellent churchmen,” states Johnson. “If Washington’s military character was developed out of materials which came to him by inheritance from both sides of his family, so too was his religious character. That love of the church which we have seen as a distinguishing mark in his family became a strong inheritance which his own will and intelligence did not set aside.”
Washington took those values and beliefs with him in the army and encouraged others to do the same.
According to Johnson, when Washington was told that the British troops at Lexington had fired on and killed several Americans, Washington replied, “I grieve for the death of my countrymen; but rejoice that the British are still determined to keep God on our side.”
The day after Washington took command of the army on July 4, 1775, he issued an order saying, “The General most earnestly requires and expects due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance on Divine service, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.”
About a year later on July 9, 1776, Washington issued another order defining a “Christian soldier.”
It stated, “The honorable Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a chaplain to each regiment, with the pay of thirty-three dollars and one-third per month, the colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure chaplains accordingly, persons of good characters and exemplary lives, and to see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect."
"The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary, but especially so in times of public distress and danger," reads the order. "The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man will endeavor so to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."