Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of our Country

Date: August 19, 2016

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“Essential reading for students of Washington, his religious beliefs, and the remarkable times in which he lived.” —Daniel Dreishbach

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“Washington’s God is a warm portrait of the first president, clearly the                                             most cogent argument of its kind and a brisk, thought-provoking read.”—                                        Brendan Conway, The Washington Times

 

“I don’t have a great deal of quarrel with the book because he [Michael Novak] has been very careful, I think, in laying out Washington’s beliefs.  Washington certainly was not a conventional deist, that is he did not believe that God was simply a clockmaker, and he certainly believed that God had the power to control the overall flow of events, and that’s what he meant by Providence.”—Gordon Wood, NPR: On Point, Feb. 20, 2006

 

“Michael Novak has provided convincing evidence that although George Washington didn’t wear it on his sleeve, he was a deeply religious man. His spirituality impacted both his leadership and his character, which remain his greatest legacies to our nation. I now look at Washington in a somewhat different light, and if possible, admire him even more.”—James C. Rees, Executive Director, Mount Vernon

 

“The book is persuasive chiefly because of its attention to nuance; the authors are careful to avoid claiming too much.”National Review

 

“Essential reading for students of Washington, his religious beliefs, and the remarkable times in which he lived.”—Daniel L. Dreisbach, professor, American University and author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State (2002)

 

“Unquestionably the most thorough and systematic examination of Washington’s religious views written to date.”—James C. Roberts, Human Events

 

 

“The definitive book on Washington’s beliefs…a fascinating story.”—Charles W. Colson, Founder and Chairman, Prison Fellowship Ministries

 

The Novaks are to be congratulated for correcting a major misunderstanding of George Washington’s character with their very readable volume.” —Diana Furchtgott-Roth, The New York Post

 

 

Washington’s spiritual life within his family appears to have been conventionally orthodox. He prayed before meals, read sermons out loud to Martha, and bought devotional material for his stepchildren. When stepdaughter Patsy was dying, he prayed audibly while on his knees at her bedside.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, who sometimes declined to serve as a godparent because of his theological doubts, Washington frequently agreed to the spiritual responsibilities of godparenting for the children of relatives and friends…

 

Washington’s taciturnity about religious specifics throughout his life, as on many other issues, allowed him to serve as the indispensable man in whom people of all faiths placed their trust. Washington’s public utterances about God were unifying rather than divisive and were admired by Anglicans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and even Jews. He carefully wrote to their congregations, visited their places of worship, and received their delegations, commending their faith and urging their loyalty to the new republic and its promise of religious liberty to all.

In religion, as in statecraft, Washington set the example that all other presidents would follow in some form.”—Mark D. Tooley, American Spectator

 

“How is it possible to reconcile Washington’s eloquent words about Providence with the picture that scholars generally paint of him as a man with only a distant interest in religion?  Michael and Jana Novak argue persuasively that it is not necessary to square this circle, because the scholars are likely wrong.  In this thoughtful and enlightening book, they show that Washington’s religion was complex and personal, and although he spoke of his beliefs with restraint, so did—and do—many who are nonetheless committed to their faith.”—Lynne V. Cheney, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and author of A Time for Freedom (2005)

 

“This important book brings to light sorely neglected dimensions of George Washington’s life and thought. Readers will better understand our country by understanding the deepest convictions of its founding father.”—Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things

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