I thought I would share the following with you in the wake of the Supreme Court decision and the upcoming Independence Day celebration; George Washington's Farewell Address, written in 1792 and revised in 1796 (after he accepted the second term) with the help of Alexander Hamilton. One of the most referenced parts of Washington's letter was his strong support of the importance of religion and morality in not only promoting private and public happiness, but also in promoting the political prosperity of the nation. He argues that religious principles promote the protection of property, reputation, and life that are the foundations of justice. Washington goes so far as to say that the nation's morality cannot be maintained without religion and, since morality is necessary in popularly elected governments, religious principle is vital in maintaining the popularly elected government of the United States. Yet, he struck out a sentence provided by Hamilton requiring all men to support their churches (it didn't specify which church they had to belong to, just one of them). Not bad for a Freemason.
The following is a popularly quoted excerpt of his farewell address.
"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 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 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."
The concept of separation of church and state was very different in those days. Happy fourth of July.