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George Washington’s Farewell Speech

George Washington's respects for morality and religionGeorge Washington's farewell speech teaches important lessons about respect for God, religion, and morality. Christians should live godly lives, teach the Bible, and pray for rulers.

There is some controversy about George Washington’s personal religious beliefs. But there is no doubt that he had great respect for faith in God and for moral living.

Washington’s Comments

In his Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796, Washington said:

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of right and order which Heaven itself has ordained. … 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. …

…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” (Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, B. F. Morris, pages 634,635; and America’s God and Country, edited by William Federer, page 661)

These statements are true, not because Washington said them, but because they agree with the Bible. Washington’s statements illustrate the truth of two important lessons.

Nations Need Rulers Who Respect God and His Word.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” – Proverbs 29:2.

Some people today believe that the Bible and respect for God should be eliminated from education and all government institutions. George Washington clearly did not share that view. His respect for religion and morality is refreshing and admirable. We today should pray and vote for rulers that share that respect for God and His word.

The People of a Nation Also Need to Respect God and His Word.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” – Proverbs 14:34.

Many people in our country are not bothered if our rulers are ungodly because the people themselves are ungodly. Often they do not appreciate or respect rulers or citizens who are dedicated to God’s service. But the truth is that every country is blessed to have God-fearing people.

As Christians, the best things we can do for our country are:

1) Live godly lives.

2) Teach and admonish other people, including rulers, to also live godly lives. And

3) Pray for our rulers and our country. We should also pray and work that we may have rulers who respect God and His word.

“I exhort … that supplications, prayers, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” – 1 Timothy 2:2

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you living a godly and righteous life?


Click here to see more Biblical quotations from America's founding fathers.


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2019;

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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