Lying for the Lord

During the Great Depression years of the 1930s there were the inevitable cliques of religious devotees in the United States that indulged in rewriting true history to gratify their imagined spiritual superiority.  That indulgence in revising true history has been standard operating procedure of political schemers and cult members for thousands of years.  Another common characteristic is that these pretenders feel no shame in their lack of spiritual responsibility.

An example of this commitment to indulge in lying for the Lord came to public attention in 1935 when a deliberate scorn of truth and a mockery of morality was brought to court by a group of atheists.  The object of their legal attention was located at pew 60 in St. Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church (Broadway) in New York City: it was a small bronze plague bearing an inscription of a prayer allegedly composed by none other than George Washington.

It was true that George Washington did attend the church, pew 60, during the two years that New York City was the nation’s temporary capital.  Washington always left before communion service, however, and after being chastised for that habit by the church head honchos Washington never again attended church on communion Sunday.  This documented fact did not prevent church claims in 1934 that Washington was heavily devoted to Christianity.  And the bronze plaque, purportedly a prayer by the first President, was displayed as confirmation of Washington’s steadfast Christian faith.  But the prayer was an unmitigated deception.

The alleged Washington prayer had been fashioned using excerpts from the last paragraph of a circular letter, dated June 8, 1783, in which Washington had addressed thirteen state governors about disbanding of the army.  The pious forgers, to accomplish their devious aims, had omitted approximately one-third of the letter’s last paragraph and substituted the word “thou” wherever Washington had used the word “you,” and the forgers inserted pleas for God’s indulgence that were totally uncharacteristic of Washington.

During the lawsuit brought against the Trinity Church for capitalizing on the forgery, church representatives admitted that “alterations” had been implemented on a genuine Washington document.  Church representatives excused themselves for the forgery by declaring that it was, “appropriate for display and distribution in a place of worship”!  Never mind that the 9th Commandment prohibits bearing false witness (lying).  Thus, with this plea, was the low quality of their devotion to truth, their negligible spirit of moral conduct, and their minimal commitment to holy integrity excused by the court!

This is recalled here because nothing much has changed in religious practice or political storytelling.  Indeed this fake George Washington prayer was recently read to congress (by Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District), and she avowed it to be the inaugural prayer of Washington.  It is, as noted, a hodgepodge of thees and thous and wilts, as well as a tone of verbal groveling that is at odds with Washington’s character.  In case you missed this farce of Washington’s prayer shoveled out on numerous Christian websites, here are the words that Bachmann dared to avow in Congress were spoken by George Washington at the first inaugural.

“Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large.  And finally, that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

That this prayer is pure fallacy is bad enough, but to have a princess of doublespeak use it in the pretense of devotion to democratic governing principles of the United States is to dishonor the true code of equality upon which this nation was founded.  Such conduct is inexcusable from persons whose first allegiance is meant to be to the people they are supposed to represent, not to ego centered belief systems.  Trying to force bogus versions of American history into government is to be anti-American, and lying for some narrow religious belief system is not likely to earn them the keys to Heaven.

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