The US Constitution which was developed in Philadelphia in 1787 at the Convention chaired by George Washington makes no mention of God. Alexander Hamilton joked that the reason that God wasn’t mentioned was that the Founders forgot to put in a reference.
More probably, this omission reflected the views of Washington and others on religious liberty.
• In 1790, as president, George Washington wrote to a Jewish congregation in Newport. He told it: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States which gives bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens…” A modern diversity could not say it better.
• On another occasion the first President said that America should be “open to receive… the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…. They may be Mohametans, Jews or Christians of any sect, or they may be atheist.”
• George Washington and John Adams concluded a treaty with Tripoli (modern Libya) which included the claim that the United States was “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” President George W. Bush said something very similar.
What were Washington’s more personal religious views?
In 1830, looking back, the fourth president James Madison said that he didn’t think Washington had opinions on the arguments for Christianity or the different systems of religion. “But he took things as he found them existing, and was constant in his observations of worship according to the received forms of the Episcopal Church in which he was brought up.”
Here is what George Washington said himself about religion:
• About God: George Washington often referred to God in philosophical terms. He called God, the “great Searcher of human hearts.” In his inaugural address, he described God as “that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.” Later he employed the terms the “Great Arbiter of the Universe” and “the Supreme Ruler of Nations.” One rare mention of Jesus was along this line as he called him “the Divine Author of our blessed Religion.” Interpretation: He believed in God.
• About human nature: In a letter to John Jay in 1786 Washington wrote; “We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.” Interpretation: He had a realistic assessment of human failings.
• About life after death: George Washington referred to it as “… that country whence no Traveler ever returns.” Interpretation: It is hard to tell what he believed.
George Washington died in 1799. Thomas Jefferson quoted from the Bible II Samuel 3:38, “I felt on his death, with my countrymen that verily a great man hath fallen in Israel.”
Exactly so – and his religion is probably best described as a form of Christian monotheism.