“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
George Washington, as a Founding Father of our nation, has been an influence that has made this nation great. While one may not understand where Washington truly stands as for his Christian faith, he makes it clear to me that national morality could not prevail without religious principle.
In Washington’s farewell speech he states, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… He continues further with, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” To be certain this is understood properly, I would like to break each line down.
To break it down, it would sound more like this. “Of all the dispositions and habits, or tendencies for one to think a certain way, which lead to political success, religion and morality are indispensable, or are extremely necessary.” “Let us with caution indulge the supposition, or in other words, carefully embrace the assumption, that morality, or moral character, can be maintained, or kept in appropriate condition, without religion. Reason and experience both forbid for us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. In this he is saying that there are specific encounters and observations that make it impossible for us to expect that national morality, or a system of cultural values, codes of conduct, and/or the distinction between right and wrong, can prevail or prove to be superior in influence or power without religious principle.
Looking at it this way helps us to understand that in order for morality and virtue in a diverse number of people to be unified, a nation would need a common ground, so to speak. I believe he is saying that it is essential to have religion for political prosperity. I believe to take this as a warning or to heed the fact that abandoning religion leads to destruction as a nation and most importantly, as individuals. Of course as a Christian, I have the Bible to give me a foundation to which I lean against and with that being said, I go to a verse in Isaiah.
“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you, shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.” Isaiah 60:12
Basically, a division between religion and morality as a nation will eventually lead to a downfall of something created by humans, rather than a higher creator. History as a whole, whether in Bible days or Washington’s, is a warning to us today not to follow our human past mistakes by taking the Creator and His guidance out of it again. We cannot go wrong when moral order is kept in line with the establishment of the Ten Commandments and laws that flow from the guiding principles that Washington refers to. Each one of us make the nation so if each one of us keeps this, great evil, so to speak, will not prevail over it.