Skip to main content

"While all men within our territories are protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of their consciences..."

George Washington to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, 1789

While a private man when it came to his personal religious beliefs, George Washington worked tirelessly to ensure people of all religions had the right to practice within the United States.

Religious Freedom

Religious Freedom

While president, George Washington went past mere religious toleration and established religious freedom for citizens.

Learn more

Interactive Timeline

Dive into this timeline exploring George Washington's pursuit of religious freedom.

Explore the Timeline

In the Hands of a Good Providence

Many have speculated about George Washington's religious views and practices since his lifetime. Historian Mary Thompson explores the religious life of Washington. 

Learn More

George Washington to Religious Organizations

In letter after letter, President Washington wrote to religious communities that the government would not prevent them from practicing their religion.

Learn more

Religious Practices of the Enslaved Community

The enslaved men and women at Mount Vernon practiced a variety of religious traditions, influenced by both African and European traditions.

Learn more

Podcast: Secrets of the Washington Archives

Explore a set of prayer books belonging to Martha Washington and her granddaughters.

Listen Now

"For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens"

- George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, August 18, 1790

Washington's Words in Print

Many of the speeches Washington gave and the letters he wrote to religious communities about their freedom to practice in the United States appeared in newspapers.

Learn more

The Washington Family

Martha Washington and her children and grandchildren shared many of the same religious practices as George Washington. 

Learn more

George Washington's Religious Beliefs

Washington was generally private about his religious life. While his church attendance varied throughout his life, Washington was a devoted member of the Anglican Church. In 1762, he became a vestryman at Pohick Church and served as a churchwarden for three terms.

Learn more

"Altho’ no mans sentiments are more opposed to any kind of restraint upon religious principles than mine are..."

- George Washington to George Mason, October 3, 1785

Touro Synagogue

President Washington's address to the Touro Synagogue advanced the subject of religious freedom in America.

Learn More


Washington's statements regarding Catholicism and freedom of religion set precedents for the new nation.

Learn More

Islam at Mount Vernon

There is evidence that some of the enslaved at Mount Vernon practiced Islam.

Learn More

“I trust the people of every denomination, who demean themselves as good citizens, will have occasion to be convinced that I shall always strive to prove a faithful and impartial Patron of genuine, vital religion.”

- George Washington to the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, May 29, 1789

Churchwarden and Vestryman

George Washington was chosen as a vestryman for both Fairfax Parish in Alexandria and Truro Parish in Fairfax County.

Learn more

Washington the Freemason

In taking the oath of office, Washington used the Bible of the St. John's Masonic Lodge No. 1 of New York.

Learn more

The Bible in Washington's Writings

Washington’s papers contain hundreds of biblical quotations, figures of speech, idioms, proverbs, and allusions.

Learn more

8 Facts about George Washington and Religion

Did you know Washington intended religious freedom to apply to all religions? Or that his birth was recorded in the family Bible? 

Learn more

Mount Vernon Christmas

While not as flashy as the holiday we know today, Christmas at Mount Vernon during Washington's time was a joyous affair complete with family, friends, and plenty of festive food.

Learn more

“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated."

- George Washington to Sir Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792


See how much you know about Washington’s religious beliefs and practices.

Learn more

Christ Church

First built in 1773, George Washington purchased a pew at this Fairfax Parish church in Alexandria and was a lifelong member of the congregation.

Learn more

Pohick Church

George Mason, William Fairfax, and George Washington were all prominent parishioners of Pohick Church. 

Learn more

The Legend of George Washington's Baptism

Although Washington was baptized by sprinkling as an infant, descendants of the chaplain John Gano claimed that Washington asked Gano to baptize him by immersion during the Revolutionary War.

Learn more

Interactive Map

Explore an interactive map showing religion in early America.

Learn more