Monday, October 22, 2012

General George Washington's Prohibitions of Blasphemy (Theonomy Applied)

George Washington, General of the Colonial Army and the first president of the United States, had little patience for blasphemy. This comes out especially in his decrees as military commander. In this role,  Washington viewed blasphemy as unacceptable conduct for soldiers.

Examples of Washington's opposition to blasphemy are from two of his general orders, dated 1775 and 1776. The 1775 Orders also requires soldiers to attend worship services, which further shows Washington's concern for a moral, God-centered army.

The decrees are worded thus:
The General most earnestly requires, and expects, a due observance of those articles of war, established for the Government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkeness; And in like manner requires and expects, of all Officers, and Soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on divine Service, to implore the blessings of heaven upon the means used for our safety and defence.[1]
Colonel Washington has observed, that the men of his Regiment are very profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity of informing them of his great displeasure at such practises; and assures them if they do not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The Officers are desired, if they hear any man swear, or make use of an oath or execration; to order the Offender twenty-five lashes immediately, without a Court Martial. For the second offence, they will be more severely punished.[2]


[1] Commander Washington's General Orders, July 4, 1775. Read the full text at the Library of Congress website.

[2] Washington's General Orders, Fort Cumberland, July 7, 1756. Read the full text at the University of Virginia Library website

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 

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