The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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George Washington's church attendance= as recorded in his = diaries * *

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
1760 6 'prevented from Church'; 13 ws; 20 Belvoir; 27 = w 3 AlexCh*; 10 ws; 17 Ch; 24 ws 2 ws; 9 w; 16 w; 23 ws; 30 w 6 ws; 13 w; 20 ws; 27 'Went to Church'* 4 Ch; 11 'Mrs. Washington we to Church'; 18 ws*= - - - - - - - 4/20 = 20%
1768 3 AHs; 10 AH; 17 AHs; 24 fox hunting; 31 AHAD 7 AH; 14 AH; 21 AHAD; 28 'In the Afternoon' fox = hunting 6 sick; 13 AHAD; 20 AHAD; 27 AH 3 PohCh; 10 AH; 17 Ch; 24 s 1 travel; 8 Ch; 15 travel; 22 Nomony Ch; 29 St. Paul's= Ch (VA) 5 AlexCh; 12 PohCh; 19 AH; 26 AH 3 AHAD; 10 Ch; 17 AHAD; 24 PohCh; 31 AlexCh* 7 AHAD; 14 AHs; 21 'At my Brothers'; 28 Nomony = Ch 4 Ch; 11 AHAD; 18 s; 25 AHs 2 AHs; 9 AHAD; 16 PohCh; 23 travel; 30 travel 6 travel; 13 PohCh; 20 AHAD; 27 Ch 4 AHAD; 11 'They went away after breakfast -- = alone aftds.'; 18 AHAD; 25 AHAD 15/52 = 29%
1769 1 AH; 8 AHs; 15 AHAD; 22 PohCh; 29 AHAD 5 AHAD; 12 AHAD; 19 PohCh; 26 AHAD 5 travel; 12 Capt. Ashby*; 19 Col. Lewis*; 26 horse = riding 2 AHAD; 9 AHAD; 16 PohCh; 23 Belvoir; 30 = travel 7 s; 14 'At Colo. Lewis's all day'; 21 travel; 28 = PohCh 4 AHAD; 11 PohCh; 18 AHAD; 25 Belvoir 2 AHAD; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 PohCh; 30 AHAD 6 travel; 13 s; 20 Ch; 27 s 3 Ch; 10 travel; 17 AHAD; 24 s 1 Belvoir; 8 AHAD; 15 AHAD; 22 AHAD; 29 AHAD 5 s; 12 s; 19 Ch; 26 s 3 s; 10 s; 17 s;24 'Went to Prayers' Ch; 31 = AHAD 10/53 = 19%
1770 7 Belvoir; 14 AHAD; 21 AHAD; 28 AHAD 4 AHAD; 11 AHAD; 18 PohCh; 25 AHAD 4 s; 11 AHAD; 18 PohCh; 25 AHAD 1 PohCh; 8 s; 15 AHAD; 22 AHAD; 29 AHAD 6 AHAD; 13 Ch; 20 travel; 27 'At Eltham all = day' 3 s; 10 s; 17 Ch; 24 s 1 AHs; 8 PohCh; 15 AHAD; 22 AHAD; 29 s 5 Fredg. Ch; 12 s; 19 PohCh; 26 AHAD 2 AHAD; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 AHAD; 30 AHAD 7 s; 14 'At Captn. Crawfords all day'; 21 travel; 28 = travel 4 travel; 11 travel; 18 travel; 25 travel 2 AHAD; 9 PohCh; 16 Belvoir; 23 ?; 25 (Tue) PohCh; 30 = s 9/52 = 17%
1771 6 AHAD; 13 s; 20 PohCh; 27 s 3 s; 10 AHAD; 17 s; 24 AHAD 3 s; 10 AHAD; 17 s; 24 AHAD 7 AHAD; 14 PohCh; 21 AHAD; 28 s 5 'At Eltham all day'; 12 s; 19 Ch; 26 s 2 s; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 PohCh; 30 AHAD 7 AHAD; 14 travel; 21 travel; 28 AHAD 4 PohCh; 11 AHAD; 18 AHAD; 25 AHAD 1 AHAD; 8 AHAD; 15 travel; 22 travel; 29 s 6 AHAD; 13 surveying; 20 AHAD; 27 travel 3 s; 10 travel; 17 Belvoir; 24 s 1 AHAD; 8 s; 15 AHAD; 22 AHAD; 25 (Wed) PohCh; 29 = AHAD 5/52 = 10%
1772 5 s; 12 AHAD; 19 AHAD; 26 AHAD 2 AHAD; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 AHs 1 travel; 8 Bassett; 15 s; 22 s; 29 s 5 s; 12 s; 19 AHAD; 26 PohCh 3 AHAD; 10 PohCh; 17 AHAD; 24 'Set out after Dinner'; = 31 s 7 PohCh; 14 s; 21 PohCh; 28 s 5 AHAD; 12 AlexCh (ca.?); 16 AHAD; 23 AHAD; 30 = AHAD 2 PohCh; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 AHAD; 30 AHAD 6 Ch; 13 AHAD; 20 AHAD; 27 PohCh 4 travel; 11 travel; 18 Belvoir; 25 surveying 1 Bassett; 8 Bassett; 15 s; 22 travel; 29 = travel 6 s; 13 s; 20 'Company here all day'; 25 (Fri) PohCh; = 27 AHAD 8/52 = 15%
1773 3 s; 10 AHAD; 17 AHAD; 24 AHAD; 31 AHAD 7 AHAD; 14 AHAD; 21 AHAD; 28 AHAD 7 s; 14 travel; 21 AHAD; 28 s 4 s; 11 PohCh; 18 travel; 25 AHAD 2 Belvoir; 9 AHAD; 16 s; 23 travel; 30 s 6 travel; 13 AlexCh; 20 s; 27 'The two Miss Calverts = went up to Church' 4 AHAD; 11 s; 18 PohCh; 25 AlexCh 1 'Calverts all day'; 8 AlexCh; 15 AHAD; 22 AlexCh; 29= AHAD 5 AlexCh; 12 s; 19 s; 26 travel 3 AHAD; 10 PohCh; 17 AHAD; 24 Bassett; 31 = Bassett 7 Bassett; 14 Bassett; 21 s; 28 Bassett 5 Bassett; 12 AHAD; 19 AHAD; 26 AHAD 8/52 = 15%
1774 2 AHAD; 9 AHAD; 16 AHAD; 23 AHAD; 30 AHAD 6 AHAD; 13 AHAD; 20 AHAD; 27 AHAD 6 s*; 13 'At Fairfield all day'; 20 travel?; 27 = PohCh 3 AHAD; 10 PohCh; 17 'Attempted to go to'* AlexCh; 24 = s 1 AHAD; 8 PohCh; 15 Bassett; 22 Bassett; 29 = Ch 1 (Wed) Ch 'fasted all day'; 5 Bassett; 12 Bassett; 19= Bassett; 26 AlexCh 3 PohCh; 10 AHAD; 17 PohCh; 24 AlexCh; 31 = Bassett 7 s; 14 PohCh; 21 AHAD; 28 PohCh 4 travel; 11 Mr. Griffen; 18 Mr. Hills; 25 Quaker Ch = & St. Peter's Ch* 2 Christ Ch; 9 Presb Ch & 'Romish Church'; 16 = Christ Ch; 23 dined; 30 travel 6 PohCh; 13 AlexCh; 20 'Mercers Sale'; 27 Mercers = Estate sale 4 AHAD; 11 AHAD; 18 AHAD; 25 AHAD 16/52 = 31%
1775 1 AHAD; 8 s; 15 PohCh; 22 AHAD; 29 AHAD 5 guests 'contd. here'; 12 AHAD; 19 AHAD; 26 = PohCh 5 AHAD; 12 PohCh; 19 travel; 26 'Stay'd at Wilton all = day' 2 AHAD; 9 PohCh; 16 AHAD; 23 AHAD; 30 'Went up to = Alexandria' Ch* 7 s; 14 s; 21 s; 28 travel 4 s; 11 Ch; 18 travel - - - - - - 6/25 = 24%
1785 2 ws; 9 w; 16 w; 23 ws; 30 ws 6 ws; 13 w; 20 w; 27 ws 6 w; 13 w*; 20 ws; 27 ws 3 ws; 20 ws; 17 ws; 24 ws 1 travel; 8 w; 15 ws; 22 ws; 29 ws 5 ws; 12 ws; 19 ws; 26 ws 3 ws; 10 AHAD; 17 ws*; 24 w; 31 w 7 travel; 14 s; 21 w; 28 ws 4 w; 11 ws; 18 ws*; 25 ws PohCh*; 9 funeral; 16 ws; 23 ws; 30 ws 6 AlexCh; 13 ws; 20 visited Lund Washington; 27 = ws 4 w*; 11 ws; 18 w; 25 ws 2/52 = 4%
1786 1 ws; 8 ws*; 15 w; 22 w; 29 "after breakfast the = Gentlemen... returned" 5 w; 12 ws; 19 w; 26 w 5 ws; 12 ws; 19 ws; 26 w 2 ws; 9 ws; 16 'Mr. Lee went away after breakfast'; 23= travel; 30 travel 7 ws; 14 PohCh; 21 w; 28 w 4 ws*; 11 ws; 18 w; 25 ws 2 travel 'About noon'; 9 ws; 16 ws 'forenoon'; 23 ws; = 30 w 6 AHAD; 13 AlexCh; 20 w; 27 AHAD 3 PohCh?; 10 ws; 17 ws; 24 ws 1 travel; 8 ws; 15 ws; 22 ws; 29 ws 5 AHAD; 12 w; 19 AHAD; 26 ws 3 AHAD; 10 w; 17 ws; 24 AHAD 3/52 = 6%
1787 7 AH; 14 AHAD; 21 ws; 28 ws 4 AHAD; 11 w; 18 ws; 25w 4 ws; 11 ws; 18 ws; 25 ws 1 AHAD; 8 AHAD; 15 w; 22 AHAD; 29 s 6 ws; 13 travel; 20 s; 27 'Romish Church' 3 s; 10 s; 17 Episc Ch*; 24 s 1 s; 8 s; 15 s; 22 s; 29 'whole day at Mr. = Morris's' 5 s; 12 s; 19 s; 26 s 2 s; 9 s; 16 'Wrote many letters in the forenoon'; 23= ws; 30 w 7 ws; 14 w; 21 AH; 28 PohCh 4 ws; 11 ws; 18 ws; 25 ws 2 AHAD; 9 ws; 16 w; 23 AHAD; 30 ws 3/52 = 6%
1788 6 ws; 13 ws; 20 ws; 27 AHAD 3 ws; 10 AHAD; 17 AHAD; 24 ws 2 AHAD; 9 ws; 16 w; 23 ws; 30 ws 6 w; 13 AlexCh; 30 ws; 27 w 4 w; 11 AHAD*; 18 AHAD; 25 ws 1 canal; 8 w; 15 ws; 22 ws; 29 w 6 ws; 13 ws; 20 ws; 27 w 3 AHAD; 10 w; 17 w; 24 ws; 31 ws 7 ws; 14 ws; 21 ws; 28 w 5 w; 12 w*; 19 ws; 26 PohCh 2 ws; 9 AHAD; 16 ws; 23 w; 30 ws 7 w; 14 w; 21 ws; 28 w 2/52 = 4%
1789 4 w; 11 w; 18 w; 25 ws 1 ws - - - - - - - 4 PaulCh; 11 AHAD; 18 Episc Ch* & Congreg Ch; 25 = Episc Ch* & Congreg Ch 1 Episc Ch* & Presb? Ch; 8 Ch 'lame = discourses'; 15 PaulCh; 22 PaulCh; 29 PaulCh 6 PaulCh; 13 PaulCh; 20 PaulCh; 25 (Fri) PaulCh; 27 = AHAD weather 11/18 = 61%
1790 3 PaulCh; 10 PaulCh; 17 AHAD 'not well'; 24 PaulCh; 31 = PaulCh 7 PaulCh; 14 AHAD; 21 PaulCh; 28 PaulCh 7 AHAD; 14 PaulCh; 21 PaulCh; 28 PaulCh 4 AHAD 'unwell'; 11 TriCh; 18 AHAD weather; 25 = TriCh 2 TriCh; 9 AHAD 'bad cold'* 27 TriCh 4 TriCh; 11 AHAD - - - - - 15/22 = 68%
1791 - - 27 travel 10 travel; 17 dinner; 24 travel 1 travel; 8 Ch AM & PM; 15 Ch; 22 travel; 29 = travel 5 travel; 12 travel; 13-27 'remained at = home' 3 Dutch language Ch 'no danger'* - - - - - 3/14 = 21%
- = no diary entry; Ch = Church; w = weather records but nothing about church; s = social records but nothing about church; * = interesting details; AH = 'At Home' (GW's phrase); AHAD = 'At Home All Day' (GW's phrase);
Mount Vernon churches: PohCh = Pohick = Church * *, AlexCh = Alexandria = Christ Church *= *
Philadelphia = churches: Christ Church * *, St. Peter's = Church * *, 'Romish Church' = St. Mary's Church = (Roman Catholic)
Manhattan churches: PaulCh = St. Paul's = Chapel * * * *, TriCh = Trinity = Church * *
Belvoir = home of GW's friend George William Fairfax * *
Eltham = home of GW's brother-in-l= aw (via GW's wife's sister) Burwell Bassett
Lewis = Colonel Fielding Lewis, GW's brother-in-law (via GW's = sister Betty)

On many Sundays, GW records the weather, social visitors, or where = he ate dinner, but he doesn't say anything about church. That seems to = indicate fairly clearly that GW did not attend church on those ambiguous Sundays, since on other Sundays he notes excuses such as 'prevented from church', "Mrs. Washington we[nt] to = Church", 'The two Miss Calverts went up to Church', 'Attempted to go', sickness, = etc. Also, GW frequently wrote 'at home all day', once for 12 = Sundays in a row (1773-4). Being 'at home all day' every Sunday for = many long stretches does not seem consistent with the idea that "if he didn't say anything about = church, it was because he went habitually and only made a note when he couldn't = attend".=20

However, GW's diaries in 1784 and after 1791 seem too ambiguous and/or incomplete to use as a church attendance record. GW's 1784 diary = does not mention going to church at all. After 1791, GW's diary is mostly = about the weather, but he does mention going to church on 5 October 1794, 2 June 1799, and 17 November 1799. His = letter James McHenry on 23 April 1799 suggests that he rarely = went to church after the end of his presidency in March 1797.

Summary: GW's diaries show that he = attended church 20% of Sundays before the = Revolution, 5% of Sundays between the Revolution = and becoming US President, 54% of Sundays while he = was US President, and 18% of Sundays altogether. His diaries include accounts of almost 13 full = years of Sundays, spread from age 28 to age 59. His complete attendance rate as an adult was probably lower, since keeping a diary and going to church = are both leisure activities. GW's low attendance rate seems especially = meaningful because GW was a vestryman of Truro and Fairfax = parishes * * from ~1763 to ~1782 and also because failing to attend church on Sundays = and holidays was a crime = * * * * * in Virginia until ~1776.

"This diary was kept for many years = with much particularity. A Sabbath day rarely occurs, in which it is = not recorded that he went to church..." --Rev. Jared = Sparks in Writings of George Washington 12:401 * * in ~1837 (GW's own diary shows that he only attended church on 18% of Sundays, as noted above. Also, Sparks cut up GW's proposed first inaugural address = into paragraph-long souveneirs and destroyed other= GW records, probably including several years of GW's diaries. Given = Sparks' direct lie here, the topic of the lie, and Sparks' occupation as a Reverend, it = seems very likely that Sparks' censorship destroyed more of GW's = non-pious-sounding writings than GW's pious-sounding writings.)
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