When Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent out a quote Monday on both Facebook and Twitter that he attributed to George Washington, a prominent atheist blogger was quick to point out the claim that the statement has traditionally been misattributed to the Founding Father.
After Grassley shared the quote, which reads, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible," Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta proclaimed, "The problem is that Washington never said anything like that."
If u love America u hv to appreciate GeoWashington He once averred that"It is impossible to rightly govern the world w/o God and the Bible".— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) November 17, 2014
While one cannot say with certainty that Washington never uttered similar sentiment, it is true that this quote is listed among other "spurious" statements on the official Mount Vernon website that are said to be misattributed to Washington.
The quote mentioned on the Mount Vernon website is slightly different from the version that Grassley shared. It reads, "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."
Regardless, the website noted that the quote has never been substantiated as having definitively come from Washington.
"The quote is frequently misattributed to Washington, particularly in regards to his farewell address of 1796. The origin of the misquote is, perhaps, a mention of a similar statement in a biography of Washington first published in 1835," reads the official Mount Vernon website. "However, the quote that appeared in the biography has never been proven to have come from Washington."
You can read all of the quotes that the statement might be derived from in the 1835 book titled, "Paulding's Life of Washington" here.
The book's text reads, in part: "It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being."
Conservative historian David Barton's website Wallbuilders agrees that the quote Grassley shared is unconfirmed, though it highlights the similarity between the apparently misattributed quote from the senator and the statements in the book.
"The similarity between this and the unconfirmed quotation is obvious, and a subsequent paraphrase of these words could have generated the quote in question," reads Barton's website Wallbuilders.
Wallbuilders added that the "unconfirmed quotation is consistent with Washington’s numerous statements on religion." Read those statements here.
(H/T: Friendly Atheist)