What jumped out at us in this case, though, was a quotation attributed to George Washington: "It is impossible to rightly govern …without God and the Bible.” Honestly, this didn't sound like the Indispensable Man, whose belief has always seemed in our reading to be in a somewhat less distinctively delineated god than the Biblical one. So we wondered about the ellipsis. Had some sly qualifier originally taken the place of those three dots?
Three minutes with our parish subintroducta, Madame Google, turned up something interesting. The quotation is completely bogus. It is one among many spurious remarks routinely attributed by Christianists to various Founders, often cited from specific documents -- in this case, Washington's 1795 Thanksgiving Day proclamation. Click here for more information.
So, yes, there is a cottage industry in the fabrication and dissemination of fake quotations, designed to make the Founders appear to be more pious, or at least more conventionally so, than they actually were. Which, for our money, is a violation of the Eighth Commandment.