Square This Circle, Washington on Church and State
By: Mark W Adams

I was pointed to a book review (pdf) of Tara Ross and Joseph C. Smith's, Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State. (HT Wince)

The book examines Washington's views and practices on issues of related to government support of religion. The book concludes that Washington was far less concerned about separation of church and state than were Jefferson and Madison, and that Washington's views deserve greater consideration from modern courts than they have received.
It would seem the thrust of their thesis is that the ideas of the Father of Our Country concerning the role of religion in our government should have much greater influence on how the Courts should interpret the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment:
Jefferson, of course, coined the phrase “separation between church and state” in his oft-quoted 1802 Letter to the Danbury Baptists. This phrase has seared itself into the public consciousness as the dominant metaphor for the meaning of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, in no small part because the Supreme Court has so frequently employed it in rendering Religion Clause decisions. In the body of their book, Mrs. Ross and Mr. Smith show that Washington would have rejected this metaphor. To the contrary, he believed it important “for government to accommodate and even to encourage the practice of religion, albeit in ways that were typically non-denominational and tolerant of religious minorities.” The authors further suggest that Washington’s views were closer to the American mainstream than were Jefferson’s—before, during, and after the framing of the Constitution and the enactment of the Bill of Rights—and thus are a better guide to ascertaining the original meaning of the First Amendment.
It looks like yet another tranparent assault on the separation of Church and State to me. I'm of a mind to give greater weight to the guy who wrote it the First Amendment, Jefferson, who was much more clear on how it should be intrepreted when he wrote his draft of the Virginia Constitution:

All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution.
But then I ran across a quote attributed to George Washington that should put the debate to rest.
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”
Now upon further review, it seems this "quote" was actually a clause in the Treaty of Tripoli.

Check it out.
It's not without controversy, and this clause evidently does not exist in the Arab translation of the Treaty, but it is in the document that was negotiated by Washington's Administration, passed unanimously by the Senate, and signed by John Adams a few months after assuming the Presidency. As such, it is the law of the land (or at least it was until Jefferson decided not to pay the Pasha of Tripoli any more protection money to keep the Barbary Pirates in line).

My real point is, instead of trying to read the mind of a long dead hero, why not just look at the laws they left behind.