“Eventually Washington ordered his doctors to cease their barbarisms and let him go in peace. “Doctor, I die hard,” he muttered, “but I am not afraid to go.” Then he gave an intriguing final instruction to Lear: “I am just going. Have me decently buried, and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than two days after I am dead. . . . Do you understand me?” Washington believed that several apparently dead people, perhaps including Jesus, had really been buried alive, a fate he wished to avoid. His statement also calls attention to a missing presence at the deathbed scene: there were no ministers in the room, no prayers uttered, no Christian rituals offering the solace of everlasting life. The inevitable renderings of Washington’s death by nineteenth-century artists often added religious symbols to the scene, frequently depicting his body ascending into heaven surrounded by a chorus of angels. The historical evidence suggests that Washington did not think much about heaven or angels; the only place he knew his body was going was into the ground, and as for his soul, its ultimate location was unknowable. He died as a Roman stoic rather than a Christian saint.”
― Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington
This quote is important, especially given the sheer frequency of times some people lay claims that the founding fathers were all Christians, let alone evangelical. Just like one doesn’t fear not waking up in the morning, so too, many of us do not fear an absence of afterlife, as heaven doesn’t sound any more appealing than a bologna sandwich with mayonnaise slathered on it.