The prayer recited by Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier Thursday that she said is from George Washington has been proven to not belong to the first president, but is often used by Christian Conservative politicians, according to a scholar.
John Fea, chair of the History Department at Messiah College, said the prayer comes from the so-called George Washington Prayer Book, which was found in a chest of papers by one of Washington's descendants in the 1890s. The University of Virginia, which houses the Papers of George Washington, and the Smithsonian Institution have concluded, based on the handwriting, that it was not written by Washington, Fea said.
"It is also far too pious for Washington," Fea wrote in an email to the Times. "In fact, ... George Washington only referenced Jesus Christ twice in all his extant writings and neither of them were in a prayer. This commissioner was not praying the words of George Washington."
U.S. District Court of Maryland Judge William D. Quarles Jr. issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday to keep the commissioners from continuing their practice of saying sectarian prayers at the beginning of meetings. The commissioners will be allowed to make prayers at meetings but cannot invoke "the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief...," according to the judge's opinion.
In defiance, Frazier, R-District 1, recited the prayer that she believed to be from Washington. The prayer contained Christian references, including the reference to Jesus Christ.