One thought on “The Latest from David Barton

  1. Maddow: “Barton…sets out to prove the nation's founders wanted the United States to be a “Christian Nation.”

    Did Barton say that? His page doesn't say that exactly.

    Contemporary post-modern critics (including President Obama) who assert that America is not a Christian nation always refrain from offering any definition of what the term “Christian nation” means. So what is an accurate definition of that term as demonstrated by the American experience?

    Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

    [I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.

    So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.”

    Not exactly the Founders establishing a Christian nation, more that culturally it already was one.

    I hate “defending” David Barton because he is frequently inaccurate, but his critics often do not tell the exact or whole truth themselves. Dr. Maddow is shooting from the hip, repeating what she's “heard” about David Barton.

    As for Barton's invocation of Booker T. Washington, it appears Washington gave an address

    The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol.5, page 543, May 1900, U. of Illinois

    'The Place of the Bible in the Uplifting of the Negro Race'

    but unfortunately the website of Booker T. Washington's papers is down.

    One website [provenence unknown] has him saying in that address

    “The men doing the vital things of life are those who read the Bible and are Christians and not ashamed to let the world know it…No man can read the Bible and be lazy.”

    If all the above is factual re Washington, Barton's extrapolation is not a bridge too far. Yet Barton's betters fill the internet with a mockery based on zero research or concern for the truth of what he's saying.

    Again, his critics are due no credit for their lazy derision. I am not impressed.


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