Christian Nation - David Barton

Discussion in 'Politics' started by TexasSky, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. TexasSky

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    On July 4th I posted some quotes from our founding fathers that were from a book I have in my collection at home.

    Several people thought these came from David Barton and stated David Barton's quotes were unsubstantiated.

    My source was not David Barton, and in fact, the book I was using was older than David Barton is. The questions aroused my curiosity. I wanted to know why people leapt to the conclusion that Barton was my source, and I wanted to know why people were discrediting Barton.

    I did some investigation and discovered that David Barton is a Christian, and that his reserach is supported by many Christians so I prayed about it, and then felt that I should give him the benefit of the doubt. To do that, I wrote him and asked for his response to the accusations.

    I received an answer to my letter today, not from David Barton, but from a member of his staff. That letter referred me to the following website.

    There is a link on the page for the "background" which is very important to read, and then Barton's words.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=20#background

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=20

    I hope that those who tried to discredit David Barton will review this with a Christian heart, and that they will stop bearing false witness, however unintentional that was, against David Barton.
     
  2. Johnv

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    David Barton's work, unfortunately, is full of quite a few errors:

    Barton claims that the phrase "wall of separation between church and state" from a speech Thomas Jefferson made in 1801, and that Jeffeson claimed the wall is a one directional wall (keeping the government from running the church, but makes sure that Christian principles stay in government). In truth, Jefferson first used the "wall" metaphor in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. The letter says nothing about the wall being "one directional" and certainly does not assert that it was intended to keep Christian principles in government. The claim was finally removed from the 1992 edition of the Barton's "America's Godly Heritage" video.

    Barton also claims that 52 out of 55 of the founding fathers were evangelical Christians. Most of the founders Anglican (hardly an evangelical body, now or then). The 1992 edition of th tape has him saying that 52 of the framers were simply "orthodox" Christians and adds, "Many of them were evangelicals." Even there, Barton fails to realize that the term "evangelical Christian" is a product of the late 19th century.

    Barton claims that Early versions of Amendment I "prove" that all the framers meant to do was prohibit the establishment of a national church. Actually, just the opposite is true. Several drafts expressly and clearly forbade only the establishment of a national church. All were rejected. If Barton were correct, and all the framers wanted to do was bar an official Church of the United Slates, one of these early versions would have sufficed.

    Barton falsely claimed that in 1844 the Supreme Court ruled that public schools must include Christian worship. The case he cited was actually an estate case, where a wealthy Pennsylvanian's will instructed that his money be used to set up a school for orphans. The will stipulated in the will that no members of the clergy could hold office in the school or even visit the campus. Hiers challeged the will, but SCOTUS upheld the stipulation. The stated that the will had barred only clergy, not religious instruction entirely, and that the State Constitution offers "complete protection of every variety of religious opinion". Barton took that line and ran with it.

    Barton falsely claims that in 1854 a religious group asked Congress to officially establish a system of separation of church and state, but Congress refused. The truth is that a Baptist association from North Carolina and several citizens from Kentucky presented Congress with petitions asking them to abolish congressional and military chaplains. In 1854 the House and Senate Judiciary Committees issued reports denying the petitions.

    arton claims that in the late 19th century "Christian principles in government" were challenged at the Supreme Court, but the justices upheld them and pointed out that Thomas Jefferson supported mixing Christianity and government. The truth is that Barton simply warps the 1878 Reynolds v. United Slates decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Mormons do not have a religious right to practice plural marriage.

    Barton falsely claims that the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case was the first court ruling upholding church-state separation. The truth is that SCOTUS had dealt with the church-state issue several times before. For example, SCOTUS ruled in the early 1900s that members of some religious groups the right to refuse the military draft in wartime, citing separation, and granting them conscientious objector status on the basis of religious belief. SCOTUS ruled unanimously in 1925, citing separation of church and state, that states could not force children to attend public schools if their parents would rather send them to religious schools. In 1947 SCOTUS, citing separateion, ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses could not be forcced to salute the flag in public schools.

    Barton falsely claims that the SCOTUS 1962 Engel v. Vitale case, which banned government-sponsored prayer in public schools, cited no historical or legal precedents and relies on a legal theory that the justices made up out of whole cloth. In actuality, Justice Hugo Black cites the history of the First Amendment and the early colonial experience with state-established religion, while Justice William Douglas cites several previous church-state cases.

    Barton falsely claims that religious practices in public schools had never been challenged in the courts prior to 1962. The truth is that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down government-sponsored Prayer in schools in 1892; the Nebraska Supreme Court did that same in in 1902, and the Illinois Supreme Court removed mandatory worship from public schools in 1910.

    I really hate to say it, but Barton has really comproised his own credibility by twisting and distorting factual events. I've since lost a bit of respect for Dr D James Kennedy for pushing Barton's agendized material. C'mon folks, I'm all for upholding our first amendment freedoms of faith and speech, but as Christians, we have the highest obligation to do so objectively and factually, lest we sounds like empty cymbals to the world. Barton's claim that the separation is a myth is itself a myth.

    [ August 01, 2005, 06:41 PM: Message edited by: Johnv ]
     
  3. LadyEagle

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    The wall of separation is a myth unless you believe in revisionist American history.

    I respect David Barton and haven't lost any respect for Dr. Kennedy at all. I know both are among the hated by those who embrace the tenets of the ACLU to revise history to craft a godless nation without a moral compass.

    Historical facts do bear out that our Founding Fathers did not intend nor did they state there is a separation wall between church and state.

    Here's an interesting site with historical facts:

    http://www.reformed-theology.org/southern/america.htm

    I do look for those who disagree about the mythical wall to jump in any moment now.

    But whether this nation was founded as a Christian nation or not is rather a moot point considering how godless our nation has become. [​IMG]
     
  4. TexasSky

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    Understand - until someone thought I was quoting Barton, I had no idea who he was. What I had quoted that people attributed to Barton was from a book that was published in 1919.

    Ergo - I have to say that if anyone has "re-written history," it is those who called Barton a liar.

    As to what was written above about him, I just read that on a website trying to discredit him. Among the reasons they listed for not trusting Barton weas the fact that he is a fundamentalist who is praised by James Dobson, Eagle Forum, the Christian Coalition, Dr. Kennedy, and Jerry Falwell.

    I also notice that on certain things they use a bait and switch. Barton references the Jefferson "separation of church and state" as being made in 1801. The site calls him wrong, and then goes on to say Jefferson made the statement in 1802, and then put their own interpretation of Jefferson's words. They don't deny the quote. Just the interpretation and the date.

    Another example they give as proof Barton is wrong is that Barton states 52 out of 55 of the founding fathers were evangelical Christians. They call this "false" by stating that just because they were Christian didn't make them sensitive to the religious right, and stating that being Anglicans didn't make them evangelical. They then say that Barton updated that later to say 52 were Christians and most of those were evangelical. They never come out and say, "These men didn't believe in God," because they CAN'T.

    And on and on it goes.

    It looks very, very much like they are looking for any excuse to attack the man rather than trying to provide credible objections to his work.

    A credible objection would be, "Jefferson did not say that," not, "Jefferson said it a year later, and didn't mean it."
     
  5. LadyEagle

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    That's all the MORE reason to trust Barton, LOL. [​IMG]
     
  6. Magnetic Poles

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  7. Kiffen

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    I have listened to David Barton for years and I think many of his claims have been refuted. I think Barton has withdrew from some of his own quotes.

    Some of Barton's dumbest statements deal with the period of Southern Reconstruction after the Civil War 1865-77 where he defends Union Carpetbaggers.

    Check out this http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=34

    He talks about how Republican blacks were elected to positions in Reconstruction as if the GOP was doing this to give them political opportunities during the Union occupation of the South. That is completely false. The whole purpose was not to give Blacks opportunities but to punish and humiliate the South by having former slaves rule their slave masters. Whites in the South could not vote in the 12 years of reconstruction.


    This would have devastating effects on race relations for in 1877, Reconstruction ended, the Union troops left the South and Whites could vote again, but Southern blacks were still there. The Union simply used blacks but could care less about what would happen to them after they left.

    There was violence against Republicans, blacks between 1865-77 in the South but the attacks were against an occupation government that had restricted the civil rights of Southern whites. I don't defend those terror attacks on the carpet bagger government but let's not pretend the Reconstructionists were here to help the South. The opposite was true and the sordid legacy of Reconstruction remains here today.
     
  8. Baptist Believer

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    I've been trying to point out Barton's misrepresentations, misquotes and outright fabrications for years, but it seems that folks who want to believe him are not interested in hearing anything that might discredit him.

    Certainly he can legitimately quote a number of "Founding Fathers" (he chooses his Founding Fathers carefully) that support his position, but he ignores or misquotes the Founding Fathers who actually won the debate over the First Amendment. (For example, two hundred years from now a historian could put together a collection of quotes from Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, left-wing commentators, and public opinion-makers and claim that in the late 20th century and early 21st century, almost all Americans fully supported abortion "rights". Of course that would be dishonest, but most of the quotes would likely be legitimate.)

    I'm just about given up on trying to inform Baptists of their own history (e.g. Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, Obadiah Holmes...) because they don't seem to care about ideas that may not be fashionable.

    My only suggestion to anyone who thinks David Barton is telling the truth is to do some real research and check out his quotations and representation of Supreme Court cases, using his footnotes as guides and using online resources such as findlaw.com. If you honestly and carefully check him out, you will discover that he is not an honest researcher and is not a trustworthy interpreter of history.
     
  9. JamesBell

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    Wow, I might list the exact same thing to show why people should trust him!

    As for Wallbuilders, I was fortunate enough to see a "production" of their at the Oklahoma Republican Convention this year. I thought it was moving, and pretty much on target. He may have missed the year of the Jefferson quote, but when viewed in context he clearly did not miss the intent.

    Claiming that most of the founders were not evangelical is just as wrong as claiming that they were. We know that the men were Anglican. How they went about their personal lives and worship is unknown to us.
     
  10. JamesBell

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    Wow, I should have read more before I posted. Clearly, Lady Eagle already said what needed to be said.
     
  11. TexasSky

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    My only suggestion to anyone who thinks David Barton is telling the truth is to do some real research and check out his quotations and representation of Supreme Court cases

    I came into this "backwards."
    I took old text books handed down to me by my Grandmother, and pulled quotes out of those textbooks.

    I was attacked for using "David Barton".

    I was not using Barton.

    I was using what the Public School system used for decades.

    Then after people said, "That's wrong," I started going through more modern books. I found some of the same information from other authors, and I checked their footnotes. They did not reference Barton either. They referenced historical texts.

    I posted that fact, and in one case was told that the historian, a minister who was a close friend of George Washington's, was a liar and so his words didn't count.

    I posted text directly from the Library of Congress and again was told that it was from Barton and it was a lie, but I didn't use Barton. I used the Library of Congress research base.

    So - I have to say - I trust Barton until someone can prove to me he is wrong, and they will have to cite the historical evidence they use to make their claim.

    Barton has at least tried to address the objections to his work. He has cited his sources, and where those sources were labeled "wrong" he either stated that fact or he went back and found the source documents of the documents he used.

    I trust that kind of integrity.
     
  12. TexasSky

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    As to the Republicans and the GOP and the blacks of the south. I don't know where to begin explaining to you how wrong you are - other than to remind you that most historians say that the Republican Party was formed in the 1850's by anti-slavery activists.

    I don't, for a minute, believe it was the dream party that was going to boost all blacks to equality with whites, but neither do I believe that the only reason for appointing black men to reconstruction was to rub the face of the south into their loss.
     
  13. Daisy

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    You can never be faulted for consulting original sources. [​IMG] That's the way to go whenever possible.
     
  14. ASLANSPAL

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    TexasSky I find it hard to believe you were
    involved with Texas Republican politics and
    David Barton was involved with Texas Republican
    politics and you have never heard of him.

    He has headed the Texas GOP

    GOP PARTISAN/MONEYMAKER/RECONSTRUCTIONIST

    David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year--speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors.(thats alot of consulting work and a lot of money
    thrown his way)

    Barton, who is also the vice-chairman of the Texas GOP, told Beliefnet this week that the pastors' meetings have been kept “below the radar
    [GOP partisan not exactly into ministering to all
    now is he..again prominent leader in GOP in Texas
    hard to belief fellow Republicans in Texas have
    never heard of him ) :rolleyes:


    Barton is also on the board of advisers of the Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group that advocates America as a Christian nation. (a dominionist makes sense
    and could very well be the way things end up
    and even the elect will be decieved)
     
  15. fromtheright

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    TexasSky,

    I was a David Barton fan for a long time, own many of his audio tapes, have seen several of his videos, and have heard him speak on a couple of occasions. The "Unconfirmed Quotations" episode, however, soured that trust. Strict separationists contend that Barton was challenged on some of his quotes before he owned up. It is the "[he] came to believe" part that I have trouble with. How did he come to believe this. Why had he not come to believe in a higher standard before he wrote and published The Myth of Separation. He argues that the method therein was accepted among historians, but that is not true, at least among serious historians who give a whit about their academic credentials. What he "came to believe" was already being practiced by historians. I don't believe that he is dishonest in his works, but he practices sloppy history and in a debate field in which the arguments are based almost solely on history, it is an inexcusable fault.

    I still agree with Barton's objective, i.e., educating people about America's Christian history and Christian influences on the founding, and in fact have given presentations in church about the history of the Establishment Clause, but I will not refer to him as a source because he has proven himself unreliable.

    And, BTW, one of the times I heard him speak, I asked him about the argument presented by Robert Cord, also cited by many as an Establishment Clause authority, generally very much on the side of Barton, who happens to take a more compromising position than Barton. Barton basically waved the question off without responding to Cord's arguments.
     
  16. TexasSky

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    Fromtheright,

    If you read the links I provided at the top of the post you will see what happened.

    Barton did not claim to be a Historian when he wrote "The Myth of Separation". He set out gathering information from published sources that he'd had no reason to question. He cited those sources in his work.

    When people questioned him, he started researching the sources. So if "John Smith said that Jack Doe said such - n -such in this time," he looked into why Jack Doe said it. Then he discovered that Jack Doe was the one who had errors.

    He corrected those errors.

    I think this is a very easy mistake for a man to make. How often in your lifetime did you question a textbook that was handed to you? How often did you go to the bibliography of the book, look up their sources, and test the sources for accuracy?
     
  17. fromtheright

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    TexasSky,

    My point is that, in providing a source that would itself be quoted by his supporters and others fighting Establishment Clause battles, he certainly "had reason to question" his sources. As I said, this debate is largely about historical accuracy and he didn't take that seriously enough. I certainly hope that he has learned his lesson, but I will not turn to him as a trusted source. It is exactly the "When people questioned him" that worries me--he should have set the bar higher for himself when he wrote it rather than wait for his enemies to challenge--rightfully so--his scholarship.

    As to your question, I very often at least refer back to footnotes to check a source, though I very rarely then go to that quoted source to check the accuracy. Barton, as a writer, certainly had a much greater responsibility to ensure accuracy than his readers. Even the front cover of the book, which I'm holding in my never-nicotine-stained-fingers, touts it as "A revealing look at what the Founders and early Courts really said" (emphasis in the original).
     
  18. mioque

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    "Barton also claims that 52 out of 55 of the founding fathers were evangelical Christians. Most of the founders Anglican (hardly an evangelical body, now or then). The 1992 edition of th tape has him saying that 52 of the framers were simply "orthodox" Christians and adds, "Many of them were evangelicals." Even there, Barton fails to realize that the term "evangelical Christian" is a product of the late 19th century."
    "
    The only way some of the Founding Fathers could have been Evangelicals, was by being Lutherans. The use of Evangelical as a synonym for Lutheran was already around in the 18th century. Ofcourse that definition is not going to be to Barton's liking.
     
  19. Baptist Believer

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    Lots of textbooks were designed to teach religious principles in schools. Historically, Baptists have been opposed to the government being involved in religion. Just because some school districts decided to teach religion, doesn’t mean that it was either constitutionally correct, biblically correct, or uniformly practiced throughout the United States.

    I don’t specifically know what books you are referring to, so I can’t comment any more than that.

    I certainly did not attack you because I haven’t read or participated in the post you are referring to. The interesting thing about Barton is that Barton himself suffers from “Christian” people plagiarizing his work, so those of us who are familiar with Barton’s materials often recognize his words and thoughts coming from other people who may or may not have given him proper credit.

    Did you actually verify the original sources yourself and determine if they fairly represent the full spectrum of thought of the day? It’s easy to pick the losing side of the debate and them claim that it was the prevailing opinion.

    Maybe, maybe not. Washington was apparently a man of faith (at least a deist, if not more) so the minister may well be telling the truth – although I have not read your previous post.

    Bad idea. You’ve apparently done well so far in checking things out. Why give David Barton a pass until you check out how he quotes founding documents and Supreme Court cases. Beyond all issues of opinion, see how honestly he simply quotes or references the material.

    He has only to a very small degree. Those particular “quotes” were so far out of line that almost anyone who knew anything about those historical figures knew they were not genuine.

    He’s great at giving footnotes, but if you check them, you’ll find that many of the sources reveal his dishonesty or lack of understanding of very basic things.

    Again, please do your homework and don’t simply trust books without checking out his original sources yourself. Furthermore, Baptists have advocated separation of church and state since the very beginnings of the movement during the radical reformation. If you consider yourself a Baptist, you need to at least consider the wisdom of our predecessors as you confront this topic.
     
  20. Baptist Believer

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    Since I've been saying that Barton is dishonest, let me give you one of many examples of the way he uses Supreme Court documents:

    In Walz v. Tax Commission, 1970, the Court, in reviewing its use of the Fourteenth Amendment, admitted that by using it in such a manner, they had created an American revolution. The Court stated that this revolution:

    ...Involved the imposition of new and far-reaching constitutional restraints on the States. Nationalization of many civil liberties has been the consequence of the Fourteenth Amendment, reversing the historical position that the foundations of those liberties rested largely in state law. And so the revolution occasioned by the Fourteenth Amendment has progressed as Article after Article in the Bill of Rights has been incorporated in it and made applicable to the States. (from "The Myth of Separation" pg. 13-14)


    Barton is misleading here on two major points:

    1.) The section he quoted is not the opinion of "the Court". The Court's opinion is the majority decision of it's judges. This except is from Justice Douglas' dissent. To be perfectly clear, Barton is telling your that the majority ("the Court") spoke these words instead of a dissenting voice on the Court disagreeing with the decision.

    2.) Barton failed to inform his readers that this statement is not quoted in context or completely. Barton omitted nearly 350 words between the second and third sentence of this quote without giving his readers so much as an elipses to indicate that the third sentence was tacked on after Barton removed pages of material that did not support the point he wanted to make.

    How does one, even one who did not consider himself to be a historian, accidently misplace nearly 350 words in the middle of a quote -- especially when those words undermine the point you are trying to make. He's either profoundly incompetent or dishonest.
     

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