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May 14 2012

Texas Legislator Misquotes Bible

Rep. Joe Barton — the other Barton from Texas, and a wholly owned subsidiary of both the oil companies and the religious right — went on MSNBC and defended the House vote to cut funding for things like school lunch programs while preserving tax cuts for the rich and refusing to cut defense spending. And it included this exchange:

Bashir: I know you’re a long time member of the Methodist Church. Is that correct?

Barton: Yes, sir. That’s a true statement.

Bashir: How do you square your approach with the Psalm 146, where the Psalmist writes this: “He gives food to the hungry. The lord protects foreigners. He defends orphans and widows.” Isn’t this the exact opposite of the cuts being proposed by Republicans in congress?

Barton: No, the lord helps those who helps themselves…

Bashir: Which verse of scripture is that, sir?

Barton: Well, it’s uh..

Bashir: I don’t think you’ll find that in the Old or New Testament.

Barton: Well, that was taught to me by my father who is president of the United Methodist school board in Waco Texas, and Bryant, Texas.

It’s just a tired, empty platitude. And it would be one even if it wasn’t in the Bible. To use it as a justification for public policy is inane.

23 comments

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  1. 1
    addiepray

    ” And it would be one even if it wasn’t in the Bible.”

    I think you mean “even if it WAS in the Bible.”

  2. 2
    Robert B.

    It’s Ben Franklin, I think. And if Barton had known that, he’d probably have cited the source proudly. Can you call it a misquote when he didn’t actually say it was from the Bible?

    *wikipedias*

    Nope, apparently Franklin got it from Aesop. I guess “God” was plural in the original? Barton might be less proud of that one.

    Anyway, still dumb to base domestic policy on it. (Couldn’t you interpret it to mean that “God” favors a domestic policy that is more proactive than lassez-faire? As in, “God helps countries that help themselves”?)

  3. 3
    Bronze Dog

    God helps the corporations that lobby for legislation that helps themselves?

  4. 4
    Michael Heath

    It’d be interesting to see how frequent this false truism is employed coupled to it coming from the Bible. I wonder how many actual passages are cited more frequently. I bet not many.

  5. 5
    unbound

    Well, the xtians spend most of their time either making things up that aren’t actually in the bible (as mentioned), or simply ignoring what it actually says. I’m a fan of how xtians go thru great pains to avoid the plain talk in Matthew 19:16-24. Most xtians I know fail 3 of the 6 commandments listed there (stealing, false witness and love one another), and I haven’t seen any mainstream or fundie xtian advocate jebus’ direction to sell it all and give it to the poor.

  6. 6
    jamessweet

    From a purely operational perspective, “the Lord helps those who help themselves” is basically an expression of atheism, isn’t it?

  7. 7
    williamburns

    You can’t be a wholly owned subsidiary of two different entities. He’s a jointly owned subsidiary.

  8. 8
    David Marjanović

    Fortuna audaces adiuvat, good luck (personified as a goddess) helps the brave ones. Pagan Roman proverb. Not Christian at all whatsoever.

    It’s a deeply un-Christian attitude, too. The Christian attitude, as exemplified today by Alcoholics Anonymous, is “you can’t help yourself, only God can help you, admit that and pray for help already”.

    From a purely operational perspective, “the Lord helps those who help themselves” is basically an expression of atheism, isn’t it?

    …Yeah.

  9. 9
    David Marjanović

    I’m a fan of how xtians go thru great pains to avoid the plain talk in Matthew 19:16-24.

    Ah, that’s because the New Testament, even within several gospels and Pauline letters, contradicts itself a lot on which conditions are necessary and which are sufficient for salvation.

  10. 10
    Didaktylos

    Myself, I prefer the version posted (so I am told) at every military/naval supply depot: God help those caught helping themselves here.

  11. 11
    thalwen

    Given that their idea of Jesus is an oiled-up, half-nekkid guy with six-pack abs, a red pick-up and a machine gun, I doubt they have much clue as what’s in the bible and what isn’t.

  12. 12
    d cwilson

    Well, that was taught to me by my father who is president of the United Methodist school board in Waco Texas, and Bryant, Texas.

    And this is how received wisdom is transmitted on Planet Wingnuttia. It would never occur to him to actually open up the Bible and find out what it says.

  13. 13
    bksea

    From a few months ago here at DFTCW:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2011/11/08/obama-spokesman-misquotes-the-bible/

    Barton must be a secret commie atheistic deomcrat muslim socialist just like Obama.

  14. 14
    Moggie

    Every line from literature which (a) mentions some god-related concept, and (b) doesn’t obviously date from the 20th century or later, will sooner or later be attributed to the bible, by Christians. The favourite example that I’ve personally witnessed (more than once) is “there are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. They always omit the rather unbiblical “Horatio”.

  15. 15
    D. C. Sessions

    Indeed it’s not in the Bible — it’s originally Greek (Aesop had one version of it) as “the gods help those who help themselves.”

    Evidently Barton wants us to become Greece!

  16. 16
    andrewlephong

    Of course “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. Remember Jesus’s “Feeding of the 5,000″? Jesus managed to feed 5,000 people with fish and bread by teaching them how to fish, make bread, and then start up a sustainable fish & bread business, which was consistent with Jesus’s promotion of a good capitalistic work ethic. I mean, it wasn’t like Jesus just gave away free fish and bread as a handout to those lazy beggars.

  17. 17
    Michael Heath

    Moggie writes:

    Every line from literature which (a) mentions some god-related concept, and (b) doesn’t obviously date from the 20th century or later, will sooner or later be attributed to the bible, by Christians. The favourite example that I’ve personally witnessed (more than once) is “there are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. They always omit the rather unbiblical “Horatio”.

    I find this ironic on two counts. The first is that people who would assert such a thing often are determined to remain ignorant of what we understand about reality. The second is that the more I learn from science the more I can imagine. I am not alone on this count, I’ve heard many scientists report this was their experience as well. They do not confine what is real – we continue to learn more, though they do expand upon what is possible.

  18. 18
    D. C. Sessions

    Somehow this reminds me of Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye introduces all sorts of folk sayings with, “As the Good Book says …”

  19. 19
    dobbshead

    I always thought that was the freethinkers answer to Christian views of poverty and reliance on god.

  20. 20
    Matrim

    Ah, yes. “God helps those who help themselves,” because it’s so much easier to just let the poor take care of themselves. It’s a lot easier than being charitable.

    Seriously, I wonder why they even bother clinging to their religion, it gets in the way of their entitlement issues. Basically Jesus was saying left and right to “sell all your belongings and give to the poor,” giving out free healthcare, distributing free food, and telling everyone to love their neighbors and enemies equally. I’ve never met anyone who even tries to live up to that.

    I remember my the best conversation I ever had with an evangelican about government assistance. She said that “government aid makes Christians lazy” because they feel like they don’t have to be as cheritable. Aside from this being blatantly wrong, I also pointed out how that seems “more like a problem with Christians than it does with government aid.”

  21. 21
    birgerjohansson

    So Barton is a polytheist, worshiping the Greek pantheon?
    Actually, If he worshipped Bacchus it would be kind of cool.

  22. 22
    Thorne

    I learned that one at my mother’s firm hand:

    God helps those who help themselves.

    And God help ‘em if they get caught!

  23. 23
    Worldtraveller

    Matrim @ 20:

    Basically Jesus was saying left and right to “sell all your belongings and give to the poor,” giving out free healthcare, distributing free food, and telling everyone to love their neighbors and enemies equally. I’ve never met anyone who even tries to live up to that.

    I’ve met someone who comes close.

    Of course, he’s Buddhist…..

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