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Jun 22 2012

Barton Continues to Lie About Constitution and Bible

David Barton’s long list of Christian Nation lies seems to be getting even more brazen. As Right Wing Watch reports, it is now a standard part of his presentations that many of the provisions in the Constitution are “literal, direct quotations out of the Bible.” In this video, he makes very specific claims about the provisions that are “exact quotes” out of the Bible:

Here’s Exodus 18:21:

21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

And Deuteronomy 1:13-16

Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”

So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you.

And Deuteronomy 16:18

Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.

Uh, yeah. Those are “exact quotes” and “literal, direct quotations” from the Bible. Except, of course, they aren’t. At no time during the writing, explanation or ratification of the Constitution does even one of the men who wrote that document refer to any of those verses, or the Bible in general, as a source for those ideas. The Federalist Papers were written specifically to explain and defend every provision in the new Constitution, written to a predominately Christian populace; surely if they had based those provisions on the Bible, they would have said so because that would have been viewed as a strong argument for passing the Constitution. But no, the only people quoting the Bible during the ratification debates were the anti-federalists, who cited the Bible in opposition to the passage of the Constitution.

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  1. 1
    timgueguen

    Unfortunately most of his audience will never read a book they haven’t been told to read. So they won’t read an actual history book by an actual historian. If they do it will be after they’ve read bogus crap, and they won’t accept the real story.

  2. 2
    d cwilson

    timgueguen:

    Hell, most of them won’t even read the Bible after being specifically told to. That’s how Barton is able to get away with brazenly making stuff up. Rightwing authoritarians believe things are true because an authority figure told them it was true, not because they’ve examined the evidence for themselves.

  3. 3
    raven

    Democracy isn’t mentioned anywhere in the bible.

    In two places in the NT, it says to pay your taxes, one of them by the godman himself.

    It also says that the rulers are the rulers because god wants them to be rulers. So obey them. This was used for nearly 2 millennia to justify the “Divine Right of Kings”.

  4. 4
    juvat270

    I used to see this idiot on Glenn Beck’s show all the time when Beck was on Fox. The bullshit he would spew about American history was enough to make you vomit. I really wish they hadn’t taken Glenn Beck’s show off the air. Between his nutty conspiracy theory rants and his christian theocracy sermonizing; it was good fun.

  5. 5
    Erp

    I suspect David Barton is using an interesting translation of the Bible (and almost all of his readers would need a translation). One could create a Bible that draws sentences from the US Constitution and then point to it. Admittedly it would be a very bad translation of the Bible and certainly not one accessible to the founders, but, Barton’s Bible scholarship is probably on par with his history.

    The King James Version btw definitely reflects the agenda of the English government of the time in certain choices of translation.

  6. 6
    Vall

    I’ve always wondered why the Christians who claim that this is a Christian nation always want to change things. Doesn’t that weaken the claim? If it was a Christian nation right from day one, there shouldn’t be a need to change anything.

  7. 7
    raven

    Romans 13:

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes;

    Of course, everyone ignores this when they feel like it. Kent Hovind is doing 8 1/2 years in prison for 59 felony counts of tax evasion.

    Did you know Obama is ruling because god wants him to? Neither does the Tea Party apparently.

    The rulers when Romans was written were all kings and emperors. Democracy was known from the Greeks but not practiced.

  8. 8
    raven

    I’ve always wondered why the Christians who claim that this is a Christian nation always want to change things.

    A lot of religion is just a cover for the human drives for money, power, and sex.

    They want more of all three of those.

  9. 9
    ArtK

    Q: How can you tell Barton is lying?
    A: His mouth is moving.

  10. 10
    eric

    many of the provisions in the Constitution are “literal, direct quotations out of the Bible.”

    Only three fifths of them.

  11. 11
    dogmeat

    I’ve always wondered why the Christians who claim that this is a Christian nation always want to change things. Doesn’t that weaken the claim? If it was a Christian nation right from day one, there shouldn’t be a need to change anything.

    Vall,

    Most of those who make these claims also believe in a mythical time when everything was wonderful, people knew their places, everyone was happy, they went to church all the time, prayer was in school, etc., they generally place this time in the vague 50-60 years ago bracket of Leave it to Beaver or Ozzy and Harriet. It appears most of them want to change the country back to this “wonderful” time as the “founders intended when God inspired them.” They want to get rid of all the radical leftist stuff that Obama and the hippies put into place getting women and minorities all uppity and stuff.

  12. 12
    tfkreference

    I’ve seen the words “we”and “the” and “people” many places in the bible.

  13. 13
    Vall

    @11 Dogmeat

    I agree. The desire for simpler times is strong, but like you said, that time is mythical. It wasn’t better in the past. I’m trying to remember where, but I’ve seen this idea explored. Maybe “Connections” by James Burke.

    It’s been a few years, but P.Z. once linked a video called “The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right.” I may go look that one up again, if it’s still around.

  14. 14
    garnetstar

    Well, those verses really clear up the differences between democracies and republics! I’m convinced now.

  15. 15
    jamesgoswick

    Ed,

    Most experts would claim James Wilson-one of only six men to sign both the DOI and Constitution-speaks for the founders in general when referring to Divine Law, and Wilson claimed EVERY law is founded on Divine Law (the Scriptures). Jefferson’s idol, Francis Bacon, claimed the exact same thing, as well as: Montesquieu, Blackstone, Hooker, Sydney, Aquinas, Grotius, Locke, Puffendorf, et al. Here is Wilson:

    “Thus it is with regard to reason, conscience, and the holy scriptures. Where the latter give instructions, those instructions are supereminently authentick..What we do, indeed, must be founded on what he [God] has done; and the deficiencies of our laws must be supplied by the perfections of his. Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine.”
    –Lectures of James Wilson, acting Supreme Crt Justice, attended by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and most of the Congress. http://www.constitution.org/jwilson/jwilson1.doc

  16. 16
    Chris from Europe

    @jamesgoswick
    Can you provide a citation for that, because your quote does not make the statement you say it does.

  17. 17
    Chris from Europe

    @jamesgoswick
    Can you provide a citation for that, because your quote does not make the statement you say it does.

    And furthermore, how could we know that the other founders fully accepted this view and in particular, an identical interpretation of what divine law is.

    Given that “the Founders” is not strictly defined and also not a tiny group, I would question your assertion in the first sentence. Who are these experts? Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison may have believed that human law should be founded on some kind of divine law, but given their action and stated beliefs, it’s quite impossible that it could be the Bible. Isn’t it more likely that quite a few Founders, given the Constitution they produced, didn’t believe in the Scriptures as foundation of law? Why should philosophical theist want the Constitution be based on the Scriptures?

  18. 18
    Michael Heath

    jamesgoswick:

    Most experts would claim James Wilson-one of only six men to sign both the DOI and Constitution-speaks for the founders in general when referring to Divine Law . . .

    Citation requested. I read an awful lot of American history at the founding and I’m not sure I recall even one expert making such a provocative claim. Most leaders in any era would not collectively concede their conclusions to another.

    In addition, you don’t seem to not understand the difference between the assertions of a religious person and actual facts. My I suggest you acquaint yourself with the difference. You’ll find the distance is often enormous, even for recent and current events.

  19. 19
    jonrowe

    I’m a little late in noticing Mr. Goswick’s reply. Let me note that it changes nothing from the substance of Ed’s point. The Constitution was still not based on the Bible. James Wilson — and I can provide the citations if needed — did believe the Bible was inspired in some sense. He may well have believed all 66 books were inspired. OR NOT. But one thing is for sure, like a lot of Bible believing Christians he thought the Bible was an incomplete book and in the necessity of looking to the BOOK OF NATURE to at the very least supplement and PERHAPS supersede the Bible. Wilson thought the author of Nature and the author of what he saw as inspired in the Bible were the same source. But if all of those principles written in the Bible, which have no bearing or basis in the Bible, did indeed come from a divine source, it was through the channel of “reason” that they were “discovered.”

    As Wilson put it:

    “These considerations show, that the scriptures support, confirm, and corroborate, but do not supercede the operations of reason and the moral sense.”

  20. 20
    jonrowe

    Correction. Should have read:

    But if all of those principles written in the CONSTITUTION, which have no bearing or basis in the Bible, did indeed come from a divine source, it was through the channel of “reason” that they were “discovered.”

  1. 21
    Barton Continues to Lie About Constitution and Bible | Dispatches … | Christian Dailys

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