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Dec 16 2012

Barton and His ‘Direct Quotes’

David Barton has been caught yet again lying to his ignorant followers, telling them that many provisions found in the Constitution are “direct quotes” from the Bible. He did it at the ProFamily Legislators Conference, put on by his Wallbuilders organization.

I could take you through most clauses of the Constitution, but it’s interesting when you look at the Constitution and the clauses, if you know the Bible – and a lot of people don’t; they look at the Constitution and say “oh, that’s cool language.” If you know the Bible, you go “that’s a direct quote out of a Bible verse.”

That’s why so many Bible verses are directly cited in the Constitution. When people tell me the Constitution is a secular document, that tells me they’re biblically illiterate because if you know the Bible, you’ll instantly recognize these verses in Constitutional clauses.

Same old lie. Same ignorant audience.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Authoritarians like being lied to. It’s true!

  2. 2
    Ellie

    Seriously, don’t any of his followers actually read the Bible?

  3. 3
    Randomfactor

    Of course not, Ellie. Reading the Bible is one of the causes of atheism.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    BTW – on iTunes university there are some great lectures by Prof. Drake at Yale – “Introduction to new testament history and literature” which is a light introduction to biblical textural exegesis and criticism. If you’ve got a “the bible is right in all ways!” fundamentalist you want to destroy, point them at that class and tell them it’s a really fascinating way of learning how all the pieces of the bible hang together. I.e.: not at all. Actually studying the bible is the best way to get someone to realize what a load of bollocks it is.

  5. 5
    Makoto

    And that’s why JC Penny shouldn’t sell blended fabric suits. OMM isn’t against Ellen, they’re for the bible!

    (Sarcasm tag in case needed)

  6. 6
    Michael Heath

    Ellie writes:

    Seriously, don’t any of his followers actually read the Bible?

    Devout conservative Christians primarily do read and study their Bible. Both on their own, in informal study groups, in Sunday School, and formal Bible study groups. But they don’t do it the way academics teach history or science. They don’t seek to learn, but to buttress their faith and promote that faith to others.

    Their approach has some semblances of the academic approach which demonstrably causes them to believe they’re studying objective truth, but they predominately avoid scrutiny and seek to find passages which reaffirm or expand on beliefs already held. One trick they use to think their credibly seeking objective truth is to the learn what the original language stated, as if knowing the assertion in the original language somehow makes the assertion true – idiotic yes but I hear this one constantly.

    And unlike science and academics, the goal is not to find objective truth, but instead to defend their beliefs and justify using faith to believe. Their initial premise, the Bible is inerrant, demands they use this fatally defective approach to studying. In fact they must sign an oath of fealty that the Bible is the inerrant word of God in order to teach or study at many of their so-called colleges, the very opposite approach demanded by those who actually do seek objective truth – which is to go where the evidence leads no matter how inconvenient. So these Christians have descended down the rabbit hole before they even open up the Bible to start reading.

    Here’s a recent example: two people I know who fit the above description, are very politically active, and disciples of David Barton. They had no idea which biblical passages contradict other passages. They thought all the pieces fit together perfectly, including contradictions between the creation stories in Gen. 1 and 2, and the four gospels. They also couldn’t name any biblical assertions which science has falsified like the fact there was no global flood or the sun didn’t stop its orbit of the earth to give God’s people more time to beat their enemy in a battle.

    Now you’d think they’d at least be aware of all these passages which are challenged simply to buttress their beliefs and defend their faith, i.e., to come up with a feasible defense. But that’s not typical of most devout conservative Christians. They operate within an epistemic bubble of determined ignorance.

    There are of course some exceptions, like intelligent fundamentalist/evangelical Christians who do want believe they’ve tested their beliefs. Of course those people are reliant on logical fallacies and avoid or deny facts and therefore are lying even to themselves, e.g,. Lee Strobel, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and Albert Mohler are exemplary examples of the influential people who practice this form of intellectual fraud.

  7. 7
    Kengi

    I’ve read both the Constitution and the Bible, and Barton is correct. Here are just a few examples of direct quotes that are in both documents:

    Bible: ” …people…”
    Constitution: “…people…”

    Bible: “…house…”
    Constitution: “…house…”

    Bible” “…shall not…”
    Constitution: “…shall not…”

    Need I go on?

  8. 8
    Zeno

    Kengi has the right idea. Barton’s scholarship is on solid ground; allowing for certain allowances for synonyms, the entire Constitution can be found in the Bible:

    We the people

    Exodus 15:24
    And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

    of the United States

    Genesis 49:6
    O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united:
    Genesis 43:7
    And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words

    in order to form

    Genesis 22:9
    And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
    2 Samuel 14:20
    To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing

    a more perfect Union

    Hebrews 9:11
    But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle
    Mark 10:9
    What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

  9. 9
    Marcus Ranum

    Here are just a few examples of direct quotes

    Well, first and foremost that fails because the bible wasn’t written in English…

  10. 10
    D. C. Sessions

    What astonishes me is that none of his audience even so much as asks for one example.

    Of which there ain’t any.

  11. 11
    d.c.wilson

    Barton and his disciples take the exact same approach to both the babble and the Constitution. If they stumble across a passage that conflicts with their preconceptions, they just change the meaning of the words.

  12. 12
    raven

    Democracy isn’t mentioned at all in the bible. Despite the fact that the concept was well known.

    Communism is however mentioned with approval in Acts.

  13. 13
    Larry

    What astonishes me is that none of his audience even so much as asks for one example.

    Don’t be astonished. Asking for an example indicates a lack of faith without which the whole premise collapses like a bunch of broccoli.

    Either that or it makes baby jesus cry or something.

  14. 14
    slc1

    Re MH @ #6

    They thought all the pieces fit together perfectly, including contradictions between the creation stories in Gen. 1 and 2,

    I had a go around with a nutcase calling himself Jon S, who is a YEC, over at Jason Rosenhouse’s blog who blithely informed the readers that that there was no contradiction between Gen. 1 and Gen. 2.

  15. 15
    Sastra

    If the goals, ideals, and standards of Constitutional democracy are to be found in the Bible, does this then mean that God derives His authority from our consent? Is heaven going to be run on constitutional principles, with rational debate and impartial voting the determining factors in all group decisions? Will Jesus be forced to bow to the will of the majority?

    When I’ve asked these questions to people who claim that the principles of freedom and democracy came directly from Christianity, they don’t seem that keen on applying their view on government to their view on religion. It’s sort of like when you turn science on God. No consistency. Instead, they just seem to get upset and tell me not to do that.

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    Sastra writes:

    If the goals, ideals, and standards of Constitutional democracy are to be found in the Bible, does this then mean that God derives His authority from our consent? Is heaven going to be run on constitutional principles, with rational debate and impartial voting the determining factors in all group decisions? Will Jesus be forced to bow to the will of the majority?

    There’s no cognitive dissonance on this one. The argument I was indoctrinated to believe, (it never took), is that our form of government is the best human government we can hope to develop. But because God is perfect, he’ll be a perfect and benevolent king when he establishes his rule here on Earth and in Heaven. So the argument goes that the benevolent monarchy is the optimal form of government where none are qualified but God.

  17. 17
    D. C. Sessions

    The closest one comes to “the will of the people” in Scriptures are cases where the masses demand something, and it never ends well. Golden calf, fleshpots, kings, you name it — it’s always presented as foolishness and ends badly.

    Then later, of course, you have all of those lovely teachings on submission to authority regardless of its nature because, don’t you know, even the worse possible despot is in charge as the direct agent of God on Earth. Unless, of course, that government is headed by some dude who only pretends to be a Christian but is really a secret Islamofascist Kenyan.

  18. 18
    Dr X

    I guess he has to lie, or does he have an alternate source of income?

  19. 19
    tfkreference

    Just look at what the first amendment and the first commandment say about religion. They are practically identical, other than being the opposite.

  20. 20
    Chiroptera

    Holy crap! How the hell can such a lie succeed? I mean, this is beyond ignorance; the only way that such a thing could success is if people have never read either the Bible or the Constitution!

    When I was a fundamentalist Christian, we were reading the Bible all the time. We were encouraged to read it cover to cover, and most of us did it. Has Twitter rendered even evangelical Christians illiterate?

    And as far as the Constitution goes, going through school (right through college), I must have ended up acquiring half a dozen copies in pamphet form. Doesn’t anyone hand out copies of the Constitution any more?

  21. 21
    tacitus

    Of course not, Ellie. Reading the Bible is one of the causes of atheism.

    A few years ago, my parents attended a “through-the-Bible” type bible study course that took them through the Old Testament as well as the New. They were life-long Methodists, active in the Church, and rarely missed a Sunday morning services their whole lives.

    My dad had some tough questions about my atheism when I had come out a while before they took the course, but after attending the bible study, he admitted that if they had been any younger (they were in their mid-70s at the time) they probably would have considered leaving the church altogether.

    They didn’t–it’s a liberal church and very much involved in advocacy issues they support (poverty, environment, etc.) and they have many good friends there–but it was still a remarkable admission, especially at their age, and it was the direct result of them getting to know the Bible better.

  22. 22
    tacitus

    Now you’d think they’d at least be aware of all these passages which are challenged simply to buttress their beliefs and defend their faith, i.e., to come up with a feasible defense. But that’s not typical of most devout conservative Christians. They operate within an epistemic bubble of determined ignorance.

    To be fair, this is pretty much how human nature works. When a hundred thousand died in the Iraq War, most Americans preferred to remain willfully ignorant of any of the details lest it shake their belief that the war was just. When strong rumors that a trusted and widely respected individual is a pedophile surface (and sometimes even when they are directly accused by a child), it is often dismissed as malicious gossip by those who known them. Millions of Republicans still believe they would have won the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections if not for ACORN-driven voter fraud.

    I have met people who, even when confronted with incontrovertible evidence over a trivial matter, cannot bring themselves to come out and say they were wrong. They know they are wrong, and they know everyone knows that they are wrong, but they still prefer to deal in excuses rather than admit it. They’re borderline pathological about it.

    For most people, admitting that their worldview is flawed is tough enough, but for people like Barton, Strobel, Craig, Mohler, Ham, such an admission would be tantamount to professional suicide, and thus are forced to double down on their beliefs whenever they face a serious challenge. The fact that they are lionized and rewarded by their supporters when they do merely reinforces that behavior.

  23. 23
    abbeycadabra

    Ed —

    I can’t seem to convince FTB to make my signup email be my real one. I tried to sign up a whole pile of times with it, but no confirmation was sent; I managed to sign up with an old one, and now it won’t send the confirmation email to change to the right one! So no gravatar, no notifications, no nothing.

    Do you know how I can get some tech support on this?

    – Abbey

    PS: Sorry for the thoroughly off-topic comment, but I can’t find any way to contact FTB other than the article comments. Usability is WAY DOWN on this site right now.

  24. 24
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    Trying to be fair to Barton’s audience: there’s a difference between having read a book and knowing it well enough to think “wait, that isn’t in there!” if someone misattributes a quote. I have read The Lord of the Rings six times (the appendices only three), though not in several years. There are things that I would know aren’t in there because they would be badly out of context–manticores, say, or a reference to Classical Athens. But a random line of description or even dialogue could easily get by me if the person did a decent pastiche.

    So, take someone who read the Bible once, and goes back only to bits of it (say, one of those little paperbacks that are just Psalms and Proverbs, and the four gospels): if they are inclined to believe someone, they’re not going to say “wait a minute.” If they think about the source at all, it may be a vague thought that something is in the epistles, or one of the less-quoted parts of the Jewish Bible.

    None of this excuses Barton’s lies, of course.

  25. 25
    Sastra

    Michael Heath #16 wrote:

    The argument I was indoctrinated to believe, (it never took), is that our form of government is the best human government we can hope to develop. But because God is perfect, he’ll be a perfect and benevolent king when he establishes his rule here on Earth and in Heaven.

    There’s still cognitive dissonance, though — because by whose standards is God always “perfect?” If it’s by the standards of everyone, then God’s authority is derived from us — and what God does is always consistent with what all would vote for.

    The problem comes with dissent. If we can honestly and intractably disagree about what’s best to be done — then we can also disagree that God is perfect. In which case, God is not objectively perfect at all: He’s only “perfect” according to some, and not others, with no way to arbitrate and no way to gain eventual consensus.

    The flaws come when you unpack the assumptions about the perfection of God — and discover assumptions about the perfection of humanity. The devil is always in the details.

  26. 26
    tommykey

    Of course, if the Constitution really was derived from passages from the Bible, one would expect the Constitution’s defenders to cite those passages during the debates, in the Federalist Papers and so forth. But, of course, that never happened because the Constitution is not based on the Bible.

  27. 27
    billdaniels

    Followers of Barton and his ilk. I think, are incapable of critcal thinking. They are like two-year-olds who believe everything their parents tell them. When I was that age I had a black neighbor who breast-fed her baby daughter. I was there one day and she said, “Come on, Esther, time for your chocolate milk.” I said, “What?” She told me that all “colored” women had chocolate milk. This was in 1952. I was three. I believed this sincerely for a couple of years. I never thought to question her authority. But the I grew up.
    I have been playing with a commentator on OneNewsNow.com, a religious right pseudo-news site. I thought I was dealing with a 12 year-old girl who was homeschooled but he says he is an older man. His screen name is Stand for Christ. I call him “Stand for Christ-Fall for Anything.” He keeps throwing out stupid, untrue statements that I challenge. Yesterday’s comment was that there were far more humanist child molesters than church youth group pastor molestors. The only responses I’ve gotten were: “It’s in the bible. Look it up.” and “Why are you persecuting me, you disgusting evil, atheist pervert?’ OneNewsNow has since blocked my comments His “faith” prevents him from seeing beyond the propaganda he swallows, like Barton himself, he’s a real piece of shit.

  28. 28
    Michael Heath

    billdaniels writes:

    OneNewsNow has since blocked my comments

    I’m surprised they ever allowed you to post anything. I tried a couple of times, always only with questions carefully crafted in a disarming respectful tone, not the tone I use here. I struck out every time. Their bubble is fiercely protected.

  29. 29
    tacitus

    If you want to toy with right-wing nutjobs, WorldNutDaily’s adoption of the Disqus message system helps appreciably. The only time I’ve had a message held for review was when I used a very tame expletive (which one escapes me for the moment) but they’ve always let it pass in the end.

  30. 30
    billdaniels

    I’ve always been polite on ONN. Sometimes I want to say, “What fucking part of your fucking rotten, stinking ass did you pull that fucking piece of fucking shit from? Were your fucking brains on vacation? Do you have any fucking brains in your fucking fucked-up* head?” but my posts are usuall worded, “Citations, please?”
    There are several liberals who comment there. Their respondents resort to name-calling and saying things like, “If you only beleved in Jeebus…” Occasionally an article gets only anti responses. I’m glad the liberals are there and I hope they keep up the good work.
    I may have to hang out at WorldNutDaily just to piss them off.
    *I hope that Dispatches doesn’t have a per-post “fuck” quota.

  31. 31
    billyeager

    Tell a bunch of ignorant Xtians what they want to hear and they ain’t exactly gonna check whether the claims are accurate. Tell a bunch of well-educated-and-informed Xtians what they want to hear and . . .well, I refer you to the end of my previous sentence.
    Besides, he says it with such authority and conviction, it’s just gotta be true, amirite!?!

  32. 32
    joachim

    The Constitution is a tool of dead white european males who not only had slave but fucked them too.

    The COMMUNIST MANIFESTO is the atheist document that will guide the future.

  33. 33
    dingojack

    joachim – run along now, the adults are talking.
    Dingo

  34. 34
    matthewhodson

    If you use the bible code I think you will find that the entire US constitution is actually encoded into the bible!

  35. 35
    Michael Heath

    billdaniels writes:

    I’ve always been polite on ONN.

    As I previously noted, my not getting posted at OneNewsNow had nothing to do with tone. Nor did I attempt to embed any links.

  36. 36
    birgerjohansson

    “put on by his Wallbuilders organization”
    Die Mauer Muss Weg!
    — — — — — — — — — —
    This is fun.

    “I think you will find that the entire US constitution is actually encoded into the bible”
    Yes, it has, like, consonants and stuff.
    — — — — — — —- —
    “Just look at what the first amendment and the first commandment say about religion. They are practically identical, other than being the opposite”

    Like the bursar in the Discworld novels, the bible occasionally passes through reality on its way to somewhere else.

  37. 37
    holytape

    Nearly every word that is in the constitution is in the Bible, just not in that particular order.

  38. 38
    billdaniels

    Michael Heath: I didn’t mean to imply anything about your comment. I was only stating what I do when I post on ONN. I don’t thinnk I mentioned anything about links.

  39. 39
    John Phillips, FCD

    Joachim, I sort of agree with your first sentence, but then I’m not an USAian. As to your second, in one sense, if only. For I am a commie of the from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs type. However, I recognise that humans will need to evolve some, if only socially, before such a system becomes feasible. BTW, using the from each… to each… definition of communism, your Christ was one.

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