Back in June I wrote about a new book by two conservative evangelical writers who took great issue with the take on Thomas Jefferson’s church-state views offered by the famous controversialist David Barton, who more than any one person is cited by Christian Right folk as “proving” America was intended by its Founders to be a “Christian Nation.” At the end of the post I expressed pessimism about the impact of this debunking given Barton’s enormous political usefulness, particularly to the vast Teavangelical interests who claim the Declaration of Independence set out divinely established permanent edicts protecting everything from fetal rights to absolute limits on taxes and business regulations.
But turns out I underestimated conservative evangelical scholarship, which has turned against Barton with a vengeance, as noted by Thomas Kidd in the latest issue of World magazine:
"It's what I would call historical reclamation," Barton explains, in his soft but rapid-fire voice. "We're just trying to get history back to where it's accurate. If you're going to use history, get it right."
Barton has collected 100,000 documents from before 1812 — original or certified copies of letters, sermons, newspaper articles and official documents of the Founding Fathers. He says they prove that the Founding Fathers were deeply religious men who built America on Christian ideas — something you never learn in school.
For example, you've been taught the Constitution is a secular document. Not so, says Barton: The Constitution is laced with biblical quotations.
"You look at Article 3, Section 1, the treason clause," he told James Robison on Trinity Broadcast Network. "Direct quote out of the Bible. You look at Article 2, the quote on the president has to be a native born? That is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim. I mean, it drives the secularists nuts because the Bible's all over it! Now we as Christians don't tend to recognize that. We think it's a secular document; we've bought into their lies. It's not."
We looked up every citation Barton said was from the Bible, but not one of them checked out. Moreover, the Constitution as written in 1787 has no mention of God or religion except to prohibit a religious test for office. The First Amendment does address religion.
The program Cue the Tape has also put together a collection of videos.