Saturday, April 16, 2005

It's fun being Sisyphus:

Ah, David Barton's & William Federer's shoddy historical research...the gift that keeps on giving.

This time the culprit is Devvy Kidd, and this is probably the most laughable, error-ridden article I've yet seen.

In it she claims in no uncertain terms, "Anyone who has done the historical homework knows that America is a Christian nation founded upon Christianity and Christianity alone." And that those who would invoke "the separation of Church & State" "have absolutely no historical understanding of the subject matter whatsoever."

And then she proceeds to argue her case with all of those text-book phony David Barton quotes. But that's not the worst of her errors. This is:

She discusses Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists, where Jefferson famously says: "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state...." And then Kidd goes on:

However, the court chose to ignore the remainder of Jefferson's comment which continues: "but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church but makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government."

LOL. She actually links to Jefferson's freakin' letter. Did she bother to read the damn thing? EARTH TO DEVVY: JEFFERSON DOESN'T SAY THESE WORDS!!!! STOP PUTTING WORDS IN JEFFERSON'S MOUTH THAT HE DIDN'T SAY. Next time you quote from a founder as distinguished as Jefferson and link to a very brief letter of his, please take the time to read it so you can confirm whether you quote him accurately.

The damage has been done:

At least one other columnist has cited Ms. Kidd's phony Jefferson quote. 18-Year-old columnist Christian Hartsock, uses the same mistaken quote here.

Then Kidd's article continues to cite the most notoriously debunked David Barton quotes:

When Patrick Henry was writing on the Stamp Act back in 1765, he proudly and loudly proclaimed:

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here."

Patrick Henry didn't say this. I've debunked it here. Anyone aware of Patrick Henry's militant antifederalism would know that describing the United States as a "great nation" would make him want to puke. Back then, few if any Founders spoke of the United States as a "great nation," but rather in a plural sense (i.e, "the United States are" as opposed to "the United States is") as a collection of united free and independent colonies. It wasn't until after the civil war that the question was settled that we were one "great nation." Patrick Henry as a militant anti-federalist never spoke of the United States in anything other than a plural sense and voted against the US Constitution because he thought that it gave the federal government too much power. Particularly, he objected to the phrase, "we the people of the United States," (he preferred "We, the states") because this implied one "great consolidated government," which Henry regarded as "pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous." Henry made it clear that he preferred "a confederation" with "the States" as "agents of this compact."

But it gets worse, Kidd has Henry stating this in 1765, 11 years before we declared our independence!!! What "great nation" could Henry have been referring to? Great Britain? Back then we were still a bunch of British Colonies.

Then Kidd cites this phony quote attributed to John Q. Adams:

July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of these united States of America:

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration, they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct."

And finally she quotes this phony statement that Madison never uttered:

James Madison, Fourth President of these united States of America and the man who wrote the U.S. Constitution:

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."

And wrapping things up she writes:

In any event, I rest my case. American was not founded on any other religion except the Christian religion, at least I have never found a single historical document to support such a position.

No single historical document? Uh, maybe you'd want to check out the Treaty of Tripoly, ratified by the US in 1797 when John Adams was President, which states:

[T]he government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.

And in terms of not being founded on "any other [non-Christian] religion"...of course. The United States was not founded on any religion, but rather on certain "self-evident Truths" that can be ascertained by man's reason alone.

Good Lord Ms. Kidd, please do some elementary historical research next time you undertake to make such bold historical claims.

Update: Brayton's on it here and here.


Mateo said...

Patrick Henry was a christian fundamentalist though, and probably wouldn't be much different from the ones we have today if he were alive. That really doesn't matter since he was a marginal founder anyways who no one took seriously.

Ed Brayton said...

Wow, this is a bizarre coincidence. A friend of mine sent me a link to the Hartsock site this morning and I wrote a post about the same fake quote without knowing that you had too, and I nailed Kidd for it as well. People are going to start thinking we were separated at birth!

David Swindle said...

Many thanks. This debate has been raging over the past week or so in my college paper, The Ball State Daily News, and on the team blog I moderate -- As soon as I saw your post I knew that I had to link to it. Great piece.

Jonathan said...

LOL. Thanks guys.

Bill Ware said...

You know you're dealing with a nut job when they start making up their own meaning for ACLU. Thanks Jon.

azdesert1957 said...

History for last two thousand years has been written by Catholics Monks. So the history that is taught in school today, next year or the next hundred years will be Catholic.
I suggest you' all do some more reading.


azdesert1957 said...

History for last two thousand years has been written by Catholics Monks. So the history that is taught in school today, next year or the next hundred years will be Catholic.
I suggest you' all do some more reading.


Anonymous said...

Catholics monks writing history? You say it like it's a good thing.,
They are liars and frauds, and care only to promote their religion.
As for the Thomas Jefferson quote,
re: art 1. "Congess shall make no law regarding the establishment of a religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Our founding Fathers had seen first hand the evils of a state church, as evidenced in most European countries (particularly Spain)and wanted none of it here. It is a fact that most of the Founding Fathers were Protestant in their beliefs, and it was decided at the first constitutional convention that Catholocism was not to be allowed to gain a foot hold in America. However, the Catholics pulled an end run and landed on the shores of a place next to Washington D.C. and they promptly founded it as ..Mary Land which we know as Maryland. Suprisingly, th A.C.L.U. hasen't figured this one out yet, or there's no money in it for them. Choice, is what American Freedom is all about, and freedom to worship according to the dictates of ones conscience is what Article One covers.