Posted by | December 9, 2010 16:09 | Filed under: Top Stories

David Barton, the founder and president of WallBuilders, is being recruited by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to instruct tea party congressmen and congresswomen about the Constitution and Christian history (via RightWingWatch). Bachmann told David Brody of CBN:

“Every week we’ll start our week with a class on the Constitution and how maybe bills that we’re working on fit in with the Constitution – real time application…The Judeo-Christian heritage isn’t a belief. It’s a fact of our nation’s history. It’s a fact…One thing we know from the Book of Isaiah is that Isaiah tells us that the government is on His shoulders,” she said. “We can trust a holy, almighty God with our future and nothing is too big for Him.”

Nicholas P. Miller, in an article printed in Christian Ethics Today, suggests that “WallBuilders” would be more aptly called “MythBuilders.” Miller outlines eight historical fallacies the group promotes. Among them:

  • The Myth of the Explicit Constitution: In his book The Myth of Separation, David Barton repeats the New Right mantra that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights, a fact he uses to try to discredit Supreme Court cases that draw on that metaphor. Of course, constitutional principles such as the “separation of powers” and “a system of checks and balances” do not appear by name in either document either, yet all legal scholars would agree that these concepts are part and parcel of the Constitution.
  • WallBuilders’ pamphlet attempts to marginalize Jefferson’s views on religion. It claims that Jefferson’s religious views “did not represent the views of the majority of the Founders.” While Jefferson’s deism was somewhat exotic for colonial America, it didn’t necessarily drive him to unique views on church/state relations. The “wall” metaphor, as noted above, was coined by Roger Williams, a devout Baptist who organized the government of Rhode Island around the principle of separation of the civil and ecclesiastical powers. And though Williams had been long dead by the time of the American Revolution, his church/state views were forcefully held by Baptist thought leaders who were contemporaries of the constitutional convention.
  • The Myth of the National Church: Another popular fiction, promoted by WallBuilders, is that the First Amendment was meant merely to prevent the federal government from creating one national church. This position, known as “nonpreferentialism,” allows government to support religion as long as it does not “prefer” one religion over another. In other words, the Constitution prevents the establishment of one religion, but not the establishment of all religions. Apart from the impracticality of establishing all religions (would most Americans support Zoroastrianism and Jainism, not to mention Satanism?)[8], the major problem with this view is that-it’s wrong.
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By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.