David Barton’s Appalling Lie that the Constitution Puts God’s Law Above Man’s Law

From the Religious Right’s response to Kim Davis’ arrest, you would think none of them had ever heard of the United States Constitution. David Barton, the Religious Right’s premier fake historian, in Houston to attend Deputy Darren Goforth’s funeral, proclaimed that “the Founding Fathers made it real clear that the laws of God are higher than the laws of man.” According to Barton, “This is a law of God. Man’s law is not allowed to contradict God’s law.”

In fact, it is exactly the opposite. The United States Constitution was written by those same Founding Fathers to put humans, not deities, in the driver’s seat, that political power derives from the hands of the people and the consent of the governed. You could not tell a bigger lie than David Barton just did if you tried.

Watch courtesy of Right Wing Watch:

Barton must have a special copy of the Constitution, one nobody else has ever seen, because nowhere did the Founding Fathers say God’s law was the law of the land. It would be difficult to do when the Constitution doesn’t even mention God – or the Bible, or the Ten Commandments. Thomas Jefferson, with his low opinion of the Church and its bloody history, didn’t give them a mention in the Declaration of Independence either.

Seems pretty cut and dried, doesn’t it? And yet this is more than just trumping the Constitution with God’s law, as discussed here yesterday by Muse; it is implying the Constitution itself puts God’s law first.

The Founding Fathers gave us a new nation, with the best institutions the Enlightenment had to offer. They had their pick when using models out of ancient history. But it wasn’t monotheistic ancient Israel that interested these men. It was ancient Pagan Greece with its democratic ideal, and Pagan Rome with its republic and its senate. It was the Pagan Anglo-Saxons and their common law.

Barton added, “That’s why we’re a Republic, not a democracy.” A republic puts the law of God above the law of man and a democracy doesn’t? When, exactly, did this transformation in political science take place?

In fact, the United States is a democracy, in that political power derives from the consent of the governed. It is also a republic. When, in the Federalist Papers No. 10, James Madison contrasted republics and democracies, he did so according to the 18th century definition of a democracy being a “direct democracy,” like that found in ancient Athens, which not only led to chaos, but which did not give adequate protections to minorities.

David Barton claims here that what sets republics and democracies apart is a “higher power” – i.e. God. It is not of course.

In the Federalist Papers No. 39, Madison explained that a republic “is a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.”

He is describing, in modern terms, a representative form of government. The government, in fact, given us by the United States Constitution. He is not describing anything found in the Bible, which offers us a choice between a monarch ruling by divine right, or an outright theocracy with priests calling the shots on behalf of God. Nothing in the Federalist Papers suggest that God’s law trumps man’s law. As with the Constitution, rather the contrary, in fact.

The word “republic” itself comes from the Latin, res publica, or “public thing,” and all it means is that the people govern for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of, say, a king. Rome was a Republic. It drove out its last king and hated the very idea of monarchy as a form of tyranny.

The Roman idea of a republic had nothing to do with god, or with gods, and everything to do with the people and how those people viewed the role of their government; the difference between Rome and Athens is that the Athenians embraced the idea of one man, one vote, whereas the Romans elected representatives to rule over them.

Thus we find Article IV, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, which states “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

Only a mental defective would understand this to mean imposition of theocracy, which is what David Barton is proposing. Barton may or may not actually believe it, but disbelief only means he is the most audacious liar in American history.

For the Romans, who so inspired Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, the idea of Republic was found in the acronym SPQR – Senatus Populusque Romanus – the Senate and the People of Rome. Not the gods and Rome. Not even the gods and the people and the senate. Just the senate and the people as a single voice.

What all this goes to prove is that David Barton is a liar, and a rather bad liar at that. You cannot expect to just invent things out of whole cloth that are contradicted by the facts and not be challenged. Of course, scholars have been challenging Barton’s lies for years, as have the folks at Right Wing Watch, and as I have here.

The extent to which he still finds welcome has a lot to do with the company he keeps. Glenn Beck is Barton’s BFF, as is Mike Huckabee, who said years ago he wants us all to listen to Barton at gunpoint – which, let’s face it, is about the only way that’s going to happen.

It is no surprise that Republicans prefer made up history, given their preference for made up facts. Fake facts demand fake history to back them up, with the result that they are living not in the real world, cognizant of real world facts and our shared reality, but in a fantasy novel they are making up as they go along.

Only subscribers to this fake reality will subscribe to Barton’s monstrous lies. Of course, pretty much everything that comes out of Barton’s mouth is a monstrous lie, this not least among them.

37 Replies to “David Barton’s Appalling Lie that the Constitution Puts God’s Law Above Man’s Law”

  1. Does it say whose God? The “religious”right has constantly tried to re-write the Bible AND the Constitution to suit their extremist propaganda. They’re brand of Sharia Law is appalling. How dare they attack Muslims.

  2. It is a tale told across History’s landscape…
    Religion, unleashed, is civilization’s poison.

    This Nation’s leash, frayed, is still strong;
    but enable GOP’s Zealot to pack SCOTUS,
    and we are doomed.

  3. I’m a Catholic, but I believe in separation of church and state absolutely. The Founding Fathers were right to keep them separate.

  4. Who is this guy again? Is he a wanted fugitive from justice? Is that why he’s giving an “interview” from the back seat of an SUV driving down the highway?

  5. Somehow, I get the feeling that people like Barton wants the US to be ruled under an iron fist with no freedoms whatsoever.

    His lack of knowledge is appalling and his attempts at rewriting history is disingenuous at best.

    Our Constitution is infallible and poignant. I don’t know where he gets his information from, but my last 40 years of public education tells me differently.

    We are a country ruled by laws made by man. Not God. And certainly not Christianity.

    If these people want to be ruled by a theocracy, they can move to Iran.

  6. I disagree with David Barton’s opinions on every level, however calling him a liar is a compliment, I would call him an ignorant fool.

  7. These ‘fundamentalists’ have a certain position in their circle they like to maintain and they will twist anything and take out of context in order to do so. It is scary on one level to someone with a rational brain and independent thought. They are only one notch above their followers in intelligence and sometimes not even as intelligent, just driven to maintain their position.

  8. …just another “neo-historical antiChristian Teahadist polymorphrodite Idiotologue spouting Idiotology…
    {{{Bugs Bunny voice}}} “What a MAROON!!!”

  9. “Festinger (Leon Festinger’s “Failed Prophecy”, 1959) predicted that the inevitable disconfirmation would be followed by an enthusiastic effort at proselytizing to seek social support and lessen the pain of disconfirmation.

    Quick back-ground: Festinger is the father of the cognitive dissonance theory; disconfirmation is what occurs when the prophecy fails or is proven to be a lie for all the world to see. Followers belonging to apocalyptic groups are continuously in a state of disconfirmation.

    Barton is an apocalyptic carpetbagger; he makes his living through his “enthusiasm” for making stuff up based on his REAL belief that popularity leads to profit and vice versa! All he’s doing is creating a closed-loop set of lies of carefully crafted so that apocalyptic followers feel no pain once he rings his “Pavlovian Bell.

    The more they “stick together” (behind Barton) the more they confirm their lie; since more than one of them believes the lie, it must therefore be true.

  10. He’s in the back of an SUV with Glenda Beck (like Warren Jeff’s getaway??) because, they’re counting the money on the way to a private island getaway where they have gay sex…that’s just a rumor I read somewhere all over that woman sitting behind them who looks both terribly suspicious and terrified of both of them…

  11. When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-

  12. Nothing Christian about these charlatan xtians at all. Their gawd is totally false. They are nothing but chickenshits and hate mongers. David Barton is a joke who panders to mainly hillbilly rubes. And Glenn Beck is mentally ill.

  13. When someone knows the truth about a given subject, but spews out misinformation anyway, you can be kind and call them a “revisionist historian”, or an “alternate theoretician”. Or you can call him a G-d, MFing liar.

    The trouble is, Foxtards and the rest of the “proudly ignorant” are too damned lazy to look anything up.

  14. You failed!!!

    -That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.-

    That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (declaring that the 13 colonies were independent sovereign states from Great Britain).

    The Declaration of Independence is not the Constitution!

    The Constitution is the supreme law of the USA and does not have anything to do with nor does it say anything about religion!!!

  15. How about the popular religious lie that our laws are based on the Ten Commandments?

    The 10C’s are so sacred and revered because, according to the Hebrew Bible, they came directly from the mouth of God.

    So why didn’t the Big Guy ban homosexual acts while he was at it? God could have mentioned it to Moses at the time, if he had wanted Kim Davis in jail to protest gay marriage.

    Sure, there’s the one about adultery, but it’s the only Commandment that addresses sex. No mouth-of-God prohibitions against incest, rape, child molestation, prostitution, orgies, fornication, bestiality, pornography, nudity, or masturbation. Sure, the Bible mentions some of these here and there. They’re just unworthy to be in the top 10.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that Kim Davis has broken one of her Lord’s most important laws…and gays haven’t.

  16. Another GOPer on meth. The “signers” of the US Constitution were breaking away from the Church of England! Hence, there is no mention of any deity in the US Constitution and why there is a 1st Amendment.

    Do you see where this is heading folks?

  17. Is it legally possible for Kim Davis to be held in custody until her Personal-Supreme-Authority drops by to pick her up ?

  18. “…Thomas Jefferson, with his low opinion of the Church and its bloody history, didn’t give them a mention in the Declaration of Independence either.”

    Thomas Jefferson also produced what is commonly referred to as the “Jefferson Bible” in which he physically cut out all mentions of miracles and divinity and left only the moral teachings of Jesus, which he thought were first rate.

  19. David Barton is not ignorant; he’s a dangerous liar.

    ‘He has been described as a Christian nationalist and “one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians”; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed, that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.’

    ‘In his book The Myth of Separation, Barton argues that Christians were the ones who were intended to hold public office and that Jews and members of other sects were not’

  20. Hmm, sounds like someone is bearing false witness. Isn’t there a commandment against that somewhere?

  21. Where does this ‘good gentleman’ get that?
    God is never mentioned in the Constitution. Religion is only mentioned twice, both times in the negative:
    A religious test for office is prohibited and any establishment of religion or restraint on the practice of religion are prohibited.

  22. Check out the book “THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF AMERICA’S FOUNDERS”. (Reason, Revelation, and Revolution) By Gregg Frazer 2012 University Press of Kansas. Aso in e-book.

    Great researched History. Honest and thought provoking, on both sides of the spectrum. The greatest reason for separation of church and State arguments.

  23. And this clown is different from the taliban/isis/isil, how? Oh yeah, so far, he hasn’t suggested that heads be lopped off for being a non-believer…yet. What part about separation of church and state do these phony charlatans not understand? Phony covers it. (or perhaps, crazy)

  24. I know according to the righties that muricans are Gods chosen peeps, so can anyone point out to me where I find the word America or the term United States in the Bible?

  25. It still amazes me how insightful the Founders were:

    “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    That is such a profound statement, and so contrary to folks like David Barton, who would have it say “laying its foundation on the Word of God.”

    But no, the founders were clear-thinking humanists, who plainly said, We will build our nation on a foundation of whatever seems to “the People” most likely to bring them happiness and safety.

    The Founders say that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, while the Bible says that government derives its authority from God.(“The powers that be are ordained of God. Rom 13: 1) Two diametrically opposed ideas, and the men who wrote about the consent of the governed knew the other point of view quite well, and explicitly rejected it.

  26. in a theocracy I guess. In the United States, not so much.
    Whose God? How about the God who hates women driving?

  27. a lot of Americans are unaware that the American Indian political framework influenced our country’s structure. reading “Indian Givers” showed me how Benjamin Franklin met with the Iroquis confederation and used many ideas such as one man one vote, an assembly composed of an elected representative from each tribe to make or change rules among other similarities to our government. Franklin wanted to implement other ideas such as one Congress, not the two houses we have, but did bring these ideas to be implemented by the Founding Fathers.

  28. Exactly. Barton’s lies are too calculated to be the simple result of ignorance. His entire reason for being is to retcon American history into a twisted Christianity-affirming alternate reality.

  29. Sounds pretty pagan to me… “Nature’s God” would be Gaia, wouldn’t it? Seems weird that they didn’t specifically mention Christ. Almost as though they were purposely vague so as to be equally inclusive of all beliefs?

    Nah, that couldn’t be it.

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