Pseudo-historian and charlatan David Barton, who now likes to pretend he has a Ph.D., but whose degree is actually in religious education from Oral Roberts University, is pushing his claim that the United States Constitution quotes directly from the Bible.
Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Constitution doesn’t even so much as mention the Bible, Barton says,
“You’ll find almost verbatim wording in many clauses of the Constitution to passages in the Bible. It’s a one-to-one correlation on the wording.”
Listen courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
No, no you won’t. No matter how long you stare at the two documents, you won’t. And no, it isn’t.
In fact, they don’t come close to saying the same thing, which is why David Barton had to resort to some sleight of hand and bald-faced lies to support his ridiculous claim.
And his method is convoluted as hell:
- First he makes the claim that “the Bible was the most frequently cited source in the Founding era.”
- Then he misquotes a study by Donald S. Lutz published in 1984 that doesn’t say anything like that to make his case.
How does that work, you ask?
Chris Rodda has expertly dismantled these claims in the past. As she proves, the most frequently cited source in the Founding era was in fact Enlightenment thinkers, not the Bible.
What Lutz actually wrote completely rejects the claims Barton is making of his study (emphasis added):
“The Bible’s prominence disappears, which is not surprising since the debate centered upon specific institutions about which the Bible has little to say. The Anti-Federalists do drag it in with respect to basic principles of government, but the Federalists’ inclination to Enlightenment rationalism is most evident here in their failure to consider the Bible relevant.”
This should come as no surprise to anyone, given the Constitution’s failure to mention the Bible, God, Jesus, or the Ten Commandments. As the old saw goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. The Constitution is not biblical. It is entirely secular.
Barton actually inflated Lutz’s figure for biblical readings by simply claiming just about anything anyone wrote came from the Bible. Rodda’s quip about Barton’s claim that the separation of powers originate in the Bible suffices as an example:
“Barton, in his ‘study,’ added things like the founders getting the idea for the concept of the separation of powers from the Book of Isaiah, because Isaiah 33:22 says, ‘For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, and the Lord is our king.’ So, there you have it: three branches of government, and they’re all ‘the Lord.’”
Barton claims if you disagree with him, you “haven’t even read the Constitution and if you have, you haven’t read the Bible, otherwise you would see the language that makes it from the Bible into the Constitution.”
Barton is certainly and very accurately describing his own problem here. He is just flat-out making stuff up at this point.
That passage Barton cited shows God as king. A king was precisely what the Founding Fathers were trying to avoid.
Needless to say, Israel was a monarchy not a democracy and when not ruled by a king was ruled by priests, another fate the Founding Fathers were eager the country they had founded to avoid.
As you can see from Rodda’s explanation, Barton’s thinking is entirely convoluted and deceptive, twisted to get the results he wants in complete contradiction of the facts set forth in the study.
In fact, the United States Constitution does not quote from the Bible, not even once. There is not even so much as a paraphrase, let alone a direct correlation in words.
And there can’t be, because the Bible says political power derives from God. The Constitution quite clearly says “We the People of the United States…do ordain and establish.”
David Barton is a liar, and a laughably bad one at that.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.