I recently received an e-mail from a friend with the interesting subject line "Should Christians respect Obama?" (link to site with complete e-mail). While I don't know if the content of the e-mail is indeed from David Barton, I was curious enough to try to find out. I never did find out but I did learn some things.
What I found out is that several left-leaning "journalists" are concerned about David Barton and what he says. Rob Boston and Chris Rodda both have quite a bit to say. And there were several more sites found in my google search that started out much the same way. These "journalists" seem to be most concerned with Barton's inaccuracies of history. But they do little to actually prove he is lying, something they both claim.
For instance, Rob Boston claims that Barton is "lying". 'But Barton's biggest whopper concerns Thomas Jefferson, who coined the metaphor "wall of separation between church and state." Jefferson used that phrase in an 1802 letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association. According to Barton, Jefferson went on to add that the "wall" was meant to be "one directional," protecting the church from the state but not the other way around, and, furthermore, that it was intended to keep "Christian principles in government."'
This little bit about separation of church and state interested me enough that off to google I went.
First stop, "Separation of church and state in the United States"on wikipedia. While I recognize that anyone with a wikipedia account can create or change pages as they wish, and that inaccuracies are possible on wikipedia, I don't believe this page or others related to our government are going to have that issue. There are too many moderators and other folks who will correct the inaccuracies.
Regardless of that, the first paragraph actually discusses the very letter that Jefferson wrote to Danbury Baptist Assoc. And it states the relevant portion of the First Amendment, that is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."
So is this a one way street as Barton claims or not? One thing that must be remembered is that the new United States had declared freedom from a country that had an "official" church, aka The Church of England. Many of the Founding Father's were Christian's, but they were not all of the same denomination. In fact, it was a fairly diverse group as listed here. What they didn't want was for the government to tell people what religion they had to belong to or to have an "officially recognized church". What Jefferson was really saying to the Danbury Baptists was "Dudes, chill. We won't let the government do what was done in Britain. We'll put up a wall between church and state so you are safe."
What Jefferson didn't say was that the churches couldn't make their opinions known to the government. He didn't say there shouldn't be prayer in schools. He didn't say that every trace of God should be removed from government. And why would he? As a Christian, that just wouldn't make sense.
It wasn't until the Supreme Court had to begin interpretting the First Amendment that things got a bit screwy. As this big melting pot we all live in began to have more religions, and people opposed to religion of any kind. And as those people became "offended" at the very principles our country was founded on.
Maybe Mr. Barton doesn't always get his history correct. Maybe he interprets things towards his side just a little. But doesn't the left do the very same thing? Or do they believe their minority viewpoint is the only correct one?
I think left-leaning journalists are scared of people like Mr. Barton. And they should be. Because it's people like Mr. Barton that get people like me to start looking at documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and what they really say. And they don't want us reading those documents, thinking about what they say, and then speaking up. It might reveal how far we've come from what our Founding Father's stood far, what their beliefs were, and what their vision for the U.S. was.
It might also make us realize that without being "under God", we would not be "One nation".