Beck Can’t Even Keep His Lies Straight

Glenn Beck did his best David Barton impersonation once again on his radio show, declaring that “thirty percent of everything in our founding documents comes from one book, the Book of Deuteronomy.” He can’t even keep the lies straight in his head anymore.

So what’s this all about? It’s about that infamous Donald Lutz study that has been lied about so blatantly by David Barton and other Christian right historical revisionists. Lutz’ study was of documents published during the founding era, not about “our founding documents.” 34% of the citations made in those published documents were to the Bible, not the book of Deuteronomy. And 75% of those Biblical citations came not from anything written or said by the founding fathers but from sermons that were republished as pamphlets, as was very common at the time. So what the study actually showed was that Christian sermons cite the Bible a lot. What a shock.

And perhaps the most interesting part of Lutz’ study, which is never mentioned by Barton and Beck and their ilk, is that during 1787 and 1788, when the constitution was being written and ratified, the Bible is not mentioned once in all of the documents that came from the Federalists, those who advocated the passage of the Constitution. But they did mention Enlightenment philosophers 34% of the time and classical philosophers (Roman and Greek) 33% of the time. But the anti-Federalists, those who opposed the passage of the Constitution, cited the bible 9% of the time to justify their opposition to its passage.

You can find all this information on an old post by Chris Rodda at Talk2Action.

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  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Deuteronomy? hmm… yeah because this :

    ” Deuteronomy 25:2 ‘If the guilty party deserves to be beaten, the judge will have him lie down and be beaten in his presence.’

    Is how the US legal system works right? Er, wait a sec!

  • eric

    That must be why we ended up with the entire Article 8 being about shellfish.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Also note to Beck, Barton and co – compare and contrast what Deuteronomy says about, say, religious tolerance for instance here :

    (Vlick back and forth there for context and Biblical rule.)

    with the US first amendment :

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

    Source : its Wikipedia page.

    Their own supposedly favourite documents and their own Holy Book – have these guys actually read ’em? Makes me wonder.

  • Larry

    Is how the US legal system works right

    SteveR, yes. In parts of Arizona and Mississippi. And “deserving” is subject to skin coloration.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    I also wonder, *if* United States law and government was based on Deuteronomy umm, Leviticus (meh, close enough amirite?) would y’all have started with something like Obamacare only involving compulsory literal head (well scalp) checks by priests?

    Like this verse decrees :

  • YOB – Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    35% of percentages are less than 36 but only 65% are above 35.

  • raven

    He can’t even keep the lies straight in his head anymore.

    It’s not that he can’t keep his lies straight. He just doesn’t care. The truth is irrelevant.

    Beck is an entertainer and conperson. It’s all he has ever done. He started out as a Top 40 DJ on radio.

    It’s proven highly profitable to him with a fortune estimated at $100 million.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The First Amendment is totally consistent with Deuteronomy. Congress has not power to negate the establishment of True Christianity™ nor to interfere with free exercise of it. Blasphemy, of course, is something else again.

  • raven

    Deuternonomy is where the famous bilbical command to stone disobedient children to death is written.

    That is why there is a giant pile of tiny human bones at the gates to every American city.

    Deuteronomy 21:

    18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.”

    21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

    The bible also commands stoning false prophets to death. That is why Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Harold Camping, and the entire Fox NoNews staff were stoned to death on cable TV.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!
  • Trebuchet

    Beck doesn’t NEED to keep his lies straight. The faithful will swallow it, hook line and stinker, regardless.

  • parasiteboy

    Lutz’ study was of documents published during the founding era, not about “our founding documents.” 34% of the citations made in those published documents were to the Bible, not the book of Deuteronomy.

    Not quite right. His study focused on the influence of European writers on late eighteenth-century American political thought (see citation below). And although he did not focus on the content of the constitution per se, he did focus on the federalist/anti-federalist writing. Here is the most relevant portion of the paper for this post (note that table 5 is omitted because it breaks down the influence of various European writers)

    The Pattern of Citations from 1787 to 1788

    Tables 4 and 5 illustrate the pattern of citations surrounding the debate on the U.S. Constitution. The items from which the citations for these two tables are drawn come close to exhausting the literature written by both sides. The Bible’s prominence disappears, which is not surprising since the debate centered upon specific institutions about which the Bible had 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. Surprisingly, both sides use Enlightenment and Whig authors in about the same proportion.

    Table 4. Distribution of Citations: Federalist Versus Antifederalist

    Federalist, Antifederalist, Total for 1780s

    Bible 0 9 34

    Enlightenment 34 38 24

    Whig 23 29 19

    Common Law 8 12 9

    Classical 33 9 10

    Peers 1 2 3

    Other 1 1 1

    N 164 364 1306

    If we ask what book was most frequently cited by Americans during the founding era, the answer somewhat surprisingly is: the Book of Deuteronomy. From Table 1 we can see that the biblical tradition is most prominent among the citations. Anyone familiar with the literature will know that most of these citations come from sermons reprinted as pamphlets; hundreds of sermons were reprinted during the era, amounting to at least 10% of all pamphlets published. These reprinted sermons accounted for almost three-fourths of the biblical citations, making this nonsermon source of biblical citations roughly as important as the Classical or Common Law categories. Since our concern in this essay is with sorting out the relative influence of European thinkers, the problem of how to count biblical citations is not important. It is relevant, nonetheless, to note the prominence of biblical sources for American political thought, since it was highly influential in our political tradition, and is not always given the attention it deserves (Lutz, 1980).

    Table 1. Distribution of Citations by Decade (%)

    1760s, 1770s, 1780s, 1790s, 1800-05, Total Number

    Bible 24 44 34 29 38 34

    Enlightenment 32 18 24 21 18 22*

    Whig 10 20 19 17 15 18

    Common Law 12 4 9 14 20 11

    Classical 8 11 10 11 2 9

    Peers 6 2 3 6 5 4

    For those of you interested in the article pass along the citation below to someone you know at a college or university and ask them to get you a PDF copy through their inter-library loan.

    Lutz, D. S. (1984). The relative influence of European writers on late eighteenth-century American political thought. The American political science review, 189-197.

  • parasiteboy

    Sorry, here is the end of table 1 (from parasiteboy@12)

    Other 8 1 1 2 2 2

    N 216 544 1306 674 414 3154

    *If we break Bailyn’s Enlightenment category into the three sub-categories described by Lundberg and May, the results are not significantly altered. The “First Enlightenment,” dominated by Montesquieu, Locke, and Pufendorf, comprises 16% of all citations. The more radical writers of the “Second Enlightenment,” men like Voltaire, Diderot, and Helvetius, garner 2% of the citations. The “ThirdEnlightenment,” typified by BeRousseau, Mably, and Raynal, receives 4% of the citations, to bring the total back to the 22% listed here.

  • parasiteboy

    Ha, I just realized that the link Ed gave of Chris Rodda’s old post has the scanned tables and similar parts from Lutz’s article:-/