I know this will be a terrible shock to my readers, but David Barton is lying again. A lot. After a caller to his radio show told what is almost certainly a false story about a TV show that supposedly said that Thomas Jefferson “hated Christianity and considered it a dangerous religion” and that it caused the inquisition, Barton claimed that the Christianity that caused the inquisition was totally different. But first, let’s see what Jefferson actually said on the subject:
Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desireable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter. Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
And now what Barton had to say about it:
As Barton put it, the Christianity in existence during the Inquisition was one “in which the Bible had no role.”
“You had high illiteracy, people did not read, could not read the Bible,” he said. “The Bible was not available to them, it was not in their language. Folks who tried to bring the Bible to the common man got themselves killed.”
Barton’s co-host Rick Green then piped up to declare that “you almost can’t call it Christianity; it’s really a hijacked religion, it was abuse of power in the name of Christianity.”
“That’s right,” agreed Barton, as he then went on to explain that the Founding Fathers wanted the Bible taught as the foundation of public education in America in order to prevent another Inquisition from ever taking place.
“If you look at the very first public school law passed in America,” Barton said, “that act says we just came out of Europe and what they call Christianity over there is full of atrocities. That’s not it. We don’t want that in America, so in America we’re going to make sure that the Bible is the basis of all public schools because if you read the Bible, you won’t do those atrocities.”
Really? They did? I’ll take that bet. The first public school law passed in America was in Massachusetts in 1642. The text:
Forasmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoof and benefit to any Common-wealth; and whereas many parents & masters are too indulgent and negligent of their duty in that kind. It is therfore ordered that the Select men of every town, in the severall precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren & neighbours, to see, first that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families as not to indeavour to teach by themselves or others, their children & apprentices so much learning as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue, & knowledge of the Capital Lawes: upon penaltie of twentie shillings for each neglect therin. Also that all masters of families do once a week (at the least) catechize their children and servants in the grounds & principles of Religion, & if any be unable to do so much: that then at the least they procure such children or apprentices to learn some short orthodox catechism without book, that they may be able to answer unto the questions that shall be propounded to them out of such catechism by their parents or masters or any of the Select men when they shall call them to a tryall of what they have learned of this kind. And further that all parents and masters do breed & bring up their children & apprentices in some honest lawful calling, labour or employment, either in husbandry, or some other trade profitable for themselves, and the Common-wealth if they will not or cannot train them up in learning to fit them for higher employments. And if any of the Select men after admonition by them given to such masters of families shall find them still negligent of their duty in the particulars aforementioned, wherby children and servants become rude, stubborn & unruly; the said Select men with the help of two Magistrates, or the next County court for that Shire, shall take such children or apprentices from them & place them with some masters for years (boyes till they come to twenty one, and girls eighteen years of age compleat) which will more strictly look unto, and force them to submit unto government according to the rules of this order, if by fair means and former instructions they will not be drawn into it.
It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so that at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with love and false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers; and to the end that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors.
It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply, as the major part of those that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint; provided those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns.
And it is further ordered, that when any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the university, provided that if any town neglect the performance hereof above one year that every such town shall pay 5 pounds to the next school till they shall perform this order.
Nope, not there either. And bear in mind that the same colony that passed those laws did commit such atrocities, though not on the same scale. They jailed, fined, exiled and sometimes even put to death even those of a different Christian sect (Quakers and Baptists, primarily). So Barton is lying. Again.