Christian Nation Apologist is Just So Bad at Logic

Whenever I hear David Barton and his followers argue that America was founded as an officially Christian nation, I can’t help but laugh at just how bad their arguments are. In particular, the equation of the founding of the colonies with the founding of the country is so utterly illogical. They even cite the evidence themselves and are still oblivious to it. Here’s a great example.

Shane Idleman gave a sermon at the Westside Christian Fellowship and Charisma magazine is promoting it. He says he recently finished reading David Barton’s Original Intent, which is full of “quotes” that Barton himself was forced to withdraw as “unproven” (meaning he had no evidence that the founders said them when he published that book and he still doesn’t). And like Barton, he points to the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony and the Mayflower Compact as though those were founding documents for the country rather than for a Puritan theocracy.

Idleman mentioned that he recently read “Original Intent,” one of Barton’s books, and he indeed sounded like it, citing the Mayflower Compact as evidence that the U.S. was founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and quoting Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush talking about the role of Divine Providence in the nation’s founding.

“If you wanted to run for office in our nation, you had to profess a faith in Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to even run for office,” Idleman said.

Yes, you did. In that colony. But not only is such language not included in the Constitution, which founded the nation, it is explicitly forbidden by that document, saying that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The fact that the Constitution explicitly rejects one of the fundamental premises of the colony whose charter he cites would make a thinking man pause and recognize that citing the first document as evidence of the meaning of the second one must be historically inaccurate. But Idleman is not a thinking man, he’s a preacher with a nonsense story to tell.

He also passed on another Barton lie, this one about Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists:

And then all these groups like to use separation of church and state. It’s nowhere in the Constitution. Nowhere. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Baptists, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not going to become a national denomination. There’ll be a wall of separation between church and state so they can work and function separately.’

This is the exact opposite of what Jefferson said. The Danbury Baptists wrote to him and said they were hoping his effort to make a clear separation between church and state would take hold at the state level and lead the states to dismantle their church/state establishments. He replied that he had no power to do that as president (the First Amendment only applied at the federal level until the 14th Amendment was passed after the civil war) but that he shared their hope and wanted to see the idea filter down to every state. And he got what he wanted. One by one, every state got rid of its established church, with Massachusetts being the last one to do so, in 1833.

They have to resort to lies and distortions because the evidence does not support their position.

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