Debunking an Old Lie About the Founding Fathers

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel is peddling another long-debunked lie about the founding fathers. During an episode of the Faith and Freedom radio show with Mat Staver, the dumbest lawyer in America not named Larry Klayman, Barber claimed that “many” of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and framed the Constitution were pastors.

And in fact, many of the founding fathers who signed our Declaration and were at the constitutional convention were pastors, and this misnomer, this made up, this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ that is found nowhere in the Constitution, it’s time to reunite church and state.

Many, you say? There were 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. How many were pastors? One. John Witherspoon. That was the only one, and he was also the president of Princeton University, which was his primary job. So where does this come from? From David Barton, of course, the man responsible for more lies about religion and the founding fathers than anyone else who has ever lived. Barton’s claim has long been that 55 of the 56 signers of the Declaration had “seminary” degrees.

Here’s what he leaves out, which changes the claim completely. They didn’t have seminary degrees, they had degrees from colleges like Harvard, Yale and Princeton, which were founded as seminaries and then became full universities, with the degrees earned by those men mostly in subjects like law. So Barton says they had degrees from a seminary, then others pick up on that and translate seminary degree into “pastor” and off they go, spewing utter nonsense that just conveniently happens to support their position.

And to add another level of irony to this, one of the amusing things is that those schools I mentioned, the ones those men went to, by the time of the Constitution, were widely criticized by the Christian right of that day as hotbeds of heathenism and atheism. Even the divinity schools at those colleges were viewed by the Matt Barbers of that day as little more than infidels who undermined Christian doctrine with unitarianism and universalism and other “heresies.”

And in this case, Barber tells you exactly what that position is: “It’s time to reunite church and state.” And Thomas Jefferson wept.

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