Remember the travesty that was House Resolution 847? It was about “the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.” And it passed by an overwhelming margin.
House Resolution 888, which has not been voted on yet, is even worse.
It was introduced the week before Christmas by Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) and it basically tries to rewrite American history. It currently has 31 co-sponsors.
Here’s the resolution:
Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week’ for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.
As Chris Rodda writes:
This resolution, which purports to promote “education on America’s history of religious faith,” is packed with the same American history lies found on the Christian nationalist websites, and in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton. It lists a total of seventy-five “Whereas’s,” leading up to four resolves, the third of which is particularly disturbing — that the U.S. House of Representatives “rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources,” a travesty of the highest magnitude, considering that most of the “history” this resolve aims to promote in our public buildings and schools IS NOT REAL!
Chris focuses on fourteen of those “Whereas’s” and explains why they’re inaccurate. Here’s just one example of Forbes’ distortions (which Chris rips to shreds):
“Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,’ announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by their encouragement’ and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union’;”
First of all, the first two quotes in this statement, which Mr. Forbes claims were “announced” by Congress, were not the words of Congress, but come from the petition of a group of Philadelphia ministers. Second, Congress did not import any Bibles.
In 1777, three ministers from Philadelphia, Francis Alison, John Ewing, and William Marshall, came up with a plan to alleviate the Bible shortage caused by the inability to import books from England during the Revolutionary War. The ministers’ request for help from Congress, and Congress’s consideration of the ministers’ petition had to do with the problem of price gouging during the war.
The ministers’ idea was to import the necessary type and paper, and print an edition of the Bible in Philadelphia. The problem with this plan, however, was that, if the project was financed and controlled by private companies, the Bibles would most likely be bought up and resold at prices that the average American couldn’t afford. What the ministers wanted Congress to do was to import the materials and finance the printing, as a loan to be repaid by the sale of the Bibles. As Rev. Alison explained in the petition, if Congress imported the type and paper, and Congress contracted the printer, then Congress could regulate the selling price of the Bibles.(4)
The petition was referred to a committee, which concluded that it would be too costly to import the type and paper, and too risky to import them into Philadelphia, a city likely to be invaded by the British, and proposed the less risky alternative of importing already printed Bibles into different ports from a country other than England. If Congress did this, they would still be able to regulate the selling price and be reimbursed by the sales.
What appears in the Journals of the Continental Congress after the committee’s report is the following motion.
“Whereupon, the Congress was moved, to order the Committee of Commerce to import twenty thousand copies of the Bible.”(5)
The problem for those who claim or imply, as Mr. Forbes does, that the Bibles were imported is that, although this motion passed, it was not a final vote to import the Bibles. It was a vote to replace the original plan of importing the type and paper with the committee’s new proposal of importing already printed Bibles. The vote on this motion was close — seven states voted yes; six voted no. A second motion was then made to pass an actual resolution to import the Bibles, but this was postponed and never brought up again. No Bibles were imported. This little problem is solved in the religious right history books by either misquoting the motion to turn it into a resolution, or omitting the motion altogether and ending the story with some statement implying that the Bibles were imported.
See also Chapter 1 of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History, “Congress and the Bible,” at http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_chap_1.pdf
There’s a lot more where that came from.
Daily Kos says this about the bill:
If H. Res. 888 passes then the lies get enshrined, and “validated” in the Congressional Record and if that happens the people pushing the fake history will be better able to pass it off as real – hey, it’s in the Congressional Record! It must be true!
H. Res 888 is designed to make the history lies, cooked up by historical revisionists of the Christian right, more respectable. And, to the extent Congress members vote for it they become caught up in a web of complicity – the overwriting of American history.
If you want to know how to get your representatives to take action against this bill, go here for more information.
(Thanks to Vincent for the link!)