Phil Robertson is getting all manner of scrutiny these days. Given his high profile and recent controversy over his remarks to GQ, it is understandable that his prior speeches will be examined. In the one below, Robertson appears to advise marriage for young teens. I say appears because I don’t have the entire video. He did however marry his wife when she was 16 and added that one should get parental permission.
Various bloggers (e.g. Rawstory where I saw it first) have examined Robertson’s dating advice which is just silly if he really means it. I want to call attention to use of a quote falsely attributed to George Washington. At 1:10 into the clip, Robertson says:
The reason you Georgia boys can deer hunt, duck hunt, squirrel hunt, hog hunt, (holding up his Bible) that’s the reason you can do it. What I’m holding in my hand right there. That’d be a Bible. You said, now let me get this right. If it were not for this, you would not hunt here. No sir. Here’s a quote, Georgia. ‘It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.’ George Washington, your first president. You know what they said? Name the capital of our country after him!
This quote has been misused frequently over the years and can be traced back at least David Barton’s 1992 book Myth of Separation. Barton took heat over use of such quotes and issued a list of what he called unconfirmed quotes. Nonetheless, those who get their history from Barton, and perhaps Phil Robertson is one of those folks, still use the spurious quotes to bolster their Christian nation view of the Constitution, in this case the Second Amendment. Mount Vernon addresses this particular quote here and even Barton now acknowledges that there is no indication Washington ever said it.
This is another illustration of why getting history right matters. Mr. Robertson has been misinformed by some religious leader who claimed expertise in history. He probably trusted the source because of common religion. As I said in a prior post, evangelicals claim to have a message of love and reconciliation and yet they often mix it up with lots of other messages, based on faulty information, that detract from the core.