Boykin Expands on Barton Lie

Boykin Expands on Barton Lie August 17, 2012

As Right Wing Watch points out, the casual lies of David Barton are often magnified by others, who take some smaller falsehood told by him and turn it into an even bigger falsehood. The deranged Jerry Boykin does exactly that in this video, claiming that “the Bible is referenced four times more than any other document in our Constitution.”


Of course, the Constitution doesn’t reference any documents at all, much less the Bible. So where is he getting this from? He’s getting it from Barton, who claims in his video American’s Godly Heritage that “the founders” quoted the Bible 4 times more often than they quoted Blackstone and 12 times more often than they quoted John Locke. He didn’t say anything about documents referenced in the Constitution at all. And Barton is simply distorting — flat out lying — about a study by Donald Lutz that I’ve written about many times.

The Lutz study was not of documents written by the founding fathers, it was of 15,000 documents from the founding era — that is, 1760 to 1805. The documents studied did include some of the writings of the founding fathers themselves, but they were only a small part of the documents studied. Those documents also included newspaper articles, pamphlets, letters to and from other people, and, interestingly, sermons. Lots of them. Because in those days, sermons were often printed in newspapers.

The Lutz study does, in fact, focus specifically on the debate over the Constitution and has a section devoted to looking at the sources cited in writings about the Constitution from 1787 and 1788. Guess what? The Bible is almost entirely absent at the time. The Federalist Papers, written by Madison, Hamilton and Jay to explain and defend the new Constitution never once says that a given provision in that document is based on Biblical ideas. Not once. And neither did anyone else, at the time.

In fact, the only people quoting the Bible in regard to the Constitution during the ratification debates were those who were opposed to the Constitution and were urging people to vote against it. And Lutz says so in the very book that Barton cites, saying of the ratification debates in 1787 and 1788:

The Bible’s prominence disappears, which is not surprising since the debate centered upon specific institutions about which the Bible has little to say. The Anti-Federalists do drag it in with respect to basic principles of government, but the Federalist’s inclination to Enlightenment rationalism is most evident here in their failure to consider the Bible relevant….The debate surrounding the adoption of the Constitution was fought out mainly in the context of Montesquieu, Blackstone, the English Whigs, and major writers of the Enlightenment.

So what we have here is a textbook example of how one lie leads to an even bigger lie and then to a yet bigger lie. Barton lies about what Lutz’ study says, using it to establish the bigger lie that “the founders” — only a tiny portion of his study — cited the Bible 4 times more often than any other document, and then Boykin takes that and uses it to claim that the Constitution cites the Bible 4 times more often than any other document.

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