I’d never heard of Bethany Blankley before, but she’s “a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” She has a new article at the Christian Post that makes arguments so stupid that David Barton himself might find them embarrassing (though she borrows a lot from him). Like this take on the Ten Commandments, which is hilarious:
Six of the Ten Commandments specifically define civil law. The western concept and definition of murder, manslaughter, theft, assault, marriage, birth, and other civil and criminal matters are defined and ascribed judicial punishment by Mosaic law. Religious freedom and self-governance are defined in the First Commandment, family governance in the Second, private property rights in the Fifth, and having a fair trial with witnesses in the Sixth.
Say what? The first comment defines “religious freedom and self-governance”? Well yes, it says there is no religious freedom, for fuck’s sake. It forbids the worshiping of other gods or “false idols.” That’s the opposite of the First Amendment, which says people are free to worship any god they like. The second is about “family governance”? There are different numbering schemes for the rest of them, of course, but none of them fit this nonsense.
The second commandment defines “family governance”? Depending on which numbering scheme you use, that’s either the prohibition on making idols or on taking the lord’s name in vain, neither of which have anything even remotely to do with “family governance.” Private property rights in the 5th commandment? That’s either the command to keep the sabbath holy or to honor your mother and father, neither of which has anything to do with property rights. And the 6th commandment, either thou shall not kill or thou shall not commit adultery, has nothing to do with a fair trial.
And remember, most of these laws are unconstitutional under our system. The government cannot force anyone to worship the Biblical god, to keep the sabbath holy, to not make idols or graven images, or to honor their parents. It can’t punish them for adultery or coveting. The only ones that are constitutional are the bans on murder and theft, which are illegal in every country regardless of religion (for the obvious reason that you just could not sustain a society if you allowed those things). And the ban on bearing false witness is enforceable only in limited circumstances (libel and perjury). And yet these are the basis of our laws? That’s just stupid.
The founding fathers knew this, recalling Exodus 18 and 21, Leviticus 18, Ezekiel 3, and Isaiah 33:22, among others, understanding the Judeo-Christian God, the Lord, as lawgiver, judge, and king. Following this model, they devised three branches of government. Congress, the legislative branch—represents the lawgiver; the judicial branch—the judge, and the executive branch—the king, primary ruler, head of government.
Then she gives us this very strange passage about the Puritans and Roger Williams. Most fake fundie historians claim that the Puritans were the real founding fathers and they cite the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies as proof of our Christian heritage. Not Blankley. She goes in the opposite direction:
The First Amendment, for example, was designed to prevent a theocracy and protect people from totalitarianism. It wasn’t written because the 17th Century New England settlers, as Puritan separatists, opposed British kings’ laws and wanted religious freedom. The First Amendment was written because when the Puritans established laws in their new colonies they imposed authoritarian rule that they had just rejected in England as non-conformists.
John Winthrop, a Puritan attorney and Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, helped implement a largely Puritan-controlled magisterial government that prohibited anyone from voting unless the magistrate approved the Christian men who fit its criteria. Winthrop opposed codifying laws, believing that democracy was “the meanest and worst of all forms of government.” The “City on a Hill” to which he referred in an often-quoted sermon, ended up being a place that excluded anyone who disagreed with magisterial rule. His colony effectively illustrated the very non-Biblical values that restrain freedom and liberty—and the opposite of the Bible verse’s intended meaning, which he referenced.
The First Amendment exists because of Roger Williams, a Christian minister and perhaps the greatest political philosopher who shaped nearly four centuries of political thought. Upon arrival to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s, Williams opposed Winthrop’s form of government. Rejecting his freedom of conscience and ideas, the magistrates first placed Williams under house arrest, then banished him from the colony, and then sought to kill him.
This is a lot like the way the Christian right claims credit for every social advance that they worked valiantly to oppose initially. The Puritans who opposed religious freedom weren’t the real Christians, the real Christians were the Baptists like Roger Williams who were persecuted by all those fake Christians in all the other colonies. She ignores, of course, the fact that religious freedom was crushed not only in Puritan Massachusetts but in every single Christian country up to that point. Not a single Christian theologian, king or pope discovered the idea of religious freedom in the Bible for more than 1600 year, not until Enlightenment humanism came along.
Seriously, this woman makes Barton seem almost rational.