Email to J. Matt Barber

Barber is a culture warrior and evangelical associated with among other places Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. He wrote an article for WorldNetDaily entitled Time To Reunite Church And State.

I wrote:

Matt:

I didn’t get thru your whole article (yet). [I since have.] I stopped reading after the Patrick Henry quote which is phony.

Likewise, when you write [America’s Founding Fathers] were “overwhelmingly Christian,” I have to wonder what you mean by Christian. Understanding themselves as “Christians”? Well yes, and that’s how President Obama and the Democrats in Congress today understand their religious identity. But meeting your strict test for what it means to be “Christian”? It’s simply not provable that the overwhelming majority were Christians in this sense. I doubt they were.

Regards,

Jon Rowe

This is the offending passage from Barber’s article:

John Adams, our second U.S. president, famously observed: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The U.S. Constitution, indeed our entire republican form of government, was crafted by deeply pious men who were overwhelmingly Christian. It was fashioned within the context and framework of the Judeo-Christian zeitgeist of the time and was further intended to function in harmony with a Judeo-Christian worldview – period. Though leftists may deny this reality, it remains indisputable fact. The historical record is unequivocal.

Patrick Henry said this: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”

Barber then goes on to note how Obama and the Democrats are godless, irreligious, secularists. To the contrary, as I have noted before there is more evidence that Obama is a “Christian” in some kind of minimal traditional sense than there is for George Washington or James Madison. The minimum that Obama would meet is believing Jesus a divine, resurrected Savior. On other issues like the nature of the afterlife and the infallibility of the Bible’s text, Obama is obviously not that traditional (and again, little to no evidence shows GW or JM were either). Presidents Madison, Washington and Obama all considered, or likely considered themselves “Christians.”

But I know, folks like Barber will say Obama is lying.

On the Henry quotation, it’s not just proven “unconfirmed” (as David Barton has admitted) but also extremely out of character for not only Henry, but also most other Founders. The idea that the United States is a “great nation” smacks of the post-Lincoln era. Even most (all?) Federalists of the Founding era referred to the United States in a plural sense — the United States “are” not “is.”

Henry opposed the US Constitution because it began, “we the people” as opposed to “we, the states.”

I know Henry wasn’t always so militantly anti-Federalist. But he never got close to terming the US One__Great__Nation, something that would make him want to puke. And as noted, neither did the Federalists.

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3 Responses to Email to J. Matt Barber

  1. yoshi says:

    Culture warrior? That’s being kind.

  2. Doug Indeap says:

    Here’s my response to Matt:

    Matt,

    History plainly is not your long suit. To claim your notion of “reality” is “indisputable fact” on which “[t]he historical record is unequivocal” is to reveal how little you know of what you speak.

    For example, you make much of John Adams’s observation that the Constitution was made for a moral and religious people, yet make no mention of his signing (and the Senate’s unanimous ratification) of the Treaty of Tripoli, which declared in pertinent part that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Perhaps that historical record is a might more equivocal than your passion enables you to see. As a lawyer, you will appreciate too, I trust, that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land. Appeals, no matter how often repeated, to unofficial, informal comments by some founders do not, indeed cannot, trump the declaration of the United States in a treaty that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

    To go so far as to brand those seeing things differently than you as “un-American” and “anti-American” reveals only your odd notion of what it means to be American. You appear much keener on championing your religion than your country.

    While many founders were Christian of one sort or another, care should be taken not to make too much of individual founder’s religious beliefs. In assessing the nature of our government, the religiosity of the various founders, while informative, is largely beside the point. Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that plainly establishes a secular government in the sense that it is based on the power of the people (not a deity) and says nothing substantive of god(s) or religion except in the First Amendment where the point is to confirm that each person enjoys religious liberty and that the government is not to take steps to establish religion and another provision precluding any religious test for public office. This is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. It is entirely possible for thoroughly religious folk to found a secular government and keep it separate from religion. That, indeed, is just what the founders did.

    When you next presume to lecture others about American history, you would do well to drop the quotation you attribute to Patrick Henry. It’s fake. http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/07/fake_patrick_henry_quote_found.php#more

  3. Dorothy Walker says:

    Your article, “President Obama’s assault on religious freedom may cost him the election,” is just plain rediculous. From where did you get your education? Liberty College? You are so narrow minded about important issues, especially Obama. Your religion is not the only religion in the world. Religion is a private thing between the person and God. Obama has not made an assault on religion. That is a big fat lie! You republicans are the anti-christians swarming over America like a bad insect or bug. Find a cure before God sends damnation down on your heads.

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