This post does not intend to be another “David Barton sucks” post. Rather it seriously asks what some of his more vocal critics have not: Who are the “righteous”?
In the most recent voter video Wallbuilders produces, Barton harps on Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation,” and asserts the Bible (and “coincidentally,” America’s Founders) teaches you need to get “the righteous” in power to enact “righteous” policy. Or else (you know).
I think I know what Barton means by “righteousness” — his socially conservative fundamentalist understanding of what the Bible teaches that is amenable to what other religious conservatives (whether Jewish, Mormon, Roman Catholic, etc.) would, in large, support. (Abortion, same sex marriage, etc.)
But who are the “righteous”? Folks who support “right” policies whether they be Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim or Atheist?
Or folks actually OF the “right” religion? And is it the case that you have to be of “the right religion” to govern effectively?
My biggest problem with Barton to date is his lack of clarity pertaining to these terms. And some of his (1) religiously conservative Christian (2) followers (I am neither) seem to be coming around. They see Barton in political-theological communion with the Mormon Glenn Beck, praying together, seemingly, to the same Providence? With the implicit suggestion that the “God” of the Declaration of Independence is One, non-descript enough that Christians, Mormons and who knows else equally can claim Him because of His non-descriptiveness? (Perhaps believers like Barton should believe the god of the DOI is a he not a He).
When Barton says the “righteous” should rule, I don’t hear him saying someone who supports righteous policy as opposed to someone who is a “Christian” like him. Not that he rejects the votes of non-Christians who support his preferred policies. No, they can come along for the ride. But the “righteous” are the “regenerate.” I don’t want to put words in his mouth. He can clarify. That reading (as others) seems very plausible, to me.
Indeed, Barton uses the term “Christian” in a narrow enough sense to suggest he doesn’t see President Obama or Speaker Pelosi as “Christians” even though they say they are. What about Glenn Beck? Where is the basis for the idea that if you are a socially conservative heretic, cult member (according to evangelical thought) you get to be “righteous” but if you are a political liberal, you are not even if you claim to be a “Christian”?
Please explain. That’s all I ask.
I’ll end with Roger Williams, no theological liberal, but a fanatical fundamentalist of the Baptist tradition. Yet, he understood religion & politics dramatically differently than did his fellow fundamentalists, the Puritans of Massachusetts.
Williams certainly wanted righteous policy, but made it clear that one’s personal religious convictions had absolutely NOTHING to do with one’s “fitness” to be a governor. And for that reason, he did away with religious tests in Rhode Island that he founded and, for the first time in Christendom (at least as it relates to America’s lineage), formed a government that did not covenant with the Triune God.
As he put it, when he noted (in a novel revolutionary sense) that the UNREGENERATE and PAGANS were just as QUALIFIED to govern as “real Christians”:
All lawful magistrates in the world…have, and can have not more power, than fundamentally lies in the bodies of fountains themselves, which power, might, or authority, is not religious, Christian, etc., but natural, human and civil. And hence, it is true, that Christian captain, Christian merchant, physician, lawyer, pilot, father, master, and (so, consequently,) magistrate, etc., is no more a captain, merchant, physician, lawyer, pilot, father, master, magistrate, etc., than a captain, merchant, etc., of any other conscience or religion… A pagan or anti-Christian pilot may be as skillful to carry the ship to its desired port as any Christian mariner or pilot in the world, and may perform that work with as much safety and speed….
America’s Founders, it should be noted, followed Williams in this regard (see Art. VI, Cl. 3 of the US Constitution). Does Barton?