Historical Revisionism in the NCBCPS Curriculum
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 12:16:21 PM EST
Three weeks ago I began writing what has now turned into an ongoing series of pieces on the revisionism of American history by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBCPS). In the first three pieces, I took a look at some of the historical revisionism that appears on the NCBCPS website, as well as the lies used by NCBCPS advisory board member David Barton to promote the curriculum on his WallBuilders LIVE! radio program.

When I wrote the first three pieces in this series, I had not yet seen a copy of the NCBCPS curriculum itself. The delay in getting a copy was due to what appears to be a deliberate effort on the part of the NCBCPS to prevent the wrong part of the public from examining this public school curriculum. As I discovered when I went to the NCBCPS website to order a copy, there is no direct way to order one. The ordering process seems more like a screening process, designed to prevent the actual content of the curriculum from falling into the hands of someone like...ummm...ME.

But, where there's a will there's a way, and I did eventually manage through other means to obtain a copy. I just received this and haven't had time to go over it in detail yet, but a quick glance was all it took to confirm that the printed curriculum contains not only the lies from the NCBCPS website and David Barton's radio program that I noted in my previous pieces, but many more -- including six of the misquotes that appear on Barton's own Unconfirmed Quotations list, among them the infamous James Madison Ten Commandments misquote. What, exactly, is NCBCPS advisory board member Barton, whose advice to the readers of his website regarding these quotes is to "refrain from using them until such time that an original primary source may be found" advising the NCBCPS on?

There will be much more to come on this once I've had a chance to more thoroughly examine the curriculum, but for now, here are a few of the inaccuracies that immediately jumped out at me.

The following misleading version of the Aitken Bible story appears on page 46 of the curriculum:

Upon our Declaration of Independence, the exportation of Bibles from Great Britain to the rebelling Colonies was heavily curtailed. Our Revolution allowed us to break royal copyright control on the text of the King James Bible. In 1782 the first Bible printed in English in America was published in Philadelphia by Robert Aitken, the official printer to the United States Congress, in direct and deliberate violation of King's copyright and in defiant answer to the Bible embargo. This Bible became known as "the Bible of the Revolution."

The 1782 Aitken Bible includes a reprinting of the congressional Resolution of official support and endorsement regarding "Aitken's impression of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament," as follows:

"Sept 10, 1782:

'Whereupon, RESOLVED, that the United States and Congress Assembled highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion, as well as an instance of the progress of arts in this country...they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.'"

Although I already explained the Aitken Bible story in detail in a previous piece, Barton Revises History to Promote the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools, there are a few additional variations in this NCBCPS version that I can't let go unnoticed. One is the description of Aitken as "the official printer to the United States Congress." Aitken had for a time been the printer to the Continental Congress, but this was several years before he began printing his Bible, and one thing had nothing to do with the other. The only conceivable reason for mentioning this would be to give the impression that the printing of the Bibles was an official printing by Congress. The other is the manner in which the resolution itself is edited, particularly the emphasis put on the last sentence. This emphasis, combined with the omission of the part of the resolution that states that it was the accuracy of Aitken's edition, and not the Bible itself, that Congress was endorsing, along with the knowledge from the prior paragraph that this was a King James Version, could easily give students the impression that by their use of the word"edition" Congress was not only recommending the Bible itself, but specifically the KJV. Also, for some unexplainable reason, the picture accompanying this section on the Aitken Bible is a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, a man who has nothing whatsoever to do with the story.

Also in the NCBCPS curriculum, as well as in the information packet containing instructions for those approaching their school boards with the curriculum, is the lie about Jefferson and Bible reading in the Washington D.C. public schools. Page 233 of the curriculum also contains the misquote (admitted by Barton to be unconfirmed) that accompanies this lie on the NCBCPS website. See More Historical Revisionism from the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools for the full explanation of this lie and misquote.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the NCBCPS curriculum also contains five other misquotes from Barton's "Unconfirmed Quotations" list. I'll be getting to these in a future piece, but would first like to introduce William Federer, another history revisionist cited frequently in the footnotes of the NCBCPS curriculum. Federer's extremely popular book, America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations, contains many of the quotes that appear on David Barton's "Unconfirmed Quotations" list, in spite of the fact that this book was published several years after Barton came out with his list.

In addition to the quotes from Barton's list, the NCBCPS curriculum contains other misquotes that appear in Federer's book, including the following, on page 250:

"Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues." (March 4th, 1804)

Our Third President

This misquote comes from the following lie in Federer's book:

President Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1805, offered A National Prayer for Peace:

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.

Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of earth.

In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

Federer gives two sources for this prayer. The first is the 1944 book The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson. All that appears on the page of this book cited by Federer, however, is part of Jefferson's second Inaugural Address, given on March 4, 1805, the same date used by Federer for the prayer. Federer's second source is a newsletter published by the Plymouth Rock Foundation, one of many Christian reconstructionist organizations that masquerade as historical societies.

The real source of the prayer is the 1928 edition of the United States version of the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, published over a century after Jefferson's death. This prayer, entitled For Our Country, was a new addition in the 1928 edition. It does not appear in the 1789 edition, which was the edition in use in 1804, or the next edition, published in 1892. Since appearing in Federer's book, however, this twentieth century prayer has been erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson on hundreds of Christian American history websites, and, along with the other lies and misquotes that I've exposed in my prior pieces or will expose in the rest of this series, is now being presented as historical truth in our public schools via the NCBCPS course.

Previous articles in this series on Historical Revisionism from the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools:

Barton Revises History to Promote the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools - 3/24/2007
More Historical Revisionism from the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools - 3/18/2007
Historical Revisionism from the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools - 3/10/2007

It is important to thoroughly address the distortions of this curriculum now used in nearly 400 school districts. Here is all that Time magazine had to say about it in the context of its current cover story advocating teaching the Bible in the public schools:

The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which has offered its curriculum since 1993, claims a bigger market (382 schools in 37 states) than the newcomer (85 school districts in 30 states). But its 1999 edition reportedly recommended materials from something called the Creation Evidence Museum; a "question for reflection" in the 2005 version suggested that the logistics of Noah's Ark would have been more manageable if some of the animals were babies or hibernating. In 2002 a Florida district court ruled unconstitutional a course that critics claim was loosely based on its New Testament portion (the Council denies a connection). Its spokespeople claim it is refining itself as it goes and its most recent edition, which came out last month, eliminates much literalist bias--but still devotes 18 lines to the blatantly unscientific notion that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 11:36:47 PM EST
It is indeed a sad day when the alleged purveyors of truth resort to deliberate deception to promote a politically religious dogma.

Another Jefferson misquote I see often, and appears on Brainy Quotes, is the one that states the price of freedom as eternal vigilance.

I read Jefferson's writings, and have never found it. I also accessed the University of Virginia's site of jefferson quotations, and that came up blank as well.

A Dr. Winell has written a book titled Leaving The Fold , and I heard her on the radio. When asked what could be done to counter the often lacking moral character movement by evangelicals to subvert our form of government with their doctrines, she stated that critical think was an important element in deprogramming them.

So thanks for the fine presentation of the truth here.

by Leckey on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:57:47 AM EST

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