"Fellowship"/"Family" Showcases Falsified American History
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 08:53:56 PM EST
[I originally posted this on September 15, 2007. Now, with the airing of an NBC news special report on "The Fellowship" (also known as "The Family") which is the subject of a new book from Journalist Jeff Sharlet due out in May, my story of falsified American history showcased yearly at the National Prayer Breakfast, the only public event of The Fellowship/Family has suddenly gained new relevance]

image, right: leading US politicians clap for falsified "Christian nation" history at the 2007 "National Prayer Breakfast" ? In this post I document the citation, in the US Senate, Congress, and at the "National Prayer Breakfast", of a key falsified ("unconfirmed") purported George Washington quote that gets routinely held up as evidence by those who claim the US was founded as a "Christian Nation". In short, many of America's leading politicians have sanctioned, repeatedly and for years, whether by intent or through ignorance of basic American history - by neither protesting or even publicly recognizing this as un-sourced, a key piece of highly dubious 'evidence' held up by Christian nationalists to assert that the founding fathers intended the US to be a Christian, "Biblical" nation.

My point is not to bash Hillary Clinton or John McCain specifically - in fact, I haven't been able to find one politician, on EITHER side of the aisles of the Senate or Congress, who has either made public recognition of, or complained about, fake US history that has been declaimed in the Senate, Congress, or at the "National Prayer Breakfast" in recent years.

note: for a simple action you can take to help fight fake history, see the end of this post

This increasing flood of fake US history is changing the beliefs of American voters so that the last several years seem to have shown a measurable shift ; a majority of Americans now believe the US was founded as a Christian nation, and the Democratic Party's front running candidates for the 2008 Presidency are unable to identify the Christian right's falsified history when it's staring them in the face or when it's cited at major national events and on the floor of the US Senate.

With strong church-state separation advocates losing so badly, on the PR front, truth is irrelevant. Historical truth can be made relevant again, of course, but only with the birth of a true movement that recognizes that US history is rapidly being overwritten and works to combat and reverse that trend.

I'm going to demonstrate that claim with three types of evidence :

First, a new poll that demonstrates a majority of Americans now believe the US was founded as a Christian nation.

Second, printed instances, in books found on Google Book Search, of one particular falsified (or "unconfirmed as David Barton puts it) Washington quote have proliferated dramatically in the decade and quite explosively so in the last four years.

Third, not ONE single member of the US Congress or the US Senate appears to have recognized one particular and highly dubious alleged Washington quote, "Washington's Prayer" that has been cited several times on the floor of the Senate and Congress, and printed in the program of the "National Prayer Breakfast" for the last several years (and probably for decades).

*

ONE

Most Americans now believe the US was founded as a Christian nation.

A new poll, from the First Amendment Center, lays it starkly out:

WASHINGTON -- Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the "State of the First Amendment 2007" national survey released today by the First Amendment Center.

Here's a condensed summary of the study results, by Talk To Action contributor Don Byrd:

Only 19% of Americans could name religious freedom as one of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (64% new that free speech was protected there).

Only just over half - 56% (down from 72% in 2000) - believe "the freedom to worship as one chooses...applies to all religious groups" and was "never meant to apply to religious groups that most people would consider extreme or fringe." And still, 97% believe the "right to practice the religion of your choice" is either essential or important. (I suppose many took that to mean just it's important that they have that right, not that everybody does...)

43% believe that in December "(p)ublic schools should be allowed to put on Nativity re-enactments with Christian music." (up from 36% 2 years ago.)

A whopping 58% - oh. my. gosh - agree with this statement: Teachers and other public school officials should be allowed to lead prayers in public school.  (my emphasis)

65% have bought into revisionist claims and agree that "The nation's founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation." (worth noting that 46% strongly agree)

55% believe that the Constitution "establishes a Christian nation." And only 26% strongly disagree with that claim. (I wonder how many would be shocked to know that "establish" is precisely the verb the Constitution uses for what the government is not allowed to do with religion.)

50% agree that public school teachers should be able to use the Bible as a factual text in a history or social studies class.

The poll was made up of 30% self-described Democrats, 28% Republicans and 26% Independents.

*

TWO

Let's take just one instance of a fake (or "unconfirmed") "founding father" quote alleged to have been uttered by George Washington.

Here's the quote:

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible"

The US Library Of Congress has a massive collection of Washington documents that can be searched by word or phrase. Here's the description of that collection:

The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Washington documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, letterbooks, commonplace books, diaries, journals, financial account books, military records, reports, and notes accumulated by Washington from 1741 through 1799.

A search on the alleged Washington quote, and phrases from within the quote, produces no results.

Newt Gingrich claims the quote is from Washington's "personal journal", while others claim the quote is from Washington's Farewell Address. That is certainly false, and it is possible that some documents exist, in a private collection, that might help substantiate Newt Gingrich's claim but such sources, if they exist, have not been made public. Thus, David Barton - who has been  himself accused of the falsification of history, has listed the purported Washington quote as "unconfirmed".

That's the truth of it, but the truth doesn't matter - the fake (unconfirmed) Washington quote is gaining ground, in the American public mind, as "real".

Here are the facts:

A search of Google Books, for the term "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible" produces 48 results, of 48 book in which the quote is to be found. Here is a breakdown of when those books are published. Also note : Google might be prioritizing more recent books for scanning and indexing first. Even so, the results should be sobering.

1893 ( first recorded instance )

1911

1927 ( x2 )

1946

1965

1976

1985

1990
1996 ( x2 )
1997

2000-2003 ( x10 )

2004-2007 ( x21 )

In other words, 31/48 of the instances of the quote appearing in books found on Google Book Search are from books published in the last eight years. Two of the books are undated but appear to have been published recently, and adding those to the books published since 1996 we find that  36/48 of the instances, exactly 3/4, of the quote show up in books from the last 12 years. It is safe to say, I think, that the quote is gaining public credence.

A Google search of the exact phrase "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible" produces 923 hits, most of which claim the purported quote is from Washington. Many of those hits are from Christian churches and home schooling websites.

*

THREE

Here is the most damning evidence of all : NONE of America's leading politicians, including the Democratic Party frontrunners for the 2008 presidential election, appear able to identify one of the more egregious falsifications of George Washington's writing that seems to have been perpetrated.

One of the more egregious ? Yes, let me explain.

In June of 1783, George Washington wrote a circular letter to the Governors of the Thirteen States announcing his resignation as Commander and Chief of the Armies Of The United States, upon the disbanding of the army. This letter is considered one of the more significant documents from American history, and for a number of reasons. The period of Washington's Circular Letter was a time of considerable economic and political turmoil for the newly forming nation, and there was some fear that Washington might heed the encouragement of some who were urging that he simply declare himself king. Washington did not heed such advice and opted, with considerable grace, to step down from his position as top military commander.

The exact origins of the alleged "Washington's Prayer" have not yet been fully traced*  but the actual text of the prayer has been identified - "Washington Prayer" is actually a bastardized version of text excerpted from the end of Washington's Circular Letter and then substantially altered.

The sobering point I am about to make is this : not ONE United States Senator or Congress Member, or any of their aides, has shown an ability to recognize or a willingness to call out the fabrication if they did recognize it, a falsified quote constructed from one of the more important source documents of American history. Our leading public servants, nearly every one, have shown themselves to be either cowards or history ignoramuses and that sorry state of events shows how much ground the Christian right's falsified American history has gained.

It's quasi official, declaimed on the floor of the United States Senate and showcased at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Here is the text of the falsified "Washington's Prayer, with text that has been added, to the original parent text derived from Washington;s Circular Letter, in capital letters:

ALMIGHTY GOD, WE MAKE OUR EARNEST PRAYER THAT THOU WILT KEEP THESE UNITED STATES in THY holy protection, that THOU wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, And finally that THOU wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of Whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. GRANT OUR SUPPLICATION, WE BESEECH THEE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN.

Here is the parent text, from Washington's Circular Letter, with text that has been omitted, in the purported "Washington's Prayer",in capital letters:

"I NOW MAKE IT MY EARNEST PRAYER, THAT GOD WOULD HAVE YOU, AND THE STATE OVER WHICH YOU PRESIDE, in HIS holy protection; that HE would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, AND PARTICULARLY FOR THEIR BRETHREN WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE FIELD; and finally, that HE would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose examples in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

"I HAVE THE HONOR TO BE, WITH MUCH ESTEEM AND RESPECT, SIR, YOUR EXCELLENCY'S MOST OBEDIENT AND MOST HUMBLE SERVANT. -- G. WASHINGTON."

So, what instances are there of major US politicians failing to recognize this falsification ?

Let's start at the February 2007 National Prayer Breakfast. As Joel Rosenberg, who attended the event, describes it:

For one brief shining moment yesterday, bitter partisanship was replaced by prayer, and it couldn't have been more refreshing.

Lynn and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 55th Annual National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton, along with 4,000 business and political leaders, diplomats, military officials and journalists representing all 50 states and 160 different countries. We met and shook hands with Sen. Barack Obama, perhaps the biggest rock star to move through the room since Bono came as the keynote speaker last year. The President and First Lady were gracious and humble, breaking bread with Democratic leaders while thanking Americans for being "a nation of prayer" and for praying for our troops overseas and our leaders here at home. Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain sat together, swapping stories and jokes and taking [emphasis mine]

So, guess what appears to have been printed as part of the official program for the 2007 National Prayer Breakfast ? As Linda Bowman of Tje religion Network, who attended the February 1, 2007 National Prayer breakfast wrote, about her writeup of the event: "every single quote on today's site is from the program of the 2007 National Prayer Breakfast." Bowman lists "Washington's Prayer" as being on the program. Here's her exultant description:

Four thousand people representing 160 nations came
to the International Ballroom of the HIlton Washington in our nation's
Capitol for the purpose of prayer.

Key figures in attendance were President George W. Bush and the First Lady; General Peter Pace, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; numerous members of Congress, including Senator John Mc Cain and Senator HIllary Clinton; and Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, who served as the morning's keynote speaker. At the end of Dr. Collins' thought-provoking speech, which was delivered with great humility and humor, he pulled out his guitar and asked everyone present to please join him in singing a hymn, the words to which were in our program. As he strummed his lone guitar, the 3000 guests in the main ballroom and the 1000 others in the auxiliary room sang. Even foreign visitors with translator headsets on their heads joined in, until the room fully, joyously, loudly reverberated in praise.

As "the last word", Bowman quotes "Washington's Prayer" which she attributes as "George Washington's Prayer for the United States of America
June 8, 1783" ( that would have been the date Washington probably drafted his Circular Letter )

So, was this rather public citation of what is almost certainly a falsified "prayer" an anomaly at the "National Prayer Breakfast". No, not at all. The New Jersey Jewish Standard reported, about the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast in a story titled "Prayer Breakfast Offers Less Jesus":

" "It was significantly better this year," Rothman told the Standard. "The material and the speakers were much more inclusive, and they removed any reference that appeared last year that Jesus transcends all religions."

The literature from the event that Rothman provided the Standard, including the event's program, which was at every place setting at the Hilton, along with some literature available on each table, was still very Jesus- and God-centric.

It included quotes from a number of U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton to both of the Bushes. Among them was George Washington's prayer for the United States of America from June 8, 1783, which ends "Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord." " [emphasis mine"

A 2001 article from Christian Century reveals the fake "Washington's Prayer" was a staple of the National Prayer Breakfast in that year:

"Despite the marked changes in the religious makeup of America since the breakfast was inaugurated in 1952, it is still a Christian event. George Washington's 1783 prayer for the United States, ending with "Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord," served as the printed invocation and gave cover to many on the rostrum who concluded their own prayers in similar form. The brochure at each seat, which contained inspirational quotations as well as remarks delivered at prayer breakfasts past, included words from notable nonChristians Plato, Gandhi and Jefferson, but far more were in the vein of former Senator Sam Nunn's observation that "[Jesus] ... gave us the opportunity for redemption and the hope of eternal life." There is of course nothing wrong with a National Christian Prayer Breakfast as long as everyone knows what they are paying for and taxpayers are not the ones doing it." [emphasis mine]

In other words, "Washington's [fake] Prayer" was the spoken invocation at the 2001 National Prayer Breakfast and likely has been every year since, if not at every National Prayer Breakfast for decades; The 2005 Congressional Record indicates that the "Prayer" was cited at the National Prayer Breakfast too.  

Here's an excerpt from George W. Bush's speech at the 2007 National Prayer Breakfast:

Good morning. Laura and I are honored to join you here at the 55th National Prayer Breakfast. You know, it's is an amazing country, isn't it, when people from all walks of life gather to recognize our dependence on an Almighty God, and to ask him for blessings in our life. I think a breakfast such as this speaks to the true strength of the United States of America. (Applause.)

We come from many different faiths, yet we share this profound conviction: We believe that God listens to the voice of His children, and pours His grace upon those who seek Him in prayer. I appreciate, Mr. Congressman, you and Jo Ann Davis, for leading this prayer breakfast. And thanks for paying tribute to my wife. (Applause.)

I appreciate the Speaker's presence, Congressman Hoyer's presence, Congressman Blunt's presence. I want to thank all the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who have joined us. I appreciate the fact that we've got governors here, local officials and state officials. I thank the members of my Cabinet for joining us. Don't linger; you've got a job to do. (Laughter.) I thank the military officials who have joined us, distinguished dignitaries. Mr. Prime Minister, we are glad you're here. Thank you for joining us.

I appreciate Dr. Collins. I want to thank Reverend Mucci, and his wife, Kathy. I appreciate Nicole Mullen. But most of all, thank you all.

We are a nation of prayer. America prays. (Applause.) Each day millions of our citizens bow their heads in silence and solitude, or they offer up prayers in fellowship with others. They pray for themselves; they pray for their families; they pray for their neighbors and their communities. In many congregations and homes across this great land, people also set a time -- set aside time to pray for our nation and those entrusted with authority, including our elected leaders.

"Washington's Prayer" has been cited often (if not customarily) at National Prayer Breakfasts with nary a peep or complaint from Washington's best and brightest, who appear either oblivious to, or quite at ease with, the likely fabrication. Perhaps that's because the "prayer" has also been cited on the Senate and Congress floors ! Below are the results of a far less than comprehensive search of THOMAS, for recent citations of the "prayer":

    *
    *

Senate -- (Senate - February 24, 2003)

[Page: S2549]

---

   Senate

   Monday, February 24, 2003

   The Senate met at 12 noon and was called to order by the Honorable George Allen, a Senator from the State of Virginia.

   prayer

   The Chaplain, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, offered the following prayer:

   On this day when George Washington's Farewell Address is read, it is appropriate that our prayer today be his ``Prayer for the United States of America,'' exactly as it is preserved in the chapel at Valley Forge.

   Let us pray:

   ``Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large.

   ``And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.

   ``Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.''

    *
    *

Senate -- (Senate - February 25, 2002)

[Page: S979]

---

   Senate

   Monday, February 25, 2002

   The Senate met at 12 noon and was called to order by the President pro tempore (Mr. BYRD).

   prayer

   The Chaplain, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, offered the following prayer:

   On this day when George Washington's Farewell Address is read, it is appropriate that our prayer today be his ``Prayer for the United States of America,'' exactly as it is preserved in the chapel at Valley Forge.

   Let us pray.

   ``Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large.

   ``And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.

   ``Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.''

    *
    *

PRAYER (Senate - June 14, 1994)

[Page: S6795]

The Chaplain, the Reverend Richard C. Halverson, D.D., offered the following prayer:

Let us pray:

The prayer this morning is one with which General Washington concluded a letter to the Governors of the 13 States when he resigned his commission from the Army in 1783.

`Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection, and wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.'

Patient Lord, grant that the faith of our fathers may be our faith as a nation, lest we lose the incredible legacy they left us.

His name Who is incarnate truth. Amen.

    *
    *

MAINE'S VOICE OF DEMOCRACY WINNER -- HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE (Extension of Remarks - April 04, 1989)

[Page: E1043]

---

HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE

in the House of Representatives

TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 1989

    * Ms. SNOWE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to share with my colleagues Allison H. Bankston's speech which was named the Maine winner in the Veterans of Foreign Wars 1988/89 Voice of Democracy contest. Her speech `Preparing for America's Future' is inserted below.

    * Allison is a senior at the Bangor Christian School, and is hoping to pursue a career in music and communications. She resides in Hampden, ME, and is the daughter of Burton and Martha Bankston.

[Page: E1044]

`Almighty God: We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in thy Holy protection. . .'

As this quote from George Washington's `Prayer for a Nation' illustrates, the `founding fathers' of our great land, believed that God was the solid foundation upon which the United States should be erected, and that if they committed their new `ship of state' to God, it would become invincible.

Planning for the future of America is much like the preparations carried out by the crew aboard a ship. First, the ship must be fully manned, just as our nation must have the full participation of its citizens at every level. Ibsen said, `A community is like a ship; everybody ought to be prepared to take the helm'. After leaving the dock, the ship must set its compass and chart its course for its destination. Likewise, as Americans we must determine where we need to be in five years, ten years, and even in fifty years from today, by charting our course through the use of such documents as the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. We must adhere to these historic writings in the same way that a crew must explicitly follow its charts. Calvin Coolidge once said, `To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege God ever gave to mankind.'...

I rest my case:

We've become a nation of history ignoramuses, and that advances the designs of Christian nationalism which have pushed us very far down to the road to becoming a "Christian nation" rather than merely a nation of mostly Christians.

Vote Up Reviews that expose history revisionism books for sale on Amazon.com !

Today's featured Amazon review, by fake-history busting historian Chris Rodda, is on "America's Providential History", a very popular work of "pseudo history" among Christian homeschoolers, by Stephen K. McDowell and Mark A. Beliles. Beliles and McDowell generated many of the fake history lies, in their book, that have been repeated by D James Kennedy in his "Coral Ridge Hour" broadcasts that have been going out on to about 160 countries around the globe, on the Armed Forces Network for at least the past several years. This book, above, gets taught to probably hundreds of thousands of American Christian homeschooled kids a year (and maybe more). It's a lynchpin of the fake history movement. So, please give us a hand. Here's more of the background. Hint: the David Barton review could use a few more votes. Thanks
A few weeks ago I posted the first of a series of diaries, on the Daily Kos, in which I asked dKos members with Amazon.com accounts to vote on book reviews, written by Chris Rodda, author of Liars For Jesus: The Christian Right's Alternate Version Of American History, on various leading works of American history revisionism ( read as "fake American history" ) by top history falsificationists on the Christian right. So far, the series has covered Chris Rodda's reviews on the works of Stephen Mansfield and David Barton.

*I have traced an early citation of the "prayer" to a British abolitionist tract, "The Anti-Slavery Reporter",  published somewhere in Vols. 3-8, 3rd series that was printed 1853-1859. But I suspect it can be traced back farther than that.  




Display:
when repeated often enough, partakes a certain truthiness.  Thanks for shining the light on this one.

by Rusty Pipes on Sat Sep 15, 2007 at 08:50:39 PM EST
Thanks to you, for :

"A Big Lie, when repeated often enough, partakes a certain truthiness"

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Sep 16, 2007 at 10:16:20 AM EST
Parent



This is all a part of the abject corruption of our government which will do anything to distract citizens of all stripes from their single minded support of the military-industrial (-CONGRESSIONAL) complex that has been the main focus of government (against its citizens) since WWII. With god on their side, how can they be corrupt? dci
off
by lackawack on Sun Sep 16, 2007 at 08:35:10 AM EST


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Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)
Jerry Falwell's Fundamentalist Liberty University Still Getting Hundreds of Millions in Federal Aid
In 2010, Liberty University got more federal funding than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In a 2011 Talk To Action story, contributor Bill Berkowitz covered the new trend in which right-wing evangelical colleges and......
Bruce Wilson (2 comments)

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