How Fake American History Feeds Christian Nationalism
Step 1: Change Beliefs About Origins of US Government. Step Two: Theocracy !
The easiest way to make the US into a Christian theocracy is to just re-write American history so that Americans grow up believing that the founders intended the US to be a Christian theocracy.
The problem with ignoring this fake history is that it then gets enshrined as "legitimate" and if House Resolution 888 gets passed, a whole mess of the worst history lies of the American Christian right will get entered into the Congressional Record and then people who push the "Christian nation" alternate version of American history can point to the Congressional Record and say "see ? it's in the Congressional Record ! It must be true !" That's how PR and propaganda work.
H. Res 888 is designed to make the history lies, cooked up by historical revisionists of the Christian right, more respectable. And, to the extent Congress members vote for it they become caught up in a web of complicity - the overwriting of American history.
Congress Wouldn't Really Pass This Resolution, Would It ?
Is House Resolution 888 a big deal, meaning - does it have a chance ? Well, consider that, on December 11, 2007, the soft Christian nationalist "Christmas Resolution", House Resolution 847 passed on a vote of 372-9.
So, this new resolution - which I'd characterize as "hard Christian nationalist" might just have a shot because Democratic Party politicians are terrified of being tarred as "anti-Christian" and they lack the political advisers who can tell them how to effectively deflect such attacks. Thus, they tend to vote as, at least, "soft" Christian nationalists regardless of their personal religious views. So most Democratic Party politicians have chosen to ignore the fake history, routinely trotted at government events or at the yearly "National Prayer Breakfast" described below, that purports to support the claim the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation".
Debunking The Fake "Christian Nation" Version Of American History
Here's Chris Rodda's debunking of various history lies found in House Resolution 888. Rodda is the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version Of American History
image, right: leading US politicians clap for falsified "Christian nation" history at the 2007 "National Prayer Breakfast" ?
The picture above was taken at the 2007 National Prayer Breakfast which is put on by an influential, secretive Washington lobbying group called "The Fellowship" that has been written about most centrally by Journalist Jeff Sharlet [Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's association with the group goes back to 1993] and I have just released audio files from sermons by Family head Doug Coe, who reportedly has been able to provide face time with every US President since Eisenhower, which corroborate Rolling Stone writer Jeff Sharlet's description of "The Family" as an organization that admires the revolutionary zeal of Hitler and the Nazis and Chinese Communism during the Cultural Revolution. Sharlet's massively researched, groundbreaking book on The Family, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, is due out in this May, 2008. An infamous piece of falsified American history known as "Washington's Prayer" has been a part of the programs at The National Prayer Breakfast at least through the last decade and perhaps since the event's inception in the 1950's, during the Eisenhower Administration.
Documenting The Spread Of The Fake "Christian Nation" Version of American History
In this post I've documented the citation, in the US Senate, Congress, and at the "National Prayer Breakfast" with numerous Democrats in attendance, of a this 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, leading Democratic Party 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. 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.
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).
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).
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 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 )
1927 ( x2 )
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.
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.
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.
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
As "the last word", Bowman quotes "Washington's Prayer" which she attributes as "George Washington's Prayer for the United States of America
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."
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.)
"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":
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.
*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.
How Fake American History Feeds Christian Nationalism | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
How Fake American History Feeds Christian Nationalism | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)