Dr. Robert Jeffress, Christian Nationalist
Jonathan Rowe printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 12:57:41 PM EST
At American Creation we ran into some videos by Rev. Jeffress that repeat almost all of the phony Christian Nation talking points and quotations.  You can view them here and here.  

The bogus "52 out of 55" of the singers of the Declaration were evangelical Christians...George Washington's phony prayer journal...David Barton's "unconfirmed" quotations...it's all in there.

The context of Jeffress' sermon is he had some legal dispute with Barry Lynn.  Whatever the merits of his legal claim it does Jeffress no good to support his case with appeals to fake history.

I sometimes wonder whether we are too hard on David Barton and company.  After all, Barton did write an article way back in 2000 entitled "Unconfirmed Quotations" where he did the "right" thing and conceded these have no foundation in the primary sources.  

Yet, that hasn't stopped an endless parade of folks like Rev. Jeffress from spreading them.  Perhaps if Barton didn't whitewash the matter by terming the quotations "unconfirmed" and just said "look, these are fake, I messed up, so stop citing them," more folks would have taken his caution to heart.

Barton argues there is ample evidence to prove America was founded as a "Christian Nation" without the unconfirmed quotations.  You have to wonder then, why Christian Nationalists first seem to jump on them and not what the Founders actually said.

Maybe it's because those are the ones that seem so on point and without them there is not much "there there."  

For instance, the following attributed to Patrick Henry really seems to settle the matter:

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!

Too bad he never said it.

There is one accurate quotation the Christian Nation crowd oft-cites by John Adams.  But the context destroys their intended meaning of it. As John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1813:

The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were...the general Principles of Christianity....

The problem is Adams, like Jefferson was a fervent theological unitarian and his actual meaning of the quotation is not at all something that orthodox evangelicals like Barton or Jeffress would endorse.  Indeed, if they really understood what Adams meant they'd term it blasphemous heresy.

In that very letter Adams explains exactly what he means:

Who composed that Army of fine young Fellows that was then before my Eyes? There were among them, Roman Catholicks, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anababtists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists; and "Protestans qui ne croyent rien ["Protestants who believe nothing"]." Very few however of several of these Species. Nevertheless all Educated in the general Principles of Christianity: and the general Principles of English and American Liberty.

In other words, Unitarians [Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians], Universalists, Deists and Atheists were all united under the "general principles of Christianity" as Adams understood them.  This clearly isn't the "Christianity" of today's evangelicals (or the "orthodox Christians" of the Founding era).  Indeed, they would argue this isn't "historic Christianity" at all.

One Christian Nationalist blogger wonders how is it that Adams could have possibly meant that atheists could be united with Christians under the "general principles of Christianity?"

The answer is simple:  According to Adams, being a Christian meant being a good person.  If an atheist was a good person, he was a "Christian."  

Indeed this is how Adams defined "Christianity" in an 1820 letter to Samuel Miller:

"I believe with Justin Martyr, that all good men are Christians, and I believe there have been, and are, good men in all nations, sincere and conscientious."

But to answer my above question, no I don't think we are too hard on Barton.  Whenever I start to think we are, I invariably come across some Christian Nationalist, often a Reverend with a big following like Jeffress, peddling nonsense about America's Founding and I realize Barton and his cohorts are in large part to blame.

As long as they continue to peddle fake history and millions of folks continue to believe it, our mission should continue.  

It's pretty clear that Barton doesn't want anyone to stop using those quotes on his "Unconfirmed Quotations" list, a list he compiled only after being called on a few of his bogus quotes. The evidence? Six of the quotes from Barton's list appear in the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBCPS) textbook. And, guess who's on the Advisory Board for this curriculum -- DAVID freakin' BARTON!!!!

I wrote about this last spring in my series on the NCBCPS:


by Chris Rodda on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 01:29:50 PM EST

but I've never heard anyone sing The Declaration Of Independence. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

by Dave on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:40:38 AM EST

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