Glenn Beck's History 'Expert' Endorses Biblical Slavery
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 09:42:24 AM EST
As Glenn Beck gushed when he introduced David Barton to Beck's national audience on April 29, 2010,
"I brought David Barton in from WallBuilders because I really, truly believe that David Barton is he's a guy who I really think has been put in a in his place, in his position for a reason and, you know, David, everybody has a time and I have a feeling your time is coming... my gut tells me you are one of the most important men in America for this message today.

David Barton, who recently has been tapped as an alleged "expert" on American history featured on the Glenn Beck show, has built a career upon his claim that United States government was founded on Biblical precepts. This creates a major problem - if America was founded as a Christian nation, how can we account for slavery ? Barton's articles on slavery on his Wallbuilders web site stress that many of the Founding Fathers were strongly opposed to the institution of slavery (which is true) but then he refers readers to a Wallbuilders article by Barton's close colleague Stephen McDowell, which explains that although Southern Slavery was wrong, it was wrong because it wasn't Biblical slavery as defined by Christian Reconstructionist theologian R.J. Rushdoony, whose basic approach was simple - what was permissible according to Biblical scripture is permissible now: including slavery.

McDowell's article cites R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law six times in its footnotes and that's notable given that the book was Rushdoony's master work on how to implement Biblical law in the American legal system. R.J. Rushdoony's scheme included establishing stoning and burning at the stake for adultery, homosexuality, and idolatry, and the legalization of Biblical slavery. Leaders in the Christian Reconstructionism movement Rushdoony founded have for several decades now been trying to make it so.

Stephen K. McDowell appeared along with R.J. Rushdoony and other major Christian Reconstructionist leaders in a 1999 video titled God's Law And Society. You can watch some of those interviews (not McDowell's) on the Christian Reconstructionist web site The Forerunner. Here's The Forerunner editor Jay Rogers' description of the R.J. Rushdoony interview, in which Rushdoony calls for a "second American revolution" :

Not until 1973 with the publication of R.J. Rushdoony’s The Institutes of Biblical Law was there an attempt at a Biblical social philosophy that uncompromisingly affirmed the validity of biblical law. Since then over 100 volumes have been published elaborating the details of Calvinistic social philosophy from a “theonomic” perspective. Led by Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, James Jordan, and Gary DeMar, theonomic authors have expounded the Mosaic law with a fullness of application to modern society never before seen in Church history. Rushdoony passed on in 2001. The work of the Chalcedon Foundation is carried on by his son, Mark.

From Falsified History To Biblical Slavery

"the Bible was the source of many of the unique ideas and unprecedented principles laid out in our founding documents, but today we are no longer taught these truths about our founding; instead, we are taught a revisionist history in which religious faith is absent and God’s Providential hand is ignored. Learn the true story of America’s birthright and of our Founding Fathers in the American Heritage Series. America: this is your heritage!" - from the introduction to episodes 6-8 of David Barton's The American Heritage Series

Glenn Beck's launch of an online "university" has been widely mocked, including during a segment on MSNBC's Countdown featuring an interview with Talk To Action contributor Chris Rodda, who's written a series of articles roundly debunking various history lies spouted by Glenn Beck's alleged expert on American history David Barton, lies that have been broadcast to millions courtesy of the Fox channel.

As it happens, Barton has other notable qualities besides his penchant for rewriting history with a level of zeal that would have filled "Uncle" Joe Stalin with pride - although David Barton might deny it we can reasonably assume he endorses the re-introduction of slavery given that an article on Barton's Wallbuilders web site (which Barton links to in his own Wallbuilders articles), by a member of the Wallbuilders board of directors, endorses "Biblical slavery" as defined by Christian Reconstructionist titan R.J. Rushdoony, whose idiosyncratic views included rejecting Copernicus' Heliocentric model of the Solar System.

Judging by an article by Stephen McDowell, The Bible, Slavery, and America's Founders, that's been on Barton's Wallbuilders web site since 2003, David Barton appears to be in favor of the institution of legalized Biblical slavery. As McDowell writes in his article,

God's laws concerning slavery provided parameters for treatment of slaves, which were for the benefit of all involved. God desires all men and nations to be liberated. This begins internally and will be manifested externally to the extent internal change occurs. The Biblical slave laws reflect God's redemptive desire, for men and nations.

McDowell then lists various types of slavery which can be legal according to scripture from the Old Testament books of Leviticus, Exodus, and Deuteronomy. According to McDowell, "pagans [non-Christians] could be permanent slaves" and to bolster this position McDowell quotes theologian R.J. Rushdoony:

"since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves" 1 without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46). This passage in Leviticus says that pagans could be permanent slaves and could be bequeathed to the children of the Hebrews."

Rushdoony, the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, was a virulent racist who wrote that Africans were lucky to become slaves in America, claimed the Holocaust death toll was wildly inflated, and maintained that the Sun orbits the Earth.

As Rushdoony wrote in his 1973 book Institutes of Biblical Law, which explained how to implement Biblical scriptural directives in a modern legal system,

"The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace."

Stephen McDowell's article is not incidental to Wallbuilders writing on slavery - David Barton has two major articles on slavery on the Wallbuilders web site and both refer to McDowell's article "For more information on this issue." McDowell's article provides an intellectual sleight-of-hand which allows Barton to publicly advance the point that many of the Founding Fathers opposed slavery (which is true) while still supporting "Biblical slavery."

To sum up McDowell's argument, slavery was not originally in God's plan - it entered the world, along with sin, when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil and were subsequently banished by God from the Garden. Thus evil entered creation and to manage the mess, God gave Moses Biblical Law, including laws concerning slavery - which Stephen McDowell presents as a regrettable evil that will be unnecessary when all the world's people are converted to Christianity.

McDowell and Barton are close allies - McDowell serves on Barton's Wallbuilders board and Barton in turn serves on the Board of Directors of McDowell's Providence Foundation. Stephen McDowell also has accompanied David Barton on his "spiritual heritage" tours of Washington DC.  

The problem with the historical institution of slavery in America wasn't that it was sinful or that it went, in principle, against God's will. No, according to David Barton's fellow Wallbuilders Board of Directors member Stephen McDowell, Southern Slavery was simply the wrong sort of slavery :

Examination of the Biblical view of slavery enables us to more effectively address the assertion that slavery was America's original sin. In light of the Scriptures we cannot say that slavery, in a broad and general sense, is sin. But this brief look at the Biblical slave laws does reveal how fallen man's example of slavery has violated God's laws, and America's form of slavery in particular violated various aspects of the law, as well as the general spirit of liberty instituted by Christ.

McDowell's argumentative reliance on R.J. Rushdoony, to justify Biblical slavery is notable given Rushdoony's other views on what the implementation of Mosaic Law in the American legal system would entail. As leading authority on Christian Reconstructionism Frederick Clarkson, describes in a Public Eye article titled, Christian Reconstructionism - Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence,

Epitomizing the Reconstructionist idea of Biblical "warfare" is the centrality of capital punishment under Biblical Law. Doctrinal leaders (notably Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen) call for the death penalty for a wide range of crimes in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder. Death is also the punishment for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."

During the run up to the 2004 presidential election, Wallbuilders Founder David Barton was employed by the national Republican Party to barnstorm swing states, giving talks at black evangelical churches that emphasized the Republican Party's anti-slavery credentials. Then in 2005, after Katrina nearly obliterated New Orleans, the Bush Administration's absurdly slow response to the disaster, coupled with images of African-Americans in the city clinging to the rooftops of their submerged houses, helped sink George Bush's approval rating among American blacks to 2%.

Barton's appearance on the Glenn Beck Show is unlikely to help burnish the Republican brand's allure with African-American voters given Glenn Beck's ongoing race-baiting, which has included numerous accusations that US President Barack Obama, America's first black president, is racist.

David Barton brings his own troubling baggage. As Americans United For The Separation of Church and State's Rob Boston details, in 1991 Barton gave several speeches before virulently racist, white supremacist groups including at Pastor Pete Peters Christian Identity church in Colorado :

Aside from being a virulent anti-Semite, Peters has advocated the death penalty for homosexuals. According to the Anti-Defamation League, other speakers at the event included white supremacist leader and 1992 presidential candidate James "Bo" Gritz, a leader of the radical and increasingly violent militia movement, and Malcolm Ross, a Holocaust denier from Canada. In November of that same year, Barton spoke at Kingdom Covenant College in Grants Pass, Oregon, another "Christian Identity" front group with ties to Peters.

More recently, David Barton was, along with Massachusetts pastor Peter Marshall, one of two Christian nationalists selected as "experts" for a panel that advised the State of Texas on proposed changes to Texas public school social studies curriculum. The two recommended removing Civil Right Movement giants Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the curriculum. Even more telling was the panel's proposal to rename the Slave Trade, as "Atlantic Triangular Trade."  

Which brings us back around to Stephen McDowell's citation of R.J. Rushdoony, as an authority on Biblical slavery. What else did he write on the subject ? Consider this passage, from Rushdoony's book The Politics of Guilt and Pity,

"the white man is being systematically indoctrinated into believing that he is guilty of enslaving and abusing the Negro. Granted that some Negroes were mistreated as slaves, the fact still remains that nowhere in all history or in the world today has the Negro been better off. The life expectancy of the Negro increased when he was transported to America. He was not taken from freedom into slavery, but from a vicious slavery to degenerate chiefs to a generally benevolent slavery in the United States. There is not the slightest evidence that any American Negro had ever lived in a "free society" in Africa; even the idea did not exist in Africa. The move from Africa to America was a vast increase of freedom for the Negro, materially and spiritually as well as personally. The Negroes were sold from a harsh slavery into a milder one."

In other words, Antebellum slaves in the American South had it lucky. We cannot say whether David Barton or Stephen McDowell are racist, but McDowell's citation of R.J. Rushdoony is certainly telling, given Rushdoony's unabashed views. On pages 509-5120 of Institutes of Biblical Law we find the following,

All men are NOT created equal before God; the facts of heaven and hell, election and reprobation make clear that they are not equal. Moreover, an employer has property rights to prefer whom he will in terms of "color" creed, race or national origin.


... who flies under the radar (like Barton did until he hooked up with Beck) and should be more closely watched, so I'm very glad to see that Bruce is watching him. Great piece.

by Chris Rodda on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 03:52:01 PM EST

On Land's web site Reconstructionist writers like Gary DeMar were listed.  Land would deny that he is connected much in the same way I would assume Barton will disavow the link with the crowd.  Fact is they both use these types for resources on civics which is noteworthy. I was in a meeting with Barton's Blacks- should- be- Republicans meeting....quite a story!

by wilkyjr on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:01:12 AM EST

Along with the other bible-banging bigots on the TX GOP and cohorts on TX Board of Ed. Although, I'm curious as to just who CRs, Barton, DeMar and the rest of these jagoffs think they are going to get to be their slaves. We won't go back to it, nor will we ever allow them to take anyone else there, either.

Oh Crap, I Have A Crush on Sarah Palin
Embrace the ambivalence.
by ohcrapihaveacrushonsarahpalin on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 03:28:38 PM EST
Slavery was not just replaced in the South by sharecropping, but by prison labor contracted to private businessmen. Just like in Schindler's List.---------------- Imagine that the US privatized all its prisons & the prison corporations began lobbying to eliminate all restrictions on using prisoners as slave labor. The far-right grapevine would buzz about how prison labor could replace all the illegals, but mainstream media would ignore this monstrous possibility. Politicians would push to strip all ex-cons of their voting rights, and media campaigns would stretch the limits of the white majority public's willingness to outlaw every form of behavior that it associated with the "other". Thus slave labor would swell with the ranks of blacks and Latinos, guaranteeing perpetual rule for a white minority. With wages in effect driven down to zero, America's corporations would rake in one last bonanza vouched for by classical economic theory beloved of the far right. Of course there will be resistance, but the Bush Administration laid the groundwork for how minority resistance will be dealt with. At some point, the politicians and corporations will agree that it is necessary to put all leftists, labor activists, feminists, homosexuals, environmentalists and antiwar activists in a place where they must contribute to an American economy that is nothing more than a slave labor investment bubble...--------------- Every time they declare a War on Drugs, a War on Terror, a War on Sin, the American public will see that as an exception, nothing at all like slavery, just punishing those deviants for the harm they've done to America until they go away and things go back to normal.

by super390 on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 02:32:31 AM EST

After reviewing the list, I realized it would go a long way to getting population numbers under control. Even with the deterrent factor at work, given basic human passions and sexuality, in about ten years that list would get us down to about.........2.

I'm having a very difficult time grasping how any sane mind could make up or believe this garbage.
Bob Altemeyer's book "The Authoritarians" went a long way to helping me understand the underlying principals at work, but it's still mind boggling.

Great article, as usual, Bruce.

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by butrosgali on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 07:40:23 PM EST

Bruce, I wanted to tell you what great work you are doing over here for one thing.  For another, I think this Barton guy is one of the most dangerous men in the U.S. currently due to Beck having him on his show every other minute.  Beck has a huge following and is very influential, as much as we all hate to admit that.  Thanks again for keeping on this Barton creature.

by LisaH on Tue Jul 13, 2010 at 04:50:12 PM EST

"Moreover, an employer has property rights to prefer whom he will in terms of "color" creed, race or national origin."

The racist business owners in the deep south have been saying this for a long time.  I heard it all the time I was in business- from the owners of big corporations and small businesses.  Many of them extend those same "rights" to how they treat their employees and how little they pay them ("market-driven wages", when they would talk in private of meeting together to set what the market paid).  As far as the way they treated employees- their belief about "property rights" included violence (I have the scar to show for it from when I worked for others- before I started my business).  You see, if you weren't submissive enough, it put you at risk of a beating with some employers.  This was supported by the Pentecostal/Dominionist churches.  I was able to get the pastor of the Pentecostal church I was attending at the time to bring in the employer and have a meeting on how I was treated- and the pastor and employer had obviously talked, because they were both concerned that I wasn't submissive enough as an employee!!!  In essence, I was suppose to take any abuse given with a smile because I was getting minimum wage!!!  It was my "Christian Duty!!!"  As far as the beating that resulted in the scar- I brought it on myself by speaking up for myself!

With the exception of the handful that would hire minorities, all of the business owners I did work for decried Affirmative Action and "quotas" as being a violation of those "property rights", yet privately would talk about how quotas were the one effective tool that forced them to (my language) treat minorities with some resemblance of equality.  They felt that the US government was forcing them to deal with people they didn't want to, and the old practice of charging minorities far more for the same product or service could not be done- something they bemoaned.

I had hundreds of customers, and heard this stuff from at least 70% of them to one extent or another.  Some were more overt than others.  When they learned that I was one of those hated minorities, nearly 2/3 of them dropped me like a hot potato within a month - several with racist insults and accusations of "lying to us".  Several of the others turned nasty, and as soon as a competitor opened, they dropped me too.

Most of them were "Good Christians"... and I can see how they'd jump on the "Biblical Slavery" bandwagon in a heartbeat... it would give them some sort of "justification" for what they want anyway.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:10:23 PM EST

I've never gotten close enough to the boss of anything to hear these kinds of attitudes openly confessed. But if I could ask these bastards one question, it is: "What's the end game of distorting the free-market and making yourself and your society poorer than you might have been?" I mean, according to free-market theory, the economy works best if everyone is treated the same, and unlike the other excuses for discriminatory behavior, charging a different price can't be justified as a matter of "comfort" - it exists only to keep minorities as poor as possible at the cost of overall economic efficiency. Of course the answer is in their hearts and not their heads, inarticulate as an alpha male wolf beating down his challengers. They would rather rule in Hell than be a citizen in a great society.

by super390 on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 02:13:44 AM EST
Historically, American Businesses have used people (the homeless, the very poor, minorities, immigrants) as tools to force down wages, while at the time denigrating and persecuting them.  This practice has been solidly documented over the years, although a lot of people don't know the extent to which it has been done.

For instance, in the 1800's elite business owners used to send out agents in order to seek out single young men for temporary, seasonal low-wage labor.  When the season ended, they were unemployed and homeless. These same business owners would use the presence of these same homeless men to force down wages while belittling and vilifying them. (Rossi 1989; Depastino 2003).  Thus, they were making the "problem" of homelessness worse, while using the very people they were luring into that situation to make life harder for other working people.

So, the elites historically have used people like this to further their own ambitions.  It's also been shown to be true about minorities in general- while I could find the references for the homeless rather quickly, my articles on the abuse of minorities would take a bit more digging (that abuse is solidly documented)...  

They haven't stopped.  It's the same old game.


DePastino, T.
     2003 Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America : University of Chicago Press

Rossi, Peter H.
    1989 Down and out in America: the origins of homelessness. Chicago : University of Chicago Press

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 04:40:25 PM EST

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