Barton, who founded the right wing christian group Wallbuilders, has made a career out of presenting quotes out of context or just making shit up to attempt to prove his point. His latest screed occurred on the hilarious first episode of Glenn Beck's Beck University.
One of his tricks is to hold up the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson to prove his point claiming all the wording came from church sermons given the years prior. To deduce that Thomas Jefferson really was a closeted christian who really didn't believe in the separation of church and state flies in the face of his actual quotes on religion, the bible, and it's place in society.
Jefferson's take on religion...
"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."
In a letter to William Short, Jefferson wrote...
"Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the first great corruptor of the teachings of Jesus."
Another Founding Father, John Adams had this to say on the subject...
"Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole cartloads of other trumpery that we find religion
encumbered with in these days?"
"The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
When John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11 clearly states "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
Thomas Paine wrote...
"I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible)."
"Among the most detesable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible)."
"It is the duty of every true Diest to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible."
"Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance."
And; "The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretend imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty."
Then we have James Madison and his opinion of churches...
"What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyrrany. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy."
Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote "Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
Religious Right activists claim the framers never intended to separate church and state. Christian Coalition president Pat Robertson says separation is a "lie of the left." The late Jerry Falwell called it "a modern fabrication."
Thomas Jefferson's own words on the subject...
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
--Letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, January 1, 1802
Perhaps most alarming, Barton also has had a relationship with the racist and anti-Semitic fringes of the far right. According to Skipp Porteous of the Massachusetts-based Institute for First Amendment Studies, Barton was listed in promotional literature as a "new and special speaker" at a 1991 summer retreat in Colorado sponsored by Scriptures for America, a far-right ministry headed by Pastor Pete Peters. Peters' organization, which is virulently anti-Semitic and racist, spreads hysteria about Jews and homosexuals and has been linked to neo-Nazi groups. (The organization distributes a booklet called Death Penalty For Homosexuals.)
Peters' church is part of the racist "Christian Identity" movement. and three members of The Order, a violent neo-Nazi organization, formerly attended Peters' small congregation in LaPorte, Cole. After members of The Order murdered Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg in the mid 1980s, critics of Peters' ministry in Colorado charged that his hate-filled sermons had spurred the assassination.
Writing in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, (then Republican) Senator Arlen Specter stated:
Probably the best refutation of Barton's argument simply is to quote his own exegesis of the First Amendment: "Today," Barton says, "we would best understand the actual context of the First Amendment by saying, 'Congress shall make no law establishing one Christian denomination as the national denomination.' " In keeping with Barton's restated First Amendment, Congress could presumably make a law establishing all Christian denominations as the national religion, and each state could pass a law establishing a particular Christian church as its official religion.
All of this pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.
– Arlen Specter, Defending the wall: Maintaining church/state separation in America, [
Of course the former Governor Half-Baked Alaskan Sarah Palin is on the Barton road map along with countless everyday church goers who want to believe this garbage with all their faith. Pity they are getting it from such a charlatan.
For more information on our founding fathers go read "Our Founding Fathers on Christianity."