Wednesday, January 9, 2013

David Barton Uses Jefferson Quote He Says is Unconfirmed

Warren Throckmorton informs us here.


Chris Rodda said...

I actually traced this quote to the Webster letter back in 2007 when I was going through the NCBCPS curriculum, and, in my opinion, the most important thing about Webster’s letter has nothing to do with the quote. The most important thing is Webster’s recollection of Jefferson saying that Sunday schools were “the only legitimate means, under the constitution” for teaching religion, and Webster’s failure to disagree with this opinion, making this letter, whether the other quotes in it were accurately recalled by Webster or not, a much better argument AGAINST the public school Bible curriculum than for it.

Here’s a link to my 2007 post on Talk2Action:

Tom Van Dyke said...

TJeff: "[Sunday school is] the only legitimate means, under the [C]onstitution, of avoiding the rock on which the French republic was wrecked."

If only the anti-Bartonists weren't as literal as he is, and appreciated the full truth of Jefferson's too-late realization of why the French republic was wrecked. [If Webster's account is accurate, but it fits Jefferson's canon.]

Freedom-from-religionists understand nothing: it is they who destroy that which they would preserve. David Barton seeks to preserve what is already destroyed.

Chris Rodda said...

Tom ... how does that change that Jefferson said that in THIS country Sunday schools were the only legitimate way under OUR constitution to teach religion. Even if Jefferson did say that not teaching religion was the problem in France (which seems like an incredibly odd thing for Jefferson to have said), that doesn't change the fact that Webster said that Jefferson said that Sunday schools - not public schools - were “the only legitimate means, under the constitution” for teaching religion in OUR country.

Tom Van Dyke said...

No disagreement here.

the rock on which the French republic was wrecked."


We have Jefferson admitting the failure of the French revolution, and for its irreligiosity at that: That's the gold part. What's up David Barton's ass is of petty consequence. In 2012, we are in zero danger of government-run Sunday schools.

You really do run across interesting stuff, but so does David Barton. The trick is discerning its real importance.

Chris Rodda said...

Huh? They weren't talking about "government-run" Sunday schools back then either! And what we're talking about now is the use of the Jefferson-via-Webster's-recollection-decades-later "quote" to promote a Bible curriculum in PUBLIC schools, not Sunday schools. Sometimes I think you have a serious reading comprehension problem, Tom.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Uh huh. All you care about is your culture war with Barton, minor league stuff. Now let's get to work:

What we have here in the Webster quote is the irony that Jefferson, whose "wall of separation" was the foundation of Everson, may have disagreed with its central premise.

Religion serves a secular purpose!

That's why the US government loaned the use of public buildings like the Halls of Congress for church services during the construction of Washington DC.

Why the French republic "wrecked" is of paramount importance for the purposes of this blog.

And FTR, Teaching the Bible as an elective is a fine idea toward cultural literacy--it wouldn't hurt some people to know the difference between the Resurrection and the Second Coming. ;-)

Chris Rodda said...

I don't necessarily have a problem with a course teaching the Bible as literature. It's specifically the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBCPS) course that I have a problem with, because it contains a whole lot of inaccurate American history, bogus quotes, etc., and its purpose is clearly not just to teach ABOUT the Bible in an way that would be acceptable in public schools. It's to promote religion and be a backdoor way to teach inaccurate Christian nationalist history in public schools. With the right kind of curriculum, like the other competing one that's out there that's written by actual Bible scholars and not people with an agenda (can't remember the exact title of this other curriculum at the moment), a public school course about the Bible can be taught without being objectionable.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Don't worry. The reason we have parochial "Catholic" schools in the first place is because 150+ years ago, they couldn't agree on which "Bible" to teach!

Catholic parochial schools were instituted in the United States as a reaction against a growing publicly funded school system that was essentially Protestant. In 1839 and 1840, the American Bible Society pledged that "the Bible would be read in every classroom in the nation". In what was then a predominantly Protestant country, this was generally understood to be the King James Version of the Scriptures.

The Eliot School rebellion, an incident involving the beating of a Catholic boy who refused to read the King James version of the Ten Commandments aloud in a Boston Public School in 1859 led to the creation of the first parochial school in Massachusetts and, according to historian John McGreevy of the University of Notre Dame, sparked the creation of parochial schools nationwide.

The middle of the 19th Century saw increasing Catholic interest in education in tandem with increasing Catholic immigration. To serve their growing communities, American Catholics first tried to reform American public schools to rid them of blatantly fundamentalist Protestant overtones. John Neumann organized the first diocesan school system in the United States. As the bishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia, he created a diocesan board to oversee the parochial schools in the Diocese of Philadelphia.

Nothing much has changed in that respect. What drives the "theocrats" together is self- defense, for example the Obamacare contraception issue. But were they to gain actual power, just as in the days of the Founding, there are so many sects and denominations that they could never agree on a theological course of action.