Monday, February 8, 2016

Fea: "Still Misleading America About Thomas Jefferson"

John Fea takes down David Barton here. A taste:
But no one drew the ire of the founders of the ABS more than Thomas Jefferson. When the primary author of the Declaration of Independence defeated John Adams in the presidential election of 1800 his followers described the victory as a natural extension of the American Revolution. The tyranny of the Federalist Party (of whom Boudinot, Jay, and most of the ABS founders were members) was over. The Federalist attempt at using Christianity as a means of keeping moral order in the country would now give way to a new age of liberty and religious skepticism.
Jefferson embodied everything that the ABS opposed. He rejected traditional Christian beliefs such as the deity of Christ and his resurrection from the dead. He did not believe that the Bible was inspired by God. He despised Calvinists of both the Congregational and Presbyterian variety. He supported the French Revolution, an uprising associated in the Federalist mind with atheism and the destruction of organized religion. He opposed established Christianity and called for the separation of church and state. And he believed that Christians were on the wrong side of history. As Jefferson famously wrote to his friend Dr. Thomas Cooper in 1822, “Unitarianism…will, ere long, be the religion of the majority from north to south, I have no doubt.”
Update: Raw Story picked up Fea's article. 


Tom Van Dyke said...

But if these men were alive today they would be shocked, if not appalled, to learn that David Barton, the country’s most prominent defender of the Christian republic they hoped to construct, is now singing the praises of Thomas Jefferson.

I'm not sure he's all that prominent. He's mentioned approvingly by pols who want his followers' votes, but so is Al Sharpton. Barton's palpable effect on the republic doesn't really move the meter: Some dopey religious proclamation from a backbencher like Rep. Randy Forbes

that never even gets passed anyway.

Barton's strategic choice of trying to enlist Jefferson for the traditionalist cause was madness, even if it had actual basis in fact. The best you can get is a tie, that he wasn't nearly as hostile to religion in the public square as latter-day secularists. The argument should read even the unreligious Thomas Jefferson attended Sunday services held in government buildings during the construction of Washington DC. Even the slaveholding infidel Thomas Jefferson believed that some day an interventionist God would punish America

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!"

for her sins against his children.

But David Barton is one of those fellows, when he steps in it, doubles down and inserts the other foot as well. He has a bit of a point, the outline of a fact, that as a younger man Jefferson was more doubtful than hostile to orthodox Christian doctrine--only after he left public life did he start feeling his oats and start pontificating on theology and become a bit of a pope himself.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

In order to mislead America shouldn’t America know who Barton is?

Tom Van Dyke said...

All of America knows who Barton is. Well, at least the left half. If you google, the majority of the hits are attacks on him.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Okay, so maybe Barton means more to the left half of the country than he does to the right. I read Dr. Throckmorton’s book on the issue and found it to be really interesting. It was well-researched. After that I tried to listen to Barton, but he’s just not my type. I ended up disliking Jefferson quite a bit, but he doesn’t sound like the American left.

It’s like neither side can claim him, though both sides can find quotes to support whatever agenda they are promoting. That doesn’t mean he was not important to our founding.

So, anyway. I still haven’t asked people in my real life what they think of Barton. Well, except my daughter - who is a Texas A&M grad - and she said, “Who’s Barton?”

The head of her department was a Communist, though - a real one from Spain. What does it all mean? How to connect the dots...

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sounds about right. I'm not a fan.

For the prosecution:

For the defense: