Brayton called that interpretation "profoundly contrary to the historical record."
"John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers to explain each and every provision of the Constitution to a population that was overwhelmingly Christian and convince them to vote for it. If they could have pointed to biblical sources for those provisions, that would have been a very powerful argument in favor of ratification. Yet not once is the Bible mentioned anywhere in those 85 essays. And not once, according to the notes of those in attendance, was the Bible ever referenced at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia to justify a concept or provision," according to Brayton.
A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Brayton In HuffPo on Texas BOE
Check it out here. Money quote:
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"Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers of America, was removed in the third-grade standards because she's a socialist
What was she doing in a 3rd grade textbook to begin with? They barely know who George Washington was, let alone Samuel Adams or James Madison.
If you read between the lines of these things, the truth trickles out. Clearly, the curriculum needed fixing, even if the pendulum has swung back too far the other way.
And of course, the American Founding was so much more than the Godless Constitution or the Federalist Papers. That "money quote" is worth about two cents.
Oh, and I certainly have a dog in this fight, but I find it delightful and amazing that those brutish evangelical conservatives found room to put in one of the indisputable giants of Western Civilization, Thomas Aquinas, where the "objective" academic establishment did not.
The more I hear about this "reform," [reading between the lines of "non-partisan" leftist keening], the more I like it.
Maybe they've been reading American Creation. :)
Seriously, King may be able to help out. Gary Amos teaches at Regent (at their law school I believe). Does he stress Aquinas in his book? If he does, that's probably where Dunbar (who also teaches at Regent) gets it.
Why are you impressed by that "money quote"? What Christians would look for bible verses to explain how to set up an earthly kingdom? I believe you would give even Barton enough credit to not look to the bible for that.
The bible is incredibly short of relevant quotes on how to address worldly affairs. For a Christian, that is as it should be.
BTW the fellow Brayton was responding to made a very relevant point, that the Christian doctrine of fallen man figures prominently in, e.g., Adams' reasoning for division of power. For my money, you picked the wrong money quote.
"You're going to have checks and balances in the government -- that's a biblical viewpoint of the nature of man, that man is fallen, is a sinner. You don't use the Christian language, but that was the sign of the times."
The rest of the Huffpo piece was atrocious - all innuendo and scaremongering. The actual changes proposed (I gave the link before, and I'll do it again here) just do not stand up to the manufactured outrage.
"Oh, and I certainly have a dog in this fight, but I find it delightful and amazing that those brutish evangelical conservatives found room to put in one of the indisputable giants of Western Civilization, Thomas Aquinas, where the "objective" academic establishment did not."
I agree. This was one of my main themes when I taught world history:
How Aquinas started something that others finished. If we do not go back to him( and really further back) we cannot understand the root of a lot of the ideas that made it into the founding.
Amos goes back to Canon law a lot and is in no way anti Catholic in the sense the founders were in tracing the origins of certain ideas. Aquinas is mentioned and is connected to Locke much the same way that Tom does it.
"I believe you would give even Barton enough credit to not look to the bible for that."
The problem with Barton is that he does do this. His close associates that wrote "Liberating the Nations" do the same. They talk a lot about the Hebrew Republic and say that Republican ideas are found in the Bible.
I think there is some truth to this that is not recognized because most people that comment on the Bible have not read it closely or bothered to learn some of the theological teachings that history gives us. The kernel of truth is that God did not set up kingdoms and warned against them. He set up judges. He strict dealings with Kings that tried to become priests would give some credence to the Bible having principles of seperation of church and state.
I have also been contemplating the principle of pluralism that is at the heart of federalism in the verse that sums of the law as loving God self and neighbor lately.
But these are just principles and much like Church government I do not think one can claim that God or the Bible promotes any one form of government. I think it is much like your statement that a nation has to be free to choose to be Christian. I think a people has to be free to choose which form of government reason and history teach affords the most freedom.
In other words, I think God leaves it up to reason and choice that should consult the wisdom of the ages. Many, such as Frazer, would call this tainting Christianity with pagan rationalism. I think Barton recognizes the Pagan influences but tries to say that the ideas came from the Bible first.
It is the whole realm of thought that thinks all good ideas have to be from the Bible.
"Yet not once is the Bible mentioned anywhere in those 85 essays."
Based on what I wrote in my last comment:
Why would it be? I do think we see Biblical principles in there though like Federalist 10 being based on the sinful nature of man. I could find others if I wanted to.
Ed overstates his case at times too. I think his worst arguments are that common law was not at the heart of the founding and that there is not case for individual rights to be found in the Bible.
These are distortions of the Historical record just as much as the things he sights. BARTON'S CENTRAL THESIS THAT HISTORY IS NOT TAUGHT RIGHT AND HAS A SECULAR SLANT IS CORRECT. He just overstates his case and provides shitty evidence to back up his points.
I agree with Tom it is good to see some balance restored even if it does swing back a little far. Maybe it needs to for a while to undue the damage that has been done to the historical record.
I took enough history credits to be a history major and am certified to teach it and I was never taught that Jefferson attended church services in the Capitol or proclaimed fasts as governor that he would not as President when discussing the separation of church and state. This among other things that would have given me a proper education based on historical accuracy.
Re: "I do think we see Biblical principles in there [though. Like we do in] Federalist 10 being based on the sinful nature of man."
Joe/King, I agree that this is consistent with this principle of the NT.
However, that man is far from prefect was/is obvious ... I think you're over-reaching to conclude Biblical foundations or even influence based upon that reasoning. There just isn't a need for revelation in this instance.
I did not say "foundations" I said "principles." You have to read very closely what I said to see where Barton and I differ.
Maybe this will help you see where I am coming from:
I was reading a story about a radially conservative religionist at Ave Maria University that thinks that women cannot wear pants. He stated that the West owes it creation to the Catholic Church. I thought this was crazy but when I though about it has a lot of truth.
That is if we are talking about Aquinas type Catholicism then yes it had a profound affect on the West. So the statement can be true but one needs more details to flush out the truth in it that may contradict the understanding of the person making the statement.
If I were to tell him why his statement was true he would reject it. Much the same much of what Barton says is true but he would reject what would make it true. At least in some cases.
Some of the ideas came from the Bible and others are consistent with it.
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