Monday, May 21, 2012

The Texas and Dave Barton War on Thomas Jefferson has an article on David Barton's latest book titled The Jefferson Lies

Faux history for the GOP 
Republicans love David Barton and his new book, "The Jefferson Lies" -- even though it gets history wrong
Earlier this month, the evangelical writer David Barton’s new book, “The Jefferson Lies,” hit the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction. Barton isn’t popular, however, only with the ordinary American reader. On May 8, John Boehner authorized the use of Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for a religious service to commemorate the first inauguration of George Washington. Among the speakers was Barton, who is revered by social conservatives because he argues that the nation was founded primarily by evangelical Christians on explicitly Christian teachings.
Barton — “one of the most important men alive,” according to Glenn Beck — is frequently criticized as a pseudo-historian by progressives and academic historians for his claims about the Founders. He is now facing scrutiny, however, from evangelicals. After Barton’s speech in the Capitol, John Fea, chairman of the history department at evangelical Messiah College, accused Barton of “peddling falsehoods” about Washington, and asked, “Is it time to gather Christian historians together to sign some kind of formal statement condemning Barton’s brand of propaganda and hagiography?”
David Barton is a very powerful Texas Evangelical who absolutely believes that America was founded on the principles of Biblical Law.  As far as Glenn Beck's assertion that Barton is "one of the most important men alive", the statement is correct insofar as it applies Biblical literalists, Fundamentalist Christians and some Evangelicals, especially the factions defined by Dispensationalism, here.
Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, written by Jerry Falwell in 1983, welcomes a nuclear war: "'Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ' - the one brings thoughts of fear, destruction, and death, while the other brings thoughts of joy, hope, and life. They almost seem inconsistent with one another, yet they are indelibly intertwined."
It's this dangerous Dispensationalism that has spawned the religious right as a powerful and controlling force within the Republican Party. These folks advocate for endless wars and murder, and they are frequently sarcastically dubbed Warvangelicals, theocons and neocons.

Folks who adhere to Dispensationalist theology have literally declared war on Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is an admitted deist though he never embraced any particular Christian theology. Above all, Jefferson was much closer to a modern day Libertarian in that he advocated for natural rights and recognized the right of folks to do whatever they want to do and live however they want to live so long as it doesn't infringe on the natural rights of another human being. It's this 'live and let live' philosophy of Jefferson that so incenses the theocrats who seek to be in everybody's bedroom as the religious police and the morality gestapo.  They demand the criminalization of every possible human behavior that they don't approve of, including homosexuality. Many of these folks would implement Old Testament justice.

In Texas, Barton and his ilk succeeded in getting the State Board of Education (SBOE) to purge Jefferson from the list of people who were influential in the American Revolution as well as deleting him from the World History curriculum. The TX SBOE affair was so scandalous that Texas was the laughing stock of not only America but the entire world.

For crying out loud, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and is one of the most cherished names in history books all over the world, but not in Texas where Jefferson is banned.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all Men are created, equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…

These immortal words are among the most recognized phrases in the human lexicon – they are eternal, they are uttered internationally by peoples everywhere and they have become the battle cry for humans seeking to shed totalitarian slavery. Jefferson, as well as other American founding fathers, was a pioneer in the theory that we have natural rights that emanate from God and that no ruler or person(s) can usurp these God given “natural” rights. To deny a human being their natural rights constitutes tyranny and oppression.

The American Revolution was a cataclysmic historical event that reverberated around the world and those who made it happen are indeed worthy of recognition. The only goal of American Revolutionaries was to devise a form of government that was the least susceptible to abuse by  government and unjust laws.

To excise Jefferson as an important and influential figure in world history is insane. His famous words have been echoed around the globe as a message to other folks that human liberty is indeed possible because it’s a natural God given right that should never subservient to the whims of rulers/kings or even theocrats for that matter. To be a sovereign citizen with recognized rights versus a mere subject with limited rights was a milestone in human history and to a large extent, Jefferson was a driving force behind the foundation of our constitutional liberties as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and later codified into law by the Constitution that enshrined the principles of our Republic.

How did a Texas SBOE justify purging Jefferson? According to the Austin American Statesman, SBOE religious right extremist member Cynthia Dunbar is quoted:
“made a motion at the board's March 11 meeting to change the proposed standard, substituting "writings" for "Enlightenment ideas" and removing Jefferson from the suggested list. In Jefferson's place, she added Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone — respectively, a Roman Catholic priest and saint; a Protestant theologian; and an English jurist who wrote that the doctrines of common law are based on God's word. Dunbar, defending the amendment, said: "It does take out (the) reference to Thomas Jefferson. But the reason is not that I don't think his ideas were important. It's just that this is a list of political philosophers from which the Founding Fathers based their ideologies and their principles." Link
That a Catholic priest, a Protestant theologian and an English jurist, who believed that laws are based on God’s word, are now the defining characteristics of “enlightenment ideas” (a term expunged by Dunbar and replaced with “writings”) is indeed a gross mischaracterization. What right has Dunbar to assume that Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone were in fact the primary philosophical influences of our founders? Apparently, the term “enlightenment” is disturbing to many SBOE members because it holds the potential to invoke secularism. However, secularism itself doesn’t necessarily imply the absence of God but it merely infers that no mans theology shall ever be forcibly imposed on another man.

It has been said that John Calvin “preached the doctrine of absolute obedience and nonresistance to duly constituted government, regardless of how that government might be”. Of course, this fully endorses Romans 13, one of the most debated verses in the Bible because it mandates “let every soul be subject to the sovereign authorities. For there is no power which is not from God; and those who are in authority are ordained by God”.  More to the point, if this were 1776 I submit that Republicans would be loyalists and not the wondrous Revolutionaries who directly violated Romans 13 as well as the John Calvin doctrine of absolute obedience to the almighty state and its rulers.

In the interest of practical reality most folks have heard of Thomas Jefferson but few have heard of Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone. To assert that philosophically they are more important than Jefferson is worse than a stretch, it could be construed as theological indoctrination. Granted, Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone are enormously important figures if one is a serious student of theology but to teach that they are the critical philosophers behind the creation of America is simply not accurate because America was birthed by revolutionaries, reactionaries and even theological dissidents. Of course, the most radical revolutionary ever to exist was Jesus.

The growth of government power and absolute statism under Republicans is a profound moral flaw of the modern day Republican Party – a party that is vastly alienated from the vision of our founding fathers and a party that routinely tramples the Constitution and our founding principles.

Moreover, the TX SBOE just didn’t excise Jefferson from the curriculum. They literally became historical revisionists on many other highly relevant issues including “Students will learn about the contributions of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority…Students will also be required to “discuss the meaning of ‘In God We Trust.’ ”.  The religious right faction of the TX SBOE is fully committed to theological indoctrination.

I suspect that Americans are finally getting fed up with the hardcore 'Warvangelical' religious right who increasingly resemble theocratic Nazis. Many Christians are now shunning beliefs they once held and theocratic absolutism as a tool of the Republican Party is no longer the powerful force that it once was. Folks are waking up to the stone cold reality that many religions in America are nothing more than anti-liberty government indoctrination machines, especially on foreign policy, drug policy and the contentious social issues.

 "Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God." Lenny Bruce

 “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 prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”  Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson never said that religious folks couldn't participate in public life but try telling that to the theocrats.  Jefferson merely advocated for natural rights and opposed any religion dictating public policy or forcibly imposing national theocracy.

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