More Theopolitical Rightwing Disingenuousness: The Thomas Jefferson Edition

Or I suppose I could have used a monosyllabic word, such as lies. I realize Glenn Beck lying, to children no less, is hardly news, but it is worth knocking down one ludicrous claim:

“I learned on your show that Thomas Jefferson actually signed a lot of his documents ‘in Christ,’ but a lot of people say that he was a deist, so is he a Christian or a deist?”

Well, Jefferson did sign many government documents ‘in Christ’ because he was legally required to do so (italics mine):

Barton bases this lie on only one document — a document that was nothing more than a preprinted form required to be carried by ships leaving the United States. These fill-in-the-blanks forms were printed in bulk, and every president signed big stacks of them, leaving all the information blank. The signed forms were then sent to the officials at all the ports to be filled out as needed. The reason these forms were dated “in the year of our Lord Christ” was because this was the language specified by an 1782 commerce treaty with the Netherlands, which was a Christian power. Jefferson did not choose this language, as Barton claims. Nor did he date any other documents in this way.

So Jefferson, technically speaking, signed lots of documents “in the year of our Lord Christ” because he was required to do so by international treaty.
Any honest reading of the historical record would note this and not use it to claim that Jefferson did not believe in a strong separation of church and state. Then again, consider the source–‘Professor’ David Barton has an degree from Oral Roberts University and an honorary degree from Pensicola Christian College which offers this course:

BY 430 Professional Issues in Biology (3) Prereq.: Senior. This course addresses, from a biblical philosophy, vital issues in biology, including creation science and evolution, bioethics and decision making in medicine, recombinant DNA, and cloning. Students prepare a research paper discussing an advanced topic in biology in the context of technical, social, ethical, and spiritual issues. Fall sem.

Just more lies in service of the Big Truth. A lying member of the theopolitical right: who coulda thunk it?
An aside: For any idiots who will accuse me of being an atheist, I’m not. I just don’t like people who willfully distort the past to serve their own theopolitical agenda. If your cause is just, you don’t need to lie.

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5 Responses to More Theopolitical Rightwing Disingenuousness: The Thomas Jefferson Edition

  1. Russell says:

    Barton exemplifies the practice of “lying for Jesus.”
    BTW, assuming the school is named for the Florida town, it’s Pensacola, not Pensicola.

  2. Mokele says:

    Russel, that’s better than my initially reading – I read it as Peniscola.

  3. Scott Wood says:

    Good post, but you’re a bit defensive on the issue of atheism, no?

  4. “For any idiots who will accuse me of being an atheist, I’m not.”
    I don’t see why that would be a particularly devastating accusation…

  5. Josh says:

    “Well, Jefferson did sign many government documents ‘in Christ’ because he was legally required to do so”
    And then you discover that it was because of Jefferson and other founding fathers that the law required it in the first place(them being responsible for the laws at the time, and all), and all of a sudden your story becomes pointless.
    Ahh, Mr. Kos, how does it feel to be a farce?

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