I spent two hours Saturday evening in front of my computer watching the Religious Right’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum.” The event, which took place at First Federated Church, a large fundamentalist congregation in Des Moines, featured six of the leading Republican presidential candidates – U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, former U.S senator Rick Santorum, Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) last week promoted an “education reform” plan that includes taxpayer-funded school vouchers for tuition at religious and other private schools.
The proposal is supposedly targeted at low-income families with kids in “failing” public schools. The vouchers would permit these students to transfer to other private or public schools, including religious schools, provided the school chooses to accept the student.
The Religious Right likes to invoke American history to advance its agenda, but sometimes the truth of that history doesn’t fit with the fundamentalist narrative. When that happens, people like David Barton decide to write revisionist textbooks and peddle those books to public schools.
Last week, I gave a talk about church-state history at my wife’s church. I called my speech “The ‘Christian Nation’ Myth.”
Although I’m not an attorney, I laid out the case against the idea that the United States is some sort of officially Christian nation as one would in a courtroom, by marshaling the evidence. I put forth the following points:
Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, and my modest gift to him is to debunk the latest David Barton nonsense about our third president.
Barton, a Religious Right historical revisionist who promotes discredited “Christian nation” propaganda, has lately taken aim at one of Jefferson’s most famous projects: The so-called “Jefferson Bible.” As usual, Barton’s version has only a passing relationship with the truth.
We’ve criticized former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum on this blog before for his poor understanding of church-state separation.
Santorum believes President John F. Kennedy was wrong when, in a famous 1960 speech, Kennedy vowed to be the president of all people and make his policy decisions not on the basis of what his Roman Catholic faith demanded but on the grounds of what was good for the country.
Jan. 16 is National Religious Freedom Day.
The day was created by Congress in 1993, and every year the president issues a proclamation. (The 2011 proclamation hasn’t been released yet, but you can read the 2010 one here.) The day is designed to commemorate the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1786.
Thomas Jefferson and the Baptists didn’t have much in common when it came to theology.
Jefferson, a deist, thought the moral teachings of Jesus were sublime, but he didn’t believe in the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus or the inerrancy of the Bible. He thought the miracles reported in the New Testament were myths, and he considered the Christian doctrine of the Trinity incomprehensible.
Needless to say, his founding-era Baptist compatriots disagreed – to put it mildly.