January 2014 Church & State | People & Events

Discredited Religious Right activist and “Christian nation” advocate David Barton is up to his old tricks, this time claiming that the U.S. Constitution quotes from the Bible.

In Barton’s creative retelling, one has to know how to read the Constitution to find the hidden biblical references.

“I can think of clause after clause of the Constitution that is quoting scriptural quotes,” Barton told Math­ew Staver of the Liberty Counsel during a recent radio interview. “It’s just that because [the Founding Fathers] didn’t put the references there, people just don’t recognize that.”

Barton didn’t site a single passage in the Constitution as evidence, probably because there aren’t any to be found. But during a speech last summer at Crossroads Church in Oklahoma City, he attempted to provide some evidence for his idea. Barton asserted that Article 1, Section 8, which deals with naturalization procedures, is based on Leviticus 19:34.

Article II, Section 1, which concerns the office of the presidency, is based on Deuteronomy 17:15, Barton said. And Article III, Section 3, which concerns penalties for treason, is based on Ezekiel 18:20, he added.    

Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College, a conservative Christian institution in Pennsylvania, took issue with Barton’s claims. He noted that Leviticus 19:34 says, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

The Constitution, however, says the purpose of Article I, Section 8 is “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.” Nowhere in that section, Throckmorton said, does the Constitution reflect the ideas in Leviticus.

 “If the Constitution included such language [from Leviticus], immigrants would have rights they don’t have now and there would no need for immigration reform,” Throckmorton wrote on his blog. “Rather, the Constitution invests Congress with the powers to make laws and establish policies (which could do what this verse suggests if the political process leads to that end).”

That wasn’t Barton’s only outrageous claim recently. In November he joined televangelist Kenneth Cope­land in a radio broadcast to assert that post-traumatic stress disorder, which afflicts many veterans, isn’t biblical.

Copeland urged soldiers suffering from PTSD to read a Bible passage in the Book of Numbers, asserting, “It doesn’t take psychology. That prom­ise right there will get rid of it.”

Barton agreed, asserting that the Bible passage means that soldiers are “on an elevated platform up here. You’re a hero, you’re put in the faith hall of fame…When you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”

Throckmorton again criticized Barton for his ignorance.

“It is obvious that they do not have knowledge of the condition,” Throckmorton said. “Copeland and Barton err theologically as well by taking specific Scriptures written in relationship to Israel and apply them to Am­e­r­i­can armies.”

Finally, Barton also incorrectly asserted that President Barack Obama has omitted mention of God from his Thanksgiving Day proclamations.

“That’s a real problem,” Barton said during a radio broadcast. “You check Thanksgiving proclamations of this president with the previous ones and it’s not the same.”

In reality, Obama did mention God in all of his proclamations between 2010 and 2013. In 2013, for example, he asked “the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”