By: Charles Sumner
To: Carl Blanton
Re: David Barton
David Barton: "The Myth of Separation," 1989. (Barton also
distributes videotapes which feature attacks on separation of
church and state.) (This is an expanded refutation.)
This book is riddled with factual errors, half-truths, and
distortions. Barton quotes Jefferson as saying that the wall of
separation is one-directional. Jefferson never said that. Such
a thought is ridiculous to any student of Jefferson's thoughts.
Barton says that the Supreme Court lifted the phrase "wall
of separation" from a speech Jefferson made in 1801. It
actually came from a letter Jefferson wrote to Danbury Baptists in
1802. Barton claims that later in the "speech" Jefferson said,
"That wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government
from running the church but it makes sure that Christian
principles will stay in government." This is total fabrication!
Barton claims that 55 of the founding fathers were orthodox,
evangelical Christians. Most were Anglicans, hardly considered
evangelical (a term not in general use in that period.) Some,
like Jefferson, were deists.
Barton claims that the early versions of the First Amendment
prove that it was meant only to prohibit establishment of a
national church. Early drafts prove exactly the opposite.
Barton twists the meanings and facts of several Supreme Court
decisions to promote his religious right philosophy. He claims
that the Engle (prayer) decision was not based on history or
prior church-state decisions. For the truth of this one need
only read the actual decision, in which Hugo Black reviewed
colonial history and William Douglas reviewed previous church-
state decisions. Barton often quotes lower court opinions as if
they were opinions of the Supreme Court.
Barton and others are attempting to rewrite history to suit
their political agenda. Most libraries have "Church, State, and
Freedom," by Leo Pfeffer. A new book is "Why the Religious
Right is Wrong," by Rob Boston. There are many other titles of
books which do not distort the facts. Ask a librarian.
Barton's group called "WallBuilders" is a moneymaking operation,
not a nonprofit group as some may think. The falsehoods and
distortions in his books and videotapes have been picked up by
other religious extremists and propagated further. The so-
called Christian Coalition is one of these.
For a copy of an article debunking David Barton or for a list of
books on what the separation of church and state really means,
send me your mailing address via private e-mail.---