David Barton’s Biblical Constitution: What If The Constitution Really Quoted The Bible?

I’ve addressed this before but it seems worth noting again. David Barton, with a straight face, says the Constitution quotes the Bible. He and Mat Staver discussed this claim on a Liberty Counsel segment recently. Begin watching at 4:30):

Again with ankle biting Bible verses.

In speech to Crossroads Church in OK, Barton listed some of the verses he says are quoted in the Constitution. Take a look:

Let’s take one — Leviticus 19:34 — and see if we can find it quoted in the Article 1, Section 8 where Barton says it is. Here is the Leviticus verse:

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Barton says this verse is quoted in Article 1, Section 8 and specifically references “uniform immigration.” Here is what the Constitution says on this point:

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

The rest of Article 1, Section 8 describes the other powers of Congress, and does not quote from Leviticus.

Let’s take this a little further. What if the Constitution did quote Leviticus 19:34? For discussion’s sake, let pretend that Leviticus 19:34 was rephrased in legal terms in a section I’ll invent as Article IV, Section 5:

The foreigner living among you must be treated as a natural born citizen. Foreigners shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

If the Constitution included such language, immigrants would have rights they don’t have now and there would no need for immigration reform. 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).

If the Constitution quoted Deuteronomy 17:15, the nation would need to discern somehow who God had chosen to be king. Also, in Deut. 17:20, the Bible notes that the chosen king’s descendants will rule a long time if the king follows God’s instructions. Clearly, our Constitution does not reflect those Bible verses. Furthermore, one does not need the Bible to see the reasonableness of requiring citizenship as a condition of political leadership.

I could go on, but hopefully it is clear that when Barton claims the Constitution quotes Bible verses, he must be referring to some other Constitution.


Note To David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Is Real

Kenneth Copeland’s and David Barton’s teaching on post-traumatic stress disorder struck a raw nerve.
On Veteran’s Day, Copeland and Barton claimed that the Old Testament book of Numbers 32 is a promise that soldiers who fight for God are promised that they will return from battle and can get rid of PTSD if they cast out demonic influences. Reaction was swift and negative. Predictably, left leaning groups castigated the two. However, equally strong was the reaction from evangelical and conservative circles. These groups have good reason to react negatively, the advice given by Barton and Copeland was dangerously misinformed.
I rarely treat PTSD these days. However, when I owned a group practice in Southern Ohio, I had a contract with the Veteran’s Administration to treat Vietnam Vets with PTSD. Before he died, my uncle struggled with his experiences in WWII, often using alcohol to quiet the raging memories inside. The intrusive thoughts and sense of dread are quite real to the person who suffers. Advances in brain imaging have begun to reveal some answers to why some people experience symptoms after trauma and others do not. And Numbers 32 has no role in the differences.
A recent VA study found that the parts of the brain which encode incoming information remain active in PTSD patients whereas non-sufferers show more neural flexibility. Study co-author Lisa James said, “The deficit that we see in PTSD is the absence of that ability to modulate.”
Acting along with pre-existing vulnerability, trauma seems to actually erode the resilience and mood regulating functions of the brain. A 2011 NIMH funded study found fewer neurons responsible for passing chemical messages through the brain in victims of trauma than in brains of controls participants. The brain scans below depicts the difference:

Patients with PTSD (right) had significantly fewer serotonin 1B receptors (yellow & red areas) in their brain stress circuits than healthy controls (left). PET scan images show destinations of a radioactive tracer that binds to serotonin 1B receptors. Front of brain is at bottom. Source: Alexander Neumeister, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine

A quick review of the other NIMH work and many other studies showing real changes as the result of trauma demonstrate the harmful nature of the advice given by Copeland and Barton.  One cannot just “get rid of it” as Copeland counseled.
Copeland and Barton should immediately offer an apology and point people to the VA and/or other credible medical and psychological professionals.

Ted Cruz Headlines David Barton's Conference For State Legislators

This weekend David Barton is hosting state legislators from around the nation at in a conference headlined by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Barton has come under fire in recent weeks due to endorsement of claims that climate change is related to legal abortion, that Christian professors are responsible for half of Christian students leaving their faith, that the U.S. military is God’s arm of judgment and that post-traumatic stress disorder can be discarded because of an Old Testament Bible verse.
The conference began last night and will run through Sunday and features Cruz, George Barna, John Fund, Glenn Beck, Terrance Moore and others.  Given what he says when the camera and mic are on, I can only imagine what Barton will tell his audiences in private sessions. At some point, I suspect reporters will start asking GOP presidential front-runner Cruz if he agrees with Barton about climate change, the U.S. military and PTSD, as well as many other of Barton’s claims.
Given Cruz support for Barton in the past, I am not surprised to see him there. However, I am surprised to see Barna, Fund, and Moore on the program which gives an appearance of endorsement of Barton and Wallbuilders.  In contrast, I am glad for the recent stand by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Gospel Coalition.

Gospel Coalition Blog: The PTSD Advice From David Barton And Kenneth Copeland Is Gospel-Destroying And Demonic

Wake a sleeping giant and he gets mad.
Communications Director of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and editor of the Gospel Coalition blog, Joe Carter, has some strong words for David Barton and Kenneth Copeland. Specifically the issue is Barton’s and Copeland’s advice to those who suffer from combat related post-traumatic stress disorder. See yesterday’s post on the subject.
In a post on the Gospel Coalition website, Carter blasts Barton and Copeland:

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.
Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.
To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton’s application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.


Throughout most modern wars, from World War I to Vietnam, both the military and civilian worlds denied or downplayed the existence of this form of psychological trauma. It wasn’t until the post-Vietnam era that the medical community began to recognize that experiences of PTSD sufferers were not only real, but also that the causes were likely rooted in genes and brain chemistry, rather than a defect in the veteran’s character.
For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this “blame the victim” trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Very strong language. I certainly agree with the substance of his remarks. No matter how the remarks from Barton and Copeland were intended, they were cruel and unusual and require an apology and a retraction from them. I am very pleased that Carter, as spokesperson for the ERLC and the GC, has stepped out and made a strong stand.
Will Barton and Copeland get it? I am not hopeful. Recently, Barton accused his Christian critics of being recruited by “secular guys” to critique his problems with history. I suspect he will attempt to deflect these strong words from the Southern Baptists and the Gospel Coalition in a similar manner.

David Barton Says His Christian Critics Were Recruited By "Secular Guys"

Just when you think you’ve heard it all…
In a video posted November 9, David Barton told an audience at Ohio Christian University that “secular guys” recruited the Christians professors who critiqued The Jefferson Lies.
Barton claims his Christian critics were recruited by “secular guys.” Of course, this is flatly false, at least in my case and anyone I know. No one recruited Michael Coulter and me to critique Barton’s book. Furthermore, there are dozens of Christian professors who have critiqued Barton’s work simply because it is the right and honest thing to do.
Jay Richards is a Fellow at the Discovery Institute who recruited 10 scholars to read our book and The Jefferson Lies. None of these scholars were recruited by secular people to critique Barton.
Even the Family Research Council recognized flaws in Barton’s presentations and pulled his Capitol Tour video from view. Also, Focus on the Family edited Barton’s talks to remove two major historical errors. Perhaps Barton is going to include FRC and Focus on the Family among those recruited by the unnamed “secular guys.”
If it is true that Barton has an entire chapter devoted to Getting Jefferson Right, I can’t wait to see it.
In the mean time, I wrote to Dave Garrison at Ohio Christian University with a request to allow Michael Coulter and me to come to the school and present our work. If they really want to get at the truth, they will take us up on the offer.

David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Can Be Cured By Bible Verses And Rebuking Satan

Last night, Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Religion News Service reported on statements made (video here) by David Barton and Kenneth Copeland about post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. I am cited in the article as is Joe Carter from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  More about those comments shortly.
On Monday — Veteran’s Day — Barton and Copeland discussed what they believe the Bible has to say about service in the military.  At about 3:10 into the clip, Copeland expresses his thanks for those in the military and says he often ministers to them. Barton then says that being a soldier is a God-given gift. Copeland extends those remarks by saying that God told him to believe in war. At about 6 minutes in, Copeland says, “for over 200 years, we’ve (referring to the United States) been the judgment arm of God.” Copeland says the U.S. should get credit for stopping slavery in the world. He added that we are supposed to be acting as the judgment arm now, but we are not carrying it out. They take a side track into a discussion of “anointed police officers” but eventually get to the material on PTSD. This background is important because it demonstrates the belief of Barton and Copeland that soldiers act in God’s name.
At 9:44, Copeland claims that Numbers 32:20-22 (KJV) should be considered a “soldier’s promise.” He implies that the good soldier will come back from battle and be “guiltless before the Lord and before the nation.” Copeland, with Barton agreeing, then says (at 10:41):

Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it. It doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there will get rid of it.

Copeland then exhorts PTSD sufferers to rebuke intrusive thoughts and other symptoms by attributing them to Satan. At 11:32, Copeland says, again with Barton agreeing:

In the name of Jesus, take your hands off my mind Satan! In Jesus name, Satan, you take your hands off of God’s property right now. You come out and come down, you stop it!

Before they go on to another set of verses, Barton interrupts, affirms Copeland’s words, and adds that many of the heroes of Hebrews 11 (Hall of Faith) were warriors. He adds that warriors who fight in a just war should be esteemed.
There is so much wrong in this broadcast, it is hard to know where to start and when to end. First, the verses are not general promises to those who fight in a just war. If Copeland would have read the entire chapter of Numbers 32, it would have been clear that these directives were issued to the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Verse 23 reads: “But if you (adult males of the tribes of Reuben and Gad) will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” God gave a warning to the tribes of Reuben and Gad because of their initial unwillingness to fight with the rest of the tribes for the purpose of taking the Promised Land across the Jordan.
Furthermore, the word “guiltless” as translated in the KJV is misleading. In the NIV, verse 22 reads: “then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.” The KJV’s guiltless is better translated, “free from obligation.” In other words, God wouldn’t hold Reuben’s and Gad’s initial resistance against them if they agreed to go fight with the other tribes to take the land. However, if they didn’t fight, they would have been in obligation to God and their brethren. The word guiltless does not mean what Barton and Copeland apparently think it means.
Such constructions really annoy Southern Baptist ERLC communications director, Joe Carter. Carter told the Religious New Service:

This isn’t the first time Copeland and Barton have been “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” said Joe Carter, an editor and communications director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable,” Carter said. “Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.”

As an aside, Carter’s reaction deserves a post of its own.
Back to the topic, even though I suspect that Copeland and Barton believe they are being helpful, I have to agree with Carter.  Barton’s and Copeland’s view of PTSD is dangerously naive.  A good quick resource on PTSD can be found on the NIH website.
Barton and Copeland should read it.
When I watched Copeland’s exhortation to “stop it!” I immediately thought of this skit, where the therapist is about as helpful as Barton and Copeland.

David Barton: Half Of Students In Christian Colleges Leave Church Due To Pagan Professors

During what is listed as Thursday’s broadcast on Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory program, David Barton said at 10:48 into the clip:

Those in authority include those in our education system, for example, in our universities. Last Friday, when we pointed out about education, now between 71-88% of our Christian kids who go to college are renouncing their faith at college, and that over 50% of our Christian kids who go to Christian colleges are renouncing their faith at Christian colleges because the professors in the Christian colleges were trained by the pagans in the secular colleges, and Jesus tells us in Luke 6:40 that every student when he is fully trained will be just like his teacher. So those Christian professors, “Christian” professors, are trained by those pagans and they think like the pagans. They’re living in Egypt and they think they’re Egyptians instead of Hebrews.

Barton recently told Westside Church in Omaha, NE the same thing (at 7:00 into this clip):

Right now between 71-88% of Christian youth raised in Christian homes, 71 to 88% of those kids with deny their faith in four years at the university. That is the most hostile place in America right now for Christian faith…The good news is that while we lose 71-88%  of kids to secular campuses, we do at least have Christian campuses we can send our kids to, and at Christian campuses only 50% of Christian kids deny their faith at Christian campuses. Woah, what’s going on here? Jesus told us what’s going on here. If you go back to what Jesus said in Luke 6, chapter 6 verse 40, Jesus said, every student when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. What happens is that so many of the professors we have in Christian university were trained by the pagans at other universities, they just happen to be a new pagan trained at a Christian university. I mean it’s extremely hostile now, even at Christian universities.

I was unable to find the exact percentages Barton cited regarded students at state schools, and I could find nothing regarding his claim about Christian colleges. Some survey may exist with these results but I have been unable as yet to find it (and of course, I am glad to have a look at any surveys which support Barton’s claim).  I assume he is referring to the work of the Barna Group which surveyed students between 2007 and 2011 regarding their relationship to the church while in college.
However, Barna’s conclusions are not the same as Barton’s. The situation is much more complex than is portrayed by Barton.
According to Barna’s website, the reality is that many students who stop attending church don’t actually leave the faith.  Barna’s David Kinnaman said:

The reality of the dropout problem is not about a huge exodus of young people from the Christian faith. In fact, it is about the various ways that young people become disconnected in their spiritual journey. Church leaders and parents cannot effectively help the next generation in their spiritual development without understanding these three primary patterns. The conclusion from the research is that most young people with a Christian background are dropping out of conventional church involvement, not losing their faith.

In fact, young adults often feel disillusioned with the institutional church even as they maintain a belief in God. According to Kinnaman’s earlier book unChristian, many young people distance themselves from the church because of what they perceive to be hypocrisy in the church, and not due to the influence of their so-called “pagan professors. (an example here)”
In fact, Barna says it is a myth that “college experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out.” If anything, college experience expose problems already in place rather than create them. According to Kinnaman’s survey, there are six reasons why this generation is leaving the church:

  1. Churches seem overprotective.
  2. Teens’ and 20-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  4. Church attitudes toward sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental.
  5. Christianity seems exclusive, which they wrestle with.
  6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

Since Christian academics have become more vocal about their concerns over his history, Barton has become more critical of Christian professors as a group. Rather than stick to the issues, Barton has gone on the offensive by slamming Christian scholars and devaluing their faith and their dedication to Christian vocation.  Now, contrary to evidence, he accuses us of contributing to the religious demise of half of our students.
I hope this effort becomes clear for what it is.

Grace University Is Not One Of The David Barton Twelve

In October, David Barton said he worked with about a dozen colleges that he believed were right on history and theology. Messiah College historian John Fea followed up and identified six he thought might be on the list. One that is probably not on the list is Grace University in Omaha, NE. Grace’s president emeritus Jim Eckman posted a critique of Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies on the university’s website late last week. Before he identifies three specific problems, he summarizes his findings:

I am a Christian, and a published historian, who teaches history and have done so for over 35 years.  My Ph.D. is in history, and my other three degrees are in history or historical theology.  I am also an ordained minister and have served in the administration (as Academic VP and as President for a total of 20 years) of a Christ-centered University.  I take research and teaching very seriously.  I believe it is wrong to distort evidence or be selective to prove a point that the evidence does not support.  I believe very strongly that David Barton has done just this in his book on Thomas Jefferson.  As Christians, if we are going to make an argument, it must be true and it must be supported by the evidence.  What makes David Barton’s situation even more significant is that many evangelicals like what he says because it fits with their Republican or Libertarian worldview.  Even if he has distorted things, it does not seem to matter.  Before the Lord, as evangelicals, we cannot misrepresent history to prove a preconceived point.

After his brief critique, Eckman concludes:

As a Christian historian and Christian leader, I believe very strongly that we must be truthful and forthright about our beliefs.  We must also be people of integrity and be scrupulous in how we present our case.  In my judgment, David Barton has not done this.  (Thomas Nelson has ceased its publication of Barton’s book on Jefferson.)  He needs to be called to task and evangelicals in the US must be much more discerning and careful in what is claimed about our Founders.

Eckman was moved to write because Barton had recently spoken at Westside Church in Omaha.  Videos of his messages are archived on the church website. The message is about the same as other recent messages he has delivered in various churches around the country. In this speech, he claims the free market system “came out of five Bible verses,” and the republican form of government came from the Bible, the Constitution cites the Bible, and that violent crime has gone straight up since the removal of the Bible from schools, among many other things. I debunked the last claim in an earlier post.

Michael Peroutka: Civil Rights Laws Should Never Have Been Passed

Speaking on the Steve Deace Show Tuesday, Institute on the Constitution Director and League of the South Board member Michael Peroutka criticized the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which adds sexual orientation to existing civil rights protections. However, his criticism did not end there. He added at 30:22 into the first hour:

The civil government has no authority to tell any private employer what kind of employees to hire and fire, or what constitutes discrimination. And obviously, I do mean and I would include the so-called civil rights laws are not law, they never should’ve been passed, they’re not law now, they weren’t law then, they aren’t law now because there is no such thing as a civil right.

Despite Peroutka’s past efforts to wrap himself with the legacy of Martin Luther King, here Peroutka’s views of King’s work and discrimination more broadly come through.  Peroutka has gone so far as to claim that King did not seek civil rights. However, King clearly rejected Barry Goldwater’s view of the Civil Rights Act which is a position quite similar to the one Peroutka espoused on the Deace program. Peroutka’s views expressed on this radio show are consistent with an article on his website which justifies discrimination based on race, religion and/or nationality.
One might dismiss Peroutka as without much influence, however, to me, this would be shortsighted. Peroutka’s organization Institute on the Constitution continues to make inroads in the tea party and religious right. Furthermore, Steve Deace, while far to the right in relation to the rest of the nation, seems to be mainstream in Iowa. It is alarming and disappointing to hear a voice of the right wing of the GOP in IA lament the passage of civil rights laws which protect the civil rights of all Americans.
HT: Right Wing Watch.