Debunking One of David Barton’s Oldest Stories: Thomas Jefferson and the D.C. Schools

Thomas Jefferson Middle School Academy, Washington, DC. From school website
Thomas Jefferson Middle School Academy, Washington, DC. From school website

David Barton was a guest on Michael Brown’s Line of Fire show recently and spun some familiar yarns.

A story that has been around awhile (since Barton’s 1989 book Myth of Separation) is his claim that Thomas Jefferson incorporated the Bible and Isaac Watts hymnal into the curriculum of the Washington D.C. schools while Jefferson was president. This claim has been thoroughly debunked before by others, notably Jim Allison and Chris Rodda. While those authors documented well their rebuttal to Barton, I like to consult the primary sources for myself. Here I lay out Barton’s claim followed by the truth.

Listen to Barton on Line of Fire:

Transcript:

When he became president of the United States, the Constitution authorizes that Washington, D.C. be run by the federal government, not by any state.  So the schools of Washington, D.C. are under federal control. This is a new city when he moves in, he’s the president, he’s the first president to have a full term in the White House, everything else was in New York and Philadelphia, so he gets a full term, brand new city to him, he is now in charge of Washington, D.C. public schools as well. So he’s on the school board for Washington, D.C. public schools, they have to start the system, he authors the plan of education for Washington, D.C. public schools and he installs two reading texts for Washington, D.C. public schools, one is Isaac Watts hymnal, which is where we get the hymns like Joy to the World, etc., that’s what they learned to read from, and the Bible is the other one, and so Jefferson did that.

Barton refers to this story in The Jefferson Lies:

In 1805 President Jefferson was elected head of the board of trustees for the brand new Washington, DC, public schools. 51 He told the city council that he would “willingly undertake the duties proposed to me – so far as others of paramount obligation will permit my attention to them”; 52 that is, he would do what he could for the city schools with the caveat that his presidential duties came first. Robert Brent therefore served as head of the trustees instead of Jefferson; but as a trustee, Jefferson contributed much to the new school system. In fact, James Ormond Wilson, the first superintendent of the Washington, DC, public school system, affirmed that Jefferson was “the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.” 53 When the first report of the Washington public schools was prepared and released to document the progress of students, it announced:

Fifty-five have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; twenty-six are now learning to read Dr. Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; ten are learning words of four and five letters. Of fifty-nine out of the whole number admitted [enrolled] that did not know a single letter, twenty can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables; twenty-nine read Dr. Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; and ten, words of four and five letters. 54

Most can probably visualize the Bible as a text to teach reading, 55 but what of Watt’s Hymns? Isaac Watts was a Christian theologian and hymn writer, penning some of the strongest doctrinal anthems in Christendom, including classics such as “Jesus Shall Reign,” “Joy to the World,” “O God our Help in Ages Past,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” “At the Cross,” and others. It was this hymnal, along with the Bible, that was used to teach reading to students in the school system whose plan of education was directly attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 1813-1832). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

We can go to the very source Barton points readers to in the footnote to debunk this story — the article by J.O. Wilson on the history of the D.C. schools.* Let’s take the claims one by one.

Jefferson was elected to the D.C. school board in 1805. He accepted in a letter to Robert Brent and at the time told Brent he would “willingly undertake the duties proposed to me, so far as others of paramount obligation will permit my attention to them.” In other words, being president had to come first. After this, Barton’s claims are mostly false.

Did Jefferson Write the Plan of Education for Washington, D.C. Schools?
Barton says in his book that Jefferson authored the plan of education. However, the source he cited doesn’t say that. About Jefferson’s involvement in the D.C. plan of education, Wilson (Barton’s own source) wrote:

A notably comprehensive report, setting forth in detail the plan of the entire educational system from an academy to a university, was prepared by a select committee and adopted September 19, 1805. Mr Jefferson’s early and liberal contribution in money and his accepting and holding the offices of trustee and president of the board of trustees of public schools so long as he resided here show his personal interest in their establishment, and the fact that he had several years earlier proposed a quite similar plan of education for the state of Virginia and a few years later, in 1817, vigorously renewed his proposal, make a strong probability that he himself was the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.

Barton’s quotation of Wilson is where the mischief is. In The Jefferson Lies, Barton wrote:

In fact, James Ormond Wilson, the first superintendent of the Washington, DC, public school system, affirmed that Jefferson was “the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.”

But look at what Wilson wrote and notice what Barton omitted in The Jefferson Lies. Wilson said Jefferson’s donations and his prior work on education in Virginia

make a strong probability that he himself was the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington. (bold print is what Barton left out of his quote)

Wilson did not affirm that Jefferson wrote the plan, he guessed Jefferson authored it based on circumstantial evidence. We don’t know what Jefferson’s role was in writing the plan.

Did Jefferson Make Sure the Bible Was Used in D.C. Schools?
Even if Jefferson did write the plan with his own hand, it destroys Barton’s claim because Jefferson didn’t include Bible in it. Wilson’s history provides a description of the 1805 plan:

In their plan the board of trustees said:

The academy shall consist of as many schools as circumstances may require, to be limited at present to two, one of which shall be situated east of the Capitol and within half a mile of it and the other within half a mile of the President’s house, it being understood that these positions are considered by the board as temporary, and consequently subject at any future time to alteration. In these schools poor children shall be taught reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and such branches of the mathematics as may qualify them for the professions they are intended to follow, and they shall receive such other instruction as is given to pay pupils, as the board may from time to time direct, and pay pupils shall, besides, be instructed in geography and in the Latin language. The schools shall be open each day, Sundays excepted, eight hours in summer and six hours in winter, to be distributed throughout the day as shall be fixed by the board, except during vacation, which shall not commence prior to the first of August, nor continue after the 10th of September, and whose duration shall be fixed by the board. (emphasis added)

There is no mention of the Bible or a hymnal by Watts or anyone else.

So where does Barton get the idea that Jefferson incorporated the Bible and Watts’ hymnal? 

A little later in his article, Wilson described some developments after Jefferson left office.

In 1812, the Washington schools switched their methods to allow a D.C. school to follow the approach of an educator named Joseph Lancaster. Then in 1813, a report of the progress under the new educational plan was submitted. Wilson provides the entire report; I will cite the part of it misused by Barton:

In 1813 Mr Henry Ould made the first report of a Washington public school of which we have any record.
It reads as follows : February 10, 1813.

This day 12 months ago I had the pleasure of opening under your auspices the second genuine Lancasterian school in America. The system was set in operation (as far as the nature of the room would admit) in this city on the 10th of February, 1812, in an inconvenient house opposite the General Post Office, but notwithstanding the smallness of the school-room there were 120 scholars entered on the list during the first three months. I was then under the necessity of delaying the admission of scholars, as the room would not accommodate more than 80 to 100 scholars. It now becomes my duty to lay before you an account of the improvement of the scholars placed under my direction in your institution, which I shall do in the following order:

OF NUMBERS
130 scholars have been admitted into your institution since the 10th of February, 1812, viz., 82 males and 48 females, out of which number 2 have died and 37 left the school for various employments, after passing through several grades of the school, which therefore leaves 91 on the list.

PROGRESS IN READING AND SPELLING
55 have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments, and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 26 are now learning to read Dr Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; 10 are learning words of four and five letters. Of 59 out of the whole number admitted that did not know a single letter, 20 can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 29 read Dr Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables, and 10, words of four and five letters.

Thomas Jefferson left the presidency in 1809 and retired to Monticello, no longer president or a member of the D.C. school board. This 1813 report summarized the work of one school which was implemented in 1812. Barton gets his claim that Jefferson included the Bible and Watts’ hymnal in his plan from a report about another plan implemented in one school and submitted nearly four years after he left town.

Barton’s mash up of the facts is clearly wrong and has been since 1989.

What Did Jefferson Say About the Bible in Schools?
Joseph Lancaster believed in using the Bible as a reading book. Thomas Jefferson on the other hand did not. In Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, he directly addressed the use of the Bible in schools:

The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European, and American history. — The first elements of morality too may be instilled into their minds such as when further developed as their judgments advance in strength may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them but is always the result of a good conscience good health occupation and freedom in all just pursuits. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 154. (emphasis added)

In sum, David Barton claims Thomas Jefferson wrote a plan of education for the Washington, D.C. schools which included instruction in reading from the Bible and a hymn book. The very source Barton cites as evidence debunks these claims and demonstrates that Barton is willing to mash up the facts to get a story useful for his overall narrative about Thomas Jefferson.

*Another source for the history of the Washington, D.C. schools is here.

Mark Driscoll Responds Briefly to RICO Lawsuit; He's Talking to God but Apparently Not to His Former Members

Mark Driscoll has found his voice to respond briefly to Religion News Service about the RICO lawsuit.

“Unfortunately, false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me,” Driscoll said in an email to RNS Thursday (March 3). “I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit.”
“I remain focused and devoted to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, loving others, and praying for my enemies,” Driscoll said.

I may never understand why this energy hasn’t been spent on reaching out to those who have very publicly asked Driscoll for reconciliation. I have reached out to more than three dozen former Mars Hill leaders and members and none of them have heard from Driscoll. Several of them have reached out to Driscoll with the message back that there will be no meeting.
In particular Bryan Zug and Jeff Bettger claim to have reached out and have received negative responses. Instead of talking to God about the “enemies,” why can’t the parties talk to each other?

It Is Too Late Mr. Trump, You Disqualified Yourself Last Night (Updated – After Disavowal Tells MI Crowd He Would Use Torture)

UPDATE: What does Trump really mean? He plays to the crowd as is obvious from this footage today, after his campaign issued a statement saying he would act legally as president.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEmWtkAuYLk[/youtube]
This is ridiculous. The crowd reaction is sickening.
………………………..
Last night in the GOP debate, Donald Trump made what was in my opinion the biggest mistake of his campaign by telling the audience twice that the military would disobey the law to obey him, in essence to commit war crimes. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqpvpVEHyBI[/youtube]
In my mind, this disqualified Trump as soon as he said it. Any candidate who asserts a right to violate the law and commit the nation to a war crime platform should be step aside.
Predictably, not long ago, Trump realized how badly he had hurt himself and he issued a statement vowing not to violate the law regarding torture or war crimes.

“I feel very, very strongly about the need to attack and kill those terrorists who attack and kill our people. I know people who died on 9/11. I will never forget those events. I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as President I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”

Well, that’s a relief, right?
No. Sorry. It is not clear that Trump has any intention of being bound by laws. That Trump would even contemplate the actions he promised just last night is enough to disqualify him. Those who support Trump have been warned. To maintain support for Trump, his supporters must own this.
As an aside, I am disappointed with the other three GOP challengers. They heard Trump say he would order soldiers to disobey the law and they still said they would support him if he was the nominee. All three of them should have said no, we won’t support a person who vows to commit war crimes.

Mark Driscoll Looking for a Meeting Place for The Trinity Church

The Trinity Church. Used by permission of Becky Garrison
The Trinity Church.
Used by permission of Becky Garrison

Ho-hum.
In a email sent to supporters today, Driscoll details what he is looking for in a meeting place:

 
Howdy everyone,
I want to thank all of you who have been praying for and connecting with Mark Driscoll Ministries. I’m on the road teaching this week, but I look forward to returning home to catch some sun and spring training baseball games with my family.
We are in the first steps of planting The Trinity Church in the greater Phoenix area. As we continue to make plans, many people have asked where we will meet and when we will start services. Both of those questions will be answered when we find a church building to call home. Our search for a building is underway. As soon as we have a home we will let everyone know. In the meantime, we genuinely appreciate everyone who is praying for this next step.
Here are some specific things we are asking the Lord to provide with our first church home:
·      The ability to meet multiple times on Sunday mornings
·      Space for the main service
·      Lots of space for children’s ministry
·      Close proximity to a major freeway for accessibility
Lastly, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday coming up, I want to let you know about a free eBook called Gerry Breshears and I put together. It’s called “It is Finished! Jesus’ Death and Resurrection”. You can download in now EPUB http://bit.ly/1QVPqnx
Thanks for your support,
Pastor Mark Driscoll

There is something surreal about these messages in light of the controversies swirling around the RICO lawsuit and Mars Hill Church.

Trump University at the Better Business Bureau

Tonight in the GOP Debate, Trump University came up. Aided by Megyn Kelly, Marco Rubio made a point to bring out the ongoing nature of the case. Trump characterized the situation as a minor civil case. The facts seem to be different than Trump portrayed. Curious, I checked out the Better Business Bureau page as well as the most recent court action. Here is what I found:

Government Actions

NY AG Sues Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, Seeks $40M in Restitution for Consumers
Date of Action: 8/24/2013
The following describes a pending government action that has been formally brought by a government agency but has not yet been resolved.  We are providing a summary of the government’s allegations, which have not yet been proven.
On August 24, 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, The Trump Entrepreneur Institute — formerly named Trump University LLC (“Trump University”), and Michael Sexton, former President of Trump University for engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of Trump University. Between 2005 through 2011, the lawsuit says that Trump University operated as an unlicensed educational institute that promised to teach Donald Trump’s real estate investing techniques to consumers nationwide but instead misled consumers into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises. The petition filed in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan details the advertisements run by Trump University in major newspapers across the country and the direct mail solicitations sent to entice consumers to attend a free workshop. These ads prominently displayed Donald Trump’s photograph and signature, or were styled as letters written by Trump himself. The suit says the advertisements were replete with false claims, including claims that consumers would learn “from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructor a systematic method for investing in real estate that anyone can use.” Other ads promised “my handpicked instructors will share my techniques” or “learn from my hand-picked expert” and “just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.” Despite Trump University’s advertised claims, consumers attending free seminars did not learn Donald Trump’s real estate techniques. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that Trump University’s instructors made multiple misrepresentations to convince consumers to sign up for a $1,495 three-day seminar. And instead of providing all of the promised services, instructors then used the three-day seminars to pitch consumers an expensive Trump Elite mentor-ship programs costing $10,000 to $35,000. The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks full restitution for the more than 5,000 consumers nationwide who were defrauded of over $40 million in the scheme.
In October 2014, New York State Supreme Court Justice Cynthia S. Kern ruled that Mr. Trump is personally liable for operating a for-profit investment school without the required license. She also tossed out some of the New York AG’s claims and ruled that some evidence is beyond the statute of limitations. Judge Kern ruled that several major aspects of the fraud lawsuit will be decided at a forthcoming trial.
On March 1, 2016, The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department held that the New York State Attorney General is authorized to bring a cause of action for fraud under Executive Law §63(12), overruling a lower court’s decision on this cause of action.

Here are the findings referred to in the last paragraph just above. The fraud charges will be tried. This will drag on throughout the election.

Reagan Biographer Paul Kengor on Donald Trump v. Ronald Reagan

From Donald Trump's Twitter page.
From Donald Trump’s Twitter page.

Recently, I asked my friend, colleague and Ronald Reagan biographer Paul Kengor to participate in a Q&A comparing Donald Trump with Ronald Reagan. It is my feeling that Reagan would not be welcome in today’s GOP and that he would be especially troubled by the emergence of Trump.  Kengor agrees and will respond to questions early next week. However, in the mean time, Paul sent along a link to an article he penned for the American Spectator. I think it well-written and brings some valuable observation about Trump in light of Paul’s knowledge of Reagan.

The whole thing is depressing. Consider, Rubio and Cruz, the two genuine conservative front-runners, are the hardworking sons of extraordinary immigrants from Cuba. They are quintessential American success stories. They are both solid Christian family men. And into the race comes a sudden self-proclaimed born-again conservative who laughs at them and eviscerates them, and is rewarded for it. It’s hard to watch.
All of which brings me back to Trump’s mastery of an altogether new campaign tactic of non-stop rapacious ridicule of opponents within one’s own party. The New Jersey casino founder brashly accused Ted Cruz of everything from being a closet Canadian citizen to cheating when the Donald lost Iowa. Schoolboy-like, Trump threatened lawsuits. Of late, he jumps in the sandbox and taunts Marco Rubio: “choker, choker!”
Can you imagine Ronald Reagan doing this? Reagan’s “11th commandment” was never to speak ill of another Republican. Donald Trump’s commandment is to speak ill of every Republican.
Do Republicans want this as the party’s new face and standard-bearer? Apparently those on the Trump side do. Many of them even assume the insult-king’s persona, dealing with dissenters with similar levels of obnoxiousness, blow-torching Republicans in the way of their Donald.

Go read the rest at the Spectator.

Mark Driscoll's Books in a Mars Hill Ballard Graveyard

Mars Hill Ballard Campus was put on the market in October 2014 and then sold in early 2015 for $9-million. When the building changed hands to Quest Church in Seattle, the contents were abandoned by Mars Hill’s leadership. One casualty was Mark Driscoll’s book A Call to  Resurgence, left behind in bulk during the Mars Hill rapture.

Use by permission of Alex Rozier
Use by permission of Alex Rozier

That is a lot of money in books. It is surprising that Mars Hill’s leadership did not either donate or sell these books. Most likely, they were purchased originally with funds donated by individuals who attended Mars Hill.
Based on conversations I had with former marketing and communications staff back in 2014, I believe this book did not use Result Source to game the New York Times system but still involved bulk purchases in house. To my knowledge, this book did not make the NYT bestseller list. It is hard to make a case that this bulk book purchase benefited Mars Hill Church when the books died in a dumpster.
Thanks to Alex Rozier with King5 in Seattle who sent this picture to me after he obtained it recently.

Donald Trump's Campaign Gave Press Privileges to a White Segregationist; Trump, Jr. to Appear on Political Cesspool

You would think that Donald Trump would have learned something from his KKK-David Duke snafu over the weekend.
Trump gave press privileges to James Edwards, host of “paleo-Conservative” radio show Political Cesspool on February 27. Despite Edwards protests to the contrary, his guests and show topics place him in the white segregationist “we [whites] need space too” category.
Furthermore, Donald Trump, Jr. is slated to appear on the program with Edwards this weekend on March 5 (the interview has already been taped).
As I understand it, this story was broken first by the blog Little Green Footballs. A tweet about Edwards reminded of an appearance on his show by Michael Hill, League of the South president.
Edwards regularly has Hill as a guest. During one such appearance, Hill defined Southerners as whites with Edwards chiming in whole heartedly. The entire appearance can be heard here.
During the broadcast, ads for Confederate sympathizers and the Council of Conservative Citizens (advocates “racial integrity” for “European Americans”) are featured. Edwards and Hill both describe immigration as genocide for white people.  At 26:30 in the broadcast, Edwards asks Hill to give a description of the basic mission of the League of the South (the audio of that segment is below). In response, Hill said:

We are for the survival, well-being, and independence of the Southern people. And when we say ‘the Southern people,’ we mean white Southerners. We are an ethno-nationalist movement and we want a free and independent South for our people, as our homeland and that’s pretty much what we are fighting for.

Then why get into immigration protests?

Now we’re doing the demographic displacement demonstrations to help with that first thing I said, the very survival of our people because if we don’t control the land, the soil with our blood, then we don’t have a place to live, we don’t have a place to work, we don’t have a place to worship, and raise our children. So the survival of our people on our land is the first thing that we’re concerned about. And that’s why we’re having these rallies against our demographic displacement. But in the end, we want a free and independent South. We’re Southern nationalists; and as I said, we want an ethno, we’re ethno-nationalists, and we want an ethnic state for Southerners here.

Edwards then chimes in and calls Hill’s position reasonable and adds:

It’s is just as legitimate folks that white, Christian Southerners have an organization that seeks to advance their unique group interests. They’ve got the radio show, they’ve got this organization and it’s completely legit and above board because I’m telling you what Dr. Hill is doing is very serious work on very serious issues and causes. Everybody ought to have the right to live and thrive and have a home and a land of their own and I do mean everybody, including white Southerners.

Listen to that segment here:

Edwards protests that he is not a white supremacist. He certainly is a white segregationist since he is referring to a land for white people without individuals of other races.
Following the section on the League’s mission, Edwards laments the desecration of prominent KKK supporter Nathan Bedford Forest.  Edwards rants that such desecration will continue as long as their aren’t strong white advocacy organizations. It is very clear from his write up of the Trump experience that he liked what he saw. Edwards wrote:

I must admit that this rally lived up to my expectations. I’ve been saying for years on the radio that the majority of Americans fundamentally agree with us on the issues and that the neocons were generals of a phantom army. I am being proven right. Our people just needed a viable candidate and they’ve identified Trump as that man. There is no doubt that Trump’s populism and nationalism is galvanizing our nation and may change the course of American history for the better right before our very eyes.

Edwards also says his press credentials should not be construed as an endorsement by Trump. To me, that doesn’t fly. If Edwards tried to get press privileges with any other campaign, I cannot believe he would be allowed in.

Phoenix Public Radio Features Mark Driscoll and RICO Lawsuit

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=146699
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=146699

KJZZ, Phoenix public radio, today released a feature on Mark Driscoll and the RICO lawsuit. In a move which isn’t likely to sit well with Phoenix media, Driscoll again declined to speak to the Phoenix press.
The audio and article are somewhat different so check out both. You can hear the audio by going to the article. From Jacob McAuliffe’s report:

The Trinity Church is in its early stages of development. All it has is a website, some online supporters and a video message from founder Mark Driscoll and his wife.
Driscoll’s previous venture became a megachurch, which is a protestant congregation with at least 2,000 members. At its height, the now-disbanded Mars Hill Church in Seattle had an average weekly attendance of more than 12,000 people, spread across several different campuses.
Mars Hill fell apart when Driscoll resigned following allegations of emotional abuse and mismanagement of church funds. He now faces a lawsuit from former Mars Hill members.

David Barton Praises the Use of Primary Sources Then Cites a Third Hand Jefferson Quote

In the midst of his campaign for Ted Cruz, David Barton took some time to appear on Michael Brown’s Line of Fire radio show. While they didn’t mention my name, I suspect the Pennsylvania psychology professor was me. I did learn that I don’t hold to “basic Christian teachings” (which ones, David?) and that none of his critics were history guys. I don’t know how he sleeps at night.
He said a bunch of stuff he usually says (and which I have debunked) but, in light of Michael Brown’s praise of primary sources early in the program, I was struck by one quote Barton attributed to Jefferson.
You can go to the website to listen at 10:53 where they discuss using primary sources. Then at 21:06, Barton claims Thomas Jefferson said it was his duty as chief magistrate of America as a Christian nation to go to church. Below, I have both segments together in one clip.

Barton quotes Jefferson as follows:

When he became president for 8 years, he went there at the Capitol. When asked, ‘why do you attend church at the Capitol?’ he [Jefferson] said, ‘I’m the chief magistrate of this Christian nation and it’s my duty and responsibility to set this example and so Rev. Ethan Allen there in D.C. that’s who, he explained that to him. I’ve gotta make sure people see me going to church at the Capitol.

Off the cuff, Barton adds to the quote a little. He tells Brown’s audience that Jefferson said these words to Ethan Allen.* However, that is not what Monticello library documents. Monticello researched the following quote attributed to Jefferson:

Quotation: “Sir, no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as chief magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”

Monticello consulted the existing body of Jefferson’s writings and other papers where his statements are recorded. The first recorded instance of this quote is in 1857 in the papers of Allen. Monticello’s assessed the quote as “questionable.”

Comments:  This quotation appeared in a handwritten manuscript by the Reverend Ethan Allen (1796-1879). The story was related to Allen by a Mr. Ingle, who claimed to have been told a story that Jefferson was walking to church services one Sunday,
“…with his large red prayer book under his arm when a friend querying him after their mutual good morning said which way are you walking Mr. Jefferson.  To which he replied to Church Sir.  You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it.  Sir said Mr. J.  No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion.  Nor can be.  The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir.”2
The story comes to us third-hand, and has not been confirmed by any references in Jefferson’s papers or any other known sources.  Its authenticity is questionable.

So after claiming the scholarly high ground as someone who uses primary sources, Barton used a questionable quote which comes to us third-hand.
 
*This is Ethan Allen the Episcopal priest and church historian. Allen was born in 1796 and would been a young boy when Jefferson was president and so Jefferson did not utter this quote to Allen who didn’t come to Washington, D.C., until long after Jefferson retired to Monticello.