Just as I did in 2011, yesterday Politifact debunked Bryan Fischer’s claim that the founders said religion but meant Christianity.
On his 12/10/13 Focal Point broadcast, Fischer said:
By the word religion in the First Amendment, the founders meant Christianity.
Politifact’s Punditfact writers consulted Baylor’s Thomas Kidd, Rutger’s Jan Ellen Lewis and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow John Ragosta to provide the complete picture. Fischer believes Muslims should not have the right to build any new mosques. His topic on the broadcast was claims for First Amendment protections by Satanists.
I doubt this comeuppance will distract Fischer from misleading his American Family Association audience. Such facts have come to light before. His own organization, the AFA, publicly disagreed with him in 2011 but he continues to preach his fictions. Fischer’s argument is an extension of David Barton’s Christian nationalist perspective. Barton has defended the view that the First Amendment only applies to monotheistic religions.
In January of this year, David Barton told Glenn Beck’s audience that part of the reason the National Rifle Association got started in 1871 was to help newly freed blacks defend themselves after the civil war. Watch Barton at 1:30 in this clip.
In addition to Barton, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, made a similar claim at a press conference in support of the NRA. Alford is the first speaker:
Earlier this month, the fact checking group Politifact.com investigated the matter and gave it their “Pants on Fire” designation which means there is no support for the claim.
I was surprised to read in the Politifact article that my post on the subject was actually offered by Alford’s wife as evidence in favor of the claim. In fact, I believe the claim to be false and provided reasons in the post. Since Alford did not offer Barton as a source, I am now wondering if Barton got his information from Alford. In any case, there is no primary source evidence for the claim and Politifact judged it accordingly.
Update: The Blaze came out with an extensive look at this issue on May 8 which cites several of posts from this blog.
On May 1, PolitiFact came out with a useful summary of the recent controversy over religious proselytizing and the military. The writers evaluated the claim that the military was soon going to court martial Christians. At the end of the analysis, they labeled the claim “Mostly False.” Politifact noted the reason the claim was mostly false and not completely false: “Still, there’s a sliver of truth — if you believe your Christian faith compels you to try to convert others in a way people find harassing, it’s possible you could face court-martial, though such a thing has yet to happen.”
The article is useful because it lays out in one place what I took several posts to develop. As a summary of recent events, I have links to all of those posts.
Is the Military Preparing to Court Martial Christians?
On the Military and Religious Proselytizing: Military Spokesman’s Original Comments Used Out of Context
The Military’s Policy on Proselytizing Is Not New and Is Consistent with Federal Law Politifact did not mention this part of the story – The DoD is following guidance of the EEOC, applying to military personnel the protections enjoyed by civilian workers.
Department of Defense Statement on Religious Proselytizing
Air Force Statement on Religious Proselytizing and Religious Materials on Desks (In contrast to the isolated case of a service member being asked to remove a Bible from his desk)