THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 11/27/2012
David Barton on America’s Christian History
Several years ago, I watched a YouTube of David Barton guiding a group through our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. Finding it again, I saved it for readers benefit and here present some transcribed and some paraphrased excerpts from his tour remarks. He is part of Wallbuilders, in Aledo, Texas, associated with the Family Research Council. URL for video is http://stg.do/Iwpc. Some factual errors are corrected; any remaining are Mr. Barton’s.
Mr. Barton opens the video tour of our nation’s capitol by holding up “the first Bible printed in English in America, printed by the U.S. Congress in 1782 for use in the public schools. Inscription inside: ‘Resolved by Congress to recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.’ So the first English bible printed in America by the guys who signed the documents, endorsed by Congress and done for the use of schools. And we’re told that they didn’t want any kind of religion in education, they didn’t want voluntary prayer? No! This document (Holy Bible) by itself is fairly significant.”
Moreover, in 1830, Congress commissioned four paintings, displayed to this day on the walls of the Rotunda of Congress to recapture what the official records said was the Christian history of the United States. The first chronological painting depicted Columbus landing in 1492, with kneeling, prayer and crosses held high; he proclaimed the land “San Salvador” or “Holy Savior.”
The next one depicted the baptism of Pocahontas in Jamestown in 1613. Another one was the embarkation of the Pilgrims in 1620, showing them gathered around a Bible in a prayer meeting. Together, those four paintings represent two prayer meetings, a Bible study and a baptism displayed, please remember, in one of the highest of secular, governmental buildings in America’s Capitol. (Mr. Barton apparently ascribes a Christian, prayerful overtone to the fourth painting, John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, commissioned in 1817)
The tour group was standing under the great dome of Congress, “which was, in 1857, the largest church in the United States. Back on December 4th of 1800, members of Congress decided that on Sundays they would turn the Capitol into a church building. So, they had Sunday services in the Capitol.
“Six weeks after that, Thomas Jefferson became President of the United States and for the 8 years he was President, he went to church and listened to the sermons in the U.S. Capitol. Being the Commander in Chief, he decided he could help the worship services and ordered the Marine Corps band to perform at the worship services …
“That church went for the better part of a century and, by 1857, 2,000 people a week attended services in the hall of the House of Representatives. In addition to that, there were other churches that met at the Capitol, including First Congregational … First Presbyterian, Capitol Hill Presbyterian. Churches met here and there was nothing secular or seen to be secular about this building until the last 30 to 50 years.”
In referencing the numerous statues around the Rotunda, Mr. Barton directed the group’s attention to that of President James A. Garfield next to an entryway. Republican Garfield was “one of the young major generals in the Civil War; he was a war hero, became Speaker of the House and 20th President of the United States. He founded Howard University” (Wikipedia: members of The First Congregational Society of Washington proposed establishing a theological seminary for the education of African-American clergymen, which expanded to become Howard University); General O. O. Howard took it over and it bears his name …
“What we never hear about that President is that he was a minister during the Second Great Awakening. (Holding up a document) This is actually one of his letters signed James A. Garfield, 1858, in which he recounts that he had just finished preaching a revival service where he preached the Gospel 19 times. He wrote that as a result of his preaching, 34 folks came to Christ and he baptized 31 of them … You walk through, you see that statue and you think ‘Oh, there’s a President,’ you never think that there’s a minister.” (Wikipedia: (While at Hiram College) he developed a regular preaching circuit at neighboring churches … After preaching briefly at Franklin Circle Christian Church, Garfield gave up on that vocation …)
“We’ve so compartmentalized Christianity in such a small box that we don’t realize our military leaders, our educators, our Presidents used to be ministers. That’s why I say that about one fourth of these statues were ministers of the Gospel … (Barton mentions how so much focus is placed on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, our “least religious Founding Fathers”) Most people have no clue that Jefferson started a church in the U.S. Capitol that went on for most of a century, or that Thomas Jefferson in 1803 negotiated a treaty with an Indian tribe in which Jefferson put federal funds to pay for missionaries to evangelize the Indians and to build a church for them to worship in after they were converted.” (Wikipedia: “Jefferson believed that Natives should give up their own cultures, religions, and lifestyles to assimilate to western European culture, Christian religion, and a European-style agriculture, which he believed to be superior.” Read further about “Thomas Jefferson and Indian Removal” at Wikipedia.)
Barton: “Out of the 56 guys who signed the Declaration (of Independence), 29 held seminary or bible school degrees.”
DP: The usual secularists will likely take mild offense at this; pay them no mind for in their ignorance and intolerance, they probably think that they mean well.