Your Opinion: ‘Revisionist’ history distorts context

Dear Editor:

“Because the portrayal of history so affects current policy, some groups have found it advantageous to their political agenda to distort historical facts intentionally. Those particularly adept at this are termed ‘revisionists.’” So writes David Barton in his forward to “Original Intent” which is a staple of the Christian home schooling movement. Barton violates every rule he lays down about “revisionists.”

Barton’s quotes and misquotes are used here regularly by several self-described fundamentalists. Barton is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, a minister and is involved in Texas and national Republican politics. Separation of church and state are a foreign concept to him.

Out on parole earlier in 2011 Tom Delay attended a Texas event with Barton and declared “... God created the country so that those of us who knew Him could run it.” I have no idea why Barton’s local spokesmen use his out-of-context quotes and even fictitious quotes. Like a bull in a china shop, Barton’s intent is completely known.

We were recently told again there is a “preponderance” of documents to demonstrate that America was founded as a Christian nation. A quote of Alexis de Tocqueville was offered without context.

So class, I know how some of us hate reading assignments, but let us turn to de Tocqueville. It’s easy. Go to Amazon and download the free Kindle reader for your PC. The Kindle version of “Democracy in America” can be free.

For the context of de Tocqueville’s comments on Christianity in America in the 1830s go to chapter 17, part 3 of Volume I. “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed.”

In Europe de Tocqueville states that liberty and religion were at odds. Not so in America. All religions were flourishing. This astonished him. Being Catholic he first questioned the priests he befriended. “... they mainly attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country to the separation of Church and State. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet with a single individual, of the clergy or of the laity, who was not of the same opinion upon this point.”

Barton and others tell you differently.

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