There was a problem when I went to the Glenn Beck Insider Extreme website last night to watch Faith 102: The class had been delayed for one hour to make room for a Beck-produced documentary titled Fundamental Transformation, about progressives and how they have a hundred-year-long plan to destroy America (damn you, Woodrow Wilson!). Because I made post-class plans based on Beck U's normal hours, I couldn't watch the class in real time—I had to watch it on demand this morning at 8:30. I learned two things from watching this class after the fact: 1. Glenn Beck is a bitter pill to swallow in the morning. 2. I didn't have access to the post-lecture chat room. Those dullards chiming in on what they've just "learned" has fast become one of my favorite parts of attending Beck University.
Anyway: As with Faith 101 (my notes on that class are here), our professor is David Barton, a smarmy man who has made it his life's work to prove that America is a Christian nation. This week, his lecture addresses the liberal myth that the Founding Fathers were secular-minded people.
Not true, says Barton! And he will address these lies by looking at the two Founding Fathers who are perceived as the most godless: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Barton says that this is a classic example of Deconstructionism:
Barton says that Deconstructionism is “why people go all over the world apologizing for America.” Anyway, you know how Jefferson is a godless heathen? Wrong! He totally went to church. They had Sunday church all over Washington D.C. those days—in the House chambers, in the Treasury, in the War Department. Barton goes to great lengths to prove that Jefferson went to church. Why, when the Louisiana Purchase took place, Jefferson even allowed government funding to go to formerly French-operated Christian schools in New Orleans! He signed papers "In the year of our lord Christ," too! Of course, Barton doesn't once mention the Jefferson Bible, which suggests that he had some fairly huge problems with Christianity, but whatever.
Benjamin Franklin, though, he was totally a Satan-worshipper, right? Turns out, no! Did you know that in our original national seal, which was Benjamin Franklin's idea, you can see Moses destroying his enemies in the Red Sea? And that when the writing of the Constitution wasn't going well, it was Franklin who suggested that the Founders took three days off, to pray and stuff? And that when Thomas Paine was going to publish On Reason, Franklin discouraged him from writing a negative treatise on religion? Barton showed a heavily censored version of Franklin's letter, making it sound like Franklin was offended in a religious sense; instead, the letter sounds more like Franklin doesn't trust the masses without religion to keep them in line, and fears for his friend's life if the religious get a hold of it. I'm going to include Franklin's whole letter to Paine after the jump. I will mark the parts that Barton cut out, for the sake of perspective. In conclusion, Benjamin Franklin was a godly person. Um. Er.
Finally, Barton concludes: "Were America’s founders secular? No. I could take you through all the others, but just Jefferson and Franklin prove my point." Jesus fuck, I hate this smarmy fucking man. he's the worst professor at Beck University and I'm glad I only have one more class with him.
David Fucking Barton
The original seal of the United States. Note Moses there. He's drowning his foes. Just like they do in America!
Here's Franklin's letter to Paine. The parts that Barton left out are included in bold:
At present I shall only give you my opinion that, though your reasons are subtle, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind spits in his own face.
But were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantage of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.
I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a great deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?