Americans must keep Christian ideas from vanishing from history textbooks and rediscover the truth upon which this nation was founded, said Dave Barton on Friday to a Coffman Memorial Union audience.
Barton, the president of WallBuilders, a Christian organization dedicated to preserving God in America, said that the values of the founding fathers should be preserved. Barton told a group of about 30 people that left-leaning politicians and academics are rewriting the founding fathers’ Christian values.
The founding fathers wanted to make the United States a Christian nation when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
“We argue about a 200-year-old document,” Barton said. “Groups come in with historians that have a rewritten view of history. History has become a political tool.”
Historians neglect the influence Christian teachings and values had on the nation’s early leaders, Barton said. For example, of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 27 held seminary degrees.
“Can you imagine a Congress today in which half of (the members) were ministers?” Barton said.
In its early years, Congress opened sessions with prayers lasting as long as three hours. Many founding fathers wrote volumes of papers that included their Christian values, Barton said.
Courts have ignored these writings since the 1960s, when they declared school prayer laws unconstitutional and called for separation of church and state, Barton said.
“For three decades, we have been systematically brainwashed,” by a judiciary that distorts the intentions of the founding fathers, Barton said.
The majority of the audience at Barton’s speech, which was sponsored by the campus group Women of Virtue, appeared to agree with Barton’s statements. Women of Virtue President Erica Chua said it is important to remember where our nation’s values came from.
“If we don’t correctly understand where our successes came from, how will we understand where we are headed tomorrow?” Chua said.
Some scholars who study the American Revolution era disagree with Barton’s ideas. History professor John Howe, a specialist in American Colonial history, said the founders may have intended the United States to be a Christian nation, but the Constitution was meant to be interpreted over time to fit the nation’s needs.
Howe, who did not attend Barton’s speech, said, “The Constitution and its principles have to be reviewed and revisited to fit our changing world.” The founders’ views are different because they lived in a time that posed different problems, and some views may not be not applicable today, Howe added.
College of Biological Science senior Ben Powers said Barton spoke on a forgotten part of history.
“I think (the speech) really opens up our eyes to what we haven’t learned about the founding fathers,” Powers said.