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Founding Father falter: Barber's Patrick Henry cut is complete B.S.

by Jeremy Hooper

At two different points during today's edition of the "Liberty Live" radio show, militant gay rights foe Matt Barber cited a certain quote to lend credence to the idea that the Founding Fathers meant for America to be a Christian-only nation:

Liberty Live -- 4/13/09 [AFR]

But like with so many other political issues, Matt should have checked his sources a little more carefully. Because if he had, he might have found that just as simply as one can find this quote online, one can also find the reality behind it. And as the Rational Rant blog has learned, this oft-cited "Patrick Henry" quote is actually not from Henry at all, but is instead a bit of commentary that originated in a mid-'50s article from a magazine called The Virginian.

Here's a scan from the September 1956 edition of the long defunct American Mercury magazine, which cites the April 1956 Virginian commentary:

Picture 2-230
*Full American Mercury scan: Patrick Henry Redux [Rational Rant]

But then again, Matt also unabashedly puts gay disdain in the mouth of God. So who's surprised by this, really?

**NOTE: A big reason why this quote seems to have taken off is because conservative Christian writer David Barton used a portion of it in his 1988 work, The Myth of Separation. After he was called out for this and other misquotes, he was forced to admit that they were bunk and vow to stop using them (even if, in most cases, he danced around taking full responsibility for his poor research). Unfortunately Mr. Barber doesn't seem to have taken such a vow.

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Your thoughts

What a surprise that Matt would get the idea of a 'Christian Nation' from and article that was written in the 1956 since clearly most of his ilk is stuck in the 1950's vision of American life.

Posted by: Alonzo | Apr 13, 2009 5:55:04 PM

The lying liars couldn't care less that they are quoting some jackass who penned an article in 1956, and are incorrectly attributing it to Patrick Henry. They're LYING LIARS, so everything is fair game to them. No lie is too big or too small, just as long as they can repeat it and make their deceptive point.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Apr 13, 2009 6:18:52 PM

This country was founded on the Christian Religion and that we ought to get back to our Christian roots.

This statement could not be further from the truth, however it keeps being repeated and repeated as if they think the more they repeat it the truer it becomes. However I have being doing some research in the past few years and I have come to know that the founding fathers were not even all Christians. The were a group of radicals consisting of: freethinkers, Deists, agnostics, Christians, atheists, and Freemasons. This comes from their own writings consisting of letters to individuals, pamphlets, books and their own personal journals.

Question with boldness even the existence of a God.-----Thomas Jefferson

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind.-----James Madison

My own mind is my church.-----Thomas Paine

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.-----Treaty of Tripoli: Article 11

Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

The Treaty of Tripoli initiated by George Washington refers to the first treaty concluded between the United States of America and Tripoli, otherwise known in English as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary. The treaty was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796 and at Algiers (for a third-party witness) on January 3, 1797, finally receiving ratification from the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797 and signed by President John Adams on June 10, 1797.

Posted by: BlueWolf | Apr 13, 2009 9:03:47 PM

The founding fathers were a motley crew: christian, deist, agnostic, or libertine. Ben Franklyn himself was a total f--- beast.
But this Barber character speaks to an ignorant mob, so he can just make it up as he goes.

Posted by: Wilberforce | Apr 13, 2009 9:13:00 PM

1950s? I thought he was stuck in the 1850s!

Posted by: Attmay | Apr 13, 2009 10:22:38 PM

Nice... and nice quote BlueWolf got it.

Posted by: LOrionL | Apr 13, 2009 11:00:24 PM

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