J. Brent Walker, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, has an op-ed piece in the Tampa Tribune in which he combats some of the common lies and misunderstandings that many Christians have about just how our country was founded and on what principles. You should check out the whole article (it’s pretty short). An excerpt is below.
Recently, local media reported on the billboard advertisements that use quotes from history to “portray a national need for Christian governance.”
Those behind the billboards refer to the separation of church and state as a “lie” and say our country’s Judeo-Christian foundation is “the reason that this country has prospered for 200-plus years.”
The only lies being told are featured on the billboards themselves.
Few would dispute the crucial role of religion in many of our founders’ lives. However, they were a mixed lot – some orthodox Christians, some Deists, nearly all scions of the Enlightenment – and more committed to ensuring religious liberty for all than enshrining their own religion in our founding documents.
When those with an agenda cherry-pick – and completely make up – quotes from our founders, they do a disservice to all. There is a remarkable irony when a group claiming its support for historical accuracy fabricates a statement and attributes it to the nation’s first president. For example, one of the billboards quotes President George Washington as saying, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” As reported, the billboard organizers admit there is no proof Washington ever said this.
What are your responses to the action of the billboard makers or Walker’s op-ed? I recognize that many Christians simply don’t know their U. S. history well enough to know when they are being lied to, especially when it comes to quotes, which can be buried away in some obscure letter from a few hundred years ago. Those are not the people I have a problem with (though I do think we all bear the responsibility of researching claims we hear others make before we accept them as truth and begin to make them ourselves). Rather, I have an issue with Christians like the ones who paid for this billboard, the ones who willingly spread lies so that their cause can gain support. I agree with Walker that it undermines the very faith they stand for. I have more thoughts and opinions on this matter, but I will keep them at bay for now. I want to hear your thoughts.
Sound off in the comments.