Meet David Barton.
He’s part of an organization called “Wall Builders” which seeks to “rebuild our nation’s [Christian] foundations.”
In this clip, which comes to us from James Robinson’s Life TV, Mr. Barton tries to explain to us the Biblical roots of the United States Constitution.
In his words, several sections of the Constitution are lifted “verbatim” from the Bible. For the sake of clarification I’ve decided to give you the actual text of those passages that he cites.
Article 3, Section 3 – The Treason Clause [He says "section 1", but since I'm a nice guy I gave him a pass.]
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”
Biblical Reference – I literally have no idea
Maybe there’s a book of the Bible that references political institutions like Congress and countries like the United States that would not exist for another 2,000 years, but if so I have not been privied to that particular edition of the Bible. Then again, maybe it’s in The American Patriot’s Bible?
Article 2, Section 1
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Biblical Reference – Deuteronomy 17: 15 (NIV)
“be sure to appoint over you a king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.”
Call me crazy, but I don’t think that is what you call “verbatim”.
Since Mr. Barton only cited 2 examples, I thought I would submit a few more for consideration in the quest for discerning how similar the Constitution actually is to the Bible….
Article 1, Section 2
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.“
You might know this selection as the “Three-Fifths Compromise”. It’s the part of the Constitution that officially declared that slaves were only equivalent to 3/5 of a human being.
It fits “perfectly” with this passage from Galatians 3:26-28….
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Also, there’s this passage from Article 1, Section 8….
“To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriate of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy”
That section goes almost “verbatim” with Isaiah 2:4….
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
And, of course, you have this passage from Article 4, Section 2….
“No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.”
Which sounds as if it take taken directly from Galatians 5:1….
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a
yoke of slavery.”
Obviously, the idea that the Constitution is comprised of a significant amount of “verbatim” quotes from the Bible is absurd. Now, I have no doubt that many of the men who contributed to its formation and ratification were indeed Christians and that they’re faith played a role in the matter.
However, the idea that the framers of the Constitution were effectively cutting and pasting from the Bible is just ridiculous on every level. Not least of all because the Constitution supports or supported many things the Bible is against.
I think it’s ok to recognize the influence our founding father’s faith had on the formation of our country, but we must be careful not to overstate it. God has certainly blessed the United States, and we should be grateful for that. But we are not God’s chosen people and the Bible is not our nation’s founding document. As Christians who are also American we would do well to remember that.
If the influence of our faith on this country is really this important to us, I think our time would be much better spent living out the gospel we have been called to incarnate, rather than squabbling over the faith of our founding fathers. After all, if our founding fathers were indeed Christians, then I’m sure they would say the same thing too.
Grace and peace,