With revisionist history denying our heritage of separation of church and state becoming increasingly popular in the right wing it is no surprise that Glenn Beck, who never lets the facts get in the way of his rants, has been promoting the views of the American Taliban. One false claim being spread by Beck is that t “the first bible printed in English was printed by Congress. Chris Rodda responds to this both in the video above and at Talk to Action:
For anyone who has been following the unholy new partnership between Glenn Beck and Christian nationalist history revisionist David Barton, no explanation for why I’m posting this is necessary. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of watching Beck and Barton in action, here’s the background in a nutshell: David Barton, the pseudo-historian from Texas who’s probably more responsible than any other individual for spreading the erroneous belief that America was founded as a Christian nation, has now teamed up with Glenn Beck. Barton, who appeared on the radar recently as one of the history “experts” in the Texas textbook massacre, is also a former vice-chair of the Texas Republican Party, and, in 2005, was named one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time Magazine. Barton has now made several appearances on Beck’s show, armed with his usual scholarly schtick and pile of impressive historical items from his extensive private collection.
One of the items in Barton’s bag of historical tricks is a rare Bible printed in 1782 by Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken. This Bible has been a mainstay of Barton’s presentations for years, and was, as expected, one of the featured pieces of Christian nation “evidence” whipped out on Beck’s show. Barton’s bogus claim about this Bible? It was printed by Congress for the use of schools — proof that the founders never intended a separation between church and state. Needless to say, Beck and his audience are just eating this stuff up. Barton’s appearances on Beck’s show have propelled his fifteen-year-old book of historical hogwash, Original Intent, to bestseller status, reaching as high as #6 on Amazon. Right now, as I sit here writing this post, this masterpiece of historical revisionism is ludicrously, and alarmingly, holding the #1 spot in the category of “Constitutional Law.”
I’ve addressed this Aitken Bible lie many times before — in blog posts, in a YouTube video after Barton trashed me on his radio show last year, and, of course, in my book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History. In fact, because the lies about Congress and the Bible are the most popular of all the Christian nationalist history lies, I made this subject the very first chapter of the book. The chapter, titled “Congress and the Bible,” debunks all the myths and lies regarding the printing, financing, distribution, or recommending of Bibles by our early congresses, most of which are variations of the same three stories — two involving the Continental Congress, and one an act signed by James Madison. The chapter also includes some related lies that have, quite disturbingly, made it into the opinions of Supreme Court justices in a few First Amendment cases.