-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Religious Right faux-historian David Barton’s new book, The Jefferson Lies, is an attempt to portray the third President as an orthodox Christian. Barton has a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University. Two professors, Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, from Grove City, a private Christian institution north of Pittsburgh, have written an e-book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President, wherein they expose Barton’s revisionism.We shall look at the “In the Year of Our Lord Christ” claim of Barton about Jefferson and give you a flavor of the kind of “evidence” that suits Barton’s purpose.
The phrase “In the Year of Our Lord Christ” appears on sea letters, or passports as they were then called, that allowed merchant ships safe passage when entering certain ports. Barton notes a passport for the Herschel on its journey to London and explains:
Many official documents say “in the year of our Lord,” but we have found very few that include the word “Christ.” However, this is the explicitly Christian language that President Thomas Jefferson chose to use in official public presidential documents.
From the accompanying image, it can be seen that Jefferson did indeed sign the passport that allowed safe passage for the Herschel. However, Jefferson did not “choose” the “explicitly Christian language.”
In 1782, the Treaty with Holland, the second country after France to recognize the independence of the new United States, proscribed the form of the passport. As can be seen from the image, the treaty explains how the document is to be worded.
Jefferson did not “choose” to use the phrase, the phrase was an obligation of the treaty. In the image of the sea letter it can be seen that “In the Year of Our Lord Christ” is preprinted and Jefferson, or more likely one of his scribes, inked-in the date.
This is the dilemma the Religious Right has with Jefferson. They can either downplay Jefferson’s role and importance in the founding of our country, or they can try to portray Jefferson as one of them. Both tactics have been used. Both have failed. Barton’s revisionist history demonstrates their desperation for their religion to get credit for America’s founding.
It would be kind of pathetic if they didn’t want to destroy the secular foundation of American Exceptionaism.
*********** Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger ***********