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David Barton's Lies in Action: Randy Forbes Reintroduces 'Spiritual Heritage' Resolution

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In each of the last two Congresses, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced his resolution for an annual spiritual heritage week. This resolution, packed with a seventy-five "Whereas" clause litany of Christian nationalist historical revisionism, was first introduced in the 110th Congress as H. Res. 888, then in the 111th as H. Res. 397, and now it's back as H. Res. 253, reintroduced by Forbes on May 5.

When the GOP's favorite pseudo-historian David Barton was on the Daily Show the other night, he boasted to Jon Stewart about so many members of Congress coming to him for historical information. Well, one of these members of Congress is Randy Forbes, one of Barton's most active minions in Congress and a frequent guest on Barton's radio show. And there couldn't be a better example of Barton's frightening influence in Congress than Forbes's masterpiece of historical revisionism -- his "Spiritual Heritage Week" resolution. As I detailed the last two times this thing was introduced, almost all of the historical misrepresentations and outright lies in Forbes's insanely long list of "Whereas" clauses come straight from Barton.

I have too much new stuff to write to spend time writing something new about this resolution, and it's completely unnecessary for me to do so anyway because the lies of David Barton and Randy Forbes haven't changed. So, I'm just going to repost my post from the last time this shining example of dishonesty and Christian nationalist propaganda was introduced, which contains links to the whole series of posts I wrote over on Talk2Action the first time it was introduced back in 2008.

I know this is really long for a blog post, but I don't know any other way to show people just how devious and insidious these liars are, and how much David Barton is influencing Congress. As the great Mark Twain said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."

Originally posted on May 6, 2009 as "It's Back -- Randy Forbes Reintroduces His Religious Heritage Week Resolution." (Just substitute H. Res. 253 for H. Res. 888 or H. Res. 397. The text of H. Res 253 isn't up yet, but they rarely change much when they repeatedly reintroduce these kinds of resolutions.)

In the last Congress, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced H. Res. 888, a resolution for an annual religious heritage week. That resolution, packed with a seventy-five "Whereas" clause litany of Christian nationalist historical revisionism, although managing to get ninety-three historically ignorant co-sponsors, never made it to the floor, thanks to the efforts of several organizations and a whole bunch of bloggers who launched a massive letter writing and email campaign against it within days of my first post about it last January.

Well, Forbes is trying again with H. Res. 397, introduced on May 4. This time he's calling it "America's Spiritual Heritage Week," but his list of historical distortions, misrepresentations, and lies has not changed. Therefore, my debunking of his historical hogwash, used last year to stop H. Res. 888, isn't changing either. Because of the number of lies in Forbes's resolution, I wrote my rebuttal in nine parts, the first of which is repeated here. Links to the other eight parts, a new one written each time last year's H. Res. 888 got more co-sponsors, are at the end of this post.

The resolution, which purports to promote "education on America's history of religious faith," is packed with the same American history lies found on the Christian nationalist websites, and in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton. The resolution's seventy-five "Whereas" clauses are followed by four resolves, the second and third of which are particularly disturbing.

Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives --

(1) affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history, including up to the current day;

(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures;

(3) rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation's public buildings and educational resources; and

(4) expresses support for designation of a 'America's Spiritual Heritage Week' every year for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.

Originally posted at on January 4, 2008:

I cannot possibly address all seventy-five "Whereas's" in Mr. Forbes's ridiculously long list here, so I have chosen fourteen, focusing mainly on those relating to our country's founding era.

"Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible;"

The unnamed study referred to by Mr. Forbes in this statement was conducted by Donald S. Lutz of the University of Houston, whose findings were published in a 1984 article in The American Political Science Review. Misrepresentations of Lutz's study have been around for years, created by taking a particular figure from the study's findings, but omitting crucial parts of Lutz's explanations of these findings. The following is a typical, and slightly more detailed version than that presented by Mr. Forbes, currently being used by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBCPS).

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Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.
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