Joining our show this week is my friend David Barton. David is an minister, conservative activist, and author. He founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based organization which promotes the view that it is a myth that the US Constitution insists on separation of church and state. He is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas. David has been described as a Christian nationalist and “one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians”; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed, that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation. (all this according to Wikipedia… I usually just say that he’s one of my favorite people in America!)
I met David in Washington D.C., when he offered my wife and I his eye-opening take on our nation’s history and the way that it is taught and therefore understood today.
For starters, when it comes to the American Revolution, students have been taught for several generations now that the main reason for revolt was Taxation without Representation. Now, truly the best way to learn about the reasons for the revolution is to read the documents written by the men who were actually involved. Sadly, most Americans don’t even read the Declaration of Independence, much less any of the other documents of that era – we simply read other people’s opinions and perspectives on the Declaration, the Constitution, etc. That’s how we’ve come to the understanding that the our fight for independence was largely about economics and unfair taxation. Now, while it is correct that Taxation without Representation is listed among the colonies’ complaints, it’s merely one of 27 different reasons why we declared our independence. Technically speaking, it’s actually listed seventeenth on the list, so unfair taxes didn’t even rank in the top half of priorities that our forefathers listed.
However, when we actually read the Declaration of Independence, we find that four of the 27 reasons for us seceding from England have to do with judicial activism. Our nation’s forefathers were tired of unelected judges making policy. They wanted to start a nation where the people could keep the judges from going out of control. Where is that today?
John Adams wrote that one of the two biggest reasons for separating from Britain was religious liberty. In the 18th century, the king dictated which church the people had to belong to, what the people could do and what they couldn’t do, as well as how to and how not to express their faith. THAT is the separation between church and state that was intended when our constitution was written – to keep the state from dictating which religion the people lived out, not to keep religion totally removed from anything having to do with the state.
David is also very active in correcting what is being taught in our classrooms today. He says to understand how curriculum is chosen in our country, it’s important to first understand that 26% of American students at public schools come from California and Texas. Therefore, if someone is going to write a textbook about history, science, or some other topic, it will cost somewhere around $20 million for a publisher to create and distribute a textbook. So, in order for the publisher to recoup that amount of money, they need to get Texas and California on board and willing to buy the textbook. Once the publisher nails down those two key states, they can get their money back. So, invariably, when each individual state announces their standards for what they want their students to know at the end of each year, they had better make sure that their standards are in line with California and Texas, since it’s simply not worth a publisher’s money to make a textbook directed at South Dakota’s (or any other less-populated state’s) standards.
A huge problem happened several years ago, though, when under Gray Davis’ governorship, California went bankrupt and still haven’t been able to get out from underneath of it financially. One of the largest states in the country – the textbook industry’s “golden goose” – simply can’t afford new textbooks like they once did. That puts Texas in the driver’s seat in regards to setting the standards that textbook writers adhere to. So if any publisher wants to be a part of the multi-million dollar industry of writing textbooks in the country, they need to write and teach up to Texas’ standards. Now, in Texas, the state government will pay for the textbooks for any school district that uses state-approved books that meet the state standards. They aren’t restricted to the state’s approved list, but only the books on the approved list will be paid for by the state government. Now, while publishers may slightly alter some of the textbook content for each individual state to meet their standards, it all pretty much starts with Texas.
So, according to this, you would think that the federal government wouldn’t have any role in dictating curriculum at all… but you’d be wrong. The federal government affects what is taught in our nation’s schools by establishing testing criteria. About 460,000 of America’s brightest high school seniors will take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams. To prepare for these tests, these honors students will take AP History, AP Calculus, and AP English among other classes that teach curriculum created by the College Board. Now, these are the kids who will grow up to be our leaders – our judges, governors, senators, teachers, doctors, etc. and this is the last history class that they will take before college. If they pass the AP exam, they are given college credit, and can the forgo general ed level class corresponding to their AP test.
The problem in this is that David Coleman, the President and CEO of the College Board, is also the man responsible for writing the standards for Common Core – a controversial set of standards that have been rejected by districts and states across the country. And not only did the Common Core standards offer “guidelines” for today’s teachers to adhere to, but 142 pages of specific items that teachers need to make sure that the students know.
So, regardless of the standards that the state of Texas (or any state for that matter) has deemed appropriate for their students, the teachers are put in the position of teaching to the standardized tests set by the College Board.
So, what does this boil down to? Well, here are some examples of what is in the new AP History exam: There are no founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, etc.); There is no Battle at Lexington, no Battle of Concord, no Battle of Saratoga, no Bunker Hill, no Yorktown; Actually, there are no battles ANYWHERE in American history; During World War II, D-Day didn’t happen, nor did Midway nor Iwo Jima; General Eisenhower, General Patton, Admiral Nimitz, General MacArthur played no role in the war… nor was there Pearl Harbor, Hitler or the Holocaust.
Overall, what is taught is that the best thing to be learned from America is that you can learn to hate it. There is nothing in the world that is bad except for what came from America. The epitome of this is that America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II, which raised questions about American values.
This is what is taught in our classrooms, in order to secure the best grades on the SAT and AP exams used to measure merit for college admissions.
What most people don’t know is the truth: During WWII, there were 60 million lives lost in battle (40 million in the European Campaign and 20 million in the Pacific Theater). So, finally, on D-Day, we invaded Europe and decided to take the continent back from Hitler and give it back to the people of the rightful nation states. As the Allied forces marched across Europe, not conquering, but giving the land back to the people, they worked their way to Berlin where the Germans and Italians capitulated. It was then that the U.S. and our Allies decided to put an end to the war on the other side of the globe.
The war strategists came up with what they called Operation Downfall. According to the experts, an Allied invasion of Japan would end up costing between 4-5 million Allied lives, 500,000 American lives and between 5-10 million Japanese lives, depending on how fiercely the Japanese resisted. That made the decision that much easier for President Truman to strategically drop two atomic bombs, which killed 300,000 people from the blasts themselves and ensuing radiation, which drove Japan to surrender.
Now, take a look at the math: The Allies originally were looking at 5-14 million casualties compared to the actual 300,000 people who died. This makes America the heel? Then, we didn’t keep the country. Instead, we rebuilt it and gave it back to the Japanese and they have one of the freest countries in the world with one of the strongest economies. But these American values aren’t taught to our students today.
So, while each state may have the ability to set their own standards for teaching our young people, the federal government, through the efforts and agenda of David Coleman, are actually setting the path of our education system by creating the tests that our kindergarteners through high school seniors have to pass and their teachers have to teach toward.
Then there’s the issue of Judicial Activism. Just recently, in Tennessee, the voters handily passed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions. But, the opposition to the measure immediately filed suit over a technicality they claim negates the vote. It reminds me of 2008 when California voters approved Prop 8, which stated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. However, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the vote, it made me pause and wonder, “Do we really want to live in a nation where a 2-1 opinion between three people could overturn the will of an entire state?”
According to David, no court should be allowed to overrule a balloted measure such as these under the rules of original intent. Going back to the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams led the charge, stating that we had two problems with British Judiciary: 1) They’re not accountable to the people; and 2) They have lifetime appointments.
Now, most people today think that judges, particularly federal judges, have lifetime appointments. Yet, if the founders heard you say that, they would slap you across the face and say, “Read the document!” Not giving judges lifetime appointments was one of the two main issues they used in framing our documents! Unfortunately, our poor educational system has again failed us and now most people in our country believe the contrary.
If you read the Article Three of the Constitution, it says that they are allowed to serve “for the duration of good behavior”. So, what does it mean to act right? Well, if you look at the first six judges that our founding fathers pulled off of the federal courts, and determine the definitions by their actions, you’ll see. They pulled one judge off of the bench for cussing in the federal courtroom. They decided that not having control over one’s tongue is not behavior fitting of a federal judge. They threw another judge off the court for getting drunk – even though it was during his private time away from the bench. They held even the judges’ private lives to a higher standard. Another judge was removed from the court for overturning an act of Congress.
Yet, here we are today, allowing our judges to do exactly the two things that our founding fathers worked so hard against!
So, if we live in a country where judges are not supposed to be able to make policy or overturn the law of the land, what are they supposed to do? Our Supreme Court is actually supposed to merely offer their opinion on the constitutionality of a bill, law or legal matter. That’s why if you look at the language of every Supreme Court decision, at the top of it reads “The Opinion of the Court”. It does not say the Law of the Land, but the Opinion. What is supposed to happen is that then the legislature is supposed to take this opinion into consideration and amend the law, or follow Thomas Jefferson’s, James Madison’s, and Andrew Jackson’s, and Abraham Lincoln’s examples and tell the Supreme Court that they are wrong. They never let the Court Justices bind them as to law – the people elected them! Now, they would consider the Court’s opinions and decisions on the procedures, practices and constitutionality of matters, but the only binding decisions came from the Legislative and Executive Branches.
You see, the founding fathers understood that most policies should be left to local jurisdictions. Even issues such as abortion would be handled locally, if the decision were left to the likes of Washington, Hamilton, or Adams, since it’s pretty obvious that San Franciscans would hold different beliefs on the matter compared to Tulsa, Oklahomans.
Now, in regards to the seventh amendment, or Common Law, there are certain moral rights and wrongs that the founding fathers in the Declaration called the “Laws of Nature”, based on the revelations of 1) what nature teaches you itself and 2) what the God of nature teaches you through the Scriptures. So, if the Bible says that abortion is wrong, then it’s wrong. Additionally, nature itself tells us that it’s wrong. There are over 10 million different species of animals across the globe, and not a single one kills its infants while they are still in the womb. Therefore, abortion is also a violation of the laws of nature. It’s these very laws of nature and laws of the God of nature that are supposed to be the compass for the court and the seventh amendment. This is why rape, burglary, and arson are crimes. All these things are addressed in either nature or in the Scriptures. Other than the things that fell under Common Law, the ninth and tenth amendments gave the authority to the local courts to decide, not the federal courts. However these days, the federal courts behave as though they are in charge of everything, and by being in charge of everything, every decision is a “one-size-fits-all” ruling, no matter what part of the country is affected by them. This totally goes against the founding fathers’ original intentions that there would only be about a half-dozen issues that the Supreme Court would be allowed to touch, such as an agreement or dispute between another country and the USA; or an issue between a foreign ambassador and America; the federal court could rule on a dispute between two states fighting each other. Other than a short list of issues, every other national decision should be run through Congress and the President. This is guaranteed in the Exceptions Clause of Article Three, which says that Congress is allowed to take and except anything it wants from the courts. Congress could say, “We’re not going to let any federal court rule over marriage (or abortion, or any other issue that doesn’t fall under Common Law) but let the States take care of those decisions. The same could be done regarding fishing, or interstate commerce, or the amount of gluten allowed in a loaf of bread… the courts shouldn’t be able to make these decisions, yet Congress can in a heartbeat. There have actually been over 200 different instances when Congress has ruled that the Supreme Court couldn’t touch certain issues.
You see, it would be very easy for us – the people – to contain the courts if we only understood the Constitution correctly. And since our Congressmen and Congresswomen went to the same schools we did, they don’t understand it correctly, either.
In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that each branch of government was given “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”. In other words, if the President started acting like the Legislature, Congress was given Constitutional ability to beat back the President; or if the Courts start acting like the Legislature, there were means given to beat them back as well. The checks and balances go across the board. However, if any of the branches refuse to pick up the “Arms of Self-Defense”, they will get run over.
Think of it along these lines: we are allowed to keep and bare arms, but if I refuse to pick up a gun when a robber breaks into my house, then he is going to have his way with me. So, what we have now are Congressmen, just like citizens, unaware of the “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”.
Part of the problem is today’s law schools. You see, law schools turn out attorneys and these attorneys become judges and legislators. Therefore, we’ve lost the separation of powers, because we have one body (law schools) training two branches that judges have more power and authority than they were originally intended.
It’s because of this very problem that David created Wallbuilders.
Another point that David makes is that the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights all go together. Now, there’s a movement going around today that says, “The Constitution is what we swear to uphold, not the Declaration”.
Go back to the Declaration of Independence. It starts with 155 wards that set forth the six principles of American Government. It then follows with grievances, giving 27 examples of how our rights had been violated, based on those six principles. So every single thing in the Constitution goes back to those six principles of government. The Constitution was written to make sure that those six principles became governmental action. And even in Article Seven, the Declaration is directly incorporated into the Constitution. To this day, when the President signs a law, it does not say, “In the year of the Constitution”, it says “In the year of our Declaration.” The Declaration is our founding document. Every Constitutional act dates back to the Declaration. Therefore, you cannot separate the two.
Finally, David brings clarity to the “three-fifths clause”.
It’s often brought up to say, “Hey! This proves that the founding fathers were racist, because the three-fifths clause shows that they believed that black people were only worth three-fifths of an individual!”
The truth is actually exactly the opposite. The three-fifths clause was instituted by the anti-slavery founding fathers to make sure that you had full worth for every individual black person in America.
You see, the people of the South said, “Our Constitution says that for every 30,000 people, in our state, we get to have a Congressman, so we’re going to count all of our slaves. (and, by the way, in South Carolina and Georgia, there were more slaves than there were slave owners). So, under the Southern logic, these Southern slave-owning states would have twice as many Congressmen than the free Northern states, and they’d all be pro-slavery Congressmen. In response, the Northern Congressmen agreed that the black slaves should be counted as full individuals – if they were to be set free. But, so long as they were considered merely property, than the Northern citizenry should be allowed to count their property as needing Congressional representation as well – including every broom, table and chair, horse and cow – and for every 30,000 pieces of property we can count, they will elect an anti-slavery Congressman.
That’s how the compromise of the three-fifths clause came to be. This reduced pro-slavery representation in Congress by almost half. It had nothing to do with the “worth” of individuals, but everything to do with representation in Congress and trying to limit pro-slavery representation. It’s very clear in the Constitution, but we simply are taught it wrong in classrooms today.
To find out more about how to correct what’s being taught in our classrooms and to see a more accurate perspective than what is being widely reported in regards to Common Core, check out WallBuilders.com.
- An Examined Life with Jeff Allen 38: The Constitution, Common Core and the Decline of our Classrooms with David Barton
- First Liberty Briefing: Why the Framers Prohibited a Religious Test in the Constitution
- Parent Like You Mean It 10: Schoolhouse Rock, Obamacare, Immigration and Your Kids
- Breakpoint: Faith in the People? (REPUBLICS, DEMOCRACIES, AND GOD)
- The Briefing: Judge Neil Gorsuch, GOP Budget Cuts & The International Day of Happiness