We were very blessed that the respected historian David Barton taped a video for us last fall, while here to keynote our Pastors Summit, to promote this year's Call To Prayer in Colonial Williamsburg on June 1. Little did we know, coincidentally, that he appeared on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart yesterday, the day after we debuted the video here and via e-mail, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to tens of thousands of people (see it here). As an avid student of history, especially the Founding period of America, and with a degree in history and English from one of the commonwealth's well thought of institutions of higher learning, I always thought of myself as pretty well informed on early American history. Not that I knew it all, but with a life-long study of it, I thought I at least knew the major points pretty well. But then I started my association with The Family Foundation and got my first exposure to Mr. Barton, the founder of WallBuilders.
What a breath of fresh air! Not only does he give voice, reason and fact to what I always instinctively and academically believed was our Founding Fathers' actual intent regarding religious liberty, he also has thousands of original period documents which prove the point — that nowhere in the constitution can it be construed that government is hostile to religious expression, whether in private or public. No one in America has done more research from original sources on this topic than David Barton and he can quote from them faster than I can items from a fast food menu. It's hard to imagine a more informed person on this subject — anywhere.
He also points to hundreds of events from the period, long neglected in the classroom, that flesh out principles by which these Founders lived, argued, fought and died. Actions do speak louder than words, even words on paper, and the same men who put those words to paper participated in events that today would have them fined, suspended, fired or kicked out of club, association, job or public position. Go figure. In the end, though, no one is better than simply explaining the simple or basic elements of an already straightforward document: Congress shall establish no law . . . how does that translate to prohibiting a prayer to Jesus at a high school graduation? Or state police chaplains praying in Jesus' name? Or a city council opening its session with a prayer? How are public acts of prayer a Congressional law establishing a religion? Maybe if secularists just read the constitution they would come to understand this themselves. Otherwise, we are left to think they have a blatant disregard for it and are intent on nothing less than to "transform" America.
No one exemplifies this misguided, misinterpreted, contorted, secularist slant on the constitution in pop culture more than Jon Stewart. I give him credit for inviting Mr. Barton on his show (at the insistence of another guest, former Arkansas Governor and another friend of The Family Foundation, Mike Huckabee). But it was nothing more than mismatch, a true learning moment for Mr. Stewart.
Learning curve: David Barton taught Jon Stewart, a William & Mary grad (and not his real name), a good deal Wednesday night on The Daily Show. (Part 1 is mainly introductory talk.)
It's unfair debating a left-wing celebrity type, but instructive: Stewart gives truth to the adage "That a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing."