Congress and the Sabbath

Can David Barton really be serious? The head of Texas-based WallBuilders, which opposes separation of church and state, now says that Congress is violating the Constitution when its members meet on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath.


In an e-mail to WallBuilders activists, Barton is criticizing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for having senators work on health insurance reform legislation on Sunday.

“Sunday sessions have been extremely rare because of the U. S. Constitution’s Article I ‘Sundays Excepted’ Clause, which excludes Sunday from the federal lawmaking process. The Framers of the Constitution held great respect for the Christian Sabbath and therefore removed it from the federal lawmaking calendar.”

Ummm… no, David.

Whatever the feelings of the Framers regarding the Sabbath, they did not write a Constitution that bars Congress from meeting on Sundays. The reference in Article I of the Constitution simply deals with how many days a president has to sign or veto a bill:

“If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”

In other words, when counting the number of days a president has to return a bill to Congress, we don’t count Sundays.

Of course, Congress usually doesn’t meet on Sundays, although it has. Many Christians set aside the Sabbath as a day of rest. Many others, however, work, go shopping and use the day to accomplish a variety of other tasks (in addition to attending church services or otherwise honoring the Sabbath in their own way). But Barton, as he so often does, wants to drag matters of faith into partisan politics:

“The actions of the current congressional leadership certainly call into question whether they have ever read the Constitution. If they have, they have certainly shown little respect for its clauses – clauses they swore to uphold when they took their oath of office last January 6th.

There have already been numerous instances demonstrating Congress’s insistence on passing the federal health care seizure and takeover bill in blatant disregard for specific clauses of the Constitution (including the Tenth Amendment). This disregard for yet another part of the Constitution further heightens concern over the current reckless congressional agenda.

Contact your elected U. S. Representatives and Senators and find out where they stand on the issue of the Sundays Excepted Clause. If they support or make excuses for this recent congressional Sunday session, then they have affirmed their disregard for the Constitution and for their own congressional oath. If such is the case, make sure and replace them in the next election, November 2, 2010!”

And don’t forget: Barton, who served for eight years as vice chair of the Texas Republican Party, is supposedly an “expert” qualified to help rewrite social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. You can be sure it’s not just matters of faith that he wants to drag into partisan politics.

19 thoughts on “Congress and the Sabbath

  1. 1) Sabbath desecration is punishable by death (Exodus 31:15).

    2) The abomination of homosexuality is also punishable by death. In the eyes of the Religious Right, all manner of persecutions against gay people are excused because, after all, the Bible says they are really supposed to be killed for that offense. Therefore, getting them fired from their jobs as school teachers is really going easy on them. The Religious Right was really upset about the recent hate crimes bill because they appreciated the fact that some rare souls were willing to do God’s will by inflicting the ultimate punishment—on the sly.

    3) Now, I look at it this way. (Help me out here Cytocop because I am not Jewish, but you no doubt know how to lay down the Old Testament law.) If it is okay for gay people to be killed because of their abomination, then it should be equally okay (Biblically speaking) to kill off David Barton for making purchases at his local Wal-Mart on the Sabbath. Anyone here doubt that David Barton has ever made a purchase at Wal-Mart or somewhere else on a Saturday (the real sabbath) or a Sunday?

    Interlude: Yankee’s who have moved to my area immediately chime in: “I never shop at Wal-Mart. All of my shopping is done at real stores like Bergdorf Goodman!!!” Seriously, I have actually gotten that response.

    4) But okay. I am willing to bet that the folks at TFN would let Barton off the hook because of Jesus’s admonition that those without sin should cast the first stone.

    5) If members of the Religious Right had a legal opportunity to kill gay people, would they do it? How about you Mr. Barton? Would you do it?

  2. I wish this guy would read the constitution. The elastic clause gives congress lots of control over the economy. Tenth amendment isn’t valid in this case because as in McCullogh v. Maryland, state governments can’t impede constitutional acts by the federal government.

  3. This “Sundays excepted” nonsense is exceedingly bizarre, even for such a wing nut. Thanks for posting this, Dan.

  4. You don’t understand Dave. Most of the American judges that ever sat on the bench, most of the American law schools that ever taught, and most American lawyers who ever practiced law in the United States have misunderstood the U.S. constitution from the “git go.” I mean they got it all wrong and have had it all wrong ever since 1787. Now, I have to tell you. I live down here in Culpepper, Georgia. I got a whole hand full of pamphlets here that spells out in detail just exactly how they got it all messed up. Did you know that the IRS is an illegal institution? Did you know that the federal income tax is an unconstitutional trespass on my wallet? Did you know that there is no such thing as a separation of church and state in the constitution? Did you know that the freedom of the press applies to newspapers and magazines but not to the liberal television news media? Did you know that a black person is only a small fraction of a real human being? Did you know that its all right for me to dig up American Indian artifacts in Yellowstone National Park. Well, this pamphlet here in my right hand says that I own that park and everything in it. Those artifacts in that bluff shelter are mine, and I plan to take possession of what’s mine this afternoon. I got as much right to them as anybody.

  5. Hmmm: Wonder if Barton has ever

    eaten a shrimp cocktail — or had a bowl of clam chowder

    — while wearing a suit of mixed fabrics

    — before having ‘intimate relations’ with his wife during her period.

    (All three are equally condemned by the Old Testament God.)

    Jest wundrin’, mind you.

  6. Charles, not all us Yankees are snobby but I don’t shop walmart because I find the business practices in how they treat employees as some of the worst in corporate America. I try to shop at places more worker friendly.

  7. Jim B –

    Check his back yard, cuz the OT sez you can only expiate those sins through a burnt animal sacrifice. If he has an altar & a sheep pen, he’s good to go. O’course, my next question would be how he ever got the permit….

    Charles –

    True yankees shop at Lord & Taylor, thank you very much

  8. Re: David Barton

    Does this blog site have a politeness filter?
    I mean, can I use words or suggested words like idiot, dumb ****, ape****, or knucklehead?
    I’m just sayin’….

  9. In hell there’s a giant nfl football stadium for all the players and fans.
    And no football.

    …and it’s made of fire !!!!

  10. I’m a strict constructionist on this issue. I figure if the writers of the Constitution had meant to prohibit Congress from ever meeting on Sunday, that’s what they would have written.

    Charles, violating the Sabbath is only one of many offenses punishable by death, as I’m sure you know. Children who talk back to their parents should be put to death, for example (it says so in Exodus). But, again, those who are without sin should cast the first stone.

  11. Gee, some folks are under the impression that the Sabbath is Saturday. Does Barton mean that the Jews, who have regarded the Sabbath as sundown Friday to sundown Saturday since long before Christianity began, are wrong when they say “Gut Shabbas” on Friday night? Has Barton consulted Senator Joe Lieberman about this? Is Barton aware that Congress met on Christmas day until well into the 19th century or that mail was delivered on Sundays when the country was young? What does Barton say to Seventh-day Adventists? Has Barton forgotten his medication again?

  12. The funny thing (in a sad way) is that the fundamentalists consider Barton (who holds a bachelors degree from Oral Roberts) to somehow be an authority on constitutional law. Seems to me Mr. Barton can’t even manage to read our constitution,much less understand what it means.

  13. Is there anyone out there that can give that idiot this information about the “sabbath”?:
    The seventh day of the week, Saturday, as the day of rest and religious observance among Jews and some Christians. Ex. 20:8–11.
    If you’re going to make a fool out of yourself with your religion at least have the correct information available to you. All you have to do is research. The thing about this though is that “when you’re talking about religion you can’t use logic”. And that comes from the Church of the Subgenius. All praise Bob!

  14. You are right David. It’s called Neyland Stadium. The flames are orange, and they are white hot. Abandon all hope ye who enter there.

  15. Rocky Top!! hehehe. Good one, Charles.

    Folks, whether Barton actually believes the nonsense about God frowning on Reid and his cohorts is irrelevant. That a vast swath, far too large a group for me to comprehend, of his followers will take this small detail, and file it in the overflowing mental folder labeled: LIEBERAL LIES, AND THE COMMUNIST ATHIESTS LIARS WHO SIN AGAINST ALMIGHTY GOD JUST BY BREATHING THE AIR THEY DO NOT DESERVE TO INFLATE THEIR FASCIST, SOCIALIST LUNGS WITH!1!!

    This ridiculous charlatan, David Barton, and the fact that, even with all the details about his utter bias and extreme historic revisionism readily available to all, is still ensconced in the Social Studies textbook advisory group, is so fascinating, so cloyingly rich in absurdity, that it makes my head swim. I was going to remark on my possibly misreading what I was taught in school about people like McCarthy and Father Coughlin and other famous ideologues, and instead should have realized that they were in fact what made this country so Exceptional!, but of course I was headed off at the pass by Barton’s just as ridiculous tag-teamer, Rev. Marshall and his attempts to get McCarthy canonized, er, I mean, updated to show how he actually saved the country entirely by himself, from communist take-over.

  16. The remarkable thing is that the USA did have a big fight over sabbath observance in the early 1800s. The theocrats wanted to stop postal delivery on Sunday (yes, they had it back then), and the secularists insisted that it continue, in part so that rural folks who went to town for church on Sunday could then pick up their weekly mail at an open post office.

  17. Lorenzo, funny you should mention that. On another thread, I posted parts of an article from The Hagerstown Mail, dated April 2, 1830. The article illustrates that, even back then, separation of church and state absolutely was not a myth, as some of the wingnuts claim. Here’s what I said in that other comment, plus the snippets from the article:

    The article is about a law proposing that mail not be delivered on Sunday–a request made by some christians, in an effort to honor the sabbath. The writer goes to great lengths to describe why this is a bad idea, but the highlight–one of many–is this paragraph:

    With the exception of the United
    States, the whole human race, consisting,
    it is supposed, of eight hundred
    millions of rational beings, is in religious
    bondage; and, in reviewing the
    scenes of persecution which history
    every whrre presents, unless the Committee
    could believe lhat the cries of
    the burning victim, and the flames, by
    which he is’consumed, bear to Heaven
    a grateful incense, the conclusion is inevitable,
    that the line cannot be too
    stronglv drawn between Church and

    Earlier, when describing why separation is so important, the writer said:

    The catastrophes
    of other nations furnished the framers
    of the constitution a beacon of awful
    warning and they have evinced the
    greatest possible care in guarding against the
    same evil