David Barton Calls Idea That the Bill of Rights Was Intended to Protect Rights of the Minority ‘Ridiculous’

Having his distorted book on Thomas Jefferson pulled off the shelves by a prominent evangelical publisher doesn’t seem to be slowing down David Barton’s efforts to rewrite history. Now he’s promoting an essay in which he calls the idea that the Bill of Rights was intended to protect the rights of the minority “ridiculous”:

Sadly, in recent years some federal courts have also declared that “The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the majority,” yet this is ridiculous. No individual is to lose his or her right to free speech, self-defense, the rights of religious conscience, or any other right simply because he or she happens to be in the majority rather than a minority. To the contrary, the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights were all based on the philosophy that government is to protect the God-given rights of every individual, whether they are in the majority or the minority, from the encroachments of government.

Ironically, in writing about issues like gay rights and abortion in the same essay, Barton offers a pretty good example of “encroachments of government.” He criticizes “morally aberrant groups proclaiming their right to constitutional protection.” He argues that the “American government must operate according to moral standards set forth by God Himself”:

“The Constitution was not designed to protect individuals from God-ordained standards of morality but instead to protect the nation from court-sanctioned immorality.”

Translation: Barton wants his religious views — and his belief that those religious views are the foundation for our system of government — to trump the rights of Americans who don’t share them.

In truth, our nation’s Founders were well aware that majority rule could threaten the rights of those not in the majority. Some thought that the Constitution’s republican form of government would be sufficient for protecting those minority rights. Others argued that a Bill of Rights was essential. Responding to calls by Thomas Jefferson for a Bill of Rights, James Madison — often called the “Father of the Constitution” — wrote to the author of the Declaration of Independence:

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is cheifly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

Contrary to Barton’s absurd suggestion, no one argues that the Bill of Rights doesn’t protect the rights of all individuals, whether they are part of the majority or the minority. Of course it does. But in a democratic system, the majority has a protection that the minority doesn’t: control of the government. That makes the Bill of Rights an important protection against the “encroachments of government” especially for the minority. And if those protections are upheld by the courts, they can keep people like Barton from using government to promote their own religious views over those of everybody else.

7 thoughts on “David Barton Calls Idea That the Bill of Rights Was Intended to Protect Rights of the Minority ‘Ridiculous’

  1. I’m amazed that people still listen to anything Barton has to say. He no longer has any credibility, even with the evangelical right. He has been proven to be both a liar and a fraud with The Jefferson Lies.

    Last week Glenn Sunshine, who is both an evangelical and a historian, wrote a a review of The Jefferson Lies. He said that Barton is “intellectually dishonest.” Sunshine gets high marks for understatement.

  2. @Breckenridge. I know that Barton SHOULD NOT have any credibility with the right. But I’m afraid he still has plenty. The intentional, calculated “uninformed-ness” that allows them to remain in their warm dank damp ideological lair causes them to stop reading anytime there is a headline that even implies it will present a viewpoint that is even slightly divergent from their own!

  3. Oh, poor Davie Barton, he can’t help it. He was born with a sliver of tissue he uses for his brain. He once tried to give someone half of his mind but there wasn’t enough to give!

    Seriously, why is that guy permitted to go out and about without a caregiver? It is bad enough that our very own governor, Dickie Perry, believes in devils and demons going around and spreading evil throughout the nation without understanding that they are not devils or demons: They are POLITICIANS! Politicians like he is and one that little Davie Barton would like to be.

    Are there any who take these guy seriously? It is WAY beyond time that mentally ill people be taken care of where nice people in white coats can help them either get over their hallucinations or keep them locked up and away from intelligent people.

  4. I wish I could share the beliefs of the others who posted that Mr. Barton lacks credibility and influence. Because he basis his opinions as “facts” based on The Constitution, the people who surround me, i.e. all my family and friends, believe in his veracity. Not only does his idiotic and self-indulgent interpretation offend my sensibilities and education, the ignorance of those who choose to believe him without themselves reading The Constitution and using their own minds terrifies me. These people vote!! And, it has been my experience that all the people I know are perfectly fine with being led like sheep to the polls. What happened to actual informed voters? What happened to people using their own common sense, if that still exists, to make religious decisions for themselves? What happened to civil responsibility?