Texas isn’t the only state witnessing a campaign to baptize (and rewrite) early American history. A group in Florida calling themselves No Separation has begun purchasing billboard space to spread their message that:
Our Founding Fathers knew that America’s government was made only for people who are moral and religious. It’s not suited for governing anyone else.
The billboards feature quotes from early American leaders that, taken out of context, would seem to denounce the separation of church and state. Only it turns out that this propaganda isn’t just misleading; it’s outright false! One of the quotes attributed to George Washington is completely fabricated. According to the billboard, Washington proclaimed,
“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
But Washington, of course, never said that. So the billboard sponsors acted quickly to correct their error. Well…not exactly. When confronted with this lie, a spokesperson for the group articulated a rather flexible view of historical accuracy:
“I don’t believe there’s a document in Washington’s handwriting that has those words in that specific form. However, if you look at Washington’s quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there’s no question he could have said those exact words.”
Ah, yes. The old “he-COULD-have-said-it defense” — a tactic that never got me very far with my history teachers. But then again, this guy is making a compelling case for a spot on the Texas social studies expert review panel. After all, the No Separation Web site points to none other than SBOE “expert” David Barton’s Wallbuilders as a “fantastic resource for information on America’s Christian heritage.” But Barton has acknowledged on his own Web site having attributed that quote to Washington even though he can’t back up the claim that the nation’s first president actually said it. It is one of nearly a dozen quotes Barton has inaccurately attributed to the nation’s Founders in his misguided campaign to persuade Americans that separation of church and state is a “myth.”