Immediately following a segment on his radio program yesterday in which Bryan Fischer declared that it is his goal to “create the most biblically and constitutionally literate listening audience” in America, he told his audience that the Bible was the single greatest influence on the framing of the Constitution.
Unsurprisingly, this claim originated with David Barton, the right-wing pseudo-historian who first spread the false claim that a 1984 study by Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman called “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought” had found that the Constitution was largely based upon the Bible, according to a review of documents published during the founding era.
Fischer mindlessly repeated this claim on his program, asserting that “the book of Deuteronomy was the primary source of the standards that were incorporated in Western law and Western jurisprudence” and insisting that “the Constitution rested on the foundation of the Bible and biblical truth.”
As we have pointed out before, these claims rest on a complete misrepresentation of what the study actually found and they have been repeatedly debunked, so much so that Joel McDurmon of the ultra-right-wing organization American Vision was forced to write a piece entitled “To my Christian America friends: Please, stop citing the Lutz study!”
[T]hat study does not prove this point. In fact, when you read all of the study, it proves just the opposite: the framers of the American Constitution abandoned biblical quotations in favor of the secular authors. I don’t know who originally read it to say otherwise, but for the sake of credibility, scholarship, and faithful witness, it needs to stop.
The percentage of Bible quotations reported in that study 1) comes from an earlier period than the Constitutional period, 2) represents a strongly overweighted minority sample in the data, 3) appears mostly in only 10 percent of the actual sources included in the study, 4) appears in sources not written by the men who actually did the framing, 5) appears in sources probably not even read by the framers. The study itself excludes the vast majority of relevant material that such a study should have included.
Too all my friends and fellow-laborers in Restoring America, Christian America, Monumental America, Christianity and the Constitution, followers of Verna Hall, Rosalie Slater, Vision Forum, Wall Builders, and anyone else, anywhere even remotely associated with such a project: Please, quit citing Lutz and Hyneman as proof the Framers of the Constitution quoted the Bible more than any other source. They did not, and misreading studies like this, and thereby perpetuating myths like this, is one reason liberal scholars so often laugh at you. It’s not always merely because they hate God. Sometimes, it’s because we give them reason.
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