Monday, November 03, 2008

Misguided Rhetoric at First Baptist Dallas

Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, preached a passionate sermon entitled "America is a Christian Nation" yesterday. The sermon was full of sound and fury signifying nothing except that the pastor is completely misguided regarding the meaning of the First Amendment to Constitution of the United States.

The source of Jeffress misguidance was cited early on in his sermon. He credits David Barton who spoke at his church not long ago.

The historical and legal inaccuracies broadcast in Jeffress' sermon are too numerous to waste time and space enummerating. Here's one of his most egregrious historical inaccuracies:

Jeffress states that Jefferson's 1802 letter to Danbury Baptists, the letter in which Jefferson uses the wall metaphor for separating church and state, was written to allay Baptist fears that he would establish the Congregational Church and thus deprive them of their religious liberty.

No one of intellectual integrity who had invested even an hour reading source documents from the hand of Thomas Jefferson himself would contend, as Jeffress did, that Jefferson's wall metaphor merely opposed the establishment of any Christian denomination rather than opposing the establishment of any religion.

For the benefit of Jeffress edification and education, here are some links to more accurate information about the original intent of the First Amendment than he has been receiving from David Barton:

Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson (1779)
Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson (1802)

While he's catching up on his education, it wouldn't hurt Jeffress to read the famous speech that George W. Truett, one of his predecessors at First Baptist Dallas, gave about Baptists and Religious Liberty.

4 comments:

Paul W Gray said...

Amen, Bruce.

Bruce said...

Barton is a "big" problem in Baptist circles. His revisionist history is passed off as fact. No one seems to bother to check the context or delve into the matter more closely.

David Barton said it...end of story. This is very similar to what goes on in the Science/Creationist debate. Just enough information to make people THINK they know something.........

It is no wonder the world at large thinks we are a bunch of stupid *** people.

Robert Jeffress said...

Bruce:

For the sake of YOUR education, you might consider the words of U.S. Supreme Court Joseph Story, the founder of Harvard Law School, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States" regarding the intent of the First Amendment:

"The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government."

No serious student of history doubts the framers of the First Amendment were referring to Christian denominations. The matter is only unclear in the minds of historical revisionists like you.

(And, by the way, the Story quote did not come from David Barton).

My entire message "America is a Christian Nation" can be heard at firstdallas.org (without charge).

Robert Jeffress

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...

Robert,

It's obvious that your understanding of America's founding fathers is limited.

I suggest you read their writings yourself and stop depending on unreliable secondary sources like David Barton.

All serious students of history know that the First Amendment was designed to grant equal right of religious liberty to citizens of all faiths.

Here's a quote from George Washington's 1790 letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island:

"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens."

Don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself. Here's a link where you can begin.