Rob Boston, Assistant Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has been writing about the lies of the Religious Right for 18 years. His research reveals the trail of half-truths and distortions supporting Christian Nation mythology and shows us where to begin as we separate fact from fiction and work to bring America back to its founding principles.

Mything In Action: David Barton's 'Questionable Quotes'

By Rob Boston

"Christian nation" propagandist David Barton has issued a statement conceding that the following twelve quotations attributed to prominent historical figures are either false or at best questionable. WallBuilders' observations about the quotes are in parenthesis.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!
-- Patrick Henry (questionable)

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.
-- George Washington (questionable)

Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian.
-- Holy Trinity v. U.S. [Supreme Court] (false)

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, nor upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves ... according to the Ten Commandments of God.
-- James Madison (false)

Whosoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.
-- Benjamin Franklin (questionable)

The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be assessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.
-- Noah Webster (questionable)

There are two powers only which are sufficient to control men, and secure the rights of individuals and a peaceable administration; these are the combined force of religion and law, and the force or fear of the bayonet.
-- Noah Webster (questionable)

The only assurance of our nation's safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion.
-- Abe Lincoln (questionable)

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.
-- Abe Lincoln (questionable)

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or eternal invader.
-- Samuel Adams (questionable) [this can be found in Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., The Writings of Samuel Adams (1908), Vol. 4, p. 124 -- Cliff Walker, May 1, 2002]

I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens.
-- Thomas Jefferson (questionable)

America is great because she is good. and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
-- Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America (definitely not in the book; perhaps in other more obscure writings; questionable)

(Originally printed in the July/August issue of Church & State.)