David Barton

  • Aired:  05/01/12
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In "The Jefferson Lies," evangelical author David Barton argues that Thomas Jefferson isn't the secularist that many historians make him out to be. (7:37)

>> Stewart: WE ARE BACK.

OUR GUEST TONIGHT, THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF, IS CALLED THE JEFFERSON -- EXPOSING THE MYTHS

YOU ALWAYS BELIEVED ABOUT THOMAS JEFFERSON, PLEASE WELCOME BACK DAVID MARTIN!

>> HOW ARE YOU?

>> LONG TIME, NO SEE.

>> Stewart: YES, YOU ARE AS PROLIFIC AS ALWAYS.

THE BOOK IS CALLED THE JEFFERSON LIES.

SO WHAT IS -- IN YOUR MIND, WHAT IS THE PURPOSE FOR THE BOOK? WHAT ARE THE LIES THAT YOU --

>> IT IS THE SAME THING YOU STARTED WITH AT THE BEGINNING,

LETTING PEOPLE SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

SAME THING WITH JEFFERSON.

TOO MANY PEOPLE SPEAK FOR HIM AND DON'T SPEAK WHAT HE SAID,

THEY DON'T EVEN AGREE WITH WHAT HE SAID, SO THEY REPORTRAY HIM AND THEY HAVE 19,000 LETTERS, I

WANT TO GO BACK AND GET WHAT HE SAID.

>> Stewart: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS A MAJOR MISCONCEPTION PEOPLE

HAVE ABOUT HIM THAT A LOT OF US FOCUS ON HIS FEELINGS TOWARD RELIGION.

>> PROBABLY THE BIGGEST FEELING THAT HE IS AN ATHEIST OR SECULAR ST AND HE WASN'T, HIS

ACTIONS, HIS GIVING, HIS MONEY,

NOW HE HAD SOME COMMENTS YOU COULD TAKE OUT OF CONTEXT, JUST LIKE WHAT THE CLIPS YOU SHOWED

BUT IF YOU LOOK AT HUNDREDS OF RELIGIOUS LETTERS YOU DON'T GET THE SENSE HE IS AN ATHEIST.

>> Stewart: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE PUT IT OUT OF THE CONTEXT?

>> I GOT, I GOT INVOLVED IN POLITICS AND SAW THAT SO MANY TIMES.

THEY KNOW WHAT THE OTHER SIDE IS DOING.

>> Stewart: NOW MY OPINION OF JEFFERSON WAS NEVER -- I WAS NEVER TAUGHT THAT HE WAS AN ATHEIST.

>> YES.

>> Stewart: OR EVEN A SECULAR ST.

>> THE SENSE I GOT, THE TEEMPTION ABOUT JEFFERSON WERE THAT HE LOVED AND RESPECTED

JESUS AND FELT THAT CONVENTIONAL RELIGION, INDOCTRINATION, HE WAS MORE NONDENOMINATIONAL.

>> EXACTLY.

>> Stewart: SO HE IS -- IS THAT AN ARGUMENT BEING MADE THAT HE IS AN ATHEIST?

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Stewart: WHERE IS THAT BEING MADE.

>> SO MANY PLACES, ESPECIALLY WITH ATHEIST SOCIETIES OR BILLBOARDS UP IN THE NORTHWEST,

JEFFERSON IS AN ATHEIST AND QUOTING, THERE ARE SO MANY FOLKS.

IT GOES BACK TO A BOOK --

>> Stewart: YOU DO KNOW NOBODY LISTENS TO THEM.

>> THAT'S THE FUN PART, BUT WHAT HAPPENS IS THEY BECOME A TALKING

POINT IN LAWSUITS AND IN CASES WHEN WE GO, FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE USE JEFFERSON ALL THE TIME, HEY

YOU CAN'T DO RELIGIOUS STUFF AT A SCHOOL, JEFFERSON IS OPPOSED TO DO IT AND USE THOSE KIND OF

QUOTES, THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER DECIDE THAT SAYS NO HE WAS NOT OPPOSED.

>> Stewart: HE WAS IN MANY WAYS A VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF POLITICIAN FOR THAT TIME WITH RELIGION.

>> OH, YEAH.

>> Stewart: HE DID TRY AND RECONCILE IT SEEMS HIS BELIEF IN DOCK TRIMS OF JESUS OF MODERN AT

THIS AND SCIENCE AND I ALWAYS THOUGHT, WHEN YOU SAY SECULAR,

IS THAT A NEGATIVE WORD TO YOU?

>> NO, NOT NECESSARILY, BUT IT MEANS RELIGION FREE, AND SECULAR

BEING RELIGION FREE HE WASN'T A RELIGION FREE GUY, HE DIDN'T

EXCLUDE RELIGION FROM WHAT HE DID, I AM GOING TO COMPARTMENTALIZE RELIGION AND

HERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE.

HE LET IT GET INTO EVERYTHING.

>> Stewart: HE DIDN'T MEAN TO SAY IT EXACTLY LIKE THAT, BUT --

BECAUSE I NEVER VIEWED THE WORD SECULAR AS RELIGION FREE.

I ALWAYS VIEWED IT AS NONSPECIFIC, AS FAR AS RELIGION,

LIKE YOU WOULD SAY THE NFL IS SECULAR.

>> RIGHT.

>> Stewart: BUT THEY PRAY AFTER EVERY GAME.

>> I AM INVOLVED WITH TOO MANY COURT CASES AND WHEN YOU GET IN

COURT SECULAR IS RELIGION FREE.

>> Stewart: IS IT POSSIBLE THAT BECAUSE YOU ARE INVOLVED IN THESE COURT CASES AND YOU ARE ON

THE FRONT LINE OF THAT THAT YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF THIS AS A LARGER PROBLEM MAY BE OVER BLOWN

BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE -- BECAUSE YOU ARE FIGHTING THOSE.

>> IT COULD BE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME I SPEAK AT A TON OF LAW SCHOOLS AND FIND THE SAME THING,

FROM PARTICULARLY THE PROFESSORS AND THEY GO NUTS WHEN I SAY JEFFERSON WAS NOT AN ANTI-RELIGIOUS --

>> YES, HE WAS SO THEY HAVE GOT --

>> Stewart: MAYBE THEY ARE CONFUSING THE IDEA HE IS AGAINST, YOU KNOW, HE WAS

AGAINST DESPOTS AND HATED KINGS AND PRIESTS.

>> I MEAN, HIS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, GOOD STUFF, AND CLEARLY NOT A SECULAR GUY IN THE SENSE

THAT THEY MEAN IT WHERE HE IS RELIGION FREE AND OPPOSED TO RELIGION.

>> Stewart: FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, IT IS HARD NOT TO THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, CHRISTIANS

IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY FEEL UNDER ATTACK RIGHT NOW, THEY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE HAVING A

ROUGH RUN OF IT.

WOULD THAT BE A FAIR STATEMENT?

>> I WOULD SAY THEY FEEL THAT WAY, I WOULD SAY NATIONAL POLLING GOES THAT WAY AND WHAT I

FEEL IS CHRISTIANS ARE ARRESTED FOR SIMPLY DOING WHAT I CALL FREE SPEECH.

>> Stewart: RIGHT.

NOW WHERE ARE THEY ARRESTED.

>> FOR EXAMPLE MARK FALLING STOOD ON A SIDEWALK AND GAVE THE GOSPEL OF JON WHO WOULD TAKE IT

AND DID JOHNS FOR HANDING OUT BIBLES WHO WHOEVER WOULD TAKE IT.

>> WHAT WAS THE CHARGE.

>> THEY DIDN'T HAVE A PARADE PERMIT.

>> BUT WAS IT A PARADE? TWO GUYS ON THE SIDEWALK? I GUESS BECAUSE COMING UP, COMING AT IT

FROM A NONCHRISTIAN OR RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE, CHRISTIANITY SEEMS PRETTY SAFE IN THIS COUNTRY, AND

PRETTY UBIQUITOUS.

>> I MEAN YOU HAVE 83 PERCENT OF THE NATION THAT SAYS IT IS CHRISTIAN BUT WHEN YOU GO TO

PUBLIC POLICY STUFF, WE HAD A KID IN ST. LOUIS PRAYING OVER, A FIVE-YEAR OLD KID PRAYING OVER

HIS LUNCH AND THE TEACHER TOOK HIM PHYSICALLY OUT OF THE CHAIR AND --

>> Stewart: I WOULD THINK THAT TEACHER WOULD GET IN A LOT OF TROUBLE.

>> NO.

ACTUALLY, THAT IS WHY --

>> Stewart: THE TEACHER PICKED A FIVE-YEAR UP BY THE SCRUFF OF THEIR NECK AND TURNED HIM WHEN

LIKE THIS AND SAID YOU WILL NOT PRAY OVER YOUR LUNCH AND THE KID GOT IN TROUBLE.

>> THE PRINCIPAL DID THE SAME THING THE TEACHER DID.

>> Stewart: THEN THEY ARE IDIOTS.

>> EXACTLY.

WHERE DID THEY GET THAT? WHERE DID THEY GET THAT SENSE AND WHERE DO WE FIND? WE JUST HAD A

HEARING IN THE SENATE ON THIS,

67 SINGLE SPACE PAGES OF ALL OF THESE SINGULAR INCIDENTS LIKE THIS, THERE IS A HOSTILITY AND

HOSTILITY IS BEING FUELED BY PEOPLE SAYING THIS IS WHAT JEFFERSON WANTED THIS IS WHAT HE

WAS ALL ABOUT.

>> Stewart: THAT'S THE CONNECTION?

>> THAT'S THE CONNECTION.

>> Stewart: ON THE FLIP SIDE OF IT, IT FEELS LIKE IT IS THE MOST ACCEPTED THING WE HAVE

OTHER THAN, LET'S SAY SNACK FOODS.

>> WHAT IS THAT?

>> Stewart: CHRISTIANITY, AND I MEAN, PEOPLE ARE -- CHURCHES ARE UBIQUITOUS, MEGA CHURCHES,

THEY SAY AT THE BENEDICTION WHEN THE PRESIDENT IS SWORN IN, IF YOU ARE NOT CHRISTIAN, IT IS

HARD TO FEEL THAT THEY ARE HAVING A ROUGH RIDE BECAUSE OF THESE ANECDOTAL -- OF THESE

IDIOTS THAT OCCASIONALLY POP UP.

>> IT IS NOT OCCASIONAL, IT IS PATTERN, HERE IS WHAT I ARGUE AT LAW SCHOOLS AND GET A LOT OF PUSHBACK.

WHY DO YOU TREAT RELIGIOUS AND FREE SPEECH SPEECH ONE AND THE SAME.

>> NO, RELIGION IS DIFFERENT THAN FREE AND THAT'S THE MENTALITY THAT SAYS FREE SPEECH

IS OKAY OVER HERE BUT RELIGIOUS SPEECH CAN'T GET THE SAME PROTECTION SO THAT GOES BACK TO

THE JEFFERSON THING, THEY SAID JEFFERSON --

>> Stewart: I LOOK AT RELIGION AS BEING PROTECTIVE OF FREE SPEECH, MAYBE I AM VIEWING IT WRONG.

>> I DO TOO.

>> Stewart: I AM LOOKING AT AND IT IS, I DON'T GENERALLY SEE, UNLESS THEY ARE DOING IT

IN, LIKE, YOU KNOW WHAT? LET'S GO TO A COMMERCIAL AND COME BACK.

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR DEFINITION OF PUBLIC AND MY

DEFINITION OF PUBLIC, BECAUSE I THINK THAT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT AS WELL.

BUT IT IS INTERESTING.

THE JEFFERSON LIES, ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW, DAVID BARTON.

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