Jesusizing history by legislative fiat

When they’re not busy hating on brown people or stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, Republican Congress critters enjoy wasting legislative time on shit like House Resolution 888, introduced last month by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va). The resolution, which currently rests in the lap of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, concludes with:

Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives—-

(1) affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history, including up to the current day;

(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation’s most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America’s representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures;

(3) rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources; and

(4) expresses support for designation of a `American Religious History Week’ every year for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

All of which is more or less typical of the vacuous drivel that so often infests these non-binding religion oriented resolutions.

H. Res. 888 is noteworthy for the seventy-five (count ’em – 75!) “Whereas” paragraphs preceding the actual resolution language. The distortions, purposeful shadings, selective quoting, and outright lies in that material paint a portrait of U.S. history that could have fallen — and in many instances did fall — directly from the dissembling maw of renowned liar-for-Christ David Barton.

Such shenanigans are mighty appealing. After all, you can propound a misrepresentation in a single, confidently-worded declarative sentence. It’s easy. By contrast, discovering and explaining why and how the statement is a misrepresentation involves much hard work and a ton of verbiage.

To cite one example, Rep. Forbes informs us in H. Res. 888 that “political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible[.]” The effort required to rebut such claims is well and truly illustrated here. And let’s not even mention the analytical contortions required to wring “God has favored our undertakings” from the subjectless Virgilian phrase annuit coeptis.

Rep. Forbes’ religious beliefs are his business, and he can parade them publicly to his heart’s content as far as I care. Wanna pontificate regarding religious matters on the House floor while clothed in sackcloth, standing in a pile of ashes and shoving live serpents up your ass? Knock yourself out.

He’s also free to believe whatever he goddamn jolly well pleases about U.S. history.

But asking the House of Representatives to place its imprimatur on a series of misleading one-sentence snippets as the official religious history of the United States, which is essentially what Forbes and his thirty-one co-sponsors are doing here, is way over the proverbial line. I have no idea whether this resolution will go anywhere, but anyone having any respect at all for the study of history or the precept that religion-government entanglements are bad for both institutions should keep a close watch.

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