This will be our final post on David Barton’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We are finishing up with the third segment of the interview. Here it is:
5:50: Barton pushes this federalist argument (“its a states issue”) a bit too far. I am not constitutional scholar, but didn’t the 14th amendment (1868) set a precedent for the Federal government to intervene in the affairs of the states in order enforce the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The second clause of the fourteenth amendment states: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
8:27: Barton believes that if all the students in a particular school are Hasidic Jews, then it is perfectly fine for the school to be run in accordance with the beliefs of Hasidic Judaism. But it is not clear to me whether Barton is talking here about a public school or a private school. Are there New York City public schools that are 100% Hasidic Jew?
If David Barton’s family moved to Dearborn, Michigan–a town where Muslims are the majority– would he think it was OK for his grandchildren to be taught Sharia law in the public school?
What Barton seems to be calling for is a Balkanization of the country into localized religious enclaves. He doesn’t like “people from the outside” telling local people how to live. This sounds like the American South under slavery and Jim Crow. This is the attitude that Martin Luther King Jr. challenged in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Barton is suggesting that a Christian in a public school in which the majority of the students are Muslims should be forced to sit in class while the rest of his or her classmates pray to Allah. Wouldn’t Barton, in such a case, want the federal government to intervene to defend the rights of a child who does not feel comfortable having to sit through a prayer to Allah?
The interview really takes an odd turn here. Barton’s states-rights libertarianism has put him in a position where he is now defending the use of Sharia law in Muslim communities. But not all conservative evangelicals are happy with Barton about this. For example, Brannon Howse, the head of an organization called “Worldview Weekend,” has called Barton out on this and other issues. Worldview Weekend is a conservative evangelical organization that sponsors conferences for Christians who want to bring their “world view” to bear on all sectors of life. Barton was a major speaker for Worldview Weekend events until he started teaching for Glenn Beck’s “university.” Howse calls Beck a “pagan, new age, univeralist, Mormon.” As far as I can tell, Barton and Howse have parted ways over Barton’s willingness to work with Beck.
It seems that Barton is getting hammered from all sides these days.
For more information on the relationship between Christianity and the founding, check out Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction.
Tom Van Dyke says
If David Barton's family moved to Dearborn, Michigan–a town where Muslims are the majority– would he think it was OK for his grandchildren to be taught Sharia law in the public school?
The Muslim question does indeed put the argument to the test. As it turns out, Dearborn makes significant accommodation for the religious practice of its Muslim students—ritual footbaths, 5x daily prayer, etc.
The high school football team practiced at night during Ramadan, so the kids could take liquids. [They went 7-2!]
Genuine American pluralism had traditionally been accomodating, rather than hostile or “neutral” toward religion.
This sounds like the American South under slavery and Jim Crow.
This is getting to be a common theme in attacks on Barton, and is completely unfair. Boo, hiss.
Tom Van Dyke says
BTW, Muslims are roughly 25% of the Dearborn population, iirc.
Bill Harshaw says
NY Times on Kiryas Joel, NY. is here:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/nyregion/kiryas-joel-a-village-with-the-numbers-not-the-image-of-the-poorest-place.html Not clear how the public schools are run.
Wikipedia says all members of the school board are likely approved by the religious leaders.