Jon Stewart isn’t having any of top social conservative David Barton’s views on the separation of church and state.
In an extended segment of The Daily Show on Wednesday, Stewart and Barton argued over the Founders’ views of religion, and how religion is reconciled in American culture. Barton is known for preaching a somewhat revisionist version of American history, which focuses on the religious beliefs of the Founders, arguing that the country has mistakenly ignored those beliefs when it comes to teaching American history. Among his arguments is that “the Declaration of Independence is nothing more than a listing of all of the sermons that folks had been hearing in church in the decades leading up to the American Revolution.”
But Stewart isn’t impressed. “You seem to be taking your religious views,” he told Barton, “channeling them through sort of a faux-scientific or historical method for use in political and curriculum activities. And that’s where I think it creates some trouble.”
As TPM has reported, Barton has gained prominence through his WallBuilders group, which touts a Christian-themed version of U.S. history. He’s appeared on Glenn Beck’s show multiple times, and even taught an online course for Glenn Beck University. Mike Huckabee is also a fan, saying that “I just wish that every single young person in America would be able to be under his tutelage.” Barton also testified as an “expert” in the Texas Board of Education hearings on new textbook standards for the state.
But aside from his views of history, Barton has also suggested that perhaps the government should “regulate homosexuality,” and argued that the Bible and the Pilgrims would oppose net neutrality.
All of this is why Stewart invited him on his show, arguing that despite “a hundred thousand documents” that Barton has obtained that may show the Founders were influenced by religion, the Constitution itself doesn’t reflect whatever religious beliefs they had. Stewart asked: “Wouldn’t they be explicit in the mention of religion if they wanted it so?”
“Why would you not list the basic laws of a Christian nation,” Stewart later asked, “when you’re making a document that is the thing that all of our political leaders have to uphold and protect?”
Barton countered that there’s also no place in the Constitution that creates a hostility toward religion, but “there are people trying to make us a secular society in court,” citing cases to stop “under God” from being included in the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
Stewart replied: “The idea that Christianity as a religion is threatened in this country is ludicrous. As a Jew I can tell you — Christians have it made. You get presents for Christ’s birth. When he dies, you get a basket of candy. You can’t lose.”
“We are a Christian dominated society,” Stewart said, “but through the Founders’ wisdom we have kept that from becoming a state religion, so that their vision that all men are created equal can flourish.”
Here’s part one: