Chris Rodda’s latest post at Talk2Action exposing the falsehoods in the NCBCPS curriculum focuses on a couple of very common claims found in Christian Nation apologetics. The big one is the claim that half of the founders attended seminaries. She quotes the following statement from the curriculum:
The leaders of the Revolutionary era were “steeped in the traditions and teachings of Christianity — almost half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had some form of seminary training or degree.”
Again, an extremely common claim that has been made by David Barton and other revisionists for decades but it is highly misleading. Most of them attended schools like Harvard and Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey), which were founded as seminaries but which, by then, had law schools and many other courses of study. Rodda explains:
The use of the word “seminary” in this statement can have no other purpose than to take advantage of the fact that almost nobody today would associate the word seminary with anything other than a theological seminary, and would assume from this synonym for college that almost half the signers studied for the ministry. While it is true that all of the colleges attended by the signers of the Declaration had been founded by religious denominations, none of them were strictly theological colleges when the signers attended them. They all had schools of law and/or other sciences. Few adults, let alone children hearing the word seminary in their Bible literacy class, will realize that this word can mean any kind of school, and the NCBCPS knows that.
Although the NCBCPS curriculum cites the recent book A Patriot’s History of the United States as the source of this statement, this “seminary” trick has been used for many years by NCBCPS advisory board member David Barton. Even the other Christian history revisionists give Barton credit for this one. In his book What If America Were Christian Nation Again?, for example, D. James Kennedy, referring to the signers of the Declaration, writes:
David Barton points out that of the fifty-six men, definitely twenty-four, possibly twenty-seven, had seminary degrees.
All this means, of course, is that twenty-seven of the signers of the Declaration went to college — twenty at a total of five different American colleges, and seven in Europe. Twenty-four definitely received degrees; three don’t appear to have graduated. Almost all of the twenty-seven studied either law or business, and one studied medicine.
Another Christian Nation myth shot down.