Reinventing the Aitken Bible story is very important to Glenn Beck and David Barton. America as a covenant nation is important for different reasons for both men and the myth of Congress printing the Bible fits right in to their world view. However, as has been shown many times, the story is not what they make it out to be.
In his recent talk to Fellowship Church, Glenn Beck began his false narrative about Aitken’s Bible by shouting, “Don’t let anybody tell you we are not a Christian nation because are absolutely a Christian nation!” Then he incorrectly told the audience that Congress printed the first English language Bible in America. He ended the story by repeating the assertion that the U.S. is a Christian nation.
In a recent talk to Osborne Baptist Church, David Barton again implied that Congress wanted the Aitken Bible used in schools. Watch:
Barton finished his story about Aitken by saying.
The first English Bible was done in 1782, its got Congressional endorsement and its done for the use of schools? I thought the Founding Fathers didn’t want the Bible in schools. See, if you don’t know your history, you put up with policies you should never put up with. When you know your history, you have a different view of what public policy should be.
The point for both Barton and Beck is to influence people to think about America’s founding as a foundation for public policy now. Barton wants the Bible in schools so he makes up a story where Congress printed/endorsed (he has told the story both ways) a Bible for the use of schools. If the men who wrote the Constitution wanted the Bible in schools then it has to be Constitutional for the Bible to be used in schools now.
If the story is told straight then it isn’t as useful. It certainly could support the idea that the founders were friendly toward religion, but it doesn’t say anything about federal policy toward Bible reading in schools. If the rest of the story is told, then it isn’t as useful either. Aitken wanted Congress to appoint him as the official Bible printer, but Congress declined. He wanted his Bible to be the authorized Bible for the new republic, but Congress declined. Furthermore, Congress didn’t put a nickel of tax payer funding into the project.
When listening to either Beck or Barton speak, be aware that the history lessons may not be completely true and that the real object is to persuade you to believe something that isn’t true so you will do something you might not otherwise do.