Barton, who has long promoted a "Christian nation" version of American history, argued that the free market system originally came out of the Bible. Barton also insisted that the American legal system, including the right of habeus corpus, the right to an attorney, and the right to confront one's accusers, originated in the Bible.
Barton had much to say about Christianity and the U.S. educational system. At the 15:21 mark, Barton asserted that U.S. public education was originally based on Biblical teachings, with harsh words for today's "government schools." The term "government schools" has been used as a pejorative term for public schools by some Christian homeschool advocates, such as Doug Phillips.
"This shows you what public education's supposed to look like. The educational system is supposed to come--and it did. These guys started the first public school in 1642 and cited Bible verses on why they were doing it. They also cited Bible verses on the courses they taught and the way they taught the courses. Now, most Christians today, "well, we've got government schools. That's the way it's supposed [to be]." Really? Show me in the Bible where government's supposed to do the education. Show me how that works. Show me what courses government's supposed to be teaching. See, we can't do that anymore. We don't use--we've been conformed to the culture. We've had public schools for so long that we think that's the way it is."At the 17:05 mark, Barton argued that U.S. literacy has declined because "fear of the Lord" no longer undergirds the American educational system.
BARTON: 1962 to 63. The U.S. Supreme Court, three decisions, said no more fear of God in education. We want education to be secular. All right. That's a theological issue.How non-fundamentalist or non-Christian parents would respond to public schools teaching their children "fear of the Lord" was not considered, nor were the church-state separation problems this approach would create. To boot, Barton's assessment of the U.S. educational system is too simplistic. To assume that literacy problems erupt from refusal to teach "fear of the Lord" ignores the complex roots of illiteracy, including the roles of poverty, pedagogy, and learning disabilities.
COPELAND: And how's that working out?
BARTON: How's that working out? In 1962-63, America was number one in the world in literacy. We are now number 65 in the world in literacy. We have the highest per capita spending on education. $460 billion a year on education. We spend $13,800 a year on students, and we're 65 in the word in literacy? We don't have the fear of the Lord, so guess what? We don't have knowledge. It goes down ... At a White House briefing, they said we just graduated 700,000 students from high school who can't read their own diploma. Time out! We're spending $13,800 a year? We've gone through thirteen years of school, and they can't read their diploma? The fear of the Lord's the beginning of knowledge. But we're saying, oh, the government should educate these kids. Well, guess what? If you don't have the right philosophy, they'll never get educated. The fear of the Lord's the beginning of knowledge. And if we think secular education's going to make our kids smart we're nuts. It will not happen. See, we've let the culture conform us. It's time to re-conform the culture.
(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)