About Corazon

Thursday, September 22, 2011

To Bee or Not to Bee

"Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue." ~Songs of Solomon 4: 11

"The pedigree of honey does not concern the bee; A clover, any time, to him is aristocracy." ~Emily Dickinson

"And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in men's habitations...there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for mankind. Verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought." ~Al Quran 16: 68-69

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth." ~Psalms 119: 103

"For so work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom." ~William Shakespeare

"Like the honeybee, the sage should gather wisdom from many scriptures." ~Bhagavad Gita.

"Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price." ~2 Nephi 26: 25
One of my closet ambitions in life is to be a professional beekeeper. In my opinion, bees are one of the most beautiful, hard working and interesting forms of life on this planet. The ability of these tiny little insects, to work tirelessly together towards a common goal is an inspiration to even us who reside at the top of the food chain. And make no mistake, the role of bees is fundamental to our food chain.

Most people don't realize that bees and their hives are much more than simple little honey factories. In fact, honey is far from the most important function these little guys perform. Bees are nature's most proficient pollinators, and as such, they are directly responsible for the continued prosperity of literally thousands of forms of plant life. And many of these plants are of huge importance to humans. Whether it is kiwis, onions, cashews, almonds, strawberries, celery, beets, broccoli, cabbage, papaya, peppers, watermelons, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, zucchini, lemons, carrots, figs, soybeans, apples, mangos, avocados, lima beans, kidney beans, cherries, plumbs, peaches, pears, eggplant, cocoa, vanilla, tomatoes or grapes (and those are just a few), bees are fundamental to the survival of these plants. In short, roughly half of everything you and I put into our mouths to eat is the direct result of a bee's efforts. That's right, these tiny little guys (actually gals, since 95% of a hive is female including 100% of the workers) are of paramount importance to humanity. Crazy to think that we big, bad Homo Sapiens, with all of our technology, knowledge, and dominance of this planet rely so heavily on a simple little insect!

And just what would happen if these little bees died off? Well, we may get to find out sooner than we thought.

Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind has looked to bees for their sweet nectar. Ancient cave dwellers drew pictures of bees and their honey, hailing them as the workers of the gods. In Egypt, bees were seen as great soothsayers. The location of their hives were graced with worship and awe, and the bee's honey was so special that only those of Pharaoh's court could partake of the liquid gold. Medieval Europe, having still not discovered sugar, saw honey as the nectar of the gods; a substance that demanded great appreciation from all of society. Yes, it is safe to say that human history is replete with stories of respect and reverence for the mighty little bee.

That is, until today. Sadly, the bee has been introduced to a modern world where corporate interests and the capitalistic quest for continued consumption and production have forced our little yellow and black friends into uncharted waters. Now days, bees are shipped across the world to large corporate farms who need these bees to pollinate their crops.

And sadly, this is the least of the bee's concern. Modern pesticides have made their way into the bee's precious nectar, causing the hive to succumb to disease. Their brood is often born with weaker immune and nervous systems. And as American farms become more oriented to a single crop (often spanning over acres of land) pests are able to find all the food they need, thus increasing the need for pesticides. In consequence, the bee's job is made even harder to accomplish. In short, the mass corporate agenda of our modern food industry has forced beekeepers to ship their bees further, to farms with even more pesticides, thus causing the bees far more stress than they have ever experienced before.

So what's the big deal? Why should we care in the first place? Because our bees are dying...by the BILLIONS. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has become a new phenomenon that the American beekeeper is having to face on a daily basis, and the consequences have been disastrous. Literally thousand upon thousands of hives have simply gone extinct all across the United States leaving the beekeeper virtually destitute, and the American farmer in a real pickle. The blueberry and almond farms of California have suffered huge losses, as have the cranberry fields on the east coast and the farms in the American heartland. If Colony Collapse Disorder continues, chances are we will see serious losses to American farms that will have real and long-lasting consequences for all of us.

So what is causing Colony Collapse Disorder and how do we stop it? There have been literally hundreds of suggested causes ranging from cellular phones to a supposed Soviet plot. And though these suggestions are provocative, you don't have to look for the dramatic to see what is killing our bees. The increased stress to produce goods in order to fulfill the hunger of the capitalist markets has fueled the need for more bees to do their job faster, longer, harder and better than ever before. Farms that were normally producing 80 bushels of goods per acre are now being forced to produce 150 bushels. Economic pressures to compete with other countries who aren't required to meet the standards of our FDA have pushed farmers and food companies to find any way possible to cut corners in order to turn profits. And as can be expected, the bee is taking the brunt of the work.

But unlike the American worker, bees don't care about capitalism or other economic pressures. And as the bee is shipped further to stranger farms, full of pesticides, mites and diverse climates, the bee has reached its limits. Being confused due to geographic relocation, gathering pollen from plants infected with pesticides and fed with synthetic sugars as opposed to their rich and natural honey has caused the bee to die in numbers we have never seen before. And can any of us be surprised? Just imagine how each of us would handle being shipped across the country, given synthetic food, forced to work is a strange climate and exposed to foreign chemicals. It's no stretch to suggest that we too would get very sick and possibly face death. Now just imagine what this must do to the little bee.

We can save the bees, but unfortunately it requires change on our part. As Albert Einstein stated: "We can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created." We must change the way we think and operate before we can effect real change, and such is the case with our bees. Eliminating the ridiculous corporate mentality that permeates our food industry along with the pesticides that infect these hives is of paramount importance. We must quit seeing the food industry as a way to magnify the corporate drive for further consumption and production. We eventually need to recognize that we will never be able to eat money! Taking care of our bees (and our farms/environment in general) is a priority that will forever transcend corporate interests.

That is, assuming you want to keep half of the food you now enjoy!

Zakary's First Day of School and Jaxson's First Race

I finally decided to try and get my camera cleared out but before I did, I wanted to get these pics posted. They are of Jaxson's first race and Zakary's first day of pre-school.

Jaxson getting his first ribbon in his first race.
A pretty decent turnout for an elementary school race.
Our Jedi Knights
Zakary getting ready to go to his first day of pre-school.

And the customary video:

Our Founding Fathers and the Death Penalty

Yesterday, the State of Georgia executed convicted murderer, Troy Davis after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay on his execution. And though I don't know all the specifics of his case, I know that it was supposedly somewhat controversial.

Now, whether Mr. Davis is guilty of the murder or not is not the purpose of this post, nor is it my intention to debate the death penalty here today. But yesterday's execution did make me wonder what (if anything) our Founding Fathers thought of capital punishment. Of course, we all recognize that 18th century America (and the world at large) was far different in terms of how punishment for criminals was carried out. Everything from whippings, beatings, beheadings, being placed in the stocks, etc. were seen as standard operating procedure for much of colonial America. We also know that General George Washington and many of his fellow army commanders regularly carried out executions of soldiers for a variety of offenses that many today would be horrified to see carried out.

And then there's the good ol' 8th Amendment. Perhaps more so than any other clause in the Constitution, the 8th Amendment's protection against "cruel and unusual punishment" is more clearly affected by societal change than any other amendment in the Constitution. After all, the very nature of the phrase "cruel and unusual" appeals to evolving societal standards. What we consider to be "cruel" or "unusual" today was seen as routine and just to our forefathers.

And to be 100% certain, it is not the role of the historian to pass judgement on what a society deemed to be acceptable/unacceptable. By no means do I wish to sound as though we of the modern era are somehow too sophisticated for the "savagery" of our less-than-civil ancestors. Instead, it is our role to simply understand the meat and potatoes of why people of the past did what they did, objectively and free from prejudice.

To accomplish this, I offer three unique takes on the death penalty from three different founders. Of course, these three voices hardly sum up the sentiments of an entire continent but I do believe they help to illustrate the conflict which some colonial Americans faced with regards to the death penalty.

First up is Thomas Jefferson. In a letter to his friend Edward Pendleton, Jefferson clearly reveals his "black or white" personality. Being the passionate idealist that he was, Jefferson rarely saw or embraced the "grey area" of any argument, and his sentiments regarding the death penalty pretty much fall in line with how Jefferson saw the world.

The fantastical idea of virtue and the public good being a sufficient security to the state against the commission of crimes, which you say you have heard insisted on by some, I assure you was never mine. It is only the sanguinary hue of our penal laws which I meant to object to. Punishments I know are necessary, and I would provide them, strict and inflexible, but proportioned to the crime. Death might be inflicted for murder and perhaps for treason if you would take out of the description of treason all crimes which are not such in their nature. Rape, buggery &c. punish by castration. All other crimes by working on high roads, rivers, gallies &c. a certain time proportioned to the offence. But as this would be no punishment or change of condition to slaves (me miserum!) let them be sent to other countries. By these means we should be freed from the wickedness of the latter, and the former would be living monuments of public vengeance. Laws thus proportionate and mild should never be dispensed with. Let mercy be the character of the law-giver, but let the judge be a mere machine. The mercies of the law will be dispensed equally and impartially to every description of men; those of the judge, or of the executive power, will be the eccentric impulses of whimsical, capricious designing man.
(Thomas Jefferson to Edward Pendleton, August 26, 1776).In contrast, Jefferson's friend Benjamin Rush adopted a far more forgiving approach to the punishment of criminals. For Rush, there was ZERO justification for the taking of another's life, regardless of the severity of the crime committed. In an essay on punishing murder by death, Rush writes:

I. Every man possesses an absolute power over his own liberty and property, but not over his own life. When he becomes a member of political society, he commits the disposal of his liberty and property to his fellow citizens; but as he has no right to dispose of his life, he cannot commit the power over it to any body of men. To take away life, therefore, for any crime, is a violation of the first political compact.

II. The punishment of murder by death, is contrary to reason, and to the order and happiness of society.

III. The punishment of murder by death, is contrary to divine revelation. A religion which commands us to forgive and even to do good to our enemies, can never authorise the punishment of murder by death. "Vengeance is mine," said the Lord; "I will repay." It is to no purpose to say here, that this vengeance is taken out of the hands of an individual, and directed against the criminal by the hand of government. It is equally an usurpation of the prerogative of heaven, whether it be inflicted by a single person, or by a whole community.
***I simply referenced Rush's 3 main bullets. I recommend reading his entire essay which can be found on the link above.***And then there's James Wilson's views on capital punishment. For Wilson, the death penalty is fine and dandy, but unlikely due to the fact that (in his mind) juries will reluctantly hand out severe punishments due to the human nature to want to forgive. As a result, Wilson recommended mild punishments for all crimes in the belief that criminals would be deterred due to the fact that juries would be more likely to convict. As he stated to a Grand Jury in 1791:

We are told by some writers, that the number of crimes is unquestionably diminished by the severity of punishments. If we inspect the greatest part of the criminal codes; their unwieldy bulk and their ensanguined hue will force us to acknowledge, that this opinion may plead, in its favour, a very high antiquity, and a very extensive reception. On accurate and unbiassed examination, however, it will appear to be an opinion unfounded and pernicious, inconsistent with the principles of our nature, and, by a necessary consequence, with those of wise and good government.

So far as any sentiment of generous sympathy is suffered, by a merciless code, to remain among the citizens, their abhorrence of crimes is, by the barbarous exhibitions of human agony, sunk in their commiseration of criminals. These barbarous exhibitions are productive of another bad effect--a latent and gradual, but a powerful, because a natural, aversion to the laws. Can laws, which are a natural and a just object of aversion, receive a cheerful obedience, or secure a regular and uniform execution? The expectation is forbidden by some of the strongest principles in the human frame. Such laws, while they excite the compassion of society for those who suffer, rouse its indignation against those who are active in the steps preparatory to their sufferings.

We may easily conjecture the result of those combined emotions, operating vigorously in concert. The criminal will, probably, be dismissed without prosecution by those whom he has injured. If prosecuted and tried, the jury will probably find, or think they find, some decent ground, on which they may be justified, or at least excused, in giving a verdict of acquittal. If convicted, the judges will, with avidity, receive and support every, the nicest exception to the proceedings against him; and, if all other things should fail, will have recourse to the last expedient within their reach for exempting him from rigorous punishment--that of recommending him to the mercy of the pardoning power. In this manner, the acerbity of punishment deadens the execution of the law.

The criminal, pardoned, repeats the crime, under the expectation that the impunity also will be repeated. The habits of vice and depravity are gradually formed within him. Those habits acquire, by exercise, continued accessions of strength and inveteracy. In the progress of his career, he is led to engage in some desperate attempt. From one desperate attempt he boldly proceeds to another, till, at last, he necessarily becomes the victim of that preposterous rigour, which repeated impunity had taught him to despise, because it had persuaded him that he might always escape.

When, on the other hand, punishments are moderate and mild, every one will, from a sense of interest and of duty, take his proper part in detecting, in exposing, in trying, and in passing sentence on crimes. The consequence will be, that criminals will seldom elude the vigilance, or baffle the energy, of publick justice.
So were the founders as divided on the issue of the death penalty as we are today? Perhaps. At least some of our founders felt uneasy or even morally motivated at the thought of capital punishment. But again, those were different times. For example, the Crimes Act of 1790 mandated execution for treason and required the mutilation of the corpse. Public flogging were a weekly occurrence and even charges of counterfeit could end in one's execution. As evidenced in the U.S. Coinage Act of 1792:

Section 19. And be it further enacted, That if any of the
gold or silver coins which shall be struck or coined at the said mint shall be
debased or made worse as to the proportion of the fine gold or fine silver
therein contained, or shall be of less weight or value than the same out to be
pursuant to the directions of this act, through the default or with the
connivance of any of the officers or persons who shall be employed at the said
mint, for the purpose of profit or gain, or otherwise with a fraudulent intent,
and if any of the said officers or persons shall embezzle any of the metals
which shall at any time be committed to their charge for the purpose of being
coined, or any of the coins which shall be struck or coined at the said mint,
every such officer or person who shall commit any or either of the said
offenses, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall suffer death.
Different strokes for different folks I suppose.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great Moments in Presidential Election History

In 1988, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen went head-to-head with George Bush Sr. and Dan Quayle for the presidency of the United States. During the campaign (which was the first presidential campaign that I actually paid attention to...I was ten years old) I recalled a couple of occasions when both sides delivered a pretty solid strike against their opponent. And thanks to Youtube, I have been able to see them again. I remember seeing them both live as a kid and recall how they helped to kindle my interest in American politics. Here they are:

Lloyd Bentsen making Dan Quayle look like a chump:

And Ronald Reagan's fantastic response:

In the end, I suppose both Bentsen and Reagan were right. Quayle was far from being anything like JFK and Dukakis was hardly the next Thomas Jefferson.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Only 2% of Welfare Recipiants Use Drugs. I "ASS"-"U"-"ME"-D Different

I try not to get too political on this blog but this recent article was too interesting to pass up. Back in July, Florida Governor Rick Scott pushed a law through his state requiring welfare recipients to be tested for illegal drugs. In a nutshell, the law stated that anyone who failed the test (or refused to take it) would be deemed ineligible for welfare. To be honest, this is a law that I am 100% in favor of. It seems only logical that people who apply for welfare should be drug free. After all, why should tax dollars be dedicated for people who are breaking the law or have a serious substance abuse problem?

And though I might run the risk of appearing somewhat jaded, I was fully convinced that this new law would reveal the fact that a large number of welfare recipients are drug dependant. Yes, this may be a terrible stereotype but I am guessing that most people probably feel as I do. We all assume that drug addicts are abusing the system to death.

But as is often the case with people who ASSUME, they make an ASS out of U and ME.

This week, Florida released the results of their drug testing for welfare recipients, and to everyone's surprise, the numbers were not what had been expected. Only 2% of Florida welfare recipients tested positive for illegal drugs while another 2% refused to take the test. In other words, 96% of Florida welfare recipients were drug free. This is lower than the national and state average for drug abusers overall (about 8%).

Even if you assume (again, "assuming" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me") that all who refused to take the test were positive, that’s far below the overall rate of use both nationally and in the state of Florida. According to federal data, 7-7.7% of Florida residents use illicit drugs, meaning the rate of welfare recipients is about half that of the general population of the state. And remember, Governor Scott sold this idea on the grounds that welfare recipients used drugs at a higher rate than others. And even if we assume (there's that word again) that another 4% of those tested were able to "cheat" on the test (the typical margin of error on most drug tests), the numbers would mirror the state average for drug abuse. Simply put, these numbers prove that welfare recipients are not a bunch of drug abusing bums like so many of us ASSUME.

I'll admit, these numbers have forced me to reevaluate the way I look at welfare. Now don't get me wrong, I am still in favor of drug testing for welfare recipients (even though these tests cost taxpayers roughly $35,000 a month). What has changed for me is the way I will look at welfare recipients. No longer am I going to ASSUME that a large portion abuse drugs because the data has proven me wrong.

And you have to wonder if Governor Scott's motives were as genuine as he claimed. As one reporter has revealed, Governor Scott just happens to own a large number of health care clinics in Florida, and drug testing is one of their primary sources of revenue. This comes as a terrible shock to most Florida voters who ASSUMED that Governor Scott's plan was as pure as the driven snow.

Holy pill-poppers, Batman! I guess we should be a little more careful about the ASSUMPTIONS we all make every day!

Hat Tip: E. Brayton

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Empire Strikes Zak (and Jax)

Over the past few months, our two boys (Jaxson and Zakary) have fallen in love with Star Wars. From video games to movies, Star Wars has taken over our home. With this in mind, I decided to capture in video my kids during a recent trip to Target as they went down the Star Wars toy isle:

Jaxson at Landsharks

This school year is a big one for Jaxson. Not only is he starting 1st Grade but he is also being introduced to the wonderful world of after school sports, the first of which is a local running club for elementary school kids called Landsharks. Ever since the beginning of last year, Jaxson has wanted to participate in Landsharks. Sadly, we missed the sign up date last year so he had to wait. But the wait was definitely worth it:

Jaxson with his fellow teammates.
And off they go...
Jaxson with his coach.
Getting ready for the first timed half-mile.
Hanging out with brother.
And here is the shirt!
We LOVE Frontier Elementary School! Thanks for all that you do!

And, as always, a short video:

The Glenn Beck Check, Part VI: Glenn Beck, David Barton and the Fabrication of the Black Robe Regiment

It has been a while since I have posted anything on America's favorite clown Glenn Beck and his pseudo-historian friend David Barton. Fortunately, Beck has become largely irrelevant, as most people have finally accepted the fact that he is an utter fraud. The cancellation of his ridiculous Fox television program, coupled with the abysmal turnout to his stupid "Restoring Honor" rally in Israel, are a foreshadowing of Beck's eventual demise (thank goodness).

But this doesn't mean that the "Dynamic Duo" of Beck and Barton aren't still pulling rabbits out of their magic "historical" hats. On the contrary. In fact, one of their most recent claims has to also be one of their most ridiculous.

Back in 2010, during Beck's other Restoring Popularity...er...Restoring "Honor" rally (funny that Beck held rallies for "Honor" and "Courage" when he himself possesses neither), Beck proposed the "restoration" of "The Black Robe Regiment." According to Beck and Barton (who aren't real historians but play one on T.V.) , the Black Robe Regiment were:

the preachers [of the Revolution], because they wore black robes. Black preachers, white preachers — they all wore black probes. And the British specifically blamed the preachers for the American Revolution. That's where the title "Black Regiment" came from. One of the British officials talked about that. It's interesting that the British so hated the preachers — they claim if it hadn't been for the preachers, America would still be a happy British colony. So they blamed it on the preachers. When they come to America, they start to decimating churches. They went to New York City. Nineteen churches — they burned 10 to the ground. They went across Virginia burning churches. They went across New Jersey burning churches. Because they blamed these preachers.
First off, Barton's claim that the British "specifically blamed the preachers for the American Revolution" is an extremely irresponsible and baseless claim. It is a claim based more on the current culture wars than on actual history. Barton and Beck, like their fellow Christian Nationalists, need to "prove" that the American Revolution was a religious, particularly Christian war/event, and to do so they make some RIDICULOUS conclusions based on very weak evidence.

On his website for the Black Robe Regiment, Barton provides a singular citation as "proof" that the British feared this "Black Robe Regiment." The citation comes from a Peter Oliver, who was a British official living in Boston. Oliver essentially labels the American clergy who were sympathetic to revolution as "Black Robes", but what Barton neglects to mention is the fact that Oliver labels them as such due to his belief that they had "replaced God at the pulpit with politics", a practice that both Barton and Beck are quite familiar with. Somehow, Barton is able to take the words of a single British official living in Boston and apply it to the entire British nation. In other words, if this Peter Oliver said it, all of Great Britain (despite the fact that there is no other mentioning of the "Black Robe Regiment" from actual British leaders) must have felt the same.

Second, Barton's claim that the British "decimated churches" is completely misleading. While it is true that the British (and more so their Hessian mercenaries) were responsible for the ransacking of a few American churches, it is NOT true that these churches were specifically targeted for their teachings. They were usually ransacked for goods and supplies or made into shelters or hospitals for soldiers; a common practice used by almost every army of the time. Heck, the Union Army would do the same during the Civil War yet nobody ever assumed religious persecution as the reason like Barton has with the British. Barton is simply implying that since the existing churches, located in battle ground areas of the war were damaged, this must therefore mean that the British disliked their teachings/religion.

Not so.

Reality is that just as many (if not more) churches were destroyed by rebel patriots who were either upset at the loyalist leanings of the clergy/parishioners or didn't want the church to fall into the hands of the British. When Barton mentions the "Nineteen churches" in New York that were burned to the ground, he neglects to tell his audience that many were burned as a result of the "Great Fire of 1776", which was most certainly started by rebel patriots (even George Washington blamed patriots for having caused the fire). For example, Trinity Church in New York (yes, the same Trinity Church made famous in the movie National Treasure as the location of the buried treasure) was burned to the ground in 1776 as a result of the Great Fire. Reverend Charles Inglis, assistant minister of Trinity Church, noted that the church's teachings of "passive obedience and no resistance" and "to watch and refute all publications disrespectful to the Government tending to a breach" were met with severe scorn by those who wanted revolution. In fact, the teachings of Trinity Church and other loyalist churches throughout New York (much of New York remained loyal to the King) were met with such severe scorn from patriots that Reverend Inglis and other clergy voted unanimously to shut the churches down. As Reverend Inglis stated:

By omitting the prayers for the king, give that mark of disaffection to their sovereign. To have prayed for him had been rash to the last degree—the inevitable consequence had been a demolition of the churches, and the destruction of all who frequented them...I shut up the churches. Even this was attended with great hazard; for it was declaring, the strongest manner, our disapprobation of independency, and that under the eye of Washington and his army.
In addition, Barton's source for "proof" that the British "decimated" churches comes primarily from the writings of Daniel Dorchester and Benjamin Franklin Morris: two 19th-century Christian advocates who, like Barton, were obsessed with "proving" that America was a Christian Nation. But what Barton neglects to note in his narrative is the fact that BOTH of these men ALSO noted that many of these churches, which were supposedly "decimated" by the British, were actually destroyed by American patriots:

The church at Crumpound was burned to save it from being occupied by the enemy. That of Mount Holly was burned by accident or design. The one at Princeton was taken possession of by the Hessian soldiers and stripped of its pew and gallery for fuel.
Apparently Barton would prefer that we believe in this version of the American Revolution than in reality:

When Glenn Beck and Barton discussed the formation of the Black Robe Regiment, they did so not out of a desire to reveal the truth of American history, but instead to push forward a political/religious agenda:

Apparently, the idea began with Beck's favorite historian, David Barton. When Beck told Barton he wanted to "get religious leaders together," Barton suggested forming a Black Robe Regiment -- named after what Barton had said was a group of preachers who supported the American Revolution from their pulpits. Beck decided that was "exactly" what he was looking for because it was a movement supposedly like his that was "not about politics."
In short, Beck and Barton did what they have always done: hijack history and twist the truth in order to add legitimacy to their bogus claims. And this piece of propaganda is the result:

As for the "rights in the Declaration of Independence" coming from the clergy, Barton needs to go back to History, 101. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the DOI, cited Locke, Cicero, Montesquieu and other figures as "inspiration" for what he put into the DOI, but AT NO TIME did Jefferson give any kind of credit to the Bible or any other specific Christian teaching. And, perhaps more importantly, of the twenty-seven reasons for declaring Independence that are mentioned in the DOI, not a single one has anything to do with religion. Why? Because the American Revolution was NOT a religious war like so many involved in the culture wars want us to believe. It was a war over representation, taxation, ultimate sovereignty and a host of other reasons. But religion was NOT the cause of the Revolution. Yes, it may have been used to justify rebellion to the motherland but that was the extent of its usage.

In the video propaganda piece, Barton also states that Ministers were at the "forefront of everything that happened" during the Revolution. Uh, no. Of the 55 signers to the DOI, only one (John Witherspoon) was an actual minister (as opposed to Barton's claim that 27 were ministers). But for the record, just as many (if not more) ministers preached AGAINST revolution as those who were in favor. For more on this topic click here.

In conclusion, I know that Barton and Beck probably mean well in their efforts to "restore" America's "forgotten heritage" and I don't necessarily disagree with their motives. With that said, the fact remains that their blatant misuse of history does not help them in their quest. Twisting facts, misusing quotes, and fabricating events doesn't "restore" a damn thing. I share in Beck and Barton's belief that religion is the most awesome and influential power on earth and that it was EXTREMELY important to those of early America. However, our Founding Fathers were smart enough to recognize the FACT that religion should have no place in government. For Barton and Beck to say otherwise is what lies at the heart of all our current culture war problems. In their ignorant and misguided march towards "saving" America's "Christian heritage" they have revealed their woeful historical illiteracy.

And shame on them because they should know better.