I have to admit that my biggest pet peeve about David Barton is not his incessant dishonesty, but the manner in which he repeatedly asserts that the Bible supports his right-wing agenda by simply citing Bible verses without every explaining what they say, as he does in this clip about how only a Christian nation allows religious freedom because Christians know their true faith will always win:
Notice how he simply asserts that the entire concept of the free market comes out of the Bible and then just rattles off verses without bothering to elaborate? Of course, if you actually bother to look them up, here is what you find:
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
According to Barton, these passages are the foundation of the entire concept of free market capitalism.
So let’s just take a look at the passages he cites, shall we?
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD.
28 In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’
22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.
18 The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that not one of my people will be separated from their property.’”
These are the passages, taken completely out of context and left utterly unexplained, upon which Barton thinks our public policy ought to be based.
How are Old Testament passages about setting aside offerings for the Lord to be used for determining our tax policies?
Using Barton’s tactic, couldn’t someone just as easily assert that Mark 12:41-44 means Jesus supports a progressive income tax?
Which brings us to Matthew 20: 1-16, which Barton cites as proof that “Jesus did not like the minimum wage”:
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The conventional interpretation of this parable is that Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of Heaven – in fact, Jesus says right in it that “the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner” – and that the point was that no matter how late in one’s life one comes to Christ, the heavenly reward is the same; those who embraced Christ on their deathbed will receive the same eternal reward as those who were Christians all of their lives because of God’s generous love.
But for Barton, this is not a parable about Heaven but rather a statement by Jesus that he opposes minimum wage laws.
And using Barton’s logic regarding this parable, it also means that it would be perfect acceptable to Jesus if employers want to pay minority and/or female workers less than they pay white male workers for doing the same job. After all, if this parable is not about the Kingdom of Heaven but rather wage laws, then Jesus is saying that employers have every right to decide what they are going to do with their own money and if they want to be more “generous” to white male workers than others, then that is perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes.
When I was watching the series of Barton appearances on “Gospel Truth” with Andrew Wommack that I posted on last week, Wommack continually marveled at Barton’s ability to find political messages in Gospel passages, repeatedly telling Barton that while he has spent his life studying the Bible, he had never made these connections.
And I think that is pretty telling.
If you have spent your life studying and preaching on the Bible and never realized that it contained detailed instructions for how we were to establish everything from our tax laws to building codes in accordance with a right-wing political agenda … well, there is probably a reason for that.