Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton has been traveling across the nation for months, delivering presentations in churches to mobilize conservative Christian voters for the midterm elections. The tour was orchestrated by a religious-right organization called Faith Wins, which is run by former Republican National Committee faith outreach director Chad Connelly.
During these presentations, Barton has repeatedly spread disinformation regarding the Bible and the role it played in the creation of our form of government, and he has done so deliberately in order to promote his right-wing political worldview. It appears as if all those months of traveling with Barton and listening to him willfully spread this disinformation has rubbed of Connelly, who is now doing it himself.
On Saturday, Connelly appeared on the “Firewall with Lance Wallnau” program hosted by Christian nationalist Lance Wallnau, where he repeated some of the historical and biblical falsehoods promoted by Barton and then added a few of his own, just for good measure.
Connelly kicked things off by regurgitating Barton’s false claim about a speech that Benjamin Franklin delivered during the Constitutional Convention in which Franklin suggested that those gathered turn to God in prayer for help in drafting the Constitution.
In Barton’s (and Connelly’s) telling, Franklin cited 14 Bible verses in his short speech; a claim that Right Wing Watch debunked just two months ago.
But Connelly took things a step further by baselessly asserting that the Constitutional Convention then “had three days of prayer and fasting” following Franklin’s speech “and that’s where they hammered out the discussion that became the Constitution.”
They did nothing of the sort. As we explained last time, the convention took no action on Franklin’s suggestion, leaving Franklin disappointed that the convention “thought prayer unnecessary!”
But Connelly wasn’t done, as he went on to falsely claim that there are multiple references to God in the Constitution (there aren’t), before asserting that George Washington cited the Bible in refusing to become king.
“They wanted to make [Washington] a king, and he quoted Jeremiah 17:9,” Connelly claimed. “He said, ‘The heart is wicked and deceitful above all things, only God can judge. We were just coming from a kingdom. We don’t want a king. If I were a perfect man, and I’m not, will the next man be a perfect man or the next or the next?’ He quoted scripture to deny them making him a king.”
That never happened.
What actually happened was that in 1782, Washington received a letter from a man named Lewis Nicola, who had served in the Continental Army under Washington. In the letter, Nicola floated the possibility that the army, upset about not having been paid by the Continental Congress, might refuse to disband at the end of the war, creating a crisis that could potentially tear the new nation apart.
Instead, Nicola proposed that the Congress grant western lands to those who had served during the Revolution, which they could then use to create a country of their own. This country, Nicola proposed, would be ruled by a king of their choosing (presumably Washington).
Washington was aghast at the proposal and chastised Nicola for even proposing such an absurd idea:
With a mixture of great surprise & astonishment I have read with attention the Sentiments you have submitted to my perusal. Be assured, Sir, no occurrence in the course of the War, has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the Army as you have expressed, & I must view with abhorrence, and reprehend with severity—For the present, the communication of them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter, shall make a disclosure necessary.
I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my Country. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable—at the same time in justice to my own feeling I must add, that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample Justice done to the Army than I do, and as far as my powers & influence, in a constitution[al] way extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion—Let me [conj]ure you then, if you have any regard for your Country, concern for your self or posterity—or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your Mind, & never communicate, as from yourself, or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature.
Nowhere in this letter did Washington cite Jeremiah 17:9 or any other scripture, nor can we find any evidence of Washington ever citing this passage in connection with an offer to make him king.
If such a citation existed, we are certain that David Barton would be referencing it endlessly. So, considering that we’ve listened to thousands of hours of Barton’s presentations and have never heard him make any claim along these lines, we can only conclude that Connelly, like Barton, is “an ardent religious-right activist who is interested primarily in misusing history and scripture to promote his partisan political worldview.”