A few weeks ago, we posted a clip of Glenn Beck telling parents to push their children up against the wall (figuratively, he now insists) in order to teach them that their rights comes from God and not the government.
That video prompted an atheist named James Kirk Wall to write a column arguing that rights do not, in fact, come from God, which in turn prompted Beck to spend nearly two complete segments of his radio program today mockingly responding to Wall’s column.
At the end of Wall’s piece, he offered a quote from George Washington which really irked Beck, who responded (6:00 in) that quoting Washington in defense of atheism was “ignorant” as he then proceeded to rattle off four other quotes from Washington that felt refuted Wall’s point:
The only problem for Beck is that, according to Mount Vernon, two of the quotes he used are misattributed misquotes:
“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
The quote is frequently misattributed to Washington, particularly in regards to his farewell address of 1796. The origin of the misquote is, perhaps, a mention of a similar statement in a biography of Washington first published in 1835. However, the quote that appeared in the biography has never been proven to have come from Washington.
“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.”
This misquote is often attributed to Washington’s speech to Delaware tribal leaders on May 12, 1779. However, it is both inaccurate in terms of words as well as meaning. The actual quote reads: “My ears hear with pleasure the other matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them too. You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it.” The quote has its own historical significance and reflected Washington’s eventual presidential policies aimed at encouraging cultural and religious assimilation of Native Americans.