Hundreds of Christian conservatives gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, last week for a two-day “FlashPoint Live” conference held at Cornerstone Church. FlashPoint is a program that airs on The Victory Channel, a television network founded by televangelist Kenneth Copeland, that has been dedicated to spreading disinformation, conspiracy theories, and Christian nationalist rhetoric since its creation in 2020.
Among those who spoke at the FlashPoint event in Nashville was televangelist Jesse Duplantis, a prosperity gospel preacher who is fond of bragging about how rich he is. Duplantis, like so many other Christian nationalist activists, is also quite fond of spreading historically and biblically baseless claims about the supposedly Christian founding of the United States.
Preaching on Thursday night, Duplantis kicked things off with a confusing and downright false recounting of the supposed manner in which God laid out his “vision of America” to George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
“God did something with the United States of America that he never did with any other nations because he created it with a Judeo-Christian ethic,” Duplantis said. “He gave a vision to four men way back when when this nation started off. One was George Washington, the first president of the United States. Number two was Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary treasurer of the United States. [Third was] the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay. And then the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. And through those four men, God gave the vision of America about what they should do.”
“God wanted this vision for this America that he would put his providence in,” Duplantis continued. “Now, the author of the Constitution of the United States is President James Madison, who was the fourth president of the United States. But he had this vision that God placed in him. You see, what they wanted was not a United States of America, they wanted free and independent states so each could do their own thing. Free and independent states.”
“James Madison, who’s called the author of the Constitution, he was supposed to say, ‘We the people of free and independent states.’ That’s the way it was supposed to happen, but God changed the word on the day that he spoke it there for the Constitution. He said, ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,’ you know, the preamble. So, what happened is God united this United States together on that day under a document called the Constitution of the United States.”
We don’t even know where to begin debunking Duplantis’ claims because nothing that he said makes much sense. First of all, while Washington, Madison, and Hamilton were all delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, John Jay was not. Other than penning five of the 85 essays that came to be known as the Federalist Papers, Jay didn’t play any particularly central role in the Constitution’s construction or ratification.
Duplantis’ confusing assertion that God somehow “changed the words” that James Madison was supposed to speak when creating the preamble to the Constitution makes even less sense, given that the preamble was written by Gouverneur Morris, a delegate from Pennsylvania. The language about “free and independent states” appeared in the Declaration of Independence, and the idea that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention aimed to create a government in which every state “could do their own thing” is precisely the opposite of what was intended.
As Right Wing Watch has explained before:
The creation of a strong central government was precisely what was intended by those who crafted, signed, and ratified the Constitution. Having struggled through the American Revolution and the first years of independence with essentially no federal government under the Articles of Confederation, many Founding Fathers agreed that what was needed was a convention to “render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” The Constitution that arose out of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was designed to remedy the weakness and diffusion of powers that hampered the federal government under the Articles of Confederation.
Duplantis, like so many other Christian nationalist activists, is willing to exploit the biblical and historical ignorance of his audience by making blatantly false claims and perpetuating the false narratives regarding the founding of this nation because doing so serves to promote the modern-day right-wing political agenda.
That is the reason why Right Wing Watch has repeatedly debunked these lies about the founding of our nation. Duplantis and others have an explicit political goal and seek to bolster their Christian nationalist agenda in order to undermine church-state separation and reverse progress toward equality by insisting that our laws and policies must coincide with their interpretation of the Bible.
We need your help. Every day, Right Wing Watch exposes extremism to help the public, activists, and journalists understand the strategies and tactics of anti-democratic forces—and respond to an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian far-right movement. The threat is growing, but our resources are not. Any size contribution—or a small monthly donation—will help us continue our work and become more effective at disrupting the ideologies, people, and organizations that threaten our freedom and democracy. Please make an investment in Right Wing Watch’s defense of the values we share.