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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Federal Government has no Power to Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic

david barton

Discredited Christian nationalist “historian” David Barton [is] now asserting that the federal government has no power to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Constitution puts all health care at the state level; it does not put it at the federal level,” Barton said during a recent interview. “So this was not a federal question; it is a state question. In the Constitution, you have 17 what are called enumerated powers. The Constitution says, ‘Federal government, here’s 17 things you’re allowed to do.’ And then in the Tenth Amendment, it says if it’s not one of those 17 things, it belongs to the states to deal with. Health care was one of those issues.” (Thanks to our friends at Right Wing Watch for the video.)

Barton seems unable to grasp that it’s not 1820 anymore. The Constitution and federal laws have changed over time, and there’s no longer any doubt that the federal government has the power – some would say the duty – to respond in the face of a public health emergency. (The fact that the current administration’s response has been hapless doesn’t negate that; it just makes it all the more obvious that we need to do a better job next time.)

What are Barton and his pals in the Religious Right up to here? Their main goal is to provide cover for President Donald Trump, their “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Our-Lord-And-Savior” substitute. By pretending it was never Trump’s job to spearhead efforts to stop the spread of the virus to begin with, they hope to absolve him of all blame for the spiraling death toll. (Clever, right?) Unfortunately for the nation, their antics have the unpleasant side effect of putting us all in jeopardy.

Lying about the federal government’s responsibility in the face of a health crisis isn’t the Barton band’s only trick. Yesterday, a collection of Religious Right legal groups announced that they are forming a “hotline” pastors can call if they believe their religious freedom rights are being violated. (That is, if they’re angry that government agencies have ordered them to remain closed alongside everyone else.) The effort is led by a Barton associate named Rick Green.

— Rob Boston, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Christian Nationalists Are Spreading Fake News About The Federal Government And Coronavirus, May 14, 2020

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    He’s a grifter. Slants history so far right it turns out all the founding fathers were religious zealots. And yet, we know many of them were Deists. Barton does a real disservice to their followers.

  2. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    A national health issue should be the responsibility of the national government to contain..I don’t understand why that’s so difficult for people to understand. 50 disjointed plans creates a disaster on the national level.

  3. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    David Barton is an idiot, a willful liar, and a twister of American history. I shall not provide any evidence for that other than my e-mail friend Chris Rodda’s two books on the man’s writings, John Fea’s writings, and his publisher’s withdrawal of his Thomas Jefferson book. Barton’s writings and the Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals who follow this pied piper with so much devotion and relish are a certain sign of the utter desperation of the fundies as their insular world crumbles around them and their outreach has less and less effect on American society and culture as time goes by them. November 4, 2020, may turn out to be the most tragic and soul-knifing day in “their” American history. That may be the day they learn that President Trump was not, in fact, “The Anointed One of the Lord.”

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