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Christian ‘historian’ David Barton: Allowing women to vote ‘hurts the entire culture and society’ and prohibiting the female vote kept the family together
(Links to pages with Barton’s quotes are farther below)
I am no secular feminist. I’m not left wing or a Democrat or a liberal (“progressive”), but I find some of my fellow right wingers to be odd balls on occasion, and this is one of those occasions.
It’s bad enough that some conservative Christians defend sexism under the guise of it being “biblical” (the terms they slap on church sanctioned sexism is sometimes referred to as ‘gender complementarianism’ or ‘biblical womanhood’) –
But to see a well-known Christian personality such as Barton defend the sexist notion that women should not vote, or it was good that at one time they were not permitted, because it makes for “stronger families” is another indication that some Christians have turned the nuclear family, marriage, and parenthood into idols.
Views such as this also do not take into account that some women never marry and never have children.
Some women who do marry are infertile, or their husband is, so they never have children.
Yet other women are widowed or divorced.
You will notice in Christian gender complementarian views, women who “fall between the cracks,” ones who are unmarried or childless, are not recognized.
This Barton guy has crack pot views about marriage and coffee and PTSD as well (see links at bottom of this post).
I think keeping women from voting on the basis of their gender alone, and supposedly that it’s due to keeping families together, is sexism.
Please, some Christian, try to defend the idea that being sexist is okay with God and oppressing women in this way is justified to “defend the family” or “defend culture.” (This is a rhetorical proposition.)
Although I am socially conservative and a right winger, I think other so cons and right wingers need to keep things in perspective.
Sacrificing equality of women in the name of “the family” – when it comes to this particular case (voting) – is unjust and shows just how much some Christian conservatives have turned “family” into an idol.
Christian ‘historian’: Allowing women to vote ‘hurts the entire culture and society’ by David Edwards
A so-called “historian” who Glenn Beck hired to teach at his online university insisted this week that women had originally been denied the right to vote “to keep the family together,” and for the good of “the entire culture and society.”
On the Thursday broadcast of Wallbuilders Live, David Barton explained that biblical principles — and not sexism — were behind not allowing women to vote prior to 1920.
“So family government precedes civil government and you watch that as colonists came to America, they voted by families,” he said. “And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept… That is a family, that is voting. And so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so.”
Barton argued that in the time since the women’s suffrage movement succeeded in the United States, “we’ve moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing.”
“[T]he bigotry we’re told they held back then, they didn’t hold,” he said. “And what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together.”
“And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.”
In conclusion, Barton asserted that denying women the right to vote was necessary for “a strong culture, a strong society, and it was based on a strong family that preceded government. And they crafted their policies to protect a strong family.”
(this page has audio where you can hear Barton say these things)
—-(end article excerpts)—-
No where does the Bible teach that to fight societal decay or cultural issues that a nation needs strong families.
The Bible says that humanity’s problems are due to sin, not “weak families.”
The New Testament says you’re never going to be able to over-haul an entire culture, all you can do is reach out to individuals within a culture and tell them about Jesus Christ. (This is conveyed in passages such as where Paul writes to Christians to mind their own behavior and not to judge the outside world, etc.)
That is, the Bible says that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and I’d say the resultant sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit within a believer – that transforms that person, not being in a family, not marrying, and not having children. If “the family” could solve a nation’s problems, if “family” could cure sin and restore humanity and culture, Jesus Christ would not have had to act as a substitution upon the cross.
How ignorant or at least very misguided that so many other social conservative Christians keep preaching “the family” instead of “Christ and him crucified” and thinking that will improve things.
- By: Hrafnkell Haraldssonmore
So our old friend David Barton is back, pretending once again to be a historian. Appearing on WallBuilders Live he gave us all a dose of true Bartonesque theater of the absurd when he explained why women weren’t allowed to vote by the Founding Fathers. Having proven he knows nothing at all about Thomas Jefferson, he is apparently eager to demonstrate a matching ignorance of colonial history. According to Barton, the reasoning was 100 percent biblically based and it was all designed to keep the family together.
—(end article excerpt)—
Listen courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
[(Link): Right Wing Watch page with Audio of Barton]
- “The family was the first and fundamental unit of all government. Actually, you have individual self government first, then you have family government second, you have civil government third, and have church government fourth. Those are the four levels of government in the order they are given in the Bible.”
“So family government precedes civil government and you watch that as colonists came to America, they voted by families. You look at the Pilgrims, when they finally moved away from socialism and moved toward the free enterprise system, they called the families together and gave families plots of land. Private property given to the families. And so that’s the way things work.”
“And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept. That is the way they looked at them in the civil community. That is a family that is voting and so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so …”
“Now, as we’ve moved away from the family unit – you need to be independent from the family, don’t be chained down and be a mother and don’t be chained down and be a father and don’t be chained down to your parents, you know, we’ve moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the ‘Modern Family’ kind of portrayal – that understanding has gone away.”
“Clearly, what [the listener] has asked is a brilliant question because it does reveal that the bigotry we’re told they held back then, they didn’t hold and what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together. And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.”
“So they had a strong culture, a strong society and it was based on a strong family to preceded government and they crafted their policies to protect a strong family.”
(end Barton quotes, resume with author’s comments):
In fact, before the Revolution, women COULD vote in several American colonies, according to the National Women’s History Museum. A woman could vote in New York if she had the permission of her husband, and propertied women could vote in Massachusetts.
Vermont even put women on their polling lists in 1724 if they were property owners (the same requirement made of men), and women appeared on polling lists in both Massachusetts and Connecticut up until 1775, the eve of the American Revolution.
It wasn’t until after 1776 that “states rewrote their constitutions to prevent women from voting.” But that was the exception, admittedly.
Why you ask? Ed Crews writes in the Colonial Williamsburg Journal that “Colonial Voting restrictions reflected eighteenth-century English notions about gender, race, prudence, and financial success, as well as vested interest.
Arguments for a white, male-only electorate focused on what the men of the era conceived of as the delicate nature of women and their inability to deal with the coarse realities of politics, as well as convictions about race and religion.”
The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) explains that women were far from the only excluded group:
For the most part, American colonists adopted the voter qualifications that they had known in England. Typically, a voter had to be a free, adult, male resident of his county, a member of the predominant religious group, and a “freeholder.” A freeholder owned land worth a certain amount of money.
Colonists believed only freeholders should vote because only they had a permanent stake in the stability of society. Freeholders also paid the bulk of the taxes.
Other persons, as the famous English lawyer William Blackstone put it, “are in so mean a situation as to be esteemed to have no will of their own.”
As a result, only some 10 to 20 percent of the population actually had voting rights. No doubt this suits David Barton very well…but wait:
Naturally this means – and Barton has certainly not considered it – that if David Barton was living in a predominantly Catholic area, he would not have the right to vote, just as Catholics in Colonial America were often not allowed to vote (along with Jews and others).
A whole bunch of Christians today might find themselves without voting rights if they lived in the wrong area. Oh for the good old days, eh, David?
According to Marylynn Salmon at the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History – you know, REAL historians – “state law rather than federal law governed women’s rights in the early Republic” and that there was, as a result, a great disparity in standards. But “in every state, the legal status of free women depended upon marital status.”
They had many legal rights as single women but that changed when they got married, at which point “they still had legal rights but no longer had autonomy. Instead, they found themselves in positions of almost total dependency on their husbands.”
This was not a biblical principle, but something called “Coverture,” which “was based on the assumption that a family functioned best if the male head of a household controlled all its assets.”
She suddenly had no control over her own wages. Coverture, by the way, is not biblical law, but English common law, the same basis for the U.S. Constitution. English common law, as I have repeatedly demonstrated here, has nothing to do with biblical law.
William Blackstone explained the principle in his Commentaries on English Law:
By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing.
As for voting rights, Salmon writes that “gender alone was the basis for women’s exclusion from voting or holding office. Simply put, men with property had the right to vote in the early national period but women, no matter how wealthy, did not, even though women paid the same taxes as men.”
And yes, at least one woman, Margaret Bent, a Catholic by the way, protested in the mid-seventeenth century when she insisted on a right to vote, that “taxation without representation is tyranny.”
Salmon goes on to say, “The reasoning behind this discrimination rested on the assumption that married women were liable to coercion by their husbands; if a wife voted, legislators argued, it meant that a man cast two ballots. As one man put it, “How can a fair one refuse her lover?”
Men, Salmon concludes, “did not want to share their political power with daughters, mothers, and wives, just as they did not want to share it with freed black men or immigrants.”
And, of course, it wasn’t the Founding Fathers who said whether women could vote or not. They only left the matter up to the states, and it was the states who decided women should not vote. Barton could not even get that small detail right.
—(end article excerpt)—
Said someone on that page (in the comments):
I’d point out that the principle of one vote per “family” considerably dilutes the voting power of large families.
A Duggar [Christian Quivering advocate – they believe in “out breeding” Non Christians to win the nation for God], for instance, could only exercise one twentieth of my vote.
Something tells me that this is not the outcome the fundies would want.
–(end commentator quote)—
So there we have it, a Christian who has so idolized The Family and the Culture Wars that he is willing to, or wanting to, strip women of their rights, or he thinks it’s a great idea to do so, and in the name of “Family.” Truly revolting.
I can’t imagine Jesus Christ supporting that view. Jesus treated women as equals and sought to free them from cultural norms that oppressed them.
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