Independence Hall in Philadelphia
The National Park Service is suggesting apparent mistakes about the historical record of the Founding Fathers presented by a tour guide to visitors to the Independence Hall National Historical Park in Philadelphia are just part of the “multiple points of view” that are designed to let visitors “draw their own conclusions.”
That apparently includes the performance of a guide who “mimicked and mocked [a Christian] carrying and swinging an oversized Bible … .”
“Even if I said the founders were Christians, how could we really know? Just because people carry a big ol’ Bible in their hand, they can still be atheists!” said the guide.
“Each ranger leads a tour in his or her own way, weaving stories and information around core topics such as the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our staff is taught to present tours from multiple points of view and allow visitors to draw their own conclusions or, hopefully, be inspired enough to seek out more information on their own,” the agency responded to a chaplain who challenged the accuracy of some of the information.
The letter was signed by Cynthia MacLeod on behalf of the Park Service and it was addressed to Pastor Todd DuBord, now the chaplain for the enterprises of actor, martial arts champion and philanthropist Chuck Norris.
DuBord for years has worked with tours of patriotic citizens who have visited Washington and other locations to see the markers of America’s Christian heritage. He previously exposed when tour guides at the U.S. Supreme Court building were denying the multiple representations there of the Ten Commandments.
He also exposed the agenda at work in the District of Columbia when the replica of the Washington Monument capstone, which is engraved with “Laus Deo,” or “Praise be to God,” was positioned in the visitors’ center so observers were not able to see the inscription and the signs had been altered to remove any reference to the “Laus Deo” on the capstone.
During a recent visit to Philadelphia, he took a tour of the Independence Hall site, and noticed a problem when a question was raised about the religious beliefs of the Founders. Accompanying DuBord were Pastor Jim Garlow of Renewing America Leadership and history expert David Barton of Wallbuilders.
“The NPS guide went from being an expert on the Founders to someone who was fumbling to formulate his words and get even a coherent and accurate sentence about our Founders’ religion,” DuBord wrote. “It struck me from his initial utterances on their religious views that he knew very little if anything about the real issues at all – and that made me wonder how many presentations he had done over the years to school children and guests from all over the country and world without ever discussing the Founders’ religious nature with any accuracy.”
Among the guide’s statements that DuBord challenged:
- “George Washington didn’t even attend church!”
- “While the NPS guide physically hunched over, mimicked and mocked one carrying and swinging an oversized Bible in his hand, he said to the crowd: ‘Even if I said the founders were Christians, how could we really know? Just because people carry a big ol’ Bible in their hand, they can still be atheists!”
- “Most of these men owned slaves. How could good Christians do that?”
- “We know that Benjamin Franklin was a deist.”
- “We don’t really know for sure about their religion. It’s open for interpretation. You’ll have to do your own study on that.”
DuBord wrote to the facility that the statements simply are wrong.
Liberty Bell, with biblical quote: Leviticus 25:10
“Washington attended Christ Church (the first Episcopal Church) just a few blocks away from Independence Hall with Betsy Ross, John Adams (our 2nd president), Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, Robert Morris and many other signers of our founding documents,” he wrote. “He also had reserved pews at two churches in Virginia, at Pohick Church near Mount Vernon and one at Christ Church in Alexandria.
“The NPS guide could have cited any of a number of examples in Washington’s life and even presidency,” DuBord explained, citing Washington’s reference as he took the oath of office in 1789 that, “we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the external rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”
MacLeod did not respond to a request from WND for comment, but the park’s media relations officer, Jane Cowley, said the letter was not intended to address the issue of historical facts.
She told WND the park “of course would try to correct” any misinformation.
She also confirmed the park would not stand by the statement, “George Washington didn’t even attend church.”
“We do take steps to ensure that all information provided by our rangers is historically verifiable. There are historical records out there. We expect the rangers to know those.”
Regarding other statements reported by DuBord, she said the park’s historical experts would not talk to a reporter, but she would ask them for comment.
In MacLeod’s letter to DuBord, she suggested there are just too many good stories to include them all.
Failing to address the issue of accuracy, her letter said, “The number, scope and complexity of the stories that could be told on a tour of Independence Hall are enormous. Each guided tour can be only 30 minutes long, which does not afford the opportunity to cover all potential material adequately.”
She explained that each ranger chooses how to give information to visitors.
“We regret that your guide may not have handled himself as deftly as we would prefer and that he was not able to get his point across in a clear and successful manner,” she wrote.
DuBord, in a letter prepared for delivery to MacLeod, said the deftness was not the issue, but the accuracy of the information, as he detailed in an analysis at his National Treasures website.
George Washington statue outside Independence Hall
“His sentiment was bad enough that he retorted with only, and I mean only, negative comments on the Founders’ religious views and practice, but that they were also lies or half-truths clearly used to attack and undermine their faiths,” DuBord said. “In the very house in which our founders adopted a Creator-filled Declaration of Independence, should we not have expected at least one positive comment was made about any one of the founders’ Christian faiths?”
He said it was sad to get a Park Service response that “sidestepped the NPS ranger’s culpability by brushing over the blatant historical lies taught by him.”
The chaplain also noted that he’d requested copies of the training materials for guides, and specifically how it deals with the religion and faith of the Founders, but has not seen it yet.
“The problem isn’t how many stories were told, but that all of them discussed about our founders Judeo-Christian belief and practice were negative, misleading and/or flat out lies and biased distortions of history,” he said.
He suggested there was either a gap in the training for guides, “or your guides are taking liberty to invoke their own bias, despite it being false – something I fear now is not only being allowed but condoned.”
In fact, DuBord noted a Presbyterian minister (John Witherspoon) was among the signers of the Declaration. Two others previously had been ministers and others were the sons of clergy.
“Virtually all were Protestant Christians,” the chaplain noted. And Christian confessions or affirmations of faith easily can be found among the historical records for Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Benjamin Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas McKean, John Morton, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman, Richard Stockton, Thomas Stone and others.
“M.E. Bradford, late history professor at the University of Dallas, discovered that at least 50, perhaps 52, of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention professed to be orthodox, Trinitarian believers who were in good standing at various Christian churches. Bradford found that there were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, and only 3 Deists,” he wrote.
Such information is “straightforward biography” and not subject to conjecture or private interpretation, he suggested.
“Teaching on multiple points of view is fine, but when those points of view are false and misleading histories, how else are visitors to ‘draw their own conclusions’ about what was true? Is that really the way the tours should be conducted at what you even admit in your letter is ‘the most important sites related to the founding of the United States’? If it wouldn’t be tolerated in any of the thousands of universities across the country, should it be tolerated in one of the ‘most important sites related to the founding of the United States’?” he wondered.
Weighing in on the issue was Chuck Norris, martial arts champion, actor and columnist for WND.
He was addressing the omission of references to God in contemporary government speech, and how America’s Christian heritage quickly is being suppressed.
He explained what his pastor has experienced in Philadephia.
“The truth is, if you want an accurate religious history of America, you’re no longer going to get it from our president, our progressive society or secular schools, at least not without unbiased trained teachers or the induction of a religious curriculum that hasn’t tampered and twisted history,” Chuck Norris said.
“Remembering the role of religion in our republic is why I included an entire chapter on the subject (titled, ‘From Here to Eternity’) in my New York Times best-seller, ‘Black Belt Patriotism.’
“It is also why my wife, Gena, and I are on the board of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, or NCBCPS, which has a Bible-based curriculum that has been used in the public schools, on campus, during school hours, for credit, for the past 15 years. No joke! It is legal and our constitutional right,” he explained.
WND has reported on a series of other efforts to remove mention of God and references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers from government grounds.
In 2008, an “oversight” at the nation’s $600-million-plus Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., left the national motto “In God We Trust” absent from the historical displays and at one point prompted WND columnist and veteran actor Chuck Norris to ask if he could help correct the situation.
That “oversight” was fixed in 2009 after U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and 108 members of Congress expressed concern the historical content was inaccurate, prompting the committee’s determination to make changes.
Also, WND reported in 2006 when DuBord told WND he was more than startled during his visits to the U.S. Supreme Court and two other historic locations to discover the stories of the nation’s heritage had been sterilized of Christian references.
He visited the courthouse and was surprised that what the tour guides were telling him wasn’t what he was seeing.
“Having done some research (before the trip), I absolutely was not expecting to hear those remarks,” which, he had told WND, “denied history.”
DuBord wrote to the Supreme Court and several other groups, asking them to restore the historic Christian influences to their presentations. He said he was most disturbed by what appeared to be revisionism in the presentations given to visitors at the Supreme Court.
There, he said, his tour guide was describing the marble frieze directly above the justices’ bench: “Between the images of the people depicting the Majesty of the Law and Power of Government, there is a tablet with 10 Roman numerals, the first five down the left side and the last five down the right. This tablet represents the first 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights,” she said.
“The 10 what?” was DuBord’s thought.
Dubord began researching and found a 1975 official U.S. Supreme Court handbook, prepared under the direction of Mark Cannon, administrative assistant to the chief justice. It said, “Directly above the Bench are two central figures, depicting Majesty of the Law and Power of Government. Between them is a tableau of the Ten Commandments.”
Further research produced information that in 1987 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark and came under control of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under the new management the handbook was rewritten in 1988. The Ten Commandments reference was left out of that edition, and nothing replaced it.
The next reference found said only that the frieze “symbolizes early written laws.” Then in 1999, the handbook referred to the depiction as the “Ten Amendments to the Bill of Rights.”
“The more I got into [his research], the more I saw Christianity had been abandoned from history,” DuBord said at the time.
DuBord encourages Americans to sound off to the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park by contacting them by e-mail, phone or letter via the information at the Park Service’s website.