Last night the far-right Family Research Council hosted a 90-minute “prayercast” against health insurance reform efforts in Congress. Never mind the abuse of faith to kill efforts to make health care accessible and affordable for all Americans, rich or poor, healthy or sick. That’s become fairly common rhetoric from the right in recent months. But the event included something else not particularly unusual from the religious right these days: a bad history lesson.
TalkingPointsMemo reports that FRC head Tony Perkins told his audience last night that when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 appeared to be failing because of feuding among delegates, Benjamin Franklin urged delegates to join in prayer to save their efforts.
“And you know what happened?” Perkins asked. “History records that they prayed.”
Actually, history records that they did not pray — and this has been a recurring myth of the American religious right that never goes away. As the Library of Congress says: “Franklin’s motion failed, ostensibly because the Convention had no funds to pay local clergymen to act as chaplains.”
If religious-righters like Perkins can’t get simple facts right about our nation’s founding, we shouldn’t trust them to get the big things right — such as acknowledging that the Founders crafted a Constitution and Bill of Rights that protect the religious freedom of all Americans by keeping state and religion separate and forbidding government from favoring or disfavoring any particular faith.