Unconfirmed Quote attributed to Ben Franklin


Part 2 David Barton on Founding Fathers were they deists?
Not James Wilson and William Samuel Johnson

In the next few weeks I will be looking at this issue of unconfirmed quotes that people think that the Founding Fathers actually said and the historical evidence concerning them. David Barton has collected these quotes and tried to confirm them over the last 20 years. These unconfirmed quotes are used every single day and unfortunately my group of conservatives have been guilty of using them more than the liberals have. This website HALT (HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com) includes the T for the word ‘truth.” I want to always tell it like it is and that includes this fact: Conservative Republicans will be more likely than their liberal counterparts to  stand up today in state legislatures all across the country and use quotes that have not been confirmed with original sources linking them to the Founding Fathers.

6. Whosoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world. — Benjamin Franklin (unconfirmed)

Franklin knew quite well the value of Christianity to society. In the context of teaching history to the youth of Philadelphia, he said:

History will also afford the frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, &c. and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.

This is not to say that Franklin was a Christian; he did not believe in the divinity of Christ. This is easily documented. However, he was well aware of the utility of religion in general and Christianity specifically. In a letter to his daughter, Franklin stated:

Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The act of devotion in the Common Prayer Book is your principal business there, and if properly attended to, will do more towards amending the heart than sermons generally can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom, than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be; and therefore I wish you would never miss the prayer days; yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, even of the preachers you dislike, for the discourse is often much better than the man, as sweet and clear waters come through very dirty earth. I am the more particular on this head, as you seemed to express a little before I came away some inclination to leave our church, which I would not have you do.

A key phrase in our unconfirmed quote is “primitive Christianity.” Franklin, like Jefferson, felt the true doctrines of Christ had been perverted. Just days before his death, Franklin wrote to the Reverend Ezra Stiles:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.

Moreover it was Franklin who made the famous appeal for prayer at the Constitutional Convention-an idea which was implemented shortly after the first congress convened. Madison’s notes of the convention offer these words:

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better that the builders of Babel.

Franklin spoke favorably and often on the role of religion in America. However, while the questionable quote may have been his, Franklin’s writings are well-known and it is unlikely that anything new will surface.


Today I am profiling State Lawmaker David Sanders.

About David J. Sanders

For David, standing up for our conservative values is a way of life, and it starts at home. He and his wife Rebecca, a teacher, have five children: Abigail, 11, Noah, 9, Isaac, 8, Elijah, 2.5 and Levi, who was born last October.He is an active member of Little Rock’s First Baptist Church, where he is an ordained deacon. David has spent the last four years working in Christian education as the director of development for the Arkansas Baptist School System, a K-12 Christian college preparatory school in West Little Rock.

After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University in 1997, he put his beliefs in to action when he went to work for the people of Arkansas in the Governor’s Office. Then, he left government and politics. For six years, David worked for Johnson Controls, Inc., one of the country’s leading energy services companies.

During that time he also started another career, which allowed him to become a leading conservative voice in Arkansas.

In 2000, Stephens Media hired David as a columnist. Twice a week, for nearly a decade, his column ran in more than 25 newspapers statewide. Two years later, Arkansas Business named David one of the state’s top leaders under 40-years old.

He also took our conservative values to the airwaves, first as a panelist on AETN’s ARKANSAS WEEK and then as the producer and host of Unconventional Wisdom, his award-winning public affairs program. His leadership was recognized outside the state as well.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE have published David’s conservative commentary. In May 2005, he was honored with the prestigious Robert D. Novak Fellowship.

Along with raising a family with his wife and working in business and education, standing up for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” has been David’s fulltime job. He is a member of the Arkansas Right to Life, National Rifle Association and Club for Growth.

David has led on so many important issues. Now he wants to represent you in the Legislature so that he can fight to strengthen our families and against policies that could bankrupt our state. Like you, he wants Arkansas to be the Land of Opportunity.

I have enjoyed reading David’s articles over the years. Here is one below:

Taking on the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming (full column)

January 7, 2009

By David J. Sanders

A little review: A group called the Center for Climate Strategies held undue influence over the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on Global Warming and was forced onto the commission without any serious debate.

CCS acts at the behest of its wealthy donors who pay for their work to carry out its aggressive advocacy agenda. Here’s how the scheme works:

CCS helps set up a state-based global warming policy study group and then gets hired to direct it. The group will adopt one of CCS’s canned policy reports. Then, the policy group’s members lobby their state government to adopt controversial and costly environmental policies.

The GCGW reproduced one of CCS’s reports, which contained 54 policy recommendations and carried a price tag of $3.7 billion.

The governor’s office supplied a copy of CCS’s contract with the state, signed on Oct. 31. 2008. There was little explanation as to why CCS had begun working months before the commission was hurriedly pressured to hire the group at its first meeting.

But new information sheds more light on CCS’s heavy-hand, casting further doubt on the fidelity of the commission’s processes and policy recommendations.

On Monday, Dr. Richard Ford, commission member and economist and tenured faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, thumbed through a notebook on his desk, stopping at a copy of the law — Act 696 — that set up the global warming commission.

“Right here,” he said, pointing to the law’s emergency clause. “It says that ‘it is imperative that Arkansas study the scientific data … to determine whether global warming is an immediate threat to the citizens in the State of Arkansas.’ We did not do that.”

According to Ford, the only economist on the commission, the group wasn’t allowed to do what it was instructed by law to do. He explained that the commission never “studied or even debated the scientific data” on global warming.

So why would a commission set up to study and make policy recommendations about global warming not study it? It’s simple; CCS wouldn’t allow it, according to a memo entitled “Proposal to Develop an Arkansas Climate Action Plan” sent to Morril Harriman, Gov. Beebe’s chief of staff on June 27, 2007.

Under the heading “Participant Guidelines,” the memo stated, “Participants will not debate the science of climate change or the directive of the Act, but will instead provide leadership and vision for how Arkansas will rise to the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate change.”

This information was deleted from a similar memo on the GCGW’s Web site.

When asked about CCS’s insistence to limit debate, a governor’s spokesman tried to justify it by claiming that it wasn’t the commission’s job to debate climate change (Later he admitted that in spite of CCS’s “standards of conduct,” it wasn’t the policy of the governor’s office that debate on climate change be stifled.)

The memo also contained a projected budget totaling $435,383 for CCS’s cost to work with the commission. According to the governor’s office, the state only paid $50,000 of the total amount. The memo stated that CCS’s “group of private foundation donors” would “share” the rest of the cost.

The governor’s spokesman didn’t know who paid the remaining cost … of the commission that, mind you, was set up by law. He, instead, encouraged me to contact CCS.

But in the GCGW’s final report, a handful of donors, who are widely viewed as global warming alarmists or who have close ties to liberal causes, are identified as having paid the rest of Arkansas’ bill. The Blue Moon Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, New York Community Trust, Energy Foundation, and the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation are all listed.

It’s becoming clearer: CCS helped set up the GCGW, then got hired to advise the group, limited the terms of the debate, pushed its policies, which were eventually adopted, and then found liberal donors sympathetic to the cause to pay the bill.

A bargain? No. A ruse? Yes.

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