Benny Johnson Spreads False Christian Nationalist History

Right Wing Watch has noted multiple times in the past that there seems to be a common theme among Christian nationalist commentators who, time and time again, spread blatant falsehoods in defense of their ideology.

The latest example comes courtesy of right-wing commentator and TPUSA contributor Benny Johnson, who recently delivered a rant in which he declared that “if you are a Christian, there is no excuse for voting for Democrats” and attempted to buttress this claim by telling a bunch of falsehoods about Benjamin Franklin and the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

“Even Ben Franklin understood that in the formation of this nation [that] if God wasn’t the center of it, then it would fail,” Johnson claimed. “The quote from Ben Franklin at his prayer at the opening of the Constitutional Convention—which he presided over as the oldest Founding Father, and it was in Philadelphia, his home city—he said, ‘If a sparrow cannot fall from the sky without [God’s] notice, how can a nation rise without his aid?’”

“Speaking in a prayer to God, [Franklin asked], ‘If a sparrow cannot fall from the sky without God’s notice, how could a nation rise without God’s aid?’ Johnson reiterated. “That’s how inextricably interwoven the being, the nature of God is, in our government. And if you are looking to destroy this place, you must separate us from God.”

First of all, Benjamin Franklin did not preside over the Constitutional Convention, George Washington did.

Secondly, the quote Johnson repeatedly cited did not come from a “prayer” delivered by Franklin “at the opening” of the Convention, but rather from on a speech Franklin delivered on June 28, 1787, over a month into the convention.

Franklin was not “speaking in a prayer to God,” as Johnson claimed, but was rather suggesting that the delegates should turn to God in prayer for help in drafting the Constitution.

Finally, what Johnson and so many other Christian nationalists who love to tell this story always conveniently fail to mention is that the delegates explicitly chose not to heed Franklin’s call to prayer and adjourned without taking any action on his suggestion. In fact, on the bottom of the handwritten version of the speech Franklin delivered that day is a note acknowledging that “the convention, except three or four persons, thought prayer unnecessary!”

Given that nearly everything Johnson said about Franklin’s speech is wrong, there are no grounds for accepting his assertion that it somehow proves just how “inextricably interwoven the being, the nature of God is, in our government.”

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