The Wells Fargo Wagon

It’s here.

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ down the street,
Oh please let it be for me!
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ down the street,
I wish, I wish I knew what it could be!

But now the waiting is over. My order has arrived, and what a wonder it is to behold.

One Nation Underpaid

If you don’t already know what this is about I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. It’s the new DVD from that learned and courageous historian Mike Huckabee. To refresh your memory, here’s what I had to say about the DVD in a previous post:

Give Your Family The Most Fascinating Stories Of Our Nation With Learn Our History!

Friends,

I’m passionate about America, and I’m proud of our history. And, I think it’s important that we keep our history alive by passing it on to our children in a way that makes it fun to learn. That’s why I co-founded the children’s education company called “Learn Our History”. Our mission is simple; to help our younger generations learn and appreciate history for what it is — a compass for our future. We do this through a series of fun, animated DVDs that kids love. The series follows the adventures of a group of history students who build a time-traveling bicycle that takes them back in time to see history in the making. When your kids or grandkids watch the videos, they gain an immediate understanding—and appreciation—of American history. And because the videos are so entertaining, kids don’t even realize they’re learning! I invite you to preview the series with a FREE DVD called One Nation Under God.

So, my readers, as with all things, this came to pass. As the morning follows the night, as the sun follows the rain, the Wells Fargo Wagon (USPS delivery truck) arrived at my house. And I looked in the mail box. And there it was. And what a glory it was to behold. And I got it for free (just $4.95).

And I inserted it into my computer. And I played it. And it lived up to my expectations beyong all my expectations. It was the consummate, the most impelling, the most convincing argument for God in our nation’s history I have ever beheld. Unfortunately for historians like Huckabee.

Enough of the hype. Let me get to the details. Here’s what the DVD is all about:

As you can see from the cover the creators want us to “Take pride in America’s past.” I already did that. “Learn our history.” I did a bunch of that previously, as well. What’s different is this product wants us to look at American history in a special way.

It’s a cartoon dramatization. Think South Park with a bit more gloss slathered on. Like South Park, One Nation Under God uses children to tell adult stories. In this case, one of the kids is very smart (kids are really smart these days), and he’s invented time travel. That helps in the story development.

Heroic children travel through time on their bicycles

The story starts in a class room where the teacher has the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, with the “under God” wording. One kid refuses because of the under God language, and later the teacher is threatened with dismissal for this breach of school protocol.

OK, right there I hit a snag. I’ve been around the sun a few times, and I recall the time before the “under God” language was added, and I as yet unaware of any public school that disallows the “under God” language. Actually, a few years back Michael Newdow sued his daughter’s school, the United States Congress, et al, over the use of the “under God” language. The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Newdow’s suit, since he was not the custodial guardian of his daughter and really had no legal standing in the matter. More recently, a family in Massachusetts has sued over the pledge as a violation of that state’s own equal protection clause in its constitution. So far as I know, all attempts to prohibit the “under God” language have been thwarted. So, where did the producers of One Nation get this scenario. We may have to ask learned historian Mike Huckabee.

Anyhow, to help save a favorite teacher from being fired, the students decide to travel through time and learn the history of God in this nation’s foundation. They start with the famous Pilgrims of Massachusetts, and for that they travel back to Nottinghamshire in England in 1609.

Puritans meet God in Nottinghamshire

Back in the bad old days in England there was the Catholic Church, which forbade divorce. Also there was bad old King Henry VIII, who desperately needed a divorce, possibly since he was tired of cutting off the heads of wives who fell in disfavor. The pope refused to allow Henry to divorce, so the king abolished the Catholic Church and replaced it with the Church of England. And the Protestants all said hooray!

Except, not all Protestants. Out from under the yoke of the Catholic Church this freedom of religion thing sort of ran wild. People thought, mistakenly, they now had the choice of any kind of worship they pleased. Were they ever mistaken. You need to read the history of the Puritans to get the full picture.

The accession of James I brought the Millenary Petition, a Puritan manifesto of 1603 for reform of the English church, but James wanted a new religious settlement along different lines. He called the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, and heard the views of four prominent Puritan leaders including Chaderton there, but largely sided with his bishops. Well informed by his education and Scottish upbringing on theological matters, he dealt shortly with the peevish legacy of Elizabethan Puritanism, and tried to pursue an eirenic religious policy in which he was arbiter. Many of his episcopal appointments were Calvinists, notably James Montague who was an influential courtier. Puritans still opposed much of the Catholic summation in the Church of England, notably the Book of Common Prayer, but also the use of non-secular vestments (cap and gown) during services, the sign of the Cross in baptism, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion. Although the Puritan movement was subjected to repression by some of the bishops under both Elizabeth and James, other bishops were more tolerant, and in many places, individual ministers were able to omit disliked portions of the Book of Common Prayer.

Anyhow, the kids in our drama arrive at a church in Nottinghamshire and meet the pastor and the congregation. All is going swimmingly well until suddenly armed officials burst in and demand the congregation be disbanded. Parishioners are advised the failure to comply carries the sentence of death. The children witness first hand the denial of religious faith.

What the story does not point out is that those men from the king’s government, those men who ordered the church be disbanded, those were God’s own enforcers. The scene is cast as a denial of God by the government, but the producers of this drama apparently missed the irony. This is what it looks like when the government decides to protect the word of God.

So, the Puritans (pilgrims) go to Massachusetts and the children go there, as well, in 1621. The story line follows the religiously-driven migration of Europeans to America, which is a historical fact. The story describes the continuance of religious intolerance by the colonial governments leading to fragmentation of some colonies and the formation of Rhode Island.

I don’t think the producers got across the point that religious persecution by England and the colonial governments ultimately led to the adoption of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The story line does highlight the inclusion of the “endowed by their creator” language the Declaration of Independence, but it over plays the religiosity of Adams and Jefferson.

Jefferson idealized the independent yeoman as the best exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and often favored decentralized power. He suspended his qualms about exercising the powers of the federal government to buy Louisiana. Jefferson disliked the European system of established churches and called for a wall of separation between church and state at the federal level. (But this was hardly a new idea; Roger Williams (1603–1683), the Puritan-turned-Baptist founder of Rhode Island, had established such a wall at the state level about a century before Jefferson was born, and extended freedom of religion to Quakers and Jews.) Jefferson supported efforts to disestablish the Church of England, called the Anglican Church in Virginia after the Revolution,  and authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. His Jeffersonian democracy and Democratic-Republican Party became dominant in early American politics. Jefferson’s republican political principles were strongly influenced by the 18th-century British opposition writers of the Whig Party. He had high regard for John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton.

Adams was closer to what the One Nation producers have in mind:

Frazer (2004) notes that, while Adams shared many perspectives with deists, “Adams clearly was not a deist. Deism rejected any and all supernatural activity and intervention by God; consequently, deists did not believe in miracles or God’s providence….Adams, however, did believe in miracles, providence, and, to a certain extent, the Bible as revelation.” Fraser argues that Adams’ “theistic rationalism, like that of the other Founders, was a sort of middle ground between Protestantism and deism.” By contrast, David L. Holmes has argued that John Adams, beginning as a Congregationalist, ended his days as a Christian Unitarian, accepting central tenets of the Unitarian creed but also accepting Jesus as the redeemer of humanity and the biblical account of his miracles as true. In common with many of his Protestant contemporaries, Adams criticized the claims to universal authority made by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1796, Adams denounced political opponent Thomas Paine’s Deistic criticisms of Christianity in The Age of Reason, saying, “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will.”

In all this the producers have missed the point that government and religion are a bad mix.

The kids later review the case for God during World War II and also the history of the Pledge. The World War II part is almost too bizarre.

They travel to the aircraft carrier Yorktown (CV-10) in the Pacific Ocean in 1945. CV-10 replaced CV-5, which was sunk during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. On board the Yorktown the kids meet a sailor who mistakes them for a group of special civilian trainees. He recounts how the United States fleet was luck to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor over three years previous. While our entire battleship fleet in the Pacific was knocked out in the surprise attack, the carriers survived, because they were luckily out on maneuvers at the time.

The sailor tells the kids that luck had nothing to do with the carriers’ survival. It was God. And that’s the kicker.

God saved the carriers? God saved the carriers, but left the battleships to their fate? God, who by simply whispering in the fleet commander’s ear could have had all hands at battle stations and all aircraft off the ground when the Japanese attackers arrived in time for church services that Sunday morning? Yes, that God saved us on that terrible day. Anybody who takes this notion seriously would by now be looking around for a more diligent God to protect them.

As the sailor thanks God for saving the carriers at Pearl Harbor (all were later sunk during the war), there is an attack by Kamikaze planes. Again God saves the day, and the sailor is thankful God is on our side and not on the side of the Japanese with their pagan religion (my own interpretation). The anti-aircraft gunners and the air defense planes could have just stood down and let God take care of the attackers? Why not? This is the same God that created the universe, the Earth and all living things in just six days. Putting a flight of attacking Kamikazes into the drink should have a easy walk for this God.

The producers conclude with the message that religious freedom includes also Jews and Muslims. Hindus and followers of other gods are obviously left to fend for themselves without the protection of the First Amendment.

Thus spake Mike Huckabee’s interpretation of American history. I presume this sprang from one of his more lucid moments. In other parts of his life Mike Huckabee, former candidate for United States president, has expressed a belief in the supernatural:

He has claimed that angels guide his bullets when he hunts. Seriously.

“I decided that one way or another, this hunt is about to be over, because I can’t stand any more of this cold. And somehow by the grace of God, when I squeezed the trigger, my Weatherby .300 Mag., which has got to be the greatest gun, I think, ever made in the form of a rifle — for my sake in hunting, I’ve never squeezed the trigger and not gotten something — did its work and somehow the angels took that bullet and went right to the antelope, and my hunt was over in a wonderful way.”

Summation of the video: Not a bad piece as propaganda goes. The dialog and story lines could have been punched up some more, but this is, after all, a free DVD (just $4.95).

Wait, there’s more. I have just added this:

Today I received the following e-mail from the producers of One Nation:

Dear Barbara, [I ordered the free DVD, $4.95, using Barbara Jean’s credit card.]

Thank you for your business. We hope your family has been enjoying Learn Our History.

The next video in the series, Columbus and the Great Discovery, is scheduled to ship and be available for instant online streaming on 10/7/2013. In this video, viewers will sail along as our time travelers join the adventures of Columbus and learns why he is celebrated with the discovery of America. If you want to receive the video, there’s nothing you need to do. We’ll send it and activate your online streaming automatically, then bill your card on file.

You’re under no obligation to receive Columbus and the Great Discovery. If you don’t wish to receive the video, please call us any time at (877) US HISTORY (877-874-4786) by 10/6/2013.

You can always purchase the title at a later date.
Thanks again for your business.
If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to call us at (877) 874-4786.
Sincerely,
Jodie Craig
Customer Service Manager
Learn Our History

As I mentioned before, I placed the original order for the free DVD ($4.95) using a one-time number. That number is no longer valid after the first charge levied against it, so any attempt to “automatically, then bill your card on file” would come a cropper. I wanted to save Learn Our History an accounting train wreck, so I phoned the number tonight and told them I only wanted the one DVD. I said I got it to do some research (this blog post), and the one was all I needed.

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3 thoughts on “The Wells Fargo Wagon

  1. Pingback: The Devil’s going to get you if you don’t watch out. | Skeptical Analysis

  2. Pingback: The Man Who Would Be King | Skeptical Analysis

  3. Pingback: Snowflake-in-Chief | Skeptical Analysis

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