Writer turns U.S. history upside downBy Tim Huber Mennonite Weekly Review
Author and attorney David Bercot is the thorough type. When he grew curious about theology, he set out to read all the works of Christians who lived in the first centuries after Christ’s death. He wound up writing Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up.
That emphasis on primary sources led him to write several other books and eventually to become an Anabaptist.
Bercot applied his brand of rigor both to his speaking engagements and his children’s homeschooling. It was only a matter of time before the two connected.
When the U.S. history textbooks he used came to the colonial era and the American Revolution, Bercot was troubled. He felt they glorified war and promoted the idea that it was God’s purpose for Europeans to kill America’s native people and take their land, refuse to pay taxes and use violence to gain independence.
“My main concern is countering the God-and-country textbooks that are definitely infiltrating Anabaptist circles,” said Bercot, who lives in Amberson, Pa., and attends an independent Anabaptist house church.
So he decided to write his own book, In God We Don’t Trust, challenging common assumptions about America’s founding, from Jamestown to the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The provocative title flips a phrase so enshrined in Americans’ consciousness that it’s minted on every coin.
Bercot believes the colonists’ war for independence and other actions reveal a lack of trust in God.
“Doing things from a human perspective and putting a thin Christian veneer over it — taking up arms and killing the enemy and giving all the credit to God that we were victorious — that is what they did,” he said. “They didn’t trust in God, and when they were successful, they gave God the victory.”
Bercot doesn’t limit his critique to religious textbooks. He believes secular textbooks bear just as much guilt for romanticizing American revolutionaries who put more faith in gunpowder than in God.
“We get the impression [that the laws the colonists objected to] applied only to the 13 colonies, but in most cases they applied to all British territories,” he said. “The Stamp Act — that applied in Nova Scotia and Jamaica, but only in America did people resort to violence.”
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