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Crypt In The Capitol – Were The Founders Calvinists And More – Foundation Of Freedom – What is the crypt in the Capitol building? What is the story behind the Statue of Freedom? Were any of the Founding Fathers Calvinists? Tune in to hear the answers to these questions and more on Foundations of Freedom Thursday!
Air Date: 04/14/2022
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
This is the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live. I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator and America’s constitution coach. And I am here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, also, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. Thank you for joining all three of us. You can learn about the program at our website, wallbuilderslive.com. That’s the place to make your onetime or monthly contribution. Come alongside us financially, folks.
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Now we’re going to be, of course, doing Foundation of Freedom Thursday today, this will be our chance to answer some of your questions and dive into some of those things that you’ve been wondering about, whether it’s the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, declaration, whatever it might be. And folks out there, you can send those questions into firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to tell you real quick about a special event coming up in just, wow, in less than two weeks away from this, it’s going to be amazing. It’s a Biblical Citizenship in Modern America course in-person. So you’ll get to meet Pastor Rob McCoy, Kirk Cameron, David Barton, Tim Barton, myself, Rick Green, Colonel Allen West, Brad Stein, Mark Meckler, all these other folks that are actually in the biblical citizenship course. Join us in Dallas at the American Journey Experience, you get the tour of the American Journey Experience, which is a combination of the Glenn Beck and the David Barton libraries. It’s incredible and amazing. You’ll love it.
But you also get to hear from all these speakers and have a chance to meet all these other constitution coaches and patriots from across the nation, going to be amazing. And there are a few seats left. So check it out right now at patriotacademy.com. And hopefully, we’ll see you on April 22nd and 23rd, April 22nd and 23rd in Dallas. It’s the evening of April 22nd and all day, April 23rd. Hope you can join us.
Alright, let’s dive into those questions. The first one is going to come from San Diego. Scott is asking David and Tim about the Capitol. He says “I’ve never been in the United States Capitol building, but I understand there’s some curiosities there. One, is a crypt in the lower level of the building, and other is a statue of an Indian woman on the top with an eagle coming out of her head. Finally, is George Washington depicted as a god on the ceiling of the rotunda, would you please fill in what and why these are there? I love what you guys do. Your shows are blessing to start my days from the “Land of working on it”. Is that what they call San Diego or California? “Land of working on it”. I don’t know what that mean…
Well, they got a lot of work to do in California, so I can understand why they’re working on it.
Yes, they got a lot of work to do. Alright, Scott, thanks for your question, David and Tim, some curiosities about the United States Capitol building.
Well, the first one he asked about deals with the crypt. And the crypt goes back to the fact that when they built the Capitol, originally, they started in 1791, laid the cornerstone of 1793, they finished the Capitol in 1800. At that point, it was one little square building. When they were building that they already had plans to build another building which they built in 1807, which would be the Senate.
So, by 1807, the Capitol as the House and the Senate, two separate buildings, they were connected by wooden boardwalk across a pastor named Jenkins field. And so you had cows out there between the buildings. That’s where it was. But when they built the Capitol, starting there in 1791, they said, hey, we would love George Washington, whenever he dies, we would love to actually have his tomb at the Capitol and have that where people can come by and see Washington in his tomb, the same way you do where Lincoln’s burial site or JFKs burial site. And so what they did was they made…
When they suggested that did they reference like JFK and Lincoln too?
Yeah. They talked about how the precedent for all the other presidency…
So, like guys, just like we’ve had shown Lincoln and JFK, we’d like to show George Washington when he dies, this makes total sense. That’s it.
That’s it. Oh, they were really good looking in the future.
That’s good. Okay.
So they wanted a place to bury George so that they can honor him. So when George died in 1799, they asked Martha’s, can we bury George here at the Capitol? Will you let us create a tomb for him? And what they call the crypt was going to be the entryway into that tomb where you could go in and see the sarcophagus of Washington’s body. So they started building that, but it took a while to do that. And that’s now in the bottom what we call the rotunda, which connects the House and Senate. That’s the part that looks like a dome when you look at the Capitol, that’s the rotunda.
And so at the bottom of that was a basement, and that’s what they now call the crypt. And that was going to be the entryway into the tomb where that visitors could go see the tomb of George Washington. So what they call the crypt was originally planned to be where they buried Washington. But by the time he went through the war of 1812 and the Capitol is burned down, then the executor of Washington’s estate, Bushrod Washington said no, I want to keep my uncle here at Mount Vernon. And so Washington’s been at Mount Vernon ever since.
But to that point, if you go down to the crypt, I mean, you’ve totally can see where they have laid things out for there to be a tomb for there to be a place for it to be on display. And so you really can get a really good feel for what they were trying to do. It’s just about a time, maybe like all government projects, by the time they finally finished the government project, so many years had passed that it wasn’t really that feasible anymore for people think, yeah, let’s dig up our grandpa or uncle, whoever was, George Washington. And yeah, we’ll just relocate him, no big deal. They definitely were beyond that notion of it being this really cool honoring thing to Washington.
But that is part of the Capitol building to this day. And it’s something that is totally roped off. You really can’t see it. I remember growing up where dad, you had so many meetings in the Capitol, and this was back before we had the terrorist attack on 911. And so it used to be that the Capitol is pretty much open 24 hours away. And I remember sometimes even in the late 90s, I was in middle school, in high school, and you would do tours, and sometimes as entertaining as you were, as riveting as those stories were for the 1,000th time…
I hear the caveat coming.
I was like, you know what, let me just go check out the Capitol. So I genuinely remember as a teenager just walking, exploring the Capitol and seeing the crypt. And of course, we had gone…
So you were basically the kid from home alone just a little older and running around the Capitol instead of home?
Oh, man, just running around the Capitol, absolutely, all day. When national treasure came out, and Nicolas Cage is trying to find stuff, I was like, guys, I could have told them where it was. And we’ve already explored all of the things. And there are some pretty cool tunnels. And there are some things that are not certainly now are not open to the public. Even back then, it probably should have been a little iffy, like probably children should not have been allowed to be running around in some of these places that night in the Capitol. But all that to say, it used to be wide open for people to be able to go and see all these things. And since September 11th happened, because of now all kinds of security reasons…
I think it’s because January 6th, you didn’t mean 911.
Oh, so 2020?
Yeah, it was 2020.
Well, that’s why you can’t get in the Capitol building anymore. That’s different. It used to be even with the modern precedent, it used to be in the Capitol building, but you had to do with a congressional staffer, you had to be with a congress person or a senator, or you could be on an official tour. We generally are with a congressional staffer, or congressmen or senators, the case might be. Anyway, all that to say, the crypt used to be something that normal everyday Americans could go and they could view all of these things that today are largely viewed as off limits, which is very sad for just where we are now. But I definitely remember as a kid being able to go and play around the Capitol and certainly have been to the crypt many times.
Before Pelosi shut the Capitol down totally in the last two years, we would have from 12-15 tours the Capitol a year, congressional tours or members of Congress would host the tour. And we go through there all the time. There’s 13 statues down there now…
And you’re talking about tours that we would lead?
Tours that we would lead.
We weren’t going to participate and learn more about the Capitol. We would generally going to lead and emphasize some of the spiritual heritage of the Capitol.
Yeah, or a congressman would have a group in town that asked us to give a tour to the group, whoever it was or whatever it was. And so we start down in what they call the crib. That’s 13th grade statues down there. That’s the Center Star for the center of Washington, DC. The city is right in the center of the Capitol. It’s really cool, a lot of stuff down there. But there is a crypt.
Now, the second part of Scott’s question was the thing about having an eagle coming out of the head of the Indian woman atop the Capitol. So what you have is the statue of freedom atop the dome of the Capitol. And it’s like 250 feet high thereabouts. The statue is 18 feet high. And the problem they have is if you’re standing on the ground level, and you’re looking up 250 feet high to a statue that’s 18 feet high, when you look up, you’re probably looking up at an 85 degree angle. I mean, it’s just almost straight up. And so, all the facial features are distorted.
They took her down a few years ago to clean her and just get everything the weather off, burn all the stuff that happens with all those years. And her face is the ugliest face you’ve ever seen in the world. Her nose is probably a foot long. But when you’re standing down looking up from 250 feet below, her nose looks normal shape. And so the guy who built that actually took all that into account when he built the statue. And so as you’re standing at the bottom looking up, it looks like a normal configured face but it’s really not.
Well, on the top, it is an Indian and there’s a headrest on top of the Indian. And out on the headrest, part of the feathers on the headrest there is an eagle that is there as part of that headrest because the symbol of the United States, that’s part of our great seal, that’s part of who we are, our heritage. And so there is an eagle there, but it’s part of the feathered headrest that’s there. And it’s on the statue of freedom atop the Capitol.
And then final question was, is George Washington depicted as a god on the ceiling of the rotunda? And if you’re in the rotunda, 180 feet above the rotunda is there a huge painting, it’s about 4,000 square feet of painting on the ceiling. Guy named Blue Meanie did this back in 1865, took him 11 months to paint the ceiling, is kind of like the Sistine Chapel kind of stuff that took so long to paint…
4,000, I got to pause you, man, 4,000 square feet of paint. I mean, that’s much bigger than most houses. I mean, that’s huge.
And it’s actually I think, 4,400 and some odd feet, as I recall. So, it’s like four starter homes together. So it’s massive, took him 11 months to paint. And the pain is called the Apotheosis of George Washington. An Apotheosis is a term that was used with Greek literature, Greek art, a lot of Greek paintings, where someone is being raised to the level of a hero. And it’s like, here’s our hero, here’s Washington. And he’s the guy who started the country. He’s the guy who laid the cornerstone of the Capitol. And so, the Apotheosis of Washington is really like the glorification of Washington, here’s our hero.
And so he’s on top looking down at the Capitol, looking down on everything that’s going on around him. And he’s surrounded by six different groups. And the six different groups all represent something of the greatness of America. And obviously, with a painting of that size, 4,400 square feet, there’s a lot of faces in it.
And so what happens is you’ve got Washington sitting there and he has figures of freedom and liberty sitting beside him. There’s these other six groups that are looking toward him and looking toward Washington, and he’s kind of looking down on them as well. And the first one is called War or Military, and it’s got armed freedom. And it’s got an eagle that does feeding tyranny and kingly power. So this is freedom. So that’s one of the groups looking to him is military.
Science is another group that’s looking toward him. And science, you have Ben Franklin, and you have Robert Fulton and Samuel F.B. Morse, who invented the telegraph, they’re in that group and looking toward Washington, who’s the hero. And then you got the marine or the naval stuff or technology, you could say, it’s Neptune out of history, he’s holding his trident, but he’s beside the transatlantic cable because the transatlantic cable had been put in just before Brumidi painted this painting up there. So that’s a technology and that’s science and that’s the Navy. Then you got commerce. And there’s Mercury handing a bag of money to Robert Morris, who’s the founding father who financed the American Revolution. Then you’ve got mechanics. And they call it mechanics, but it’s Vulcan. And he’s there with an anvil and forge, and he’s producing a cannon in the steam engine.
So all these groups, and by the way, the last group is agriculture. And so you’ve got the McCormick reaper there, and you’ve got all these other things representing agriculture. So it’s part of American history looking toward Washington as the hero. I mean, he is the guy who, I think a lot of great that without Washington, America would not exist as it has. And so they really did see him as the big figure there. So they’re not making him a god, except in classical literature, you would look at him as if a god because you had all these other gods, Neptune and Trident and others that were in the painting. But that’s just the classical style of painting.
So when we look at it today because we’re not classically oriented, is not making Washington a god in any way, shape, fashion or form. It’s just saying he’s the hero, he’s at the top of this and all these other Founding Fathers and other industries and other entities look to Washington did is the reason we exist as a nation today. So that’s some of the stuff that’s in the US Capitol.
Well, guys, as we’re going to break and I don’t even know if you have an answer on this, but I know a lot of our listeners are pastors and have either gone on the spiritual heritage tour with you or had hoped to go on one in the future, do you think it will open back up and you’ll be able to do the tours again this year, next year? Will take literally a change in the majority for that to happen?
And don’t they call that a regime change?
I think the way it is now that as polarized as it is, it’s going to seem like a regime change. Yeah, if Republicans get this thing back, we’re confident that the Capitol will be open again, the people will be welcomed back in. The people themselves have not been welcomed much into it at all. I’ve even talked to people who work in DC, lobbyists and others, and Capitol is just really not open to a lot of people anymore. And by the way, even a lot of the congressmen don’t go there anymore because they allow proxy voting. So one Democrat Congressman can cast votes for 10 Democratic congressman, so they don’t even need to be on the floor and in the chamber the way they used to be; all that’s going to change with the change in leadership.
Yeah, it’s a big change too. People that say there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats, wow, today, there couldn’t be a bigger difference. It’s huge. Quick break, we’ve got more of your questions when we come back. You’re listening to Foundations of Freedom Thursday on WallBuilders Live.
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Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country and the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending against all hazards and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”
Hey, we’re back here at WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday, we’re taking your questions. You can send in those questions to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Our next one comes from Ohio. I think the name is Byard. I don’t know if I’m saying your name right. Mr. or Mrs. Grimm, I hope I got close. But the question is, “I bought a Founders’ Bible from WallBuilders” thank you”, and by the way, great purchase. I think it’s the best thing WallBuilders has ever put out. And WallBuilders has put out some great stuff, anyway, “Founders’ Bible from WallBuilders and thought the commentary on Psalms 35 was interesting about the various denominations they shared. Were any of the founders Calvinists that you discovered in your research??
Alright, great question from Ohio. Thanks for sending that in. David and Tim, Founding Fathers that were Calvinists, I guess, actually a lot more people at the time were Calvinist, even if the founders weren’t, it was kind of a different time in Christianity?
It was. And actually, let’s first define this notion of Calvinism. Well, and really Calvinists, you can go back to Calvin, one of the early reformers. And the idea in Calvinism is that God is sovereign, God is supreme, and God’s will is always going to prevail.
And by the way that’s really known today more as reformed theology, is what we would call it today.
So the idea that God’s will is going to prevail, and it happens is what God wants to happen and you can’t stop what God wants to happen. And you’re going to change what God wants to happen. This is where some of that stringent notion comes in, that actually is then a significant contrast, when there is a different field of theology. You certainly see this exemplified in the Second Great Awakening what’s known as Armenian theology. And Armenian theology still recognizes on some level the sovereignty of God, but they recognize the role that man plays, that God gave me in freedom, and God put me in to have dominion over creation, and man is the one in charge.
And so Armenian, then has a conflict with Calvin to say, no, God’s in charge and Armen say no, God put man in charge. And it just like many things in life, you can get in one ditch or the other. And generally, if you’re super far in one ditch or the other, you’ve gone too far in the wrong direction. Because the reality is, if you look at scripture, it’s very clear that God has given individuals choice on some level, but their choice does not exclude or remove God’s power and authority.
When you look, for example, at Jesus, when he was crucified, this was always God’s plan and God’s sovereignty. He said, I’m going to send my Son, he’s going to pay the penalty. And that’s part of propitiation for man sins. So, in this Calvinistic thought, was this God alone doing this? Or as the Bible says, did the people actually choose to crucify Jesus over Barabbas? Well, an Armenian would say, well, no, the people were the ones who chose this.
And I think this is a picture where you can see that God allows freewill and still maintains control all in the same story that the people certainly chose and God did not turn them into robots, they didn’t have choice. No. They chose, but God is foreknowledge, in His omniscient, and omnipotent, and all the omnis that we can throw in God’s direction, God knew what was going on.
Now, a reason we bring that up is because in the founding era, Rick, you alluded to this, in the founding era, it was very heavy Calvinistic for Christianity in general, especially in America, there were various denominations. But the denomination, their variations and differences generally weren’t along the lines of Calvinism in the sense of almost every denomination had a Calvinistic undertone to what they were doing. Arminianism really didn’t have the same level of ideology until you get more into the Second Great Awakening, which is a little after some of the founding era period.
Yeah, I think the way to ask this question is not were any of the founders Calvinists that you discovered in your research, it would be were any of the founders, not Calvinists that you discovered in your research? And there are very few that were not of reformed theology. Now, you know, as Tim went through, you’ve got the two kinds of extremes.
Benjamin Rush is one of my favorite Founding Fathers, signed the Declaration. Benjamin Rush says, you know, I’ve studied this and both sides have good points. He says, I think I’m an Armenian Calvinist. And that’s what he called himself as an Armenian Calvinists because he understood both sides. But when you look, even the Baptists back then, that is a very Armenian denomination today, it’s all about choices you make, even back then the Baptist were also reformed, they were Calvinists by and large.
And as you look at United Methodist, and I wouldn’t even say that today, United Methodist has gone really left, but you look at Methodist, you know, the Methodist himself have gone. They are Armenian. But you look back to the founding of the Methodist, George Whitfield is the guy who founded the American Methodist. And the American Methodist, George Whitfield was Calvinistic. Now, John Wesley was Armenian. And that’s really kind of the Methodist out of Europe and out of England. But Whitfield and Wesley had a split over Armenian and Calvinists discussions.
So when you look back to the American founding, overwhelmingly, the majority of the people believed in reformed theology would have been Calvinistic in some means or understanding. But even those that were Armenia is still understood the sovereignty of God. And so I think over the years, we kind of lost perspective of both of those, and let them become stereotypical images of what they once were. But there were some really, really, really good theology discussed back in that day and really good understanding of God’s will and God’s plan. So back in the early day, the overwhelming majority of the people were reformed theology people, but there was also a heavy dose of Arminianism with them.
And would you say it’s a fair statement to say that most of the founders could intellectually argue both sides, like they studied this stuff? I mean, today, most people can’t defend whatever their particular denomination claims to believe. But the founders were so steeped in studying these things, they could make the arguments for both and have those discussions?
There’s no question they did. One of the things, I think, is a great quote from John Adams, he said, I’ve studied all religions in the world, and there’s nothing that compares to Christianity. The fact you’ve studied all world religions really like that’s a crazy thought for us to consider today. And maybe back then there weren’t quite as many world religions. Nonetheless, for John Adams to say, I’ve studied them all and I’ve come to the conclusion that Christianity is the best, it’s something very telling that these were very intellectual individuals, and they didn’t just listen to something their pastor told them and say, okay, that’s what I believe and not pursue and investigate further. They investigated everything that they believed.
And this was actually something that was very common in American and common in education at the time was they were instructed in education. And it kind of goes back to some of the Socratic method that you need to ask questions, you need to challenge, you to pursue and find what is true. This was very much a situation for the Founding Fathers in that era, especially when it comes to matters of faith.
Jefferson is a great example of that because Jefferson, he read the Bible, and he read the morals of Jesus Christ says that nobody has better behavioral standards than Jesus does. And he listed nearly two dozen famous moralist across 2,000 previous years. I mean, he went back to 1000 years BC and he said, I have found and gone through the moral writings of every moralist I can find, every great religious leader, every great non-religious leader, Socrates and Pythagoras, half the names I can’t even pronounce, Timotheus was one that I remember. And…
That’s my Greek name.
Oh, you were philosopher back then too?
I was really good.
Got you. Well, he read your writings, but I’m sorry, he said Jesus had better writings than you did. So there’s Jefferson looking. He says, okay, here’s the teachings of the Bible on moral behavior. What does everybody else said? And he said, I’ve compared them all and Jesus hands down by far is superior to all others. And so they really did examine that. They were not challenged by contrary thoughts. They believed that iron sharpens iron, and they were into apologetics. They want to know why they believe what they believe.
Which is why Jefferson told his nephew Peter Carr, he says “Question with boldness, even the existence of God.” And they want to explain you don’t need to believe in God just because you’ve been taught that, you need to know why you believe that. He says, God is going to be really pleased if you question with boldness, and you come… Because he said, you are going to find out there is a God. But then you’ll know why there’s a God and you can defend why there’s a God and you’ll be able to answer that. And that’s what we’re really shallow at today. We really don’t have those apologetics now. So as Tim was mentioned, John Adams studied all the religions in the world. I mean, who’s done that today and arrived at Christianity? We just adopt Christianity and don’t know what the others believe.
Well, it’s also worth noting that if you look at some of the most significant apologists for Christianity over the last 100 plus years, the vast majority of the most significant apologists in Christianity have been people that started off as skeptics, whether it be a CS Lewis or Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But when they went to investigate, they discovered that Christianity was real and was true. And so this is certainly something that we would tell people, right, we want to know as Christians out to be able to give a defense of the hope that is in us, which is 1 Peter 3:15. And this is something as Christians, we want to make sure that we are continuing to pursue and investigate faith and truth. And God’s not insecure. Christianity is not insecure. You can ask honest questions. You can pursue truth, trying to figure out what’s real and what’s there. And this is part of what helps us not only grow in our faith, but learn how to defend our faith.
Alright, friends, that’s it for today. That’s all the time we have. You can send your questions in by emailing them to email@example.com and we’ll try to get to them on a future Foundations of Freedom Thursday program. We appreciate you being with us today.
One more reminder about the Biblical Citizenship in Modern America, live and in-person course, that’s going to happen April 22nd and 23rd. It’s the evening of April 22nd and all day on the 23rd. And it’s your chance to meet all the folks from the biblical citizenship course, including Kirk Cameron, Colonel Allen West, Brad Stein, David Barton, Tim Barton, Pastor Rob McCoy, Mark Meckler, and others. Hope that you can join us, folks, it’s going to be a fantastic weekend and you get the tour the American Journey Experience. You can sign up today at patriotacademy.com. That’s patriotacademy.com Thanks so much for listening today to WallBuilders Live.