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Ellison the Second Muslim in Congress?

OneNewsNow, the new incarnation of Agape Press, wheels in “Christian historian” David Barton to put the Keith Ellison election into some supposed perspective:

He says the media got their facts all wrong when they declared that Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress…”Keith Ellison is second,” the author insists; “The first guy [of Muslim faith to serve in Congress] was John Randolph of Roanoke,” he says.

…”Now, significantly,” the WallBuilders spokesman says, “in that case — and again, it was a national issue because we were fighting Muslim terrorists at the time — it ends up that after several years in Congress, John Randolph of Roanoke got led to Christ by Francis Scott Key, the guy who [wrote the words to what became] the Star Spangled Banner.”

So where did Barton dig this one up from? Let’s ride the crest of the meme, and consult Henry Adams’ 1882 biography. Adams has only one reference to the subject (p. 26):

…He read Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Gibbon, and was as deistical in his opinions as any of them. The Christian religion was hateful to him, as it was to Tom Paine; he loved everything hostile to it. “Very early in life,” he wrote thirty years afterwards, “I imbibed an absurd prejudice in favor of Mahometanism and its votaries. The crescent had a talismanic effect on my imagination, and I rejoiced in all its triumphs over the cross (which I despised), as I mourned over its defeats; and Mahomet II himself did not more exult than I did when the crescent was planted on the dome of St. Sophia, and the cathedral of the Constantines was converted into a Turkish mosque.”

Adams adds some context, and some acid commentary:

This was radical enough to suit Paint or Saint Just, but it was the mere intellectual fashion of the day, as over-vehement and unhealthy as its counterpart, the religious spasms of his later life.

Perhaps Barton has some other sources at his disposal (I haven’t been able to consult Russell Kirk’s 1978 biography), but the context looks as though he is stretching things somewhat.

Barton is, of course, a notoriously unreliable ideologue. A number of his claims have been critiqued here.

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