The Falkirk Center and Jerry Falwell Jr. Tweeted an Inaccurate Thomas Jefferson Quote

Last year, Jerry Falwell Jr. and conservative commentator Charlie Kirk launched the Falkirk Center think-tank at Liberty University. Their mission “is to equip courageous champions to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, to advance his kingdom and American freedom,” but, at its launch, the duo made it clear it was also to combat “leftism.” As the website has it: “Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient.”

When announcing the think-tank back in December, Falwell Jr. concocted quotes by Nancy Pelosi and Pete Buttigieg to make it appear that they believed Jesus’ teachings require them to be socialists. Buttigieg and Pelosi have never made such statements. Pelosi has flatly said, “I do reject socialism,” and Buttigieg describes himself as a “Democratic capitalist.”

Now, the Falkirk Center is posting an inaccurate quote by Thomas Jefferson. Falwell Jr. retweeted the meme from his Twitter account as well:

Jefferson never said, “I predict a future happiness for Americans if they can prevent government from wasting the labors of people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

According to monticello.org, a site owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson foundation, reveals that this is actually a frequently memed misquote.

Back in 1802, Jefferson wrote a letter to politician Thomas Cooper about a trip to France. The social and political context was vastly different than today, and Jefferson was arguing against pursuing certain new laws.

As Jefferson wrote, “The path we have to pursue is so quiet, that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our legislature. A noiseless course, [not] meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a mark that a society is going on in happiness. If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. Their finances are now under such a course of application as nothing could derange but war or federalism. The gripe of the latter has shewn itself as deadly as the jaws of the former. Our adversaries say we are indebted to their providence for the means of paying the public debt. We never charged them with the want of foresight in providing money; but with the misapplication of it after they had levied it. we say they raised not only enough, but too much: and that after giving back the surplus we do more with a part than they did with the whole.”

The Falkirk Center’s post doesn’t contain any of the context and misrepresents the quote. Jefferson never actually said what the Falkirk Center posted. In addition to being inaccurate, the Falkirk Center’s meme — “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” — strips the quote of important context.

This isn’t the first time Falwell Jr. has gotten caught using made-up quotes. He previously fabricated a politically inflammatory quote and posted it to Twitter. In 2018, Falwell posted a picture of Clint Eastwood that reads, “This is a fact: If illegal people that are in our country voted for Republicans, the Democrats would have built a border wall years ago.” Falwell included the caption, “Love this quote by Clint Eastwood”.

The Falkirk Center also posted another fabricated quote, falsely attributed to political scientist Alexis De Tocqueville:

There is no evidence that Alexis De Tocqueville ever said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

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