Fake quotes in prize-winning essays

Rational Rant crashes into some use of faked and edited quotes in prize-winning essays and speeches.

Nothing new to careful observers.  Several of the Usual Suspects™ bad quotes turned up.

The trouble with these quotations, which are central to the theses of both pieces, is that all of them are fake. And by fake I don’t mean, please note, that they had a word off here and there, or that they were a popular misquoting of something Washington or Franklin actually said or wrote—I mean that they were out-and-out fakes, words put into their mouths by somebody else with an axe to grind. (And even worse—a number of them were actually misquotations of the original fake quotation.) Here are the seven, in all their glory:

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (falsely attributed to Patrick Henry)

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here. (falsely attributed to Patrick Henry)

He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world. (falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin)

The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart. (falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson)

The future and success of America is not in this Constitution but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded. (falsely attributed to James Madison)

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. (falsely attributed to George Washington)

It is impossible to rightly govern a country without God and the Bible. (falsely attributed to George Washington)

It’s difficult to get students to attribute quotes with proper citations.  Students are mightily confused by the notion of plagiarism.  We teachers need to work harder to get them to verify what they quote, and to offer appropriate citations.  Since these quotes can’t be cited, students should have discovered the errors as they wrote.

One of the offending pieces was written by a high school junior, the other by a 10-year-old.  There’s time to make them savvy (but will anyone do it?).

Do we need to give judges, of essay and speech competitions, sheets of the quotes that most frequently show up, though they are faked?

6 Responses to Fake quotes in prize-winning essays

  1. […] “Fake quotes in prize-winning essays,” at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub […]


  2. sbh says:

    Thanks for the link, and keep up the good work.


  3. Abbass Zammanni says:

    Hey Ed! I found that sharethis thing I was refering to earlier… Many blogs have it and I encourage you to give it a shot! :D



  4. Nick Kelsier says:

    Would help greatly if my brethren Christians would start telling apologists/charlatans/revisionists like David Barton to shut up.

    If one has to lie to make this a Christian nation or to say that this country is based on christianity..then what exactly is one accomplishing that is worthwhile to God.


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