The head of the conservative Heritage Foundation claimed the Constitution and people of conscience freed the American slaves, reported Right Wing Watch, not the federal government.

Jim DeMint, the former Republican senator from South Carolina, told a religious broadcaster last week that liberals were fundamentally wrong about everything – even demonstrable historical facts.

“No liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves,” DeMint said during an appearance on Vocal Point.

In fact, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the rebellious Confederate States of America, and Congress approved the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery originally permitted by the founding document.

These federal government policies were enacted during and after federal troops fought and won the Civil War, which began in DeMint’s home state.

“The reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people,” DeMint told host Jerry Newcombe, of Truth In Action Ministries. “Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God.”

DeMint insisted the end of slavery was the result of a grass-roots movement driven by Christians.

“But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government,” he said. “It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong.”

Abolitionists had existed since before the U.S. was founded, although the movement gained support in the years just prior to the start of the Civil War.

DeMint seemed to undercut his own argument, however, when he identified one prominent supporter of abolition.

“In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause, and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God,” he said.

While Lincoln’s views on abolition were somewhat nuanced, he did sign the presidential proclamation freeing the slaves as chief executive of the federal government.

Listen to his remarks posted online by Right Wing Watch: