Following the interview with Hutcherson, Barton and Green speculated that the gay rights movement has sought to co-opt these things in order to distort God's blessing upon mankind:
Barton: We don't even think about "gay" in the term it was, we only think it in the way of the new definition ... You know, I hadn't even thought about why they chose that word or how they came to use that word or how that became the denotation for homosexuals. I don't know.
Green: Well, when you take that or the rainbow, as Hutch was saying [is] a promise from God, isn't that part of the goal? To distort what God gave us and to distort what would normally be a blessing and be something that you enjoy and honor and worship God because of?
Barton: Well, it goes back to the Garden [of Eden.] The Serpent said "oh yeah, if you'll eat this you will have the knowledge." Eh, it wasn't the right knowledge; you got knowledge but it was a distorted form. And that's why the Bible also says that Satan appears as an angel of light - he looks like the real thing, but it's a distortion. He doesn't come to give you the good things, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy, not give you life and not give you all the good things Jesus wants to give you in John 10:10, but he looks the same when he comes. You know, he makes the same offer, it just doesn't ever work out that way. And so it's the same thing, you take something good like "gay" and you distort it into something else.
The American Family Association describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with emphasis on moral issues that impact families.” We know from AFA’s primary spokesperson Bryan Fischer that rank bigotry doesn’t seem to run afoul of AFA’s definition of decency. So where does honesty figure in?
The July-August 2012 issue of the group’s magazine, AFA Journal, includes a two-page spread from David Barton, the “historian” whose lies and misrepresentations have earned him condemnation from actual scholars – including evangelical Christians. The article, “Evidence of executive enmity” supposedly summarizes the evidence that the “anti-biblical” President Obama “has an ax to grind with people of biblical faith.” Barton complains about a range of Obama administration policies and recycles false and misleading claims that have been repeatedly debunked, as RWW’s Kyle Mantyla has noted repeatedly. Barton also claims that Obama demonstrated “preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions.”
Among Barton's Christian-persecution claims is that retired Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin was disinvited from speaking at West Point “because he is an outspoken Christian.” (In reality Boykin was disinvited after many faculty and cadets – most of them Christian – opposed Boykin as an inappropriate speaker given his inflammatory statements describing US foreign policy as a spiritual war against Islam.)
Also featured in the AFA Journal is a quote from “Catholic sociologist” David R. Carlin, Jr, asserting in Crisis magazine that “[T]he drive for same sex marriage is not simply about same sex marriage or the moral legitimization of homosexual behavior; it is also about the de-legitimizing of Christian morality” and that “those who are pushing for the institution of same sex marriage are ipso facto pushing for the elimination of the Christian religion.” But what about all those Christians who support marriage equality? Carlin dismisses them: "The trouble with 'liberal Christianity' is that it isn’t Christianity."
It is no secret that we have been vocal critics of David Barton and his brand of pseudo-historical Religious Right activism, but we have not been going it alone as there a variety of individuals who have criticized Barton, ranging from Chris Rodda and Warren Throckmorton who have thoroughly debunked much of Barton's false history to Christian conservatives like Chris Pinto and Brannon Howse who have criticized him from the right.
Today on his radio program, Barton said he expects to be attacked by groups like us and Americans United and Media Matters because we all "hate God" but said he was surprised to get criticism from Christians and attributed that criticism to the fact that these Christians must have gotten their information from secular professors and are now just "parroting what they heard":
Barton: Well one of the things I found really interesting is, certainly with what we do at WallBuilders, we got a lot of opponents, we got a lot of people who hate us. I was telling a group of law students the other day that I know of four law schools who have entire websites going after me. The book we recently did on the Jefferson Lies, there's two professors who came out with a book rebutting it before I'd even released the book! We don't have to read this stuff, we just know it's all false.
Rick Green: Hey, but if you're not taking flak you know you're not over the target, right?
Barton: Exactly. And what we have is a number of Christian colleges now teaching entire courses on how bad I am and so I'm one of these targets out there. And I expect that from the secular guys. I expect that from the the Freedom From Religion Society [sic], I expect that from Americans United, I expect that from People for the American Way and Media Matters ...
Green: ... the people that have worked so hard to move us away from our foundation.
Barton: The guys that hate God. What's been surprising is how many Christians have jumped on board - no, no God had nothing to do with the American founding; America was founded as a wicked nation; all the Founding Fathers were atheists and agnostics ...
Green: From the Christian community?
Barton: From the Christian community! Now I expect that from the secular guys but the reason it's coming from the Christian community is it goes back to something Jesus said in Luke 6:40 where he said "every student, when he's fully trained, will be like his teacher." now what's happened is all these secular guys have been training students that were Christians, but now these Christian kids have been trained with a secular philosophy, they've become our professors and they're just parroting what they heard. It's not that they went back and check for themselves, they just assumed that their professors were right- they really like their professors, they were nice guys and they were really educated and had three Ph.Ds and they told me all the Founders were atheists. And so now you've to Christians repeating exactly what they've been taught rather than what truth and what history actually is.
You will undoubtly shocked to learn that Barton's claim that the book refuting his "Jefferson Lies" book came out before his book was even released is entirely false. His book was released on April 10 whereas "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President" was released on May 3.
Also, we hereby challenge Barton to name any of the "four law schools who have entire websites" dedicated to attacking him as well as to name even one of the "number of Christian colleges now teaching entire courses on how bad" he is because, frankly, we have no idea what he is talking about.
One of the central components of David Barton's entire brand of pseudo-history is the way in which he holds up obscure documents, sermons, and individuals from the Founding Era and presents them as representative of the entire generation.
Barton will cite some textbook with references to God, or some sermon discussing the rights of conscience, or some Founding Father who delivered an impassioned defense of Christianity and declare that at the founding of this nation, everyone knew these things and held these views.
Barton is constantly citing unfamiliar individuals from the Founding Era, discussing how religious they were and then asserting that they were extremely influential in drafting the Constitution and shaping the nation. The fact that nobody today has ever heard of any of them is, for Barton, proof that secularists have been succeeding in erasing our Christian history.
Today, Barton provided some insight into just how his mind works when making these sorts of claims when he hosted Rep. Todd Akin on his "WallBuilders Live" radio program. Barton and co-host Rick Green were discussing how people today might be aware of maybe 20-25 high-profile members of Congress despite the fact that there are more than 500 hundred serving in office. Lots of the lesser known members, Barton said, are dedicated Christians while the better-known members frequently are not, giving the American public a skewed view of just how truly Christian our Congress really is.
Barton and Green held up Akin as proof, explaining that when he speaks to the Pastor's Briefings they regularly host on Washington, DC, the pastors are always blown away by just how deeply religious and biblically knowledgeable he is, prompting Barton and Green to compare Akin to John Witherspoon during the Founding Era:
Green: It's probably like with the Founding Fathers when you start pointing out all these guys that went to a seminary and were pastors and did all that, it changes people's perception of the Founders. I figure Todd Akin, he's like the John Witherspoon, you know Witherspoon was probably quoting a lot of the same stuff that Todd Akin is out there quoting to fellow members of Congress and to these pastors.
Barton: But the problem is, it's like today, you know I show that slide of the 56 signers of the [Declaration of Independence] and I get kids at really sharp schools, I mean Ivy League schools, and the most they can give me is two of the 56. And I start going through like John Witherspoon ... John Who? Never heard of John Witherspoon. Well, her served on a hundred committees in Congress, he was George Washington's boss, he was on the Board of War during the Revolution to direct the Revolution, he was the President of Princeton. You've never heard of him but he's a really significant Founding Father and, by the way, he is a preacher and a minister and wrote a dozen books of sermons and did two bibles - it's kind of like Todd Akin. If you throw Todd Akin out there, people go "Todd Who? Haven't heard of him." He's like that Witherspoon guy. We know the 20-25 out of Congress, not the 535 so the perception is bad.
This is rather telling because is reveals a bit about how Barton operate because, while Akin is certainly an influential member of Congress, he is probably not a "really significant" figure that future historians will be writing about two hundred years from now ... except, of course, for future Barton-like psuedo-historians who will probably look back on this current generation and hold up somewhat obscure elected officials like Akin as representative not only of the views of this Congress, but of this entire generation.
We have been noticing in recent months that David Barton has developed a new series of talking points claiming not merely that various governmental and social institution were inspired by the Bible, but that specific provisions of the Constitution were takenverbatim from the Bible.
This entire idea hinges on Barton's assertion that the Founding Fathers and their entire generation were so well-versed in the Bible that their writings and speeches were filled with language and imagery that didn't even have to be attributed to the Bible because it was already obvious to everyone what they were quoting.
And this has become a central part of Barton's presentation, as he is going around the country declaring that because the Founding Fathers were so knowledgeable about the Bible, "it is absolutely no surprise that so many of the clauses we find in the Constitution are literal, direct quotations out of the Bible" ... even if they never "put a chapter and verse by it."
Barton claims that if you "check that language of the Constitution against the Bible, you will go 'that is an exact quote!'" and then declares that Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, which guarantees to every state a Republican form of government, "came directly out of Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 1: 13-16, and Deuteronomy 16:18":
Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”
You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”
So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you.
As exhibited today in a WallBuilders Live interview with David French of the American Center for Law and Justice, it appears that Barton’s clout has increased not despite the overwhelming criticism he has received for his faux-history and extremist views but because of it. French told Barton’s deputy Rick Green that disapproval of Barton’s work is proof that he is speaking the truth!
Green: We’re worried about cratering because someone might say, ‘that’s mean-spirited’!
French: Exactly, or, ‘you’re a bigot,’ and then all of a sudden you are immediately backpedalling. It shows the power that we have allowed peer and cultural regard to have over our lives and heart. One of the best things that any Christian can do is to begin to just break away from that, to become indifferent to that.
You guys, you and David, get such hate all the time from folks who are just appalled that you are bringing truth about America’s heritage into the public square, a truth they have been spending generations trying to squelch. I’m sure it hurts on some occasion when you see it but it’s also a sign that you guys are making incredible progress and incredible headway and you’ve gotten a message out that I can just tell in the Christian community in the past five to ten years, there’s a difference in knowledge about America because of the work that you guys have done.
Green: Hey man, if you’re not taking flak you’re not over the target right?
Green: It could be a good thing. I think you’re dead-on, if you are speaking truth, if you are doing something that’s going to make a difference, you’re going to take some criticism. We need to challenge this generation to actually be excited about the opportunity to stand for truth.
Barton certainly has made a “difference in knowledge about America”…by consistently fabricating and disseminating false claims about American history.
Since Barton’s discredited claims about American history have such a following it was no surprise to see that a member of the Alabama Educational Television Commission pressured the state’s educational public television outlet to air one of Barton’s “history” series. And yesterday, the Current Public Media blog reported that Alabama Public Television managers Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland were fired possibly after refusing a request from commissioner Rodney Herring, a Republican Party official and donor, to broadcast Barton’s program:
The Alabama Educational Television Commission came out of an executive session Tuesday afternoon and ordered veteran pubcaster Allan Pizzato and his deputy Pauline Howland to clean out their desks and leave APT’s headquarters in Birmingham.
Pizzato had served 12 years as executive director of APT, a statewide network governed by a board of seven political appointees.
Howland, deputy director and chief financial officer, described the firings in an interview with Current and said she was "baffled" by the dismissals. But she also recalled how Pizzato had asked staff in April for advice about a series of videos that AETC commissioners wanted APT to air.
The videos featured David Barton, an evangelical minister and conservative activist whose publications and media appearances promote his theories about the religious intentions of America’s founders. He frequently appears on political commentary programs hosted by conservative Glenn Beck.
AETC Commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika-based chiropractor, had provided the series to APT for broadcast consideration. Herring joined the commission last year and was elected board secretary in January. As of late Wednesday evening, Herring did not return a voice message from Current.
Kyle Whitmire of the weekly newspaper Weld for Birmingham also reported on the firings and pressure from “members of the commission to air programing produced by David Barton”:
Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Weld on Tuesday that APTV executive director Allan Pizzato and chief financial officer Pauline Howland were ordered to clean out their desks and escorted from the building on Tuesday, and the two executives were not allowed to speak to staff or explain the change on the premises. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to make public statements about APTV’s internal affairs.
In recent months, APTV has been pressured by members of the commission to air programing produced by David Barton, a Texas evangelist. Barton’s organization, Wall Builders, has produced a series of videos promoting a religious conservative view of American History. The Wall Builders website explains its purpose is to promote Christian religious values.
At the time when Throckmorton was just beginning this undertaking, he was invited to appear on a radio program hosted by Paul Edwards to discuss his work alongside Barton himself, who had initially agreed to appear on the program but then reneged once he learned that he'd actually have to defend his work against someone who could challenge his false claims and set the record straight. Barton eventually agreed to appear on the program but refused to debate Throckmorton directly, insisting that he would only speak with Edwards.
Today, Fea reported that he and Barton were invited to appear on a radio program hosted by Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries last night to discuss Barton's work ... and once again, when faced with the prospect of having to defend his work against someone capable of setting the record straight, Barton backed out:
Newcombe didn't waste any time bringing up David Barton's new book on Thomas Jefferson. He thought that Barton's argument in the book was on the mark and he questioned why I had called him a "pseudo-historian." He reminded me that "pseudo" was a derivative of the Greek word for "liar."
I responded to Newcombe by saying some of the same things I have written about numerous times here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. I think Barton's work is problematic for two reasons.
First, he often gets his facts wrong. (On this point I gave a plug for Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter's e-book, Getting Jefferson Right). Newcombe defended Barton by pointing to the numerous "unconfirmed quotations" that Barton put on his website after he was called out by historians. He saw this as a mark of Barton's integrity. I wonder if Barton will do the same thing about some of his factual inaccuracies and misleading interpretations in The Jefferson Lies.
Second, Barton misrepresents the past by manipulating it for his own partisan political views. Historians need to be somewhat removed from the political process so that they can interpret the past in a disinterested and nonpartisan way. If they get too broiled in promoting causes they lose some of their integrity as historians.
I was originally supposed to appear on the show with David Barton, but Barton backed out.
UPDATE: Fea clarifies that Barton was not necessarily scheduled to be on at the same time as him, but rather later in the program:
I think I should clarify. I was never scheduled to be on the Newcombe show AT THE SAME TIME as Barton. He was going to follow me. In other words, we were never scheduled to be on the air together. All I know is that I was contacted by a publicist (who was contacted by Newcombe) who asked me to appear on the show. I was told that Barton would be on the air following my interview with Newcombe. Then a day or two later I was told that Barton would not be on the show. I should say that this has happened more than once. Draw your own conclusions.
Every year, US News and World Report produces a list of the best law schools in America that ranks the top 150 schools and Liberty University Law School was ranked number "Rank Not Published," meaning it didn't even qualify among the top 150. Thus, it is a little hard to understand how it could be considered one of the top law schools in the nation when it doesn't even make the list of top law schools in the nation.
Later, Barton began musing about some supposed connection linking welfare to failure to read the Bible enough, saying he'd love to see some study done that examines the correlation because "it makes perfect sense":
Wouldn't it be interesting to do a study between those that are on welfare and see how much and how often they read the Bible. You know, if Booker T. Washington is right that Christianity and reading the Bible increases your desires and therefore your ability for hard work; if we take that as an axiom, does that mean that the people who are getting government assistance spend nearly no time in the Bible, therefore have no desire, and therefore no ability for hard work? I could go a lot of places with this. I would love to see this proven out in some kind of sociological study, but it makes perfect sense.
But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
That passage seemed familiar, mainly because it is what David Barton cites when he claims that God created the concept of elections and that our Founding Fathers explicitly cited that passage as the basis for Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution:
Notice how Barton says "God says choose out from among you leaders of tens, fiftys, hundreds, and thousands"? What I realized last night is that in Exodus 18, it is not God speaking, but rather Moses' father-in-law Jethro.
After having led the Israelites out of Egypt, "Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God." While Jethro was visiting, Moses went out to serve as judge for the Israelites and settle their disputes, but there were so many that the task lasted all day. Jethro, seeing that the workload was too great, suggested that Moses should "select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." Then these judges would hear the simple cases while reserving for Moses the difficult ones and easing his burden. And that is exactly what Moses did:
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
It is flagrantly false for Barton to claim that it was God speaking in this passage and utterly misleading for him to claim that it has anything to do with establishing elections. In fact, it was Moses alone who picked which judges to place in charge, which is pretty much the exact opposite of an election.
As we have said before, it is getting to the point where we now have to check nearly every assertion that Barton makes because so many of them turn out to be fundamentally false. And if Barton is willing to lie about what the Bible says, it raises the question of whether there anything that he won't he lie about?
Earlier this year, we stumbled upon a fewepisodes of David Barton's "Building on the American Heritage Series" that had been posted on the TBN website. Today, while searching form something else, we noticed that several other episodes from that same series had also been posted and so we are working our way through them.
Near the end of the episode entitled "Politics In The Pulpit," Barton made a point that the purpose of the church is not to create harmony or unity among the congregants but to preach the word of God's and support God's laws. As such, Barton cited 1 Timothy 1:8-10 in order to declare that the purpose of the law is to punish ungodly and sinful (like gays) regardless of what the Supreme Court rules:
Last week we wrote another post in our on-going series highlighting social and governmental institutional that David Barton claims came directly out of the Bible. And today we found a presentation that Barton delivered last month where he once again made all of these now standard claims, but this time with the additional claim that the Constitution's provision regarding treason "is a verbatim quote out of Ezekiel 18:20":
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
This is the second time that Barton has falsely claimed that a specific provision in the Constitution reflects Biblical language verbatim, leading us to suspect that he does not actually know what the word "verbatim" means.
David Barton's insistence that various social institutions and governmental provisions have come verbatim out of the Bible has reached its logical culmination with the release of a new audio presentation entitled "God in the Constitution" in which Barton seeks to lay out the seven specific ways in which Constitution is "explicitly Christian [in] nature."
The hour-long program consisted primarily of various familiar claims Barton has made over the years, merely consolidated into one presentation. But Barton did add a few new wrinkles, like his assertion that every one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights was rooted in the Bible, including the Sixth Amendment's provision guaranteeing the accused the right to confront their witnesses, which Barton claimed was rooted in the passage about of Jesus and the woman accused of adultery:
Now how can you say Due Process protections come out of the Bible? Due Process is the right to a trial by jury, the right to compel witnesses on your behalf, the right to confront your accuser, all these different things that we have in the 4th-8th Amendment. How in the world can that come out of the Bible? Well, the answer is real simple ... You have trials throughout the Bible. Peter was in several trials, Paul was in several trials, Jesus was in trials. Jesus was actually supposed to be judge over a trial - they brought to him the woman caught in adultery and He looked around and said "woman, where are your accusers?" In other words, what are you doing here and your accusers aren't here to make the accusation, you can't do hearsay charges.
And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them.
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned but what sayest thou?”
This they said testing Him, that they might have cause to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.
So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”
She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.”
First of all, the woman was not brought to Jesus for trial, but rather as a test to try and entrap Him. And secondly, the reason there were no accusers left to condemn the woman was because they had all dispersed after Jesus delivered his famous "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" statement.
The lesson of this passage is that all people are guilty of sin and in need of repentance and forgiveness ... but Barton presents it as proof that our Constitution is based specifically on the Bible.
As we have noted before, Rick Scarborough of Vision America is organizing an effort called 40 Days to Save America which seeks to mobilize Christians who will engage in forty days of prayer, fasting and repentance leading up to the election. As part of the organizing effort, Scarborough has been hosting conference calls featuring Republican members of Congress and Religious Right leaders.
Earlier this month, Scarborough teamed up for a call with David Barton, who discussed the importance and effectiveness of prayer and fasting, which then prompted a discussion between the two about how Rick Perry's "The Response" prayer rally ended the drought in Texas as well as how prayer controlled the BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast:
Scarborough: Our Governor here in the state of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting last May. We were at the height of a drought that meteorologists were telling us was part of a cycle that would last perhaps for a number of years and that it would take us years to get our lake levels back up and so forth. It occurs to me that, not immediately, but after that prayer event that thirty thousand people participated in, we started getting rain and in less than a year, our lakes are full, our fields are brimming. A lot of people seem not to connect the dots on that, but we've got a fresh illustration of how God honors prayer.
Barton: Yeah, that's one of those many things that historians will looks back upon and say 'look at the correlation.' But I look back over the last few years at Sonny Perdue of Georgia who called, in the middle of their drought - that was an unprecedented century drought that they had there - he called for prayer and within three days they had rain falling in Georgia again. They're back in good condition.
I recall what happened with the oil spill in the Gulf, how all the Gulf governors except for Charlie Crist of Florida got together and called for a time of prayer that God would mitigate the damage of that and cause that thing to be sealed. And guess what? All the expected damage along the shorelines to all the wildlife, it didn't happen.
As we noted in our earlier post about the prayer event recently held in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol, the event was called "Washington: A Man of Prayer" and was organized around honoring the 223rd anniversary of George Washington's inauguration.
As such, it was totally expected that David Barton would be there to present his patented brand of pseudo-history, which he did when he trotted out his favorite myth about Washington as captured in this famous painting that Barton used for the cover of one of his books:
As Barton relates the tale, a British loyalist named Issac Potts owned a home near where Washington was camped at Valley Forge and one day stumbled upon Washington alone in the woods making supplication to God on behalf of his army and the American cause, causing Potts to rush home and declare to his wife that the British cause was lost since God would most assuredly answer the prayers of any man who prayed with such conviction:
There is one major problem with Potts's story of Washington praying at Valley Forge - it probably did not happen. While it is likely that Washington prayed while he was with the army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778, it is unlikely that the story reported by Potts, memorialized in paintings and read to millions of schoolchildren, is anything more than legend. It was first told in the seventeenth edition (1816) of Mason Lock Weem's Life of Washington. Weems claimed to have heard it directly from Potts, his "good old FRIEND." Potts may have owned the house where Washington stayed at Valley Forge, but his aunt Deborah Potts Hewes was living there alone at the time. Indeed, Potts was probably not even residing in Valley Forge during the encampment. And he was definitely not married. It would be another twenty-five years before he wed Sarah, making a conversation with her in the wake of the supposed Washington prayer impossible. Another version of the story, which appeared in the diary of Reverend Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, claims that it was John Potts, Issac's brother, who heard Washington praying. These discrepancies, coupled with the fact that Weems was known for writing stories about Washington based upon scanty evidence, have led historians to discredit it.
As we have said before, just because something might be demonstrably untrue, that is not going to stop Barton from repeating it.
Just last week David Barton was on The Daily Show where he trotted out a nearly twenty year old piece of right-wing mythology about some poor public school student who was reportedly yanked out of his chair and yelled at by a teacher merely for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria.
As we pointed out, this incident took place way back in 1994 and involved a student named Raymond Raines who, contrary to Barton's claims, was not yelled at for praying before lunch, but rather for fighting in the cafeteria.
But just because something might be demonstrably untrue, that is not going to stop Barton from repeating it, which he did again today on "WallBuilders Live":
Here's a good one: [In] St Louis, Missouri, an elementary student was praying over his lunch; a school official jerked him out of his seat - lifted him up physically out of his seat - reprimanded him in front of the other students for praying over his lunch and took him to the principal who ordered him to stop praying over his lunch. Can you believe that?
No, as a matter of fact, we cannot believe that ... because it is not true.
Last week, PFAW’s Right Wing Watch reported that a who’s who of Religious Right activists had recently gathered in the Capitol, with the endorsement of Speaker John Boehner, for a George Washington-themed prayer event.
Last night, Rachel Maddow did a segment on the event, drawing heavily from Right Wing Watch research to expose the extremism of its participants:
Last night, David Barton was the guest on "The Daily Show," ostensibly to discuss his new book "The Jefferson Lies." And while Barton did discuss his book a bit at the beginning of the interview, most of the extended discussion revolved around the intersection of faith and public policy and on issues like public prayer and the Obama administration's contraception mandate.
During the first part of the interview (starting around the 5:00 mark,) Jon Stewart made the point that, looking at things from a non-Christian or non-religious perspective, Christianity seems pretty safe in America and rather ubiquitous, contrary to Barton's claims that it is constantly under attack.
Barton responded that that was not necessarily the case, especially when it comes to public policy issues, where he cited an incident in St. Louis where a five year old student was supposedly yanked out of his chair and yelled at by a teacher merely for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria:
Stewart was justifiably skeptical of this story, but Barton insisted that it had happened and that the school principal also yelled at the student for praying, which prompted Stewart to declare that, if that was the case, then those school officials are "idiots" and the discussion moved on.
But Stewart's initial skepticism was correct, though it helps to be rather well-versed in Religious Right mythology in order to recognize the incident that Barton was citing.
This myth involved a student named Raymond Raines and it has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders frist started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:
The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.
"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.
On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."
But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.
"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"
So despite the fact that this incident took place nearly twenty years ago - and never actually happened - David Barton is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America.
Yesterday, Pastor Dan Cummins spoke to Chelsen Vicari of Concerned Women for America to publicize a May 8th prayer event, hosted by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and endorsed by Speaker John Boehner, in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall that Cummins said was inspired by Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response:
Cummins: As part of the activities for National Day of Prayer, we are inviting members of the Congress, of the House and Senate, and their staff, to participate in this prayer event in probably the most sacred hall of the Capitol, Statuary Hall.
Vicari: That sounds fabulous, in conjunction to this event there is an event that our listeners can actually partake in and that’s Prayer in the People’s House, can you tell us about that?
Cummins: While we are having this event in the Capitol, in fact, let me first tell you some of the speakers that will be participating in this event for our members of Congress. Dr. Jim Garlow of Skyline Wesleyan Church and also Renewing American Leadership will be with us, Bishop Harry Jackson from High Impact Leadership, Dr. Doug Stringer of Somebody Cares International, Dr. Alveda King from Priest for Life, and everybody knows historian David Barton.
As we have noted before, Friday episodes of "WallBuilders Live" are generally dedicated to spreading what David Barton and Rick Green consider to be "good news from around the nation the media doesn't report."
We have also pointed out before that Barton believes that everything in our society ought to be governed by what is in the Bible, even our medical practices ... and today Barton returned to this topic, claiming that science cannot create a cure or vaccine for AIDS and that abortion causes breast cancer and mental health problems, proclaiming that to be "good news" because it proves that the Bible is correct:
There's a passage that I love in Romans 1 - I don't love what the topic is - but it talks about homosexuality and it says that they will receive in their bodies the penalties of their behavior. And the Bible again, it's right every time, and studies keep proving that and that's why AIDS has been something they haven't discovered a cure for or a vaccine for, because it's the fastest self-mutating virus known to mankind. Every time they just about get a vaccine discovered for it, it transmutes into something new and they have to start over again. And that goes to what God says, hey you're going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior.
The same thing goes with abortion and now we're getting studies, and these are somewhat negative studies, but they're positive studies in that they prove that the Bible is right. So I want to read you the results of a couple of new studies that are out. Here's a new study that out, now this is the second study that shows that women who have abortions double the risk of mental health problems ... Now that's not good news; the good news in this is God says "don't kill unborn babies."
Now, along the same thing, here's another study, a new study now shows those who have abortions nearly triple the risk of breast cancer. It's bad news, but it's good news in the sense that it does show that the Bible is right. When God says don't kill those unborn babies, there's a reason. And He tells us in Deuteronomy 6:24 and Joshua 1:8, everything I tell you to do is for your good, for your benefit, so that you can prosper and you can have success. So when he tells us not to do this stuff, whether it's homosexual behavior or whether its abortion, hey it's for our benefit he tells us not to do it and now studies prove that to be true.