Back in September, David Barton spoke at a "Truth For A New Generation" Christian apologetics conference in South Carolina. While at the conference, he participated in an interview which was recently uploaded to YouTube in which he made the case that America must implement a "biblical view" on literally every issue, even down to computer programming.
On marriage, Barton called for the elimination of no-fault divorce, and afterr repeating his claim that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of our right to confront our accusers came directly out of the Bible, Barton said that conservative Christians need to make sure that everything from economics to contracts to employer-employee relations operates according to strictly biblical principles.
Once again citing the importance of Christians wielding total control over the Seven Mountains of culture, Barton demanded that society uphold "a biblical view on computer programing" and fondly recalled how, until the 1960s, Hollywood could not release any film "unless the church approved it."
"Until we get back into saying, you know, I've got to have a biblical view on computer programming, I've got to have a biblical view as a business, as a Chamber of Commerce, whatever it is," Barton said, "if we don't get that back to where everyone has a common worldview and, based on our documents, that is there is a God, he gives you a certain set of rights, government protects those rights, he gives a fixed moral law that I'm not allowed to alter and then, below that, I can make decisions, until we get back to the common understanding of the nation, we won't have a stable nation":
After viewing it, Frazer wrote an utterly scathing review of Barton's work for Richards, which Richards then reportedly used in making the case to others in the Religious Right movement that Barton's historical scholarship cannot and should not be trusted.
Today, with Frazer's permission, Throckmorton posted a copy of his review of Barton's DVD on his website and it is absolutely devastating.
Frazer's review is thirteen pages long and exposes the myriad ways in which Barton routinely and intentionally misrepresents American history in order to bolster his own radical right-wing political agenda. Many of the problems that Frazer highlights will be familiar to readers of this blog, as we have covered several of them in the past as well, but the report is well worth reading as it systematically debunks a wide array of Barton's favorite talking points, such as his tendency to credit everything with which he agrees as having come from the "Founding Fathers":
This leads to one last area of concern in America’s Godly Heritage which can best be expressed as a question: Who counts as a “Founding Father?” This issue reappears frequently in Barton’s works. He seems to count anyone of whom he approves who was living at the time of the Revolution, the founding of the political system under the Constitution, or within fifty or sixty years of those times as a “Founding Father.” For example, he says that “the American Tract Society was started by the Founding Fathers.” First, not one of those listed as a Tract Society founder signed the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. By what standard are they “Founding Fathers?” Furthermore, the Society was started in 1825 – 36 years after the Constitution was ratified. Madison was the last living framer an d he died in 1836. How many Founding Fathers were even alive in 1825? Similarly, in his discussion of Vidal v. Girard, he said it was decided in “the time of the Founders.” It was decided in 1844 –55 years after the Constitution went into effect and, a s was just mentioned, the last framer died in 1836! Barton refers to John Quincy Adams as a “Founding Father.” At the time of the Constitutional Convention, he was a 20 year-old just out of law school (he was 8 when the Declaration was signed) – by what standard is he a “Founding Father?” Barton also claims that the “Founding Fathers” established the New England Primer as a text, but the Founding Fathers did not establish any texts for schools – that was left to local communities to decide. Apparently, by Barton’s standards (whatever they are), local school boards were “Founding Fathers.” Finally, Barton says that the state constitutions indicate that the “Founding Fathers” wanted to be sure that Christians held public office. But the Founding Fathers, in Article VI of the Constitution, specifically disallowed any religious test for office. That would seem to be a strange and counterproductive prohibition to be put in place by those who want to ensure that Christians hold the various offices.
It is worth noting that, according to Throckmorton, this review has been in circulation among Religious Right leaders since 2012 and it does not appear to have diminished Barton's reputation among them in the least, nor has it stopped Barton from routinelypeddlingmisinformation.
As we noted just earlier today, just about every statement that is made by David Barton needs to be fact-checked because, more often than not, the claim he is making turns out to be entirely false.
As if to help drive home this point for us, Barton appeared on Glenn Beck's radio program today and absurdly declared that the "average welfare family" receives $61,000 a year in government benefits, meaning that in many states they earn more than teachers and secretaries.
"Right now, if you are on welfare, you make more than a teacher in eleven states and you make more than a secretary in thirty nine states," Barton said:
Barton's figure comes from a document produced by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, back in 2012 that was, not surprisingly, entirely misleading.
As experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, this figure was derived by relying on "a series of serious manipulations of the data that violate basic analytic standards and are used to produce a potentially inflammatory result:"
Counts payments to hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and other medical providers — including payments for care for sick elderly people at the end of their lives and for people with serious disabilities who are institutionalized — as though these payments are akin to cash income that is going to poor families to live on. The single largest area of federal spending in the Sessions comparison is health care spending. Close to half of all of the spending that Senator Sessions portrays as income to poor households consists of payments to hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or smaller health programs. The majority of this health care spending is for the elderly or people with disabilities, including end-of-life care and nursing home care.
Counts, as spending on poor people, benefits and services that go to families and individuals who are above the poverty line. As noted, Senator Sessions divides the cost of a broad set of programs by the number of households with income below the official poverty line. Yet many of these programs, by design and for good reason, serve substantial numbers of low- and moderate-income Americans whose incomes are above the poverty line. For example, 65 percent of the lower-income working households receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2011 had incomes above the official poverty line. Many programs do not cut off benefits abruptly at the poverty line, for two reasons. First, many hard-pressed families and individuals modestly above the poverty line have significant needs; for example, an elderly widow living on only $12,000 a year is above the poverty line. Second, abruptly cutting off benefits at the poverty line, rather than phasing them down gradually as income rises, would create large work disincentives.
Long-term care alone constitutes 28 percent of all Medicaid costs — and a larger share of Medicaid costs for seniors and people with disabilities. A substantial share of Medicaid spending on long-term care is for seniors who had middle-class incomes for much of their working lives but whose long-term care needs now exceed their ability to pay for that care. In 2010, private nursing home care averaged $83,585 per year, assisted living facility costs averaged $39,516 per year, and home health aide services averaged $21 per hour. In 2009, the average long-term care cost for a Medicaid beneficiary receiving such care was $34,579, a figure sure to be somewhat higher today.
By including the costs of such care in the calculation of the average spending per poor household, the Sessions analysis creates a misleading impression that typical low-income families and children receive extravagant benefits. Providing a frail senior with nursing home care does not mean that the typical low-income family with children is receiving huge amounts of benefits that give it a high standard of living ... Older people, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses incur far higher health care costs than do healthy individuals, but that doesn’t make them “higher income” or give them a higher standard of living than healthier households have. Similarly, a low-income family with a child who has a serious disability is not “well off” because Medicaid covers the child’s sizable health care costs. A middle-income household with a member fighting cancer doesn’t suddenly become “high income” when the family’s insurance covers costly cancer treatments.
Once again, Barton's claim is entirely false, as the average family on welfare does not, in any way, receive $61,000 a year from the government.
Just last month, we wrote a long post exposing the way in which David Barton routinely misrepresents court cases in an effort to support his pseudo-history and promote his cultural and political agenda. Today, we came across another instance of Barton doing the same thing with a different court case while delivering a presentation a few weeks ago at Calvary Chapel in San Jose, California.
Barton was making the case that, until the Supreme Court's decision in Abington Township v. Schempp in 1963 — which Barton also routinely misrepresents — teaching the Bible in public schools had been the norm. To support this point, Barton cited the Supreme Court's 1844 ruling in a case called Vidal v. Girard's Executors, which he claimed declared that no school that refused to teach the Bible could receive public funds:
"We look at Christian schools today," Barton said, "and we think that's alternative education. No, no, no. Christians schools is mainstream education. Secular education is brand new in America. We never had that before. That's the new thing ... In 1844, the U.S. Supreme Court had case called Vidal v. Girard's Executors and what you had was a government-operated school that was not going to teach the Bible and the Supreme Court came back with an unanimous 8-0 decision and the Supreme Court said well, if you don't want to teach the Bible, you don't have to teach the Bible but you do have to become a private school. We're not going to fund any public school that won't teach the Bible.
As usual, if you actually take the time to read this case, the facts in no way support Barton's interpretation.
The case involved an extremely wealthy man named Stephen Girard who, as a childless widower, left in his will large sums of money to the City of Philadelphia for various civic improvements, as well as money to establish a school for "poor male white orphan children."
Among the stipulations Girard placed upon the school was that no religious leader was ever to hold a position there, nor could any specific denominational doctrine be taught:
I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect whatsoever shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said college, nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said college.
In making this restriction, I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever, but as there is such a multitude of sects and such a diversity of opinion amongst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans who are to derive advantage from this bequest free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce; my desire is that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to instill into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that, on their entrance into active life, they may, from inclination and habit, evince benevolence towards their fellow creatures and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer.
Some of Girard's heirs then sued on various technical grounds that are not germane to Barton's point, as well as by arguing that prohibiting clergy from working or teaching at the school was a violation of both the Constitution and the Common Law because it discriminated against Christianity.
All that we can gather from his language is that he desired to exclude sectarians and sectarianism from the college, leaving the instructors and officers free to teach the purest morality, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, by all appropriate means, and of course including the best, the surest, and the most impressive. The objection, then, in this view, goes to this -- either that the testator has totally omitted to provide for religious instruction in his scheme of education (which, from what has been already said, is an inadmissible interpretation), or that it includes but partial and imperfect instruction in those truths. In either view can it be truly said that it contravenes the known law of Pennsylvania upon the subject of charities, or is not allowable under the article of the bill of rights already cited? Is an omission to provide for instruction in Christianity in any scheme of school or college education a fatal defect, which avoids it according to the law of Pennsylvania? If the instruction provided for is incomplete and imperfect, is it equally fatal? These questions are propounded because we are not aware that anything exists in the Constitution or laws of Pennsylvania or the judicial decisions of its tribunals which would justify us in pronouncing that such defects would be so fatal. Let us take the case of a charitable donation to teach poor orphans reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and navigation, and excluding all other studies and instruction; would the donation be void, as a charity in Pennsylvania, as being deemed derogatory to Christianity? Hitherto it has been supposed that a charity for the instruction of the poor might be good and valid in England even if it did not go beyond the establishment of a grammar school. And in America, it has been thought, in the absence of any express legal prohibitions, that the donor might select the studies, as well as the classes of persons, who were to receive his bounty without being compellable to make religious instruction a necessary part of those studies. It has hitherto been thought sufficient, if he does not require anything to be taught inconsistent with Christianity.
Looking to the objection therefore in a mere juridical view, which is the only one in which we are at liberty to consider it, we are satisfied that there is nothing in the devise establishing the college, or in the regulations and restrictions contained therein, which are inconsistent with the Christian religion or are opposed to any known policy of the State of Pennsylvania.
This view of the whole matter renders it unnecessary for us to examine the other and remaining question, to whom, if the devise were void, the property would belong, whether it would fall into the residue of the estate devised to the city, or become a resulting trust for the heirs at law.
Upon the whole, it is the unanimous opinion of the Court that the decree of the Circuit Court of Pennsylvania dismissing the bill, ought to be affirmed, and it is accordingly.
Barton's representation of this case is entirely false, as it had literally nothing to do with the teaching of the Bible nor any requirement that schools must do so in order to receive public funds.
Despite the fact that his claims are totally false, Barton will nonetheless continue to make them in future presentations, secure in the knowledge that his Religious Right supporters will never hold him accountable for his misinformation and misrepresentations.
The Sunday before the midterm elections, Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, spoke at John Hagee's church in San Antonio, Texas, where he spent an entire hour delivering a speech that was literally little more than an amalgamation of material that he has directly pilfered from other Religious Right speakers, most notably pseudo-historian David Barton.
As we have noted before, the elder Cruz is quite fond of lifting Barton's misinformation about American history and the Constitution and passing it along during his own presentations, but the speech he delivered at Hagee's church was quite remarkable for just how much of it was simply a rehashing of Barton's standard presentation.
Cruz's presentation was such a wholesale rip-off that he even managed to work in Barton's false claim that the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools because it could cause brain damage:
The Supreme Court, when it took the Bible out of public schools, said that this is without precedent; there is no precedent in our history for taking the Bible out of schools but this is the time to do it.
Now, if there is no historical precedent, why would they say the Bible has to go out of schools? I mean, everything we have in history says just the opposite, so why? They quoted Dr. Solomon Grayzel on the reason that we need to get the Bible out of schools ... In the Supreme Court decision, this is what the Court said why the Bible has to come out of schools; the Court says this:
If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and had been, psychologically harmful to the child.
Time out. Let me see if I get this: if we keep reading the Bible in schools, our kids are going to suffer from brain damage? Yeah, that was the reason given by the Court for the removal of the Bible out of the classroom back in 62-63.
Of course, if you actually read the ruling in the case, you will find that this citation of Dr. Grayzel appeared at the beginning of the decision when the Supreme Court was merely describing the road the case had taken through the court system, noting that Grayzel's testimony had been heard during the initial trial.
On top of that, Barton also utterly misrepresented the point of Grayzel's testimony, which was to note that forced Bible reading from a Christian perspective in public schools was potentially damaging to Jewish students:
Expert testimony was introduced by both appellants and appellees at the first trial, which testimony was summarized by the trial court as follows:
Dr. Solomon Grayzel testified that there were marked differences between the Jewish Holy Scriptures and the Christian Holy Bible, the most obvious of which was the absence of the New Testament in the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Dr. Grayzel testified that portions of the New Testament were offensive to Jewish tradition, and that, from the standpoint of Jewish faith, the concept of Jesus Christ as the Son of God was "practically blasphemous." He cited instances in the New Testament which, assertedly, were not only sectarian in nature but tended to bring the Jews into ridicule or scorn. Dr. Grayzel gave as his expert opinion that such material from the New Testament could be explained to Jewish children in such a way as to do no harm to them. But if portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and, in his specific experience with children, Dr. Grayzel observed, had been, psychologically harmful to the child, and had caused a divisive force within the social media of the school.
On Monday, President Obama publicly urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strong rules preserving net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data equally.
Obama’s comments placed a previously fairly niche technical issue right into the middle of the national political debate, forcing commentators to take a side on something many of them did not seem to understand. But luckily, many conservative politicians and pundits have an easy way of deciding where to stand on an issue: if Obama is for it, it will destroy America and they are against it!
1. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz got the right-wing net neutrality pile-on started with a tweet calling the proposal “Obamacare for the Internet."
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
It didn’t really make sense, but as Matt Yglesias notes, that wasn’t the point: “What, if anything, that phrase means is difficult to say. But its political significance is easy to grasp. All true conservatives hate Obamacare, so if net neutrality is Obamacare for the internet, all true conservatives should rally against it.”
2. Bryan Fischer
As soon as Cruz spoke out, his far-right acolytes seem to have felt obligated to follow. On his radio program on Monday, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer struggled to grasp the proposal that he was definitely against, claiming that it would ban internet providers from charging customers more for faster service — something that already happens and that has nothing to do with net neutrality.
3. Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck is outraged that President Obama wants to end “the freedom of the internet” and ruin something that’s “working pretty well” because “the government is not involved in it at all.” Apparently unaware that current FCC regulations allow his online network, The Blaze, to stream on an open internet, Beck claimed that regulations preserving net neutrality would end this supposedly government-free system in which he operates his business.
Beck’s cohost Pat Gray accidentally debunked his own point by comparing Internet regulation to the interstate highway system, which he seems to also think remains open and accessible because it’s free from government interference.
The Tea Party group FreedomWorks got into the game yesterday with a video “clearing up” net neutrality for its supporters.
“Supporters of the plan call it a [uses finger quotes] ‘free and open Internet’ but in reality it’s anything but,” says Somberg. “What net neutrality does is force providers to treat all Web content equally — the same speeds, the same prices, the same access.”
This is simply untrue.
Net neutrality merely says that ISPs can’t slow down, block, or prioritize any content. It doesn’t mean that everything gets treated with the same speed — just that an ISP does nothing to impede or boost any particular content company’s speed. So if it’s fast coming in from the company, it should be fast going out to the end-user. And if the host is slow, then it remains slow.
5. Alex Jones
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones added his own special twist to the net neutrality debate, claiming that it is a “high tech version of what the Soviets and the Nazis and the Chinese Communists and Fidel Castro and every other nut ball did.”
Bonus: David Barton
While net neutrality might have just recently crossed the radar of many right-wing commentators, make-believe historian David Barton has been beating the anti-net-neutrality drum for years. In 2011, Barton called net neutrality “socialism on the internet” and “redistribution of wealth through the internet” and insisted that it is "wicked stuff" that goes against the dictates of the Bible and the Founding Fathers.
This launched Barton into a discourse on the concept of “fairness,” which he said “is a word no Christian should ever use in their vocabulary” because “what happened to Jesus wasn’t fair.”
On the "WallBuilders Live" radio program today, David Barton declared that he was "grateful" to see that the most recent "Left Behind" remake had bombed at the box office because, he said, the books and movies teach an unbiblical eschatology that causes Christians to check out of the culture wars as they simply wait for Jesus to take them away in The Rapture.
"The movie is a complete bust," Barton rejoiced. "It did really pathetic at the box office ... and quite frankly I was somewhat happy the movie was a bust."
Barton said that the books, written by influential Religious Right leader Tim LaHaye, and the movies, initially starring the likes of Barton's pal Kirk Cameron, promote a false eschatology, which is the theological belief about how the End Times will unfold. He said the "Left Behind" series has convinced too many Christians that "it is a waste of time to get involved" in the affairs of the world because nothing they do will change anything and they won't be around to suffer when everything falls apart anyway.
Barton said that this belief conflicts with Jesus' explicit teaching that Christians are to occupy the world until He returns and so he "was really grateful that the movie didn't do well because I didn't want that mentality going out there. It violates way too many things in the Bible."
"I think the movie not doing well is [a sign] that hopefully our eschatology is beginning to change for a more sound biblical direction in America," he said. "Maybe we're getting a little more mature and a little wiser over some things":
On a "Believer's Voice of Victory" episode scheduled to air on Thursday, right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton told televangelist Kenneth Copeland that no government can ever legalize same-sex marriage because "we have an inalienable right to marriage to be a man and a woman and no other combination."
Barton said that the institution of marriage was created by God long before government ever existed, and therefore "government can't get over into God's jurisdiction."
"Whatever God did in Genesis 1-8, government will protect but it cannot redefine, it cannot change," he said:
On a "Believer's Voice of Victory" program set to air on Wednesday, Kenneth Copeland and David Barton declared that it was immoral for any Christian not to vote for anti-abortion candidates because even refusing to vote "is that same as casting your vote for evil."
Copeland made the argument that Christians cannot ever vote for a pro-choice candidate because when you cast your vote for a candidate, you are endorsing every position that candidate holds. As such, Christians cannot support a candidate that is "on the death side," Copeland said, warning that anyone who does will be held accountable by God as an accomplice to murder.
"This is serious business, man," Copeland declared and Barton was entirely in agreement, adding his own warning that those who do not vote candidates who oppose abortion rights will be held just as accountable as those who vote for pro-choice ones.
Not voting for anti-abortion candidates "keeps you from being on the life platform," Barton said. "There is only one place of life, any place else except that is not life. There's not a third choice. If you do nothing, you have not chosen life ... If you choose not to vote, that's the same as casting your vote for evil":
Right-wing televangelist Kenneth Copeland spoke with pseudo-historian David Barton this week for another series of broadcasts designed to encourage conservative Christians to vote in the upcoming election.
On a program scheduled to air tomorrow, Copeland told Barton that, prior to the last presidential election, God had told him that he would "like the way this election turns out," which caused a lot of confusion for Copeland given that President Obama was re-elected. Copeland said that he recently asked God what He meant by this and learned that it was all part of God's plan to sour America on "progressive socialism."
"At the time of this last presidential election, very, very few people in this country had any idea what progressive socialism was," Copeland said, asserting that God told him that He allowed Obama to be re-elected because "without a proper diagnosis, it's very difficult to treat and receive healing from a sickness or disease."
The Obama administration's "agenda to push progressive socialism with everything they got," Copeland said, has now allowed America to "get a diagnosis of what progressive socialism is and how it doesn't work ... and now we know why we don't want it":
Most of this week's "WallBuilders Live" radio program has consisted of excerpts from the new DVD series "Constitution Alive! A Citizen's Guide to the Constitution" featuring Rick Green and David Barton. On yesterday's program, Barton explained that that the Constitution’s requirement that members of Congress and the president take an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" was the Founding Fathers' way of infusing religion into the document since an oath is a "direct appeal to God" to hold lawmakers accountable for their actions and "there is no such thing as a secular oath."
Any oath that is not made to God, Barton said, must instead rely on "the goodness of man and there's not a whole lot in me that says the goodness of man is great. Just look back across the Twentieth Century and the one hundred and fifty million lives that were lost because Stalin wasn't good and Hitler wasn't good and Tojo wasn't good and Pol Pot wasn't good."
The Founders knew this, Barton said, and so they "tied religion to the Constitution to give it strength" through these oath requirements, asserting that any attempt to implement the Constitution without religion is like trying to breathe on the moon.
"You and I, if we go to the moon and breathe there, we'll die," Barton said, "because that's not our atmosphere. And if you take a secular atmosphere to the Constitution, it will die because that's not its atmosphere. It was birthed and created in a religious atmosphere and if you take that air out of the room, it will suffocate. It will die because it's not made that way":
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.
Once again, David Barton has joined prosperity gospel preacher Kenneth Copeland for another week of programs encouraging Christians to be sure to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, especially for candidates running for the U.S. Senate because it is through judges that America with either be cursed or blessed.
Citing passages from II Chronicles and Psalms, Barton declared that the Bible tells us that judges are to be "ministers of God" and are therefore obligated to "make the same decision that [God] would make" when hearing cases.
If Christians "want our land to be blessed," Barton said, "it won't be blessed without righteousness. And if you want righteousness, it comes from the judges." And since, under our system of government, federal judges must be confirmed by the Senate, Christians must be dedicated to electing members of the Senate who will only confirm judges that will follow God's rules.
"If you want righteousness in the land, you'd better get involved and you'd better look at the Senate races in your state and you'd better figure out which of these persons running for Senate is going to be the best on judges," Barton said, "because if you want God to restore the land, you gotta start with judges":
Several times, we have heard David Barton make the absurd claim that biblical law was directly incorporated into the U.S. Constitution through the Seventh Amendment, which he then uses to assert that laws legalizing abortion and gay marriage are unconstitutional.
Lately, Barton has tried to bolster this argument by citing an obscure 1913 Texas Supreme Court ruling in a case called Grigsby v Reib, which he claims proves that America can never accept a definition of marriage that differs from God's definition.
In Barton's telling, this case was about efforts to attain legal recognition for secular "civil unions" that were separate from marriage as a religious institution but which the court denied on the grounds that "government is not allowed to redefine something that God himself has defined."
On his radio show yesterday, Barton once again cited the case and read excerpts from the decision to argue that gay marriage can never be legal:
Marriage was not originated by human law. When God created Eve, she was a wife to Adam; they then and there occupied the status of husband to wife and wife to husband ... The truth is that civil government has grown out of marriage. which created homes, and population, and society, from which government became necessary. Marriages will produce a home and family that will contribute to good society, to free and just government, and to the support of Christianity. It would be sacrilegious to apply the designation "a civil contract" to such a marriage. It is that and more; a status ordained by God.
The key finding in this case, Barton asserts, is that the court basically ruled that "we can't do something different than what God's done on" the issue of marriage.
Given that nothing that Barton says ought ever to be taken at face value, we decided to read the court decision for ourselves and, not surprisingly, found that Barton's interpretation of the ruling is entirely misleading.
The case involved a woman named Jessie Stallcup, who claimed to have been the wife of a widower named G.M.D. Grigsby and who had sued Grigsby's sister for control of his estate following his death. Stallcup was a prostitute whom Grigsby used to visit and she claimed that the two had agreed to become husband and wife, though they never held a ceremony, nor did they cohabitate or take any other actions to signal that they were now living has husband and wife.
The case heard by the Texas Supreme Court revolved around Stallcup's contention that she lost her lawsuit because the trial court ignored a binding appellate court precedent that stated that a common law marriage "requires only the agreement of the man and woman to become then and thenceforth husband and wife. When this takes place, the marriage is complete."
The Texas Supreme Court disagreed with Stallcup's contention, pointing out that the ruling in question involved a couple that had lived and presented themselves as husband and wife following their agreement, with the Texas Supreme Court stating that it takes more than a simple verbal agreement to constitute a legitimate marriage.
To demonstrate this point, the Texas Supreme Court proposed a hypothetical situation in which a man and a women met for the first time, agreed to become man and wife, and then went their separate ways, never to see one another again. This obviously would not constitute a binding marriage, the court found, and neither did the relationship between Stallcup and Grigsby on the grounds that, beyond their apparent agreement, they never took any further steps to establish themselves as husband and wife.
"It would be sacrilegious" to give legal standing to such relationships, the court found, because it would then give complete strangers the right to contest seemingly every inheritance by simply claiming to have been the secret spouse of the deceased.
Contrary to Barton's claims that this case enshrines divine principles about marriage into our civil laws, the court repeatedly notes that marriage is a nothing more than a civil contract that requires "neither license nor solemnization of religious or official ceremony" to be legally binding.
Barton claims that this case was about trying to create a secular alternative to marriage, which the court slapped down because there can never be any legal marriage that does not correspond to "God's definition." In reality, the case addressed the issue of whether a supposedly secret verbal agreement to become husband and wife constitutes a legally binding and recognizable common law marriage and whether the relationship between Stallcup and Grigsby qualified as one under the law, with the court ruling that it did not because it didn't meet the most basic requirements.
This is just one more example of Barton's willingness to intentionally and flagrantly misrepresent history in order to promote his religious and political agenda.
Federal prosecutors are seeking sixteen months in prison for Dinesh D'Souza, largely based on the fact that his supposed contrition before the court does not square with the public statements he made about the case elsewhere.
Ray Comfort's upcoming anti-gay movie is going to be absolutely amazing, according to Ray Comfort.
Peter LaBarbera is furious that the U.S. will not support other nation's efforts to criminalize homosexuality: "Just because America has fallen so far that we now treat sin, in this case homosexuality, as a civil right doesn't mean we have the right to force that on other countries that have more wholesome and biblical values."
New Jersey's ban on ex-gay therapy has been upheld by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to our friends at the Texas Freedom Network , a new set of social studies textbooks up for approval from the state school board contain many flaws that “reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”
The material presented in these textbooks on this issue seems to have been determined more by political concerns than considerations of good scholarship. On the one hand, the decisions of these textbooks seem to have been strongly influenced by the suggestions and requirements of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). For instance, that the Texas SBOE suggested in the 2009-2010 debate over curriculum standards that Moses influenced the writing of the nation’s founding documents and that several textbooks mention Moses’ influence on the Founders seems to be no coincidence. On the other hand, the frequently vague nature of the textbooks’ statements about the influence of Moses and other religious ideas and figures on the Founders seems to indicate that the publishers did not want to be held accountable by scholars are those critical of SBOE’s standards. Unfortunately, the result of this at once overly controversial and overly careful strategy is the failure to provide students with an understanding of the influence of religion on our Founders that rests on sound scholarship and captures the diversity of the Founders’ views. These textbooks too often settle for giving students vague impressions about the Founders and religion while denying them the crucial information necessary to evaluate these claims. The SBOE and these textbooks have collaborated to make students’’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars.
Some textbooks greatly exaggerate religious influences on the American founding, with some going so far as to suggest without substantiation that Moses was a major influence, that “the roots of democratic government” can be found in the Old Testament, and that “the biblical idea of a covenant … contributed to our constitutional structure.”
While the textbooks largely make clear that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War, some give nods to neo-Confederate arguments first promoted after the war that “states’ rights” was the driving issue. Some also downplay the serious hardships faced by African Americans during segregation.
Some textbooks reinforce negative stereotypes of Islam as a violent religion spread exclusively by conquest. One tells students, inaccurately, that “the spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism,” ignoring the numerous examples of terrorism not related to Islam at all.
Some textbooks suffer from an incomplete and at times inaccurate coverage of religions other than Christianity. For example, one textbook teaches students, inaccurately, that all Hindus are vegetarians. On other hand, coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often apparently due to the presumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with that information.
Reflecting concerns already noted about the curriculum standards by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a number of textbooks present an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system. They downplay or even ignore legitimate problems in capitalism and the role government played in the growth of the American economy of the 1800s.
A number of U.S. History textbooks suffer from a general lack of attention to the experiences of Native American peoples and cultures and sometimes include biased or misleading information.
One textbook includes a biased even offensive treatment critical of affirmative action, including cartoons that jokingly suggest space aliens would qualify.
Most textbooks offer scant coverage of the movement for LGBT equality, one of the salient civil rights struggles of the last half-century. One publisher links the gay rights movement of the late 1960s to society “spinning out of control.”
Today's episode of "WallBuilders Live" featured an audio excerpt from David Barton's "Biblical Principles and the Political Process" DVD in which Barton explained that Christians must be in charge of crafting public policy at all levels in America or else God will be unable to bless this nation and all citizens will suffer as a consequence.
As Barton explained, God measures the righteousness of a nation "by the public policies they have and how well those policies conform to God's standards." Repeating his false claims about the non-discrimination ordinance passed last year in San Antonio, Texas, Barton warned that everyone in San Antonio, even those who opposed the ordinance, will now suffer "because the city has taken a position God cannot bless."
Just as, in the Bible, all of Israel suffered because of the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel, so too will everyone in America suffer for electing leaders who do not base public policy on the Bible, he added.
"Even the good guys had to go through the national judgment brought on by bad policies from national leaders," Barton said. "Even if you disagree with those policies, even if you disagree with non-discrimination ordinances, if your city has one, God's not going to be able to bless that":
On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green responded to a question from a listener who complained that she was watching a program about extraterrestrials on the History Channel recently in which some professor from Notre Dame University asserted that Thomas Jefferson "hated Christianity and considered it a dangerous religion" that was responsible for atrocities such as the Inquisition.
As if that set-up was not already strange enough, Barton then launched into an explanation that "American Christianity" was nothing like the "European Christianity" that carried out the Inquisition, asserting that, in fact, the Christianity responsible for the Inquisition was not really Christianity at all.
As Barton put it, the Christianity in existence during the Inquisition was one "in which the Bible had no role."
"You had high illiteracy, people did not read, could not read the Bible," he said. "The Bible was not available to them, it was not in their language. Folks who tried to bring the Bible to the common man got themselves killed."
Barton's co-host Rick Green then piped up to declare that "you almost can't call it Christianity; it's really a hijacked religion, it was abuse of power in the name of Christianity."
"That's right," agreed Barton, as he then went on to explain that the Founding Fathers wanted the Bible taught as the foundation of public education in America in order to prevent another Inquisition from ever taking place.
"If you look at the very first public school law passed in America," Barton said, "that act says we just came out of Europe and what they call Christianity over there is full of atrocities. That's not it. We don't want that in America, so in America we're going to make sure that the Bible is the basis of all public schools because if you read the Bible, you won't do those atrocities."
On today's "WallBuilders Live" radio program, David Barton and Rick Green invited Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert on to discuss America’s role in the Mideast. Barton declared that "terrorism was really on the ropes" before President Obama removed the last U.S. troops from Iraq, but now "terrorism has really rebuilt itself ... [because] this has been an administration that has not done a good job of trying to take terrorists down or take terrorism out."
Barton and co-host Green repeatedly expressed their desire to have someone like Gohmert serving as president instead of President Obama because, they said, Gohmert understands the difference between good and evil, which Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the rest of the administration can never grasp because they support abortion rights and gay marriage.
"I don't know why that Louie [Gohmert] would think that John Kerry has any moral equivalency given the position that John Kerry holds on marriage, on homosexuality, on abortion, on religious conscience, on religious expressions," Barton said. "I mean, since he opposes everything that's traditionally moral, why would there be a question of whether he's moral" when it comes to terrorism?
While Barton said that he was being a little facetious, Green replied that he was absolutely correct because "if [Kerry is] so wrong on all these other clear moral issues, how can we expect him to figure this one out."
"If you're wrong on an issue as simple as innocent life, then you have real trouble with guilty life as well," Barton explained. "When you take an unborn child this is innocent life and he doesn't think that that's right and wrong to take the life of an innocent unborn child, then when you see something like Hamas, which is guilty people who are murderers being taken out, he thinks that that's abominable."
"His whole value system is skewed," Barton concluded, "and that's the way so much of this administration has been," which is why it has been wrong on everything from economic policy, social policy, and foreign policy.
"You just can't be a world leader if you don't believe that certain things are right and certain things are wrong":
Christian-nation activist David Lane is engaged in a multi-year, multi-state project to get conservative evangelical pastors more involved in electing right-wing candidates, and he is intent on making sure that the GOP nominates a 2016 presidential candidate to the Religious Right’s liking.
In spite of his extremism, Lane regularly gets Republican presidential candidates to attend his American Renewal Project events. On Monday night, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee spoke at a Michigan Renewal Project “Pastors Policy Briefing.”
It seems as if Cruz is equally at home in front of the camera and behind closed doors. The Detroit News reports that he “made a quiet visit to Michigan Sunday and Monday, meeting with Republican Party activists in events that were kept hush-hush until photos of the tea party stalwart and potential 2016 presidential candidate surfaced on social media.”
In addition to Lane’s event, the paper reports, “Cruz appeared at four events over the two-day period organized by Ron Weiser, the Ann Arbor developer and national Republican fundraiser with connections throughout the country.” The paper says Weisner is seeking the GOP nomination for a seat on the University of Michigan board of regents. Among other attendees at Cruz events were Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Tea Party activist Wendy Day, who recently lost a GOP primary bid for seat in the state House.