As David Barton has been fighting to salvage his reputation over the last few weeks, one of the main claims that he and his supporters are making is that the disputes over the veracity of Barton's work all boil down to simple matters of interpretation.
Rick Green, for instance, claims that the attacks on Barton are nothing more than "empty rhetoric using the tiniest of semantics over one fact out of thousands to try and discredit the entire premise of the book."
In Green's view, people are just nitpicking Barton's work because they disagree with his interpretation of facts ... but, as we have repeatedly pointed out, people are questioning Barton's interpretation of facts because he has a longrecord of intentionally misinterpreting them in order to promote his own agenda.
And today on "WallBuilders Live," Barton offered up another perfect example of this when he discussed the controversy that surrounds Jerry Boykin:
He's actually a three-star general and he got in a lot of trouble from the secular guys because he talked about God in a church. Can you imagine him doing that? He spoke in a church and he talked about God. They beat him up and demanded that he be kicked out of the military and went to the President and said "you can't let a guy speak about God when he is in church" and he's taken abuse and a beating.
He was dis-invited from speaking up at West Point last year under the Obama administration because he is the head of a group that deals with domestic terrorism, that deals with the threat of Islamic terrorism but how it applies itself domestically and the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. So because he points out where there are threats, he as a guy who recognizes a threat when he sees it, who had Delta Force special forces, was kept from speaking at West Point by the Obama administration.
So that is Barton's "interpretation" of what happened and, you will be shocked to learn, it does not correspond very closely to reality.
In fact, Boykin got in trouble not for talking about God in church but for appearing in full uniform before a religious group to declare that Muslims hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan" and that Boykin knew the US would win because "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
This perfectly demonstrates why the matter of Barton's reliability as an "interpreter" is central to the concerns about the reliability of his historical claims because, as we havesaidseveraltimesbefore, if he cannot be relied upon to accurately "interpret" information pertaining to recent events that anyone with access to Google can easily check and verify, how can anyone trust the arcane claims he makes about complex events in early American history?
BreakPoint ministry, founded by the late Chuck Colson and chaired by Timothy George, appears to be making a clean break with junk historian David Barton. While Barton and his deputy Rick Green continue to claim their only critics are left-wing, anti-Christianacademic elitists, more and more conservatives are distancing themselves from Barton.
Just as Barton projects his own right-wing political views and fundamentalist version of Christianity onto the Founders, Tom Gilson writes for BreakPoint that many Christians readily accepted Barton’s version of history because it validated their own political and religious beliefs: “He gave us what we wanted.” Consequently, “Barton’s errors are not only his” as they “also belong to those of us who bought his message carelessly, unquestioningly, too eagerly, and too comfortably.”
Gilson points out that Barton’s work faced significant scrutiny long before evangelical historians began criticizing Barton’s “scholarship” as “serious questions that have surrounded Barton’s work for a long time” and the Christian publishing giant Thomas Nelson pulled “The Jefferson Lies” from publication, and yet many Barton fans agreed with his claim that any criticism is a result of the “liberal academy’s antipathy to Christianity.” “It’s not political opinion that’s stacking up against him now,” Gilson writes. “It’s well documented facts.”
David Barton was American evangelicals’ favorite historian. He taught us about the Founding Fathers’ almost uniform commitment to Christian principles, and secular historians’ attempts to bury our Christian heritage under reams of revisionist distortions. He gave us firepower in support of our mission to return America to its godly founding principles.
He gave us what we wanted. But now David Barton has been credibly charged with serious distortions of his own.
The story has been told in both the secular and the Christian press: Barton’s most recent book, The Jefferson Lies, was riddled with misinformation. Its publisher, Thomas Nelson, pulled it from distribution. Barton is standing firm in his position, but reliable historians—strongly conservative Christian scholars among them—continue to hold him in error, and not just because of this work but because of others as well.
I am no historian, so I am in no position to form an independent judgment of his veracity. Few of us are. But that doesn’t excuse our eager acceptance of his inaccuracies. With a bit of care, any of us could have known of the serious questions that have surrounded Barton’s work for a long time. These recent revelations are nothing new, except in the degree to which conservative Christian scholars are involved in calling him to account.
Nevertheless we became for him a devoted cadre of disciples. We knew our country’s founding principles were vitally important. However, so is historical accuracy. It looks as if Barton compromised one to make a case for the other.
If the signs have been there for some time, why then did we love Barton so? And is it possible that we share the blame? Barton fended off criticism by blaming it on the liberal academy’s antipathy to Christianity. That had more than a little believability to it. I am quite sure that liberal academics often hold to an ideological agenda that motivates them to discredit Christianity’s part in our nation’s history. Thus, it was easy (and it still is) to be suspicious of their criticisms in this case. But the ideology defense is no help when it’s conservative Christians making a case against Barton—especially when it’s a case as verifiable as this is proving to be. It’s not political opinion that’s stacking up against him now. It’s well documented facts.
To accept any human teacher without checking on his message with due diligence is to abandon our responsibility to the truth. David Barton’s errors are not only his. They also belong to those of us who bought his message carelessly, unquestioningly, too eagerly, and too comfortably.
Things have now gotten so desperate for David Barton and WallBuilders that they are reduced to calling in support from none other than Scott Lively to defend Barton's work by attacking Warren Throckmorton, Barton's primary critic.
Lively, as you know, is widely seen as the inspiration behind Uganda's notorious "kill the gays" legislation and the author of the book "The Pink Swastika," which claims that "the Nazi Party was conceived, organized and controlled throughout its short history by masculine-oriented male homosexuals who hid their sexual proclivities from the public, in part by publicly persecuting one group of their political enemies: out-of-the-closet effeminate-oriented homosexuals aligned with the German Communist Party."
Throckmorton has likewise been a vocal critic of Lively's "scholarship" and so the the geniuses at WallBuilders thought it would be a good idea of have Lively come on the program and explain that what is happening to Barton is the same thing that happened to him:
I had the same kind of run-in with Mr. Throckmorton myself. I'm the author of a history book along with Jewish researcher Kevin Abrams called "The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party." Very controversial but heavily documented and Mr. Throckmorton has attempted to attack my work in the very same way.
Why WallBuilders thinks this comparison helps Barton's cause is utterly beyond our comprehension.
Green and Lively also suggested that Throckmorton is responsible for some sort of widespread conspiracy against anti-gay Religious Right leaders because he is favorably quoted on "really nasty anti-Christian blogs" such as Box Turtle Bulletin, Joe.My.God, and Truth Wins Out and engages in interaction with us here at Right Wing Watch:
Green: I noticed in your article you said just Google his name along with these really nasty anti-Christian blogs like Box Turtle Bulletin, Truth Wins Out, Joe.My.God, I mean they got some really nasty stuff on there ...
Lively: Very nasty.
Green: And apparently he's kind of a champion of these guys. They really kind of see him as a hero. They quote him all the time.
Lively: There's a lot of interaction there between him and some of the other people and the group Right Wing Watch ...
Green: Oh yeah, those guys love us. They just love us. They love us so much that they watch us all the time and listen to us all the time. They're always taking stuff out of context and out of quotes ... so to all of our friends at Right Wing Watch and these other liberal blogs and whatnot listening today, we just want to say "hi, love ya, Lord bless you."
Lively: Amen. Hey, I want these people to be saved. I want them to be turned from the foolishness of their positions but I'm not simply going to sit back when they're attacking people who are standing for biblical truth.
Yesterday, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans said that the Republican Party platform might actually contain language saying that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Imagine! Although the language included no reference to LGBT people, Log Cabin argued that it would be a “positive nod” toward them.
A nearly imperceptible, practically meaningless nod, perhaps. Anti-gay groups typically use similar rhetoric to soften their image. Even the most stridently anti-gay Religious Right leaders insist they don’t hate gays, they love them so much they want to save them from their evil, wicked, Satanic, hell-bound lives.
Last night, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins provided a bit of a reality check. He sent a memo bragging that “our team has had several hands” working on the platform:
With a presence in the committee meetings, the FRC Action staff has been able to help delegates hold the line of social issues. Just this morning, our efforts made what was already a good document even better.
Before this week, the GOP’s draft platform included solid language defending the family – and FRC Action, in tandem with Eagle Forum, made it even stronger.
Perkins boasts that as a delegate on the subcommittee handling health care, education, and the family, “I was able to reinforce the language on marriage and successfully helped with amendments on conscience rights, abortion in health care, and stem cell research."
Joining Perkins on the Platform Committee is David Barton, the promoter of bogus “Christian nation” history whose recent book on Thomas Jefferson was slammed as grossly inaccurate by so many scholars that his Christian publishing house, Thomas Nelson, pulled the book from the shelves. But Barton’s abuses of the truth have never been enough to discredit him with his friends in the GOP. Barton is serving on the platform committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, where Tony Perkins assures us Barton led efforts that “fended off liberal attacks that would have watered down the wording” on marriage and “life.”
This morning, the Tampa Bay Times reports that the draft moving forward includes a call for a federal constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the U.S., and for a constitutional amendment applying the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to “unborn children." There is no exception for allowing abortion in the case of rape or incest.
The full Platform Committee will take up the work of the subcommittees today.
As the controversy over David Barton's shoddy scholarship has roiled for the last several weeks, Mat Staver, dean of the Liberty University Law School, has been one of Barton's most ardent defenders, declaring that he "would put [his] money on David Barton any day" and even proclaiming that he'd be willing to put Barton up "against any historian and would have no question who would win in a debate."
So it was no surprise that Staver was the guest on "WallBuilders Live" today where he spent most of the time attacking one of Barton's main critic Warren Throckmorton, for not being a historian. Of course, Barton is not a historian either and neither is Staver, for that matter.
But Staver did make an interesting revelation on the program when he explained that Barton's book "Original Intent" is required reading for every law student at Liberty Law School:
We actually use his book "Original Intent" in one of our law school classes. We have a lot of different resources and certainly one of those resources regarding original intent and the Founder's vision and views for this country, we use David Barton's book.
In "Foundations of Law" at Liberty University School of Law that every first year law school student goes through the first semester, we have David Barton's book as one of the books, and we have excerpts from that and chapters from it that we use. And our law school students read that and we talk about it and we look at the historical issues involving the Founders.
I began using that when I was teaching the course and now our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Rena Lindevaldsen, uses that. One of our professors, Cynthia Dunbar, she uses that book in that "Foundations of Law" course as well and I know that there's other faculty at Liberty University that also are very much advocates of David Barton's work.
Sarah Posner in Religion Dispatchesnotes that Akin, who has a masters in divinity, received his degree at a denomination which teaches that rape seldom leads to pregnancy and should not be relevant to laws on abortion rights, and as Kate Sheppard of Mother Jonespointed out, anti-choice luminary John Willke asserts that hormones make pregnancies resulting from rape “extremely rare” and Physicians for Life believes “the rate of pregnancy is actually very rare” because the stress from the rape “alter[s] bodily functions, the menstrual cycle included.”
Those opinions are commonplace among anti-choice activists.
Human Life International says “it is very useful to be able to show just how rare rape- and incest-caused pregnancies really are” in order to expose women who falsely state they were raped in order to have abortions: “Women who are willing to kill their own preborn children for mere convenience obviously see lying as a relatively small crime.”
40 Days for Life, the group which holds hundreds of protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, in “ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments” also says that pregnancies resulting from rape are “extremely rare” and “can be prevented”:
“What about a woman who is pregnant due to rape or incest?”
a. Pregnancy due to rape is extremely rare, and with proper treatment can be prevented.
b. Rape is never the fault of the child; the guilty party, not an innocent party, should be punished.
c. The violence of abortion parallels the violence of rate.
d. Abortion does not bring healing to a rape victim.
It remains to be seen which conservative leaders will condemn—or defend—Akin as pressure mounts on the candidate to quit the race.
Update: Fischer is now even claiming that “Todd Akin is right,” citing an article by Willke.
As we noted yesterday, Glenn Beck is doing his best to address the current controversy over David Barton's shoddy scholarship by pretending to be searching for the truth while simultaneously doing all he can defend his close friend's reputation.
Thus, Beck' The Blazeran a long piece that purported to independently examine the claims made by Barton along with the criticism of those claims and which found that, in every instance, the claims made by Barton were inaccurate, at best. But The Blaze simply could not bring itself to actually acknowledge Barton's untruths and instead bent over backwards to avoid reaching any conclusions.
Last night, Beck dedicated his entire program to "clearing the air" on the controversy ... by letting Barton make his case, unchallenged, for an entire hour.
Just how hard-hitting was this interview that Beck conducted with Barton? Why don't you take a look at these excepts we grabbed from Beck's ten minute opening monologue where he positively gushed about Barton while casting aspersions on this "campaign against one of America's most respected people" and just take a guess:
Beck says that he has never seen Barton "insist that he is right when the facts demonstrate otherwise," but we are assuming that that is because Beck never actually asks Barton to show him where the Constitution directlyquotes the Bible "verbatim":
David Barton and Rick Green continued their crusade to salvage Barton's tattered reputation by quickly putting together a two-part program on "WallBuilders Live" dedicated mostly to once again attacking Warren Throckmorton has unchristian and untrustworthy - which they know because, among other things, he uses information from Right Wing Watch.
But mostly they just wanted everyone to know that the mounting criticism of Barton's shoddy scholarship is really an effort to "disenfranchise Christians":
Barton: So this really is an attack, not at us per se; this is an attack on religious involvement in general from religious conservatives who have gotten into the process in the last twenty-five years.
Green: They recognize that you are kind of the voice of that for so long. I mean, you've been tireless over the last twenty-five years speaking across the nation and educating us on these things and putting those original documents on-line, putting out there in front of us. So, like you said, they know if they can go after you and somehow taint your image and create this image of you that isn't true that it helps to bring down the whole movement, it helps to kind of disenfranchise Christians, really, from being involved.
Once again, let us state unequivocally that people are not criticizing Barton's scholarship because he is a Christian; they are criticizing it because it is full of falsehoods; falsehoods that Barton's knowingly propagates in order to promote his political agenda.
When we point out that it is not true that "many of the clauses we find in the Constitution are literal, direct quotations out of the Bible," as Barton soregularlyclaims, it is not just a difference of opinion or a matter of interpretation, but rather undeniable proof that Barton has a documented history of intentionally making false claims.
So why wouldn't Throckmorton cite Right Wing Watch in making the case that Barton's history cannot be trusted? Especially when one considers that we have dozens and dozens of documented examples of Barton saying false and absurd things?
For the last several weeks, The Blaze has been one of the few media outlets dedicating in-depth coverage to the controversy surrounding David Barton's shoddy scholarship. Given that The Blaze was founded by Barton's BFF Glenn Beck, it is no surprise that most of the coverage of Barton and his work has been, shall we say, rather flattering and one-sided, like when The Blazeran a piece taking a look at the criticisms that Barton's work has received only to follow it up with a piece and a Skype interview where Barton was allowed to respond unchallenged.
In light of the recent developments regarding Barton's work, The Blaze has once again served as the prime outlet through which Barton has been making his case in the media, though this time The Blaze'sFaith Editor Billy Hallowell acknowledged many of the specific criticisms that Barton's work has received, primarily from Warren Throckmorton, and vowed to independently examine "some of the explicit issues" in contention.
Hallowell examined four specific issues where Barton and Throckmorton disagree on aspects related to Thomas Jefferson and his faith, and in every instance the documentary evidence supports the claims made by Throckmorton and refutes the claims made by Barton, yet the conclusions reached by The Blaze were consistently presented in a way that avoids labeling Barton's claims as false.
The first issue addressed was "The Jefferson Bible" and what is said about Jefferson's own religious view. Barton claims Jefferson created it as a tool for use in evangelizing the Native Americans whereas Throckmorton claims Jefferson created it for his personal use, cutting out all the things he didn't believe so as to find the "diamonds in a dunghill." Barton also claims that for most of his life, Jefferson was a rather orthodox Christian, but Throckmorton says that is not so, and even points out that Jefferson once refused to serve as godfather to a friend's child because he refused to affirm the trinity.
The Blaze's brave conclusion on this question was that "clearly, the two sides are in disagreement on a number of fronts when it comes to the so-called 'Jefferson Bible' and on Jefferson’s faith more generally."
The next issue was whether or not Thomas Jefferson could have freed his slaves, with Barton claiming there were dozens of laws in Virginia that prohibited him from doing so and imposing fines on those who did, whereas Throckmorton pointed out that there were multiple instances of owners freeing slaves and that the "fines" that Barton cites where really only clerk's fees. It seems pretty obvious that Barton is wrong on this question, but once again The Blaze passed it off as a matter of interpretation:
Part of the debate on this point may be centered upon semantics. While Barton purportedly said that there were essentially fines against releasing slaves, Throckmorton said there was no evidence of this. However, the clerk’s fee, in some peoples’ eyes would be a “fine” of sorts. Still, others would distinguish between a clerk’s fee and a fine.
While Jefferson certainly could have freed his slaves based on the laws of that time, his finances may have been a problem preventing him from doing so. If Barton‘s contentions about Jefferson’s devotion to stopping the institution are accurate, one would assume that, if Jefferson had the means to free the slaves, he would have. On the flip side, if the president was immensely devoted to the cause, opponents like Throckmorton could argue that freeing these men and women should have taken precedence.
The next issue was Jefferson's role is supposedly financing the publication of a Bible. Barton claims that Jefferson “put up the financial backing” for the printing, while Throckmorton notes that Jefferson merely subscribed to its publication. But in Barton's view, they are one and the same because "subscribers really are investors." Obviously, the idea that someone who subscribes to a publication can be said to be a "funder" of that publication is nonsense ... but instead of calling Barton out on this, The Blaze once again hedged:
So, here we have a difference between the definitions surrounding “investor” versus “subscriber” (the primary definition of the former word is: “to put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value”).
Finally, The Blaze took a look at Barton's claim that Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a Christian university, a claim which Throckmorton disputes, pointing that there was no chapel on campus and Jefferson declared that "a professorship of theology should have no place in our institution." Throckmorton also noted that Barton, while quoting Jefferson to make this case in his book, intentionally omitted a line from Jefferson's letter that undemined the very point he was trying to make ... and once again, The Blaze merely shrugged:
But, an omission doesn’t necessarily mean that the meaning of the overall message is debunked, of course. The difference here is over whether the school was planning to formerly align itself with these denominations — or whether it was simply attempting to respect its student body by providing access to numerous faiths.
Then, after demonstrating on in all four cases that the claims put forth by Barton could not be substantiated, The Blaze ended the article by turning to several of Barton's Religious Right allies to defend him:
Mathew D. Staver, vice-president of Liberty University, an evangelical higher educational facility, defended Barton. Aside from saying that he doesn’t put any credibility into “Throckmorton’s self-published ebook” (the book is also available in print, as we’ve noted), he dismissed the professor as “a psychologist [and] not [a] historian.”
“I have never heard him speak or write on Jefferson until now,” he continued,” going on to share some interesting information about his recent interaction with Thomas Nelson:
“I have not had the opportunity to look at all the allegations, but I have looked at some of Throckmorton‘s claims and Barton’s responses. I would put my money on David Barton any day. Herein lies a serious issue for Thomas Nelson. I was asked to review Throckmorton’s arguments, but before I could respond, Thomas Nelson shocked everyone by its knee jerk reaction to criticism by non-experts only two weeks or so after ask[ing] for my response. I am very disappointed in the way Thomas Nelson handled this matter.”
Staver also noted that Dr. Roger Schultz, dean of Liberty’s colleges of arts and sciences and an expert on American history, and Rena Lindevaldsen, associate dean for academic affairs at the university, both back Barton. In speaking of critics, Staver warned that they should “be prepared to eat crow.”
The Rev. James Robison, too, weighed in on the scenario. While not directly placing blame or accusing Barton of inaccuracies, he told TheBlaze about the importance of upholding godly values — and embracing truth. On a grander scale, he discussed the attempt to ongoing attempt by liberals to “minimize the importance of Judeo-Christian principles.”
“We must stand together against the liberal, progressive mind-set that is seeking to destroy what made us great. The bottom line is: Truth matters,” he continued. “We must exalt the truth and always be willing to be corrected by it. It is truth that makes us free, and only truth can keep us free.”
Robison went on to stress the double standard that he believes any and all Americans — and in this case, conservatives and evangelicals — risk falling prey to.
“If we expect our nation’s leaders to respond to truth and correction, each one of us must also be anxious to respond to the standards our founders put in place,” Robison continued. “Those standards corrected many founders who had signed them. I, for one, am anxious to be corrected and directed by God’s truth, which is marching on.”
If The Blaze's handling of these questions was bad, Robison's remarks are even worse considering that it was Robison who was sitting directly across from Barton when Barton falsely declared on his television program that the Constitution directly quotes the Bible "verbatim":
If Robison really believes that "the bottom line is: truth matters," maybe he ought to stop promoting Barton and his falsehoods until Barton starts to demonstrate a willingness to "exalt the truth and ... be corrected by it."
But Messiah College professor John Fea notes that Barton’s ability to paint his critics “as godless and liberal” isn’t working as an increasing number of evangelical pastors have denounced him:
Through it all, Barton continues to insist that his interpretation of Thomas Jefferson is accurate despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. When legitimate historians criticize his work he paints them as godless and liberal. But can all these historians and critics be wrong? Apparently David Barton is the only one out there who has correctly interpreted Thomas Jefferson. This kind of arrogance not only shows a deep disrespect for the work of historians, many of whom have devoted their lives to the study of Jefferson, but, perhaps more importantly, it is an embarrassment to the Christian church. Perhaps Barton needs to take a lesson from Rev. Dudley Rutherford, the evangelical pastor who misinterpreted the story of the Star-Spangled Banner. When Rutherford, the pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, California, learned that his YouTube presentation contained several inaccuracies, he quickly apologized and pledged to look deeper into the historical record.
But even if we allow Barton to dismiss non-Christian historians, he will have a hard time dismissing his fellow evangelicals. Many of his critics have very solid evangelical credentials. Throckmorton is a Romney supporter (or at least “likes” Romney on his Facebook page) and is a conservative evangelical Christian. When I spoke at Grove City College in January 2012, he apologized for having to miss one of my lectures. It turns out that Throckmorton is an elder at his local Evangelical Free Church and had to attend a meeting there on that particular night. Ray McMillian, one of the Cincinnati pastors who led the boycott of Thomas Nelson, runs an organization called “Race to Unity.” Speakers at Race to Unity events have included evangelical luminaries such as Tony Evans, Joseph Stowell, Ed Dobson, and Bill Hybels.
Gregg Frazer, one of the ten historians chosen by Jay Richards, teaches at The Masters College, a school founded by popular evangelical preacher John MacArthur. (Frazer has also written an excellent book on the religious beliefs of the founding fathers which I highly recommend). Glenn Sunshine is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL—certainly not a bastion of godless liberalism. Charles Dunn, who has endorsed Getting Jefferson Right, is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Government at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Even the folks at WorldView Weekend, an organization that used to partner with Barton, have turned their collective backs on him.
Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics mentions that a number of Baptist scholars have consistently criticized Barton’s “dubious” work:
One of the nation's premier historians, Martin Marty, wrote critically of Barton's new book in May.
"Barton is publishing 'The Jefferson Lies,' which most historians would title 'Barton's Lies about Jefferson,'" said Marty.
A year earlier, Marty said that Barton cherry-picked material.
Another preeminent historian and a Baptist, Richard Pierard, referred to Barton's work as "pseudo-history."
Bruce Prescott, another Baptist scholar and leading advocate for the separation of church and state, wrote in 2010: "For more than two decades, David Barton has been deceiving many honest but naïve Christians with a revisionist history about our system of government that promotes the mythology of Christian nationalism."
In addition to columns, EthicsDaily.com has had news stories about Barton's role in shaping the public education curriculum in Texas.
Now, conservatives are challenging Barton's use of history and distancing themselves from his misuse of history. When Thomas Nelson Publishers backs away from Barton, one knows Barton's work is dubious.
As Kyle pointed out, David Barton is trying to salvage his collapsing support by yet again attacking the religious and political views of his critics, joining American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer today in smearing Warren Throckmorton as a tool of the left. Unfortunately for Barton, more and moreconservatives are denouncing his right-wing pseudo-history on the heels of a scathing NPR report and the news that Thomas Nelson has yanked his latest book, “The Jefferson Lies,” from publication.
Now, the former dean of Regent University’s Robertson School of Government—named after televangelist Pat Robertson—and a leading conservative writer is adding his voice to the growing chorus of historians criticizing Barton’s sloppy scholarship. Regent University professor Charles Dunn endorsed the book, “Getting Jefferson Right,” written by professors Throckmorton and Michael Coulter of Grove City College, which is also an evangelical school. “Getting Jefferson Right” debunked many of the claims found in Barton’s book on Jefferson, and Dunn said the book “stands up for truth in scholarship against the prevarications in David Barton’s The Jefferson’s Lies”:
Getting Jefferson Right by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter stands up for truth in scholarship against the prevarications in David Barton’s The Jefferson’s Lies. Because of the courage of Throckmorton and Coulter, Barton has now fallen from his pedestal of preeminence as a scholar of the early American era. Throckmorton and Coulter deserve the “Medal of Honor” for courage and probity.
Hitler loved to give “examples” of Jewish “offenses” to support his effort to annihilate the Jewish people. Not only were they most often false “offenses,” even if they had all been true it would not have supported the conclusion that the entire race should be wiped out. Any intelligent observer of today’s debate must challenge the premises presented and make sure that the “facts” of the critics support the conclusion they want you to believe. In every accusation I have seen so far in this debate, no premise or conclusion of David Barton has been proven faulty.
When David Barton penned his first defense of his book "The Jefferson Lies," he asserted that his critics were motivated by "hostility toward me and my personal religious beliefs" and therefore could never point to anything that he got wrong and instead simply attack him for his faith and the worldview that he promotes.
The crux of their attack was that Throckmorton was once a true evangelical but then turned away from supporting the use of reparative therapy to "cure" gays, at which point he lost his moral compass. Throckmorton is now, according to Barton, a radical member of the "Religious Left" .... and you know that because he associates with Right Wing Watch!
Apparently simply pointing out that the Constitution does not, in fact, directly quote the Bible verbatim now makes you a member of the Religious Left.
Case in point: today we came across these recent remarks delivered by Jerry Boykin where he claimed that "there is no question that there was divine inspiration" behind the writing of the Constitution, which is why "the Bible is referenced four times more than any other document in our Constitution":
Of course, the Bible is not referenced at all in the Constitution ... but you will not be surprised to learn that Boykin's claim finds its inspiration in Barton's "America's Godly Heritage" (skip ahead to the 4:00 mark) though Barton simply claims that the Bible was cited by the Founding Fathers four times more than they cited figures like Montesquieu and Blackstone.
Yet even Barton's original claim was itself problematic and Boykin has only made it worse by falsely claiming that the Constitution directly references the Bible multiple times, when it obviously does nothing of the sort.
The world’s largest Christian publisher Thomas Nelson has pulled David Barton’s book “The Jefferson Lies” because of Barton’s “unsupportable” claims regarding the third president’s views on religion. Barton’s deputy Rick Green accused academic “elitists” of acting like Adolf Hitler to smear Barton, while Barton ironically defended his book by insisting that a group of anonymous academics endorsed his work. Now that Thomas Nelson has recalled Barton’s book and removed all mention of it from its website, we wanted to see what books the publisher apparently found to be more credible than Barton’s “The Jefferson Lies”:
3. Hank Hanegraaff’s “The Creation Answer Book.” This book claims that humans and dinosaurs walked on the earth together and that the earth was created in six consecutive 24 hour days, apparently less of a stretch than Barton’s argument that Jefferson and the rest of the Founders were fundamentalist Christians.
4. John Hagee’s “The Beginning of the End.” The televangelist describes how the Antichrist will soon come to power, using microchips implanted in humans and hate crimes laws to secure his authority.
Last week, we noted how odd it was that seemingly nobody was coming to David Barton's defense after his shoddy scholarship was exposed by NPR and then Barton's publisher announced that it had "lost confidence" in his work and was ceasing publication and distribution of his book.
Late on Friday night, WallBuilders finally issued a statement defending Barton's work and announcing that his "book has already been picked up by a much larger national publisher and distributor" and would soon be in publication again. Given Barton's, shall we say, lack of credibility at the moment, we remain a bit skeptical and so the veracity of this announcement remains to be seen.
Around the same time, Barton's "WallBuilders Live" co-host and side-kick Rick Green took to his blog to pen a furious screed against Barton's detractors that was replete with references to Hitler and attacks on the "elitists" who criticize Barton's pseuo-history:
Hitler and Alinsky were both masters of this tool. Hitler said: “All propaganda has to … accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”
These elitist professors and reporters attacking David Barton know that most people will not actually go read the supporting material behind David’s books…certainly not the bloggers and reporters who have so quickly jumped on the attack wagon. They are exactly the “least intelligent” Hitler was able to fool, Alinksy taught radicals to fool, and now even Christian “leaders” are joining.
These elitists do not enjoy seeing themselves replaced.
They believe they are the high priests of history and the law.
They do not want you to read the actual writings of the Founders because that negates the need for their position of being the keeper of the keys to history ... The elitist professors like Kidd, Throckmorton, Coulter, & Jenkinson write boring books that very few people read and they give boring lectures that are only attended by students forced to do so in order to get a grade.
When these guys see Barton telling history in a way that is BOTH accurate and fun and they see millions of people are captivated and want to learn more, then perhaps it could be just a little jealousy could be causing them to lash out at Barton with innuendoes backed by no actual merit. But the bigger issue is that they do not want to lose the power of being the keepers of the keys to history. They want their “interpretation” of historical figures to control how generations view history, rather than letting historical events and historical figures speak for themselves.
Near the end of his rant, Green issued a challenge for anyone to show "a specific inaccuracy or false claim by Barton" and promised to post them on his blog for everyone to see:
In the meantime, I’m still waiting for someone to show me a specific inaccuracy or false claim by Barton ... They are claiming that Barton is purposefully presenting a false picture of history and using inaccuracies and distortions to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is these critics who are using inaccuracies, innuendo, and distortions to attack Barton in the first place.
If you can show me specifics that back up the image created by the critics innuendo, I’ll post it right here for the world to see.
Well, Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter wrote an entire book documenting Barton's false claims, so he could start there. Or he could turn to Chris Rodda who tried to take up Green's challenge only to discover that Green refused to post her comments on his blog and instead wrote a follow-up post asserting that he was not about to allow his blog to be used by "critics who have proven themselves to be illogical and slanderous" to promote their "ridiculous, unrelated, illogical ramblings."
We unsuccessfully attempted to take up Green's challenge as well, but he is blocking our comments and refusing to allow them to appear on his blog ... so we will just do so here.
Last week, we posted a collection of ten absurd claims that Barton has made along with ten demonstrably false claims that Barton has made and we hereby issue our own challenge to Green to defend them. He doesn't even have to defend all of them; he merely has to show us just one place where the Constitution directlyquotes the Bible "verbatim":
As we noted earlier, it has not been a very good week for David Barton, so this seemed like a good opportunity to pull together a list of some of the most absurd things that he has said over the last year or so just to give people who might not be particularly familiar with Barton or his work a better sense of just what sort of claims he likes to puts forth.
Yesterday we posted a list a ten demonstrably false claims Barton has made in recent months but this list, though also filled with falsehoods, focuses more on the sorts of patently ridiculous claims that Barton is prone to making:
As we noted yesterday, it has been a rough couple of days for the David Barton as first his shoddy scholarship was exposed by NPR and then the publisher of his latest book announced that it has "lost confidence" in it and was ceasing publication and distribution.
The Tennesseancaught up with Barton to get his reaction to these developments and the criticism that his work has been receiving and he offered up the most perfectly Bartontonian defense one could have imagined:
Barton said he met with a different group of scholars recently and they approved of his work.
“I can’t tell you how many Ph.D.’s were in the room,” he said.
But he would not give any names, saying the scholars hadn’t given their permission for him do so.
While we are not surprised by Barton's defense, we have to admit that we are a bit shocked by the utter silence from the Religious Right to these developments because we have been searching high and low and have so far been unable to find any evidence of anyone stepping up to defend him or his work.
Today has not been a good day for David Barton. First, NPR ran a devastating piece exposing his biased and shoddy scholarship and now the publisher of his book "The Jefferson Lies" has announced that it is pulling his book:
The Thomas Nelson publishing company has decided to cease publication and distribution of David Barton’s controversial book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, saying it has “lost confidence in the book’s details.” (See “The David Barton controversy,” Aug. 8.)
Casey Francis Harrell, Thomas Nelson’s director of corporate communications, told me the publishing house “was contacted by a number of people expressing concerns about [The Jefferson Lies].” The company began to evaluate the criticisms, Harrell said, and “in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported. Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”
Barton is currently preaching out in Hawaii, but we imagine he is not getting much rest or relaxation as he deals with this string of bad news.
Those are just ten examples we pulled together from recent months, though there areseveralothers we could have also included.
It is too bad that Barton refuses to engage in debates because it would be nice to see him defend his own claims instead of always just complaining that people are attacking him because of his Christian faith.