David Barton and the Matter of Interpretation

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 long record 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."

After retiring from the military due largely to the controversy he generated with this address, Boykin then turned his attention full time to anti-Islam activism, calling on Christians to “pray over mosques and go on the offensive against Islam while declaring that Islam should not be protected under the First Amendment and that America should ban the construction of mosques. And it was this long and documented history of anti-Islam activism that led Boykin to withdraw from his speaking engagement at West Point.

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 have said several times before, 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?

Pat Robertson Blames Drought on Americans who 'Ignore the Laws of God with Impunity'

Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson blamed this year’s severe drought on Americans who infringe on God’s law, although Robertson did not specify which laws were broken. “Somehow in this country we feel that we can ignore the laws of God with impunity, and the truth is we can’t, God always has the last say,” Robertson said, “we need to do some praying.” “The heavens have been shut up and it’s time for those folks in the Midwest to do some serious praying,” Robertson counseled. Earlier this year, Robertson maintained that tornadoes in the Midwest could have been stopped if only people had prayed them away.

Watch:

Leading Religious Right Ministry Breaks with Barton and his 'Misinformation'

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-Christian academic 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.

Barber: Polygamy and Incest are 'Inevitable' if Gay Marriage is Legalized

On today's "Faith and Freedom" program, Matt Barber declared that gay activists don't actually want marriage equality but rather are interested in "deconstructing the Judeo-Christian notion of marriage as marriage has always been." 

In fact, Barber claimed, the institution of marriage has always been about restricting which sorts of relationships are legitimate, which is why "people can't marry children, people can't marry close relatives, people can't marry their favorite pet."  Barber then warned that if "we're going to break the institution of marriage and radically redefine it" then "polygamy is inevitable if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land and we can no longer have prohibitions on incestuous marriage":

GOP Platform Committee Disses DC

The Republican Party’s platform committee spent the day addressing amendments to sections of the platform draft that came up through subcommittees.  It seems that the DC delegation had managed to get into the draft platform some vague language supporting improved representation. It didn’t last. 

The language said that while the Party is opposed to statehood, there could be constructive alternative means of representation that should be considered.  Even that was too much.  James Bopp, delegate from Indiana, dripping contempt for DC, called for that to be hacked out, which it was. He said the District already has representation through its delegate and through the "Democrat Party," which is “of, by, and for the federal government.”

Watch Bopp's comments and his little victory celebration:

Right Wing Round-Up - 8/21/12

  • Good As You: Brian Brown fundraises with line: 'We're not going to allow gay activists to get away with attempted murder!'

 

Right Wing Leftovers - 8/21/12

  • Rick Scarborough wants Akin to remain in since his “legitimate rape” comment “was made in the course of an otherwise admirable defense of the right to life.”
  • What a surprise! Harry Jackson is out with a column attacking marriage equality.
  • The American Prayer Initiative today asks people to pray for God to “intervene to transform and heal the hearts of those who would attempt to re-define marriage.”
  • After last year’s Values Voter Summit was a bit of a disaster, the Family Research Council now wants people to pray for the conference and to “give Americans discernment to distinguish between lies and truth.”
Please pray that word of iPledge Sunday and VVS will spread rapidly. May God help those who participate to help fellow Americans be motivated and guided by Scripture, prayer, common sense and good conscience to vote aright, and to elect god-fearing men and women to every level of Government! May God give Americans discernment to distinguish between lies and truth amid the hype, confusion, misinformation and disinformation in this political period. May the prayer and action efforts listed below all be blessed of God! May sufficient repentance be found in the Land that we might find God's mercy (Lev 19:35-36; Dt 10:11; 2 Chr 7:14; Pr 11:1; Mt 10:16; Is 1:16-20; Eph 5:6-16; 1 Tim 3:16 ff).

Bryan Fischer Says Todd Akin is Like a Victim of Rape

After likening the backlash to Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” to the Pharisees’ persecution of Jesus, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer is now comparing Akin to a victim of rape. After listing the growing chorus of conservative activists and media personalities who have called on Akin to quit the senate race, Fischer lamented that “everybody is gang tackling Todd Akin.” “You talk about a forcible situation, you talk about somebody being a victim of forcible assault, that would be Todd Akin,” Fischer maintained.

Watch:

Fischer Says Media Treating Akin Like Pharisees Treated Jesus

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer is continuing his full-throated defense of embattled Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who said this weekend that women can’t get pregnant from what he called “legitimate rape.” Speaking with AFA president Tim Wildmon on Today’s Issues, Fischer compared the media’s criticism of Akin with the Pharisees’ attacks on Jesus, saying that “the scribes and Pharisees were the first ones to play gotcha politics.”

“You know the Gospel writers say that they kept looking for some way to trap Jesus in something that he might say, just one single word they could jump on to try to discredit him and that’s what they did with Todd Akin and his comments about rape,” Fischer said.

Watch:

WallBuilders Turns to Scott Lively in an to Attempt to Salvage David Barton's Reputation

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.

It is interesting that Green would accuse us taking things out of context while categotically refusing to even acknowledge all of the instances we have documented of Barton spreading falsehoods, such as claiming that Constitution directly quotes the Bible "verbatim":

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