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?
Over the last year or so, we have been noting how the Family Research Council was slowly becoming more and more intertwined with various leaders within the New Apostolic Reformation movement, the collection of modern-day "prophets" and "apostles" who believe they posses the same miracle working abilities as Jesus.
NAR's public political activism has cooled since leaders had their coming-out at Rick Perry's massive prayer rally last summer, but obviously efforts to work its way into the larger Religious Right political movement continue.
Case in point, today we received an email from the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, the organization run by John Benefiel, who thinks that Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol, revealing that leaders from the organization. along with "50 other intercessors," had been gathered at FRC's headquarters earlier this week, just the day before the recent shooting:
HAPN was represented at this meeting, according to the email, by Jon Hamill, who runs an organization called Lamplighter Ministries and which has deep ties to wide variety of NAR leaders, including Cindy Jacobs and Mike Bickel:
Ordained by James Goll, they are aligned apostolically with Global Spheres International ... In addition to work with Lamplighter, Jon and Jolene serve as MD coordinators and Mid-Atlantic coordinators of the Reformation Prayer Network, founded by Dr. Cindy Jacobs, and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, founded by Dr. John Benefiel.
Jon and Jolene are also honored to be among the “emerging leaders” of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. For more than a decade, the ACPE has been convened by Dr. C. Peter Wagner and Cindy Jacobs to seek the Lord and share corporate insights for times ahead.
Jon and Jolene reside in metro Washington DC. Jon was formerly on staff with Generals International, founded by Cindy Jacobs, and the International House of Prayer, founded by Mike Bickle. Jolene served for many years in the mortgage industry.
It amazes us that viewers continue to write in to "The 700 Club" seeking Pat Robertson's advice on how to deal with their problems, especially since he's lately been staking out some rather questionable positions, like telling a man to divorce his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer's.
Today a woman wrote in wanting to know why the men she dated always broke up with her when they found out that she had three children that had been adopted from foreign countries, which prompted Pat to declare that it was "because a man doesn't want to take on the United Nations" and that, in general, people should be careful about adopting children because "you just never know what's been done to a child before you get that child; what kind of sexual abuse there has been, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation" that might cause them to grow up "weird."
Robertson went on to explain that people should be willing to help orphans, as he does, "but that doesn't necessarily mean that I want to take all the orphans around the world into my home" before finally seeming to realize that he was just digging a deeper hole for himself and attempting to change the subject, declaring "I'm in trouble":
Mefferd: I wonder if he had really considered what the reaction would be because he has taken the African American community so much for granted, the support of your community so much for granted, do you think he had any inkling that he would get the reaction of a lot of the black pastors that we’ve seen?
Owens: I don’t think he did. I think he felt that he could continue to do as he’s been doing. He’ll take up the cause of the Latinos, he’ll take up the cause of the homosexuals, but it’s like the African Americans don’t exist. And he said I’m not the president of the African Americans, I’m the president of America. What if the white leaders who were in office when the civil rights bill had passed, what if they had said that, ‘We’re the politicians for the white community’? We wouldn’t have gotten a right to vote, we wouldn’t have gotten the rights we enjoy today. So we’re going to take him on even more, as a matter of fact this is one of my last interviews until we come out with a new news conference next week, we’re coming out fighting.
What President Obama said was, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.” In fact, that is the exact opposite message employed by the white supremacist leaders that Owens compared Obama too, as Obama said he was the President of all Americans, including African Americans.
Later, Owens said that supporting gay rights is “like waving your thing in God’s face” and said that same-sex marriages are “destroying the foundation of the family” and are “not honorable to the child”:
Mefferd: There seems to be a lack of fear of God in a lot of these activists, a lot of these people who are moving forward as if this is no big deal but in fact this is really an affront to God, would you say that’s the case?
Owens: I would say that’s the case. It’s like waving your thing in God’s face and saying, ‘You don’t matter.’ That’s exactly what I think. They do not honor God’s word; they don’t honor Him; not God’s people.
Mefferd: Why do you think the marriage issue is so important from a civilization stand point?
Owens: The marriage issue is so important because the marriage is a family ordained by God. If you destroy that you’re destroying the foundation of the family. We have a little boy; I’ve raised six children already. How can a man and a man be a parent to a child? By their nature, they cannot. How can a woman and a woman? My little boy takes both of us, he takes the love and tenderness of a mother and he takes the love and whatever the dad gives he needs that too. So to do different is disloyal, it’s not honorable to the child. We cannot say a marriage is right between the same sex.
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."
Buster Wilson re-posts Scott Lively's defense of David Barton and Barton himself also tweeted a link to Lively's defense of him/attack on Throckmorton.
Joseph Farah says everyone owes Michele Bachmann an apology because she was right and Huma Abedin "was employed by an institute at the forefront of a grand plan to mobilize U.S. Muslim minorities to transform America into a Saudi-Style Islamic state."
Bryan Fischer explains that Jesus was a capitalist.
Phyllis Schlafly seems to have no problem with flagrantly lying, claiming "that "Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs banned any mention of Jesus Christ during burials at Houston National Cemetery." That is not true.
Finally, Phil Burress, chairman of the Citizens for Community Values, does his part to spread the latest right-wing lie alleging that President Obama is trying to prevent members of the military from voting: "They're going to do everything they can to make sure that what happened in Florida when we had the hanging chad debate down there, where they still had ballots sitting on battleships out on the ocean and they never did get a chance to vote, [happens again] ... Obama does not want the military to vote, because he knows how they're going to vote. So, suing Ohio to try to prohibit or to slow down the military from voting is just despicable."
Linda Harvey of Mission America is out with another attack against the National Education Association, which she earlier claimed is leading “gaystapo efforts” and creating “financial incentives” for students to become gay. On her radio program yesterday, Harvey said that the NEA is promoting “destructive beliefs” and an “anti-life, anti-morality agenda” by supporting the health care reform law and LGBT rights, and warned that their efforts to curb bullying and encourage safety for LGBT students and staff is part of “a Trojan Horse to bring pro-homosexual indoctrination into our schools.”
Harvey: The NEA is already on record as supporting Obamacare and apparently that includes the mandate to pay for abortions and abortion-causing drugs even if it violates ones conscience. At the convention, the union reaffirmed its intention to support this and incorporate government-run health care into teaching contracts. The NEA also passed new Business Item D with support for sweeping ‘social justice’ measures in schools. The language here implies that homosexuality and gender confusion are equivalent to race, which is simply not true. Another agenda item will urge the US Department of Education to spend money researching the causes of bullying and especially as it leads to, you guessed it, homophobia. So this just adds another supporting point on our list proving that the issue of bullying is being exploited as a Trojan Horse to bring pro-homosexual indoctrination into our schools. And the NEA passed a measure urging more safety programs for students and teachers who are LGBTQ, that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning, and they cited as their support the invalid and discredited School Climate Surveys of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which is as you know is a group promoting homosexuality to kids…. So what can we do? We need to keep praying for our schools, support the teachers out there who don’t have these destructive beliefs, and work at the local level in all our communities to diminish the influence of the teachers’ unions as long as they would have such an anti-life, anti-morality agenda.
A recent film released by Truth in Action Ministries, entitled Why Christians left the Political Arena, implores evangelicals to remain politically engaged. Featuring activists Calvin Beisner, Wayne Grudem and Rick Scarborough along with an eminent montage of gay rights, pro-choice, and environmental activists, the film decries any separation between religion and public policy. It implies that if a truly observant Christian is to obey the commands of Jesus, they must advocate for laws that “protect” marriage, and warns that God will hold us accountable for “how we have acted in responsibility towards influencing government.”
Truth in Action Ministries has previously embraced anti-gay activists who have likened homosexuality to “slavery” and warned that “moral chaos” was inevitable due to “liberal secular people” marginalizing religious people in the public arena.
Beisner: Law plays a proper function in curtailing sin. So, we have a responsibility to seek to use laws to retrain the outward sinful conduct of people, even where we can’t use them, we never can use them, to change people’s hearts.
Grudem: If I truly love my neighbor I want laws that will protect my neighbor’s marriage, that will give good education to neighbor, that will protect my neighbor’s health and well-being, and economic well-being, so government doesn’t steal everything from us. I think it is a way of obeying Jesus’ command ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Scarborough: If pastors don’t get involved in confronting the moral issues of our day, biblically, we will soon digress into becoming a lawless nation. And frankly, we’re on the very edge of that right as we speak. Our country is becoming an amoral country because so many preachers have withdrawn from the culture completely.
Beisner: There is no part of life that is neutral, to which Christ doesn’t say “it’s mine”. No part of life. And there is no neutrality on any moral issue whatsoever. And all of life is religious.
Grudem: The bible does tell us that God will hold us accountable for how we act. I think that includes all of life and certainly it includes how we have acted in responsibility towards influencing government.
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.