AFA Deceives Parents About Mix It Up Day

On October 30, The Southern Poverty Law Center will partner with over two thousand schools to sponsor an event called Mix It Up day. From the Mix It Up website, the event is

national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

In our surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

There is good that can come from this. Many teachers and schools encourage this kind of activity without being a part of the SPLC event. As a part of the anti-bullying initiative at my son’s elementary school last year, such lunch time mixing was encouraged. While I am not sure how much it helped in the long run, it seemed well intended.

However, where there is a anti-bullying program/idea, you can expect the American Family Association to be there complaining about it. And that is the case with the MIU Day. In a Time magazine story out yesterday, an AFA press release is mentioned and has this to say about the SPLC event:

“Mix It Up” day is an entry-level “diversity” program designed specifically by SPCL (sic) to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.

The AFA is calling for parents to keep their kids home on that day.

If possible, this is a new low for the AFA. There is just no truth in what the AFA is telling parents.

There are real consequences to the AFA’s actions. Some schools apparently have been intimidated by the AFA tactics and backed out of the event. I know first hand that some Christians become defensive when misinformed about anti-bullying initiatives.

Thanks to the AFA and Focus on the Family, self-styled pro-family groups are becoming associated with resistance to anti-bullying efforts. What is particularly disturbing in this case is the blatant dishonestly of the AFA in mischaracterizing the MIU Day.

I urge parents to send their kids to school on Oct 30 and go so far as to ask their schools to consider participating in MIU Day. While we have no megaphone akin to the AFA, I will encourage all associated with the Golden Rule Pledge to support any efforts to reduce stigma, stereotyping and bullying in schools.



Dinesh D’Souza’s Ethical Lacuna – UPDATED

UPDATE: Not really a surprise – D’Souza resigns as president of King’s College.

UPDATE 2: Apparently, D’Souza’s current fiancee’ is/was also married as of April, 2012. If you want some more irony, check out her blog at Smart Girl Politics – Give a Guy Enough Rope and He’ll Hang Himself.

More information about Mrs. Odie Joseph…

Here she complains about the effects of divorce.

I think this is the last thing for awhile. The lovely young lady would be Mrs. Denise Odie Joseph, D’Souza’s fiancee, on her blog asking the musical question…


This isn’t good.

World Magazine reported Tuesday (see link above) that King’s College president Dinesh D’Souza is or was engaged to a woman while still married to his wife. D’Souza who has been a vocal critic of gay marriage has been estranged from his wife for a couple of years according to the World report.

Normally, I would not say much about personal issues but I am very interested to see how evangelical leaders handle this. D’Souza has a very high profile among evangelicals and conservatives as the president of King’s College. His opposition to gay marriage and conservatism on social issues makes his reasoning on his own situation noteworthy. And on that point, consider what he told Fox News yesterday about his relationship with Ms. Denise Joseph:

I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.  Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

Consider now that this Bill Clintonesque reasoning comes from the president of an evangelical college. He didn’t know it was wrong? This lacuna in his understanding, if indeed he is sincere, is as disturbing as anything else being reported on this story. I am certainly not inclined to give much weigh to his reasoning on other matters.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not D’Souza’s judge. But evangelicals are often so quick to judge others while excusing themselves. And then as a group, evangelicals wonder why those outside the fold are skeptical and dismiss our judgments.


Why do they even bring Bryan Fischer on?

Bryan Fischer on CNN finds evil in the strangest places and then he won’t answer for his words about gays being Nazis.


Isn’t there some way to simply say no to the AFA? Conservatives might lament the title “conservative” applied to AFA and Fischer. However, I think it is up to conservatives to police ourselves. William Buckley did it with the John Birchers; why can’t conservatives today do it with the AFA?

Review: David Barton’s Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White, Part One

I just finished reading David Barton’s Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White. In this book, Barton attempts to demonstrate that the Republican party has historically been the party of civil rights while the Democrats have worked to prevent full equality for African Americans. As with other claims made by Barton, this claim has some truth to it. Democrats, especially southern Democrats worked against Reconstruction era reforms while certain Republicans advocated for full civil rights based on the Declaration of Independence. However, my impression is that Barton skews the history in several ways to give less than a complete and accurate picture of the period of time he covers (from pre-Civil War to the 1960s).

Thus far, I can identify three major problems with Barton’s narrative. One, he fails to make clear the divisions within the Republican party over Reconstruction and civil rights. Throughout the Reconstruction era, moderate and radical Republicans debated how far to go in granting civil rights to freed blacks. However, Barton’s narrative is clearly Democrat versus Republican. Barton mentions Plessy v. Ferguson as an adverse decision for blacks but fails to mention that most of the Justices who decided that case were either Republican or appointed by Republican presidents.

Two, Barton fails to consider the role of the Christian church in the southern resistance to civil rights. The Confederate constitution invoked God and many post Civil War opponents of equality embedded their arguments in the Bible. Barton makes the southern resistance to civil rights for blacks into a political issue without dealing with the religious justifications for segregation.

Three, Barton fails to even mention the 1964 presidential campaign and Barry Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act as turning points in black voting behavior. Prior to the Goldwater campaign, Republican presidents had received significant support from African Americans. For instance, Eisenhower received 39% of the black vote in 1956 and Nixon got 32% in 1960. In 1964, when Goldwater ran for president, only 6% of the black vote went Republican. Although Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman began the change of trend in voting, Goldwater’s lack of support for the Civil Rights Act and the reaction of black leaders — including Martin Luther King — were crucial factors in solidifying black support for the democrats.

This clip summarizes the history nicely:

Note at 4:03 into this clip, Martin Luther King, Jr. urged everyone to vote against Goldwater. Apparently many black leaders did not believe Goldwater was personally racist but the policies adopted by Goldwater and other Republicans at the time were of great importance. Barton completely omits these events.

For a good description of Reconstruction and beyond, I can’t recommend Barton’s book. I am currently reading Concerning a New Republic: The Republican Part and Southern Question, 1869-1900 by Charles Calhoun which is thus far a much better treatment of the facts than Setting the Record Straight. In upcoming posts, I hope to add some depth to these initial observations.

NARTH defines and decries propaganda

Exploding the irony meter, the National Association for the Research and Therapy announced the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference. Paul Copan from nearby Palm Beach Atlantic University will speak on the following topic:

“Truth, Freedom, and Social Constructions: Why Truth-Seeking Ought To Guide Scientific Research”

Without an understanding of key philosophical and ethical concepts for doing research-including “truth,” “tolerance,” “social constructionism,” and “freedom”-one’s research is likely to become skewed and prove to be both unscientific, and propagandistic. The researcher ought to have freedom to investigate and publish one’s research in the interests of truth-that is, what corresponds to reality. Such a view is not only commonsensical and self-evident. It simply makes for good science and prevents it from being corrupted by pure social and political agendas.

NARTH’s website is full of propaganda and information that does not correspond to reality. They publish a journal they call peer reviewed but is rather reviewed by members and leaders of the organization. They call for more research on their practices but then do next to none.  They refer to mainstream research but often bend it to say something which cannot be said based on the research paradigm (e.g., Narth on reparative therapy and suicide risk).

With Liberty Council chief Mat Staver as one of the featured speakers, it is clear that they are hoping more for legal justification than research justification. NARTH has really been on the ropes in recent years but I am concerned that they are getting a boost from the recent efforts in CA to ban reparative therapy. If the courts find the ban is unconstitutional, then they will probably gain an undeserved public relations benefit.

I am not alone in this concern. Chris Ferguson expresses well some possible problems and APA’s Jack Drescher also worries that the ban will backfire. Drescher told Gay City News:

“Passing legislation to prevent a questionable practice seems a rather heavy-handed and inefficient way to reduce these practices among licensed professionals (like using a hammer when you would be better served by using more delicate surgical instruments). I have suggested to one gay rights group that asked me about this that they consider developing an educational video for licensing boards and professional ethics committees since these are the places where education is needed since they are the ones who hear complaints from patients/clients who feel they have been hurt by these practices.”

Don’t let NARTH fool you with their words about research “truth.” If the leaders of that group were interested in validating their methods, their conferences would be packed with research presentations. However, look at their program for this year. All of the presentations of “clinical workshops,” religious outreach and legal defense. Where are the studies?



Book Note: Henry Wiencek’s Master of the Mountain

While I am recovering, I have a lot of time to read. Currently, I am reading David Barton’s Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White, The Founders’ Bible, Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own and Henry Wiencek’s new book Master of the Mountain about Jefferson as slave owner.

Thus far, I am very impressed with Wiencek’s book. He looks at numerous primary source documents to show the real Jefferson as slave owner. This book more than debunks David Barton’s whitewash of Jefferson in The Jefferson Lies. We covered similar ground in Getting Jefferson Right but Wiencek devotes an entire book to the topic.

Although I have not finished the book, I can already recommend it. See this Smithsonian article for an extended look at what is in the book.  One topic we did not cover in GJR was Jefferson’s treatment of the “nail boys” – the young boys assigned to make nails for Jefferson. In graphic terms, Wiencek details the atrocities committed against these 10-15 year old slaves. Wiencek produces evidence from a page of Jefferson’s Farm Book which has only recently become available.

There is much more and I hope to write a more formal review when I finish the book.


David Barton’s Founders’ Bible and Thomas Jefferson

As I feel up to it, I am gradually working my way through the massive Founders’ Bible published by a subsidiary of Windblown Media (publishers of The Shack). In this post, I want to briefly address the Founders’ Bible articles on Thomas Jefferson and the Jefferson Bible.

On page 64, a biography of Jefferson appears. It is generally accurate but it seems oddly placed in the Old Testament. Jefferson had little good to say about the way God was presented in those books.

On page 1445-1449, Barton summarizes the material from his ill-fated The Jefferson Lies regarding what Jefferson included in his two Gospel extractions (aka The Jefferson Bible). As in The Jefferson Lies, Barton claims Jefferson included miraculous healings from Matthew in his 1804 version. As I pointed out in a previous post (and we detail in Getting Jefferson Right), this claim is false. Jefferson’s list of texts did not include miracles from Matthew 9 and there is no evidence that he included them. Moreover, Barton does not provide any primary source evidence; he simply cites an erroneous citation from a tertiary source. The Founders’ Bible publishers place the article on the Jefferson Bible in Matthew 9 which makes the situation all the more absurd.

Barton also says on page 1446 that Jefferson included passages referring to the Resurrection. He probably would defend himself by saying he meant the general resurrection of people on judgment day. However, the average reader would not know that.  The article may as well been placed at the end of Matthew closer to the Resurrection of Christ which is another passage not included in either of Jefferson’s extractions.

Even though The Jefferson Lies is no longer available from Thomas Nelson, you can get the same faulty claims now in The Founders’ Bible.



David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is Wrong about the Aitken Bible

David Barton is certainly consistent. In his Capitol Tour, in the movie Monumental and now in the Founders’ Bible, Barton claims that Congress printed the first English language translation of the Bible. Here is the claim from page xiii of the Founders’ Bible:

America’s commitment to the Bible was unwavering and was demonstrated in many ways, one of which was evident at the conclusion of the American Revolution. With the victory at the Battle of Yorktown, America was finally free from British policies, including the longstanding one against printing a Bible in English in America.

Consequently, in 1781, a plan was advanced in Congress to print America’s first English-language Bible. On September 12, 1782, the full Congress approved that Bible, and it soon began rolling off the presses. Printed in the front of the Bible is a congressional endorsement declaring, in part:

Resolved, that the United States in Congress assembled… recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States. (emphasis in the original)

This claim is so easily checked that it is amazing to me that Barton persists in saying that Congress printed it. The truth is that Robert Aitken approached Congress for an endorsement after he had printed the Bible himself at his own expense. A committee of Congress passed the Bible over to the chaplains who vouched for the accuracy of the work. Congress then recommended the Bible as an accurate version to the people.

Here again are the pages from the Journals of Congress dated September 12, 1782 which detail what Congress did with Mr. Aitken’s Bible. Continue reading “David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is Wrong about the Aitken Bible”

David Barton’s Founders’ Bible: John Adams and the General Principles of Christianity

The purpose of David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is to make a case that the founders intended America to be a distinctly Christian nation. This is a multi-layered claim that has been taken up by many historians with many opinions. On this question, I recommend John Fea’s book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: An Historical Introduction. I do not recommend the Founders’ Bible for reasons I have outlined here, here and here today.

In the Founders’ Bible, historical information is selectively cited to craft a political message. In the Founders’ Bible article, “America: A Christian Nation,” Barton provides a dramatically abbreviated quote from John Adams to bolster his position:

This quote is cobbled together from a letter Adams sent to Jefferson as a part of their retirement correspondence.  When Jefferson was Adams’ vice-president, there were great disputes about the direction of government and the men became leaders of opposing sides. After the bitter presidential race of 1800, the two men drifted apart. It was only later after Benjamin Rush played the intermediary that the two men began to explain their positions to each other. The quote in the Founders’ Bible is lifted without context from an exchange of letters which addressed some of those differences in philosophy. On June 15, 1813, Jefferson wrote to Adams about one of those divisions:

One of the questions, you know, on which our parties took different sides, was on the improvability of the human mind in science, in ethics, in government, &c. Those who advocated reformation of institutions, pari passu with the progress of science, maintained that no definite limits could be assigned to that progress [Jefferson’s party]. The enemies of reform [Adams’ party], on the other hand, denied improvement, and advocated steady adherence to the principles, practices and institutions of our fathers, which they represented as the consummation of wisdom, and acme of excellence, beyond which the human mind could never advance. Although in the passage of your answer alluded to, you expressly disclaim the wish to influence the freedom of inquiry, you predict that that will produce nothing more worthy of transmission to posterity than the principles, institutions and systems of education received from their ancestors. I do not consider this as your deliberate opinion. You possess, yourself, too much science, not to see how much is still ahead of you, unexplained and unexplored.

The passage Jefferson referred to is a letter that Adams wrote in reply to certain young men of Philadelphia in 1798. At that time, Adams had urged the men to hold to principles derived from their ancestors. Here is a particularly relevant portion:

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction that, after the most industrious and impartial researches, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions, or systems of education more fit in general to be transmitted to your posterity than those you have received from your ancestors.

The new nation was still looking for solid ground and faced with many challenges at home and abroad, citizens were staking out political territory. According to Jefferson, the parties disagreed about the nature of science and progress with Adams viewed as more of a traditionalist and Jefferson as the progressive. In the June 28, 1813 reply to Jefferson’s letter, Adams explained his position in more detail. Note the words in bold, these are the ones Barton selectively quoted in the Founders’ Bible. Speaking about the patriots who made up the revolution, Adams wrote:

Who composed that army of fine young fellows that was then before my eyes? There were among them Roman Catholics, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists, Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants, and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists, and Protestants “qui ne croyent rien.” Very few, however, of several of these species; nevertheless, all educated in the general principles of Christianity, and the general principles of English and American liberty.

Could my answer be understood by any candid reader or hearer, to recommend to all the others the general principles, institutions, or systems of education of the Roman Catholics, or those of the Quakers, or those of the Presbyterians, or those of the Methodists, or those of the Moravians, or those of the Universalists, or those of the Philosophers? No. The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young men could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system. I could, therefore, safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles. In favor of these general principles, in philosophy, religion, and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from Frederic of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, as well as Newton and Locke; not to mention thousands of divines and philosophers of inferior fame.

Barton obscures Adams’ meaning by failing to provide the context of the quote and by failing to provide the entire quote. Adams does not give sole credit for achieving independence to the “general principles of Christianity.” He also includes the “general principles of English and American liberty.” The general principles where all could agree would have to be a pretty small subset of principles given the long list of sects and denominations listed by Adams. Also note the religious skeptics (e.g., Bolingbroke, Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau)* in his list of philosophers.  The inclusion of these skeptics makes clear that Adams was looking beyond explicitly Christian influences and lauding some general set of principles which could be derived from both Christian and non-Christian sources.

Look again at the fuller quote from Adams. It would be easy to lift several portions of it to say that the nation was founded based on the American and English principles of liberty or on the list of people from Frederic of Prussia forward. Adams clearly saw many influences converging to provide support for independence, a fact obscured by the Founders’ Bible.


*For a tongue-in-cheek review of religion by Voltaire, click this link.