David Barton to Appear at Scott Lively’s Ministry in Springfield MA

On November 9, David Barton is slated to appear at Scott Lively’s Redemption Gate Ministry.

Perhaps this boost to Lively’s credibility comes as a pay back for Lively’s conspiracy theory about why The Jefferson Lies was attacked by so many Christian historians prior to being pulled off the shelves by publisher Thomas Nelson. In August, Lively linked my blog posts debunking The Pink Swastika in 2009 to my recent book with Michael Coulter (Getting Jefferson Right) debunking Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies. Since everything has to do with homosexuality for Lively, he opined that our book fact-checking Barton’s book was written because David Barton is anti-gay. Barton ran with that idea by tweeting the article to his followers, and having Lively on his Wallbuilders show.

The whole conspiracy idea (and it is a false one – we wrote the book about The Jefferson Lies because it had just come out and because Barton made/makes many false claims) was used by Barton to deflect the substantial criticisms we made in Getting Jefferson Right. Neither Lively nor Barton have responded directly to the evidence we presented about their various claims.* Instead, their tactic has been to launch ad hominem attacks against me and others. The primary strategy of both Lively and Barton has been to invent a narrative where I am a liberal who has somehow persuaded scores of conservative people to write critically about these two men. Barton’s right hand man, Rick Green, compared me and others conservative Christian scholars to Adolf Hitler and Saul Alinsky because we pointed out blatant errors of fact in David Barton’s work.

Perhaps I should not be surprised but I am disappointed that very few people called Barton and Lively out on this obvious effort to change the subject. Many other conservatives came out with critiques of The Jefferson Lies (e.g., Breakpoint, American Vision) The main organizer of the effort to bring Barton to accountability was Jay Richards, a conservative Catholic and Fellow at the Discovery Institute who has co-authored a book with James Robison, another conservative author and minister. Richards asked 10 conservative Christian scholars to read our book and Barton’s book and issue a report. They did and in every case, the scholars found that Barton was incorrect on many of his key claims. About Barton’s books and videos, Richards said they contain”embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.” Michael Coulter and I still don’t know who all of those scholars are.

Appearing at Lively’s ministry is not likely to hurt Barton’s reputation but it is stunning that a Christian leader of Barton’s stature would do so. Lively’s work has been rejected and removed from websites of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Exodus International and Campus Crusade for Christ, among others. None of those groups are liberal.

In 2009, Lively told a Ugandan audience that homosexuals were likely involved in carrying out the Rwandan holocaust and that homosexuals prey on children. Although he told Current TV’s Marianna Van Zeller that he did not favor the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda, he said favored a state run ex-gay therapy program as an option to punishment. However, if the death penalty would be removed he would favor the Ugandans maintaining criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior. His interview with Current TV makes this clear:

Lively’s thrust and work are at odds with Barton’s benefactor Glenn Beck. Beck told Bill O’Reilly that he didn’t think the gay issues should be high up on the list of conservative worries.

This is about the same position I have. Beck quotes Thomas Jefferson saying, if it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg, why should I be concerned. I am a theological conservative who believes discrimination against individuals is wrong, even if they are gay or their moral views are different from mine. I think evangelicals are have spent too much time and money fighting the culture war when they should be worried more about reaching people with the essential message of the church.

However, when I articulate such views, I am a leftist, Alinskyite, Hitlerian elitist. When Beck does; well, he is Glenn Beck.


*Barton has responded to some of our criticisms but he has framed the arguments in friendly venues (e.g., Glenn Beck Show). For instance, he acknowledged on the Beck show that he left out part of the 1782 Virginia law allowing for manumission of slaves but he never said why he did it and has not provided any evidence that other laws in Virginia prevented manumission. He said he would but he has not. His responses to critics has been to dismiss them as liberals or limit his responses to parts of the criticism he wants to address. For the most part, Christian leaders are letting him get away with that.

The Martin Ssempa gang convicted of defaming pastor’s reputation

Another chapter in Uganda’s pastor wars came to a close with the conviction of Martin Ssempa and five others who accused Rev. Robert Kanyanja of sex with some male members of his congregation.

See the Daily Monitor for more.

Ssempa has been one of the loudest and most persistent supporters for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill now in a legislative committee.

Confirmed: David Barton’s Founders’ Bible Cites Pro-Slavery James Hammond as Proponent of America as Christian Nation

I first pointed out here and here that an early draft of the Founders’ Bible contained a positive and substantial reference to South Carolina pro-slavery leader James Hammond.  I wondered over the months since then whether or not the reference stayed in the Bible since Hammond is such an unsavory character in American history. Indeed, Hammond’s endorsement of America as a Christian nation remained in the Founders’ Bible on pages 2091-2092:

To me, it seems wrong to elevate Hammond in a study Bible or for any purpose. Senator Hammond was one of the most articulate defenders of slavery as a Christian institution and social good in the pre-Civil War era. Hammond was also a child molester according to his own diaries. And yet the authors of the Founders’ Bible laud him as a non-Christian American leader who is fit to defend their view of America as a Christian nation.

The context for Barton’s use of Hammond is an article titled America: A Christian Nation. In one of the previous posts I provided most of that article. For now, I want to point out again why Hammond made his statement about America as a Christian nation. In September, 1844, Hammond issued a day of thanksgiving proclamation (read the entire proclamation here) that was overtly Christian calling on all citizens to

assemble at their respective places of worship, to offer up their devotions to God their Creator, and his Son Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

Understandably, the Jewish citizens of South Carolina felt excluded by this proclamation. In the Founders’ Bible, Barton dismisses their concerns by saying “a small group openly censured him and demanded an apology.” Clearly, the Jewish citizens who stood up to Hammond are not the heroes of the Founders’ Bible article. They don’t even deserve mention. Instead, Hammond’s arrogant and hypocritical reply is what merits inclusion in the Founders’ Bible.

Beyond the insensitive inclusion of Hammond in a study Bible as a positive voice, this article raises important questions about what Barton and the publishers of the Founders’ Bible want to promote. I ended an earlier post on this subject by raising similar issues.

Those who are about to publish the Founders’ Bible have reached into history to  bring us face to face with a racist, pro-slavery advocate who used his office to privilege his view of Christianity. His vision was of a Christian nation that included slavery as a blessing and moral good. When the Jewish community understandably felt excluded by the proclamation, he disregarded their call for a pluralistic response.

Is this the kind of government the publishers of the Founders Bible wish for the nation?

There are other historical problems with the Founders’ Bible which will come to light over the coming weeks.

I invite you to read the former posts:

Founders’ Bible Cites Pro-Slavery Leader as Proponent of America as a Christian Nation

Founders’ Bible Cites Pro-Slavery Leader as Proponent of America as a Christian Nation, Part Two

See also: Founders’ Bible Rewrites Exodus 18 to Fit Christian Nation Narrative


David Barton: Christian Illusionist?

This post comes by way of John Fea’s blog. Although Fea wrote about it last week, there is still something fresh here. Fea cited John Wilsey who teaches history and theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wilsey heard David Barton speak at a church in Brazoria, TX and filed a report on the experience.

Wilsey calls Barton a Christian illusionist. Although generally critical, he says Barton is a walking encyclopedia. Wilsey’s assessment of Barton speech:

The really disturbing aspect of the presentation is that Barton is a manipulator of Christian folks who sincerely love their country. He goes in front of Bible believing people who, for the most part, do not spend all their time thinking about the American founding but who do want to believe that America’s heritage is exclusively Protestant. He goes with data mined from the historical record that will suit his particular cultural agenda. He presents that data with no explanation of context. He gives no credit to any other sources that are not explicitly evangelical.

Early in Wilsey’s report, I think he gives Barton too much credit. Calling him a walking encyclopedia implies that Barton is actually providing facts when he speaks. Of course, some of what Barton says is true, but he often weaves facts together with legend to create a false picture. Thus, when he is motoring through his speech, failing to even finish some words before he starts the next, he is not getting it right, even as he says some true things.

The term Christian illusionist is troubling. I think if you simply take the term Christian as a category, I understand what Wilsey is saying. Barton is after all not a Hindu illusionist. However, there is something wrong about Christians creating illusions as if they were reality. Another word besides illusionist might be more descriptive.

There is a market for Christian illusionists. The response to The Jefferson Lies being pulled and the exposure of Barton’s historical illusions has been disappointing. Initially some Christian groups came out with admissions and apologies that they had been fooled by the illusionist. However, even many of those articles lacked a prophetic call for truth. Christian leaders who should know better are sitting silent, knowing the illusion is taking place but failing to do more to stop it.  Meanwhile, thousands, probably millions, are deceived.

For a good book that debunks Barton’s illusions about Thomas Jefferson, go here.