Barton Controversy Comes to Montana Prayer Breakfast; Governor Declines to Attend

The David Barton controversy has come to Montana. According to the Missoula Independent:

Former state legislator Scott Mendenhall sounds disappointed. On the morning of Feb. 26, he learned that Gov. Steve Bullock won’t attend the annual Montana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.
At issue is the breakfast’s keynote speaker, David Barton. Barton has garnered national headlines for his revisionist teachings, pro-life advocacy and calls to criminalize homosexuality, all of which would seem to run contrary to Bullock’s politics. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The scary thing about David Barton is that he has the ear of so many.”

The governor’s office is playing down the issue saying the governor did not know he was expected to attend.  Activists of various persuasions apparently raised red flags about Barton’s attendance which was enough to cause the disclaimer.
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David Barton, Kids, Guns, and Historical Fiction

Chris Rodda pointed out here  yesterday that David Barton acknowledged getting the story about kids in the old West defending their teacher at gun point from a would be teacher-killer from a Louis L’Amour novel.  In an article on the Wallbuilders website, Barton admits using the story because Louis L’Amour said the story was true.
L’Amour introduced an audio version of his book Bendigo Shafter with a story about the West. During the introduction, L’Amour said this:

There’s a case I use in one of my stories; I use it in the story called Bendigo Shafter. All the kids coming to school used to hang their guns up in the cloakroom because they were miles from home sometimes, and it was dangerous to ride out without a gun. And this is taken from an actually true incident. I use it in my story and tell the story, but it really happened. Now a man came to kill the teacher. It was a man. And he came with a gun, and all the kids liked the teacher, so they came out and ranged around him with their guns. That stopped it. But kids twelve and thirteen used to carry guns to school regularly.

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Barton controversy at Louisiana College

Just by being himself, David Barton is near the center of a controversy at Louisiana College. In an open letter to LC’s trustees (posted at the blog of another LC former faculty member Rondall Reynoso), former faculty member Scott Culpepper explains his experience of bringing to light what he believed to be errors in the commencement speech.
I don’t pretend to know what’s going on there and am not posting this to take sides. I post the link to demonstrate how another Christian faculty member felt after raising concerns about Barton’s facts (Reminds me of this post). Happily, I have faced none of that at GCC. In fact, I have been supported in many important ways. However, I have heard from faculty members elsewhere who are discouraged from expressing what they know to be true.

Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill Next Up on the Parliament's Agenda (UPDATED)

UPDATE: On today’s (2/20) Order Paper, the AHB has been moved down to 5th on the list of items to be considered next.  It is hard to know what to make of the Speaker’s erratic scheduling but it may be an effort to keep observers off guard. In any case, the bill remains on the agenda and may come up at any time Speaker Kadaga wants to move it forward.
According to today’s agenda, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is the first bill to be considered after today’s business is completed. Since today’s agenda is quite full, I imagine that some of what is planned for today will carry over until tomorrow. Thus, it seems unlikely that the bill will come up tomorrow. If the Speaker’s priorities remain the same, it could come to the floor Thursday or early next week.  Here is the line up of business to follow today’s work.

(Hon.  Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs)





It appears that the bill will come up for a second and third reading at some point in the next two weeks.  Given the opposition of the Executive branch, it may be that some maneuver will take place at the last minute to keep it from a vote. However, it appears that the bill will make it to the floor soon.

World's David Barton Coverage: What Will Evangelicals Do?

World Magazine has been shining extraordinary light on the David Barton controversy.  Friday, the evangelical publication printed a brief article by Gregg Frazer which contradicted Barton’s contention that Jefferson was orthodox for most of his life and only questioned orthodoxy after 1813.
Frazer’s article is clear and convincing but that does not surprise me for two reasons. One, Gregg was right on this in his earlier writings and two, we covered similar ground and so much more in Getting Jefferson Right. What is stunning is Barton’s response already up on the World website.

Gregg Frazer disagrees with my interpretation of one document in one of The Jefferson Lies’ nine chapters. I appreciate his position but remain convinced that, as I wrote in my response to Warren Throckmorton:
“Early in life Jefferson apparently was a typical Anglican gentleman, but later in life he embraced unorthodox beliefs. [In fact, I devoted 16 pages in my book to documenting Jefferson’s heterodox beliefs.] But throughout all phases of his life he maintained an open respect and admiration for Jesus Christ and Christian values and morality, and he regularly promoted Christianity in ways that make today’s secularists and separationists uncomfortable.”
Throckmorton’s original assault on my book managed to avoid its major points and instead criticize minor and even obscure facts, and this new attack by Frazer seems to suggest that this “debate” may become a never-ending discussion over less and less. With so many important cultural battles that desperately need our focused attention, it seems a misuse of time and energy to continue arguing over relatively inconsequential points with those who profess to hold the same common Christian values, so I will now resume my efforts attempting to beat back the secularist progressive movement that wrongly invokes Jefferson in their efforts to expunge any presence of faith from the public square.
I am grateful to WORLD for allowing this “debate” to occur, and consistent with my regular practice, if errors in my work are called to my attention I will continue to address them in subsequent editions.

Those hoping for recognition of those errors will be disappointed. In his article, Frazer demonstrates that Barton overlooks Jefferson’s relationship to Joseph Priestley as well as Jefferson’s views prior to 1813. These are not minor matters of interpretation but Barton dismisses them as trivial.
Furthermore, his response to me and to Frazer changes the subject. In his book, he claimed that Jefferson did not question the Trinity until 1813. That is clearly false and yet Barton does not admit it. Instead, he changes his position, calling Jefferson “an Anglican gentleman” and saying he went heterodox “later in life.” However, this is still a misleading narrative. In his book, Barton claims Jefferson was orthodox until he was turned away from traditional Christianity by Restoration preachers in central Virginia. As Frazer notes in his World piece  and we document thoroughly in our book, Barton claimed but never documented that connection. In his book, Barton presents but does not establish a fundamentally flawed historical picture of Jefferson’s religious views. Historically speaking, these are not trivial matters.
In recent weeks, Barton has claimed that Ronald Reagan opposed the Brady Bill (Reagan favored it), the National Rifle Association was founded to oppose the KKK (it wasn’t), that school children in the 1850s saved a teacher from an assailant by brandishing their weapons (no documentation has been offered, the story may have come from a Louis L’Amour novel), and that there were only two gun accidents during the founding era of history (of course there were many more).
Besides these errant claims, Barton also claims that the Constitution quotes the Bible “verbatim” (it doesn’t), that the first English Bible in America was printed by Congress (it wasn’t), that the state of Texas uses reading levels in the third grade to predict the need for prison beds in the future (it doesn’t), and that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a murder conviction because a prosecutor recited the Bible in court (it didn’t).
As regular readers know, I am only scratching the surface. Our book is full of illustrations of how Barton uses partial quotations, incorrect sourcing, and legends presented as a fact. In private, some have argued to me that these matters are significant but that the left distorts the truth too so this is not important. A few evangelical leaders have written to take me to task for our book, saying it helps the secular left. They argue that the end justifies the means (accuracy is not important if your cause is right).  On the plus side, others have taken the position that Christians need to reject such relativism (e.g., Tom Gilson – we need more of this).
I am on record as believing these objections are false defenses.
World Magazine has now put these matters on the front burner. My question is what will evangelicals do about it?