David Barton's appearance at the Army Prayer Breakfast contested

Chris Rodda and company sent a letter to the Army, Secretary of Defense, and Commander-in-Chief protesting the appearance of David Barton at the Army Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
After his recent prayer breakfast performances, I certainly support the protest.
UPDATE: The St Louis paper picked up on the story.


If you recognize the title of this post, you are probably following the dust up promoted by Glenn Beck over Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi (e.g., here and for another perspective here).
In short, Beck believes the Obama administration is covering up Alharbi’s culpability for recruiting the Boston bombers. Independent sources including Fox News have investigated the situation and found nothing any different than what the government is reporting – Alharbi was at first thought to be involved in the bombing but was actually in the wrong place at the wrong time and was wounded by the bombing.
I don’t know enough about the way Homeland Security handles security threats to comment fully on this matter, but I have been following it as an illustration of belief perseverance.  Once a person gets an idea fixed in mind, even the disconfirmation of the original evidence cannot shake it. New reasons are sought and secured to make the original proposition (there’s a cover-up, I tell ya!) seem plausible.
I might add to this post as new information comes up. I think this interview from The Blaze yesterday is intriguing because it actually seems to undermine Beck’s chronology of events.

Based on Biased Reading of New Mortality Study, Paul Cameron Gives Sen. Portman Parenting Advice

In this month’s edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology, Morten Frisch and Jacob Simonsen reported a new study of mortality in Denmark. Paul Cameron wasted little time trotting out the study to give Senator Rob Portman advice on how to parent his gay son – tell him to get married to a woman. Apparently, any woman will do. After all, in the words of the song, what’s love got to do with it?
Cameron says he even went to Ohio to deliver his advice:

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 24, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Dr. Paul Cameron, the first scientist to document the harms of secondhand smoke, went to Ohio’s capital to call upon U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to reconsider his recently announced support for gay marriage. “Sen. Portman, gay marriage is hazardous to one’s health. For the sake of the son you love, urge him to marry a woman.”

Cameron did say at least one thing that was true in his presser:

Cameron said, “Bad science is bipartisan…”

Proven by Cameron’s own press release, bad science is indeed everywhere.  And bad advice. One of the findings of the Frisch and Simonsen study is that mortality for same-sex married men is better than “unmarried, divorced and widowed men.” It is also important to note that the mortality rates for gay married men have improved since Frisch’s last study. Cameron doesn’t tell you that.
Cameron and Frisch tangled on this blog back in 2007 and 2008. Cameron made his mortality claims in a “study” presented before the Eastern Psychological Association and Frisch responded to him as a part of a nine-part series I did on gay mortality claims. Frisch’s first study on gay mortality was done in part to address Cameron’s spurious claims.
To understand more about Paul Cameron and his feelings about gays, read part 9 of the series. Disturbingly enlightening.
I have asked Morten for additional reactions and will have more reflections on the study in a coming post.

David Barton Promotes Debunked Jefferson Claims

One might think David Barton would reconsider some of his claims in light of his problems with his book on Jefferson, The Jefferson Lies.  The book was voted “least credible history book in print”  by readers of the History News Network, the subject of multiple negative reviews in major publications (e.g., Wall Street Journal), and then pulled from publication by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. Some authors might allow such negative reactions to generate some reflection and moves to correct obvious errors.
Not so with Mr. Barton. On his Wallbuilders website, Barton features links to claims about Jefferson that have been thoroughly debunked. First, Barton is promoting the claim that Jefferson used the phrase “in the year of our Lord Christ”  to close his presidential documents. Barton has a partial image of a sea letter and says the reference to Christ “is the explicitly Christian language that President Thomas Jefferson chose to use in official public presidential documents.”
The problem is that Jefferson did not choose to construct the form of the sea letters he signed. As Jefferson once said, “sea-letters are the creatures of treaties.” The treaties with Holland and other European countries specified the exact language to be used in the sea letter. If Barton knows this, he ignores it to make his claim about Jefferson and his signatures. To date, Barton has produced no other Jefferson document with a closing using the word Christ. For more on this claim, see this post.
The second claim demonstrates where Barton derived some of the material for The Jefferson Lies.  In a 2009 article co-authored with Mark Beliles, Barton claims that Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia to be a “trans-denominational” college. Barton constructs a narrative which does violence to the chronology of events leading up to the opening of Virginia’s public university. Barton makes much of the fact that the UVA Board of Visitors offered to allow denominations to form theological schools in the vicinity of UVA but he fails to mention that UVA and theological schools created would be independent of each other.
In a letter dated November 2, 1822, Jefferson described the plan to Thomas Cooper.

In our university you know there is no Professorship of Divinity. A handle has been made of this, to disseminate an idea that this is an institution, not merely of no religion, but against all religion. Occasion was taken at the last meeting of the Visitors, to bring forward an idea that might silence this calumny, which weighed on the minds of some honest friends to the institution. In our annual report to the legislature, after stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets, on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there, and have the free use of our library, and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other. This fills the chasm objected to ours, as a defect in an institution professing to give instruction in all useful sciences. I think the invitation will be accepted, by some sects from candid intentions, and by others from jealousy and rivalship. And by bringing the sects together, and mixing them with the mass of other students, we shall soften their asperities, liberalize and neutralize their prejudices, and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason, and morality.[i]

Note the order of events. The decision was made to have no professor of divinity, then observers criticized the decision, and then the idea for allowing denominations to establish schools, independent of UVA, was hatched.  Barton’s article makes it seem as though the decision to have no divinity professors was a result of the plan to make UVA “trans-denominational.” In fact, Jefferson was prodded into accepting the idea of religious schools in order to preserve support and funding. Even with this accommodation, no denominations took advantage of the offer and no theological schools were established there.
Barton also says the reason chaplains were not appointed in the beginning few years of the university was to solidify the reputation of UVA as a trans-denominational school. This is Barton’s invented reason. Although Jefferson did not want to prevent religious worship, he had nothing to do with the eventual policies regarding chaplains. There is nothing in his correspondence or reports which cite any of the reasons Barton gives. Madison, also on the  board of visitors, said he hoped that students and parents would take care of religious worship. Note also, that the school did not have a chapel until the late 1800s. Building a college with no chapel seems like an odd way to begin a trans-denominational school.
We cover this and other claims about UVA in Getting Jefferson Right.

[i] The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 10:242.

More Mormon Teaching on Certain Americans as Sons of Joseph

In this video by Ryan Fisher, you get a pretty clear description of what Mormons believe about America being a promised land. Member of the First Quorum of Seventy Bruce Porter tells how Ephraim (the British and other Europeans) came to America and reunited with Manasseh (Native Americans). What I don’t understand is why Ephraim wiped out his brother Manasseh (both sons of Joseph), which is what you would have to believe if you agree with this teaching.

This is the same teaching one can find in Timothy Ballard’s book The Covenant and endorsed by David Barton.
Related posts:
Author endorsed by David Barton claims founding of America was prophesied in Genesis
The Covenant: A Mormon Mission Tool?
Book endorsed by David Barton claims American colonists were Ephraimites