More Truth Stretching: Ted Cruz's GOP Debate Claim About Obama's Oval Office Churchill Statue

Despite numerous factual accounts of what happened to the two White House statues of Winston Churchill, Ted Cruz repeated a debunked story during Thursday’s GOP presidential debate which has been around since the early days of Obama’s first term. Here is what Cruz said last night:

CRUZ: Of course it does. And we’ve seen for seven years a president that has made the presidency and has made, sadly, his administration a laughing stock in the world. This administration started with President Obama sending back the bust of Winston Churchill to the United Kingdom within the opening weeks.

Cruz has said that before during the campaign. The claim rated two pinocchios from Washington Post fact checkers.

Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama admiring the remaining bust of Churchill. White House
UK Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama admiring the remaining bust of Churchill. White House

Obama did send a bust of Churchill back to England. That bust was loaned to George Bush and when he left office the statue had to go back. However, there is another statue which has a permanent place in the White House furnishings. That statue stayed at the White House and in the photo above is being viewed by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron along with Barack Obama in 2010.
It is a pretty silly controversy, so am I writing about it?
Given Cruz’s close ties to David Barton and Glenn Beck, the fact that Cruz repeats what is to him a useful story despite it being so misleading as to be untrue is relevant to his candidacy.  Just yesterday, I posted a clip of David Barton claiming that he was on the FBI’s hate group list. He encouraged his listeners to go look up his name on the FBI website. However, I learned from the FBI that the agency has no formal list of hate groups and so David Barton can’t be on it.  Barton has made numerous false claims about historical and current events.
While opening for Cruz’s campaign speeches in Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, Glenn Beck deceived Cruz audiences about his copy of Don Quixote and George Washington’s diary entry on the day Washington signed the Constitution.
These are needless distortions and falsehoods by two of Cruz’s closest endorsers. Cruz’s distortion of the facts was needless as well. However, it seems that Cruz and company have such a pattern of this that all factual claims need to be checked (see also this example from a Cruz legal brief). Those who have followed Barton and Beck know that truth stretching is part of the operating procedure. Either this has rubbed off on Cruz or birds of a feather have flocked together.
So many red flags go up. Cruz’s slogan is TrusTed. My response is: Why should I?

David Barton Can’t Decide When or Why Thomas Jefferson Got His Quran

David Barton is a confusing fellow. Sometimes he tells one story and other times he contradicts himself. Take the facts surrounding Thomas Jefferson’s Quran.

Jefferson owned a Quran and Barton has told a couple of different stories about it. First, he told Glenn Beck that Jefferson bought the Quran while on a mission to Islamic nations so he could understand his Islamic enemies. He later modified this story to make it somewhat more accurate. Actually, Jefferson bought his copy of the Quran long before that mission.

However, not one to let a good distortion go to waste, Barton has pulled it out again for World Net Daily in this video.


Dave Barton addresses the lies of Barack Obama made at the Mosque in Baltimore on February 1, 2016, where he said “Islam has always been part of America.” Barton screwers the LIES Obama told about Islam and Thomas Jefferson in his speech in this MUST WATCH videoThe new edition of “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson” by David Barton is the must have book that sets the record straight on Jefferson as THE quintessential American founder.Get the book signed here –> the book at here –>

Posted by David Barton/WallBuilders on Monday, February 8, 2016

At 1:55 into the video, Barton purports to address Barack Obama’s recent appearance at a Mosque in Baltimore. Obama reminded the audience there that Jefferson owned a Quran. In response, Barton claims to explain why Jefferson owned it. Barton says Jefferson bought the Quran in order to learn more about his Islamic enemies. Barton says that in 1784 we had to deal with Muslim terrorists (Barbary Pirates) by sending John Adams, Ben Franklin and Jefferson to negotiate with five Islamic nations attacking Americans. Barton says that Jefferson and Adams both bought Qurans because they wanted to understand claims made by an Islamic ambassador. According to Barton’s timeline, this happened in 1786.

Barton also implies that Jefferson’s administration had something to do with the printing of the first American edition of the Quran. Not so. The 1806 edition of the Koran was printed by Henry Brewer for Isaiah Thomas. The introduction which Barton reads was actually taken from a version in the 1600s and was not specific to Jefferson’s administration.
In fact, as the Monticello website makes clear, Jefferson purchased his copy of the Quran long before 1786.

Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of the Qur’an, which was the second edition of a 1734 translation by George Sale, a two-volume set published in London in 1764. This set was sold to the Library of Congress in 1815, and rebound by the Library in 1918. The daybook of the Virginia Gazette records the purchase of this edition by Jefferson in Williamsburg in 1765.1 There are no other known records of Jefferson reacquiring this work, suggesting perhaps that it survived the fire at Jefferson’s family home, Shadwell, in 1770.

The bottom line is that Thomas Jefferson purchased his copy of the Quran in 1765. David Barton, alleged Jefferson expert, repeatedly gets this fact wrong by saying Jefferson acquired it while on diplomatic mission in 1786. Later, Barton tap danced around the facts to his buddy Glenn Beck but more recently returned to the false narrative that has Jefferson buying it in 1786.
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On Syrian Refugee Issue, David Barton Does What He Accuses President Obama of Doing

David Barton rarely lets an opportunity go by to bash President Obama. His response to Obama’s news conference on Syrian refugees is a case in point.
Barton took issue with Obama’s criticism of calls for the U.S. to use a religious test to determine which Syrian refugees could enter the country, saying Obama’s use of the term “religious test” was an allusion to the Constitution. In an email to supporters, Barton said:

Presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz recommended that America accept only Christian refugees from Syria, but President Obama flatly dismissed that proposal, explaining:
When I hear folks say that, well, “Maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims” — when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted. . . that’s shameful.
The President’s allusion to a “religious test” is a reference to Article VI of the Constitution, which says:

. . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
President Obama, once again, has completely rewritten the simple wording of the Constitution to make it say something it does not. As is evident from the clear wording above, the “religious test” clause applies only to federally elected and appointed officials, and that’s all. It does not apply to immigrants or anyone who does not hold federal office.

Actually, Obama’s response to the religious issues involved was quite balanced. He did not link a religious test to get into the nation with the Constitution and he called on Muslims of good will to condemn radical groups claiming to speak for Islam. Regarding religious tests for refugees, Obama said:

And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.

Obama concluded:

And if we want to be successful at defeating ISIL, that’s a good place to start — by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. In the same way that the Muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-Western or anti-Christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as Christians. And we are — it is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test, and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for. And that’s what my administration intends to stand for.

Nowhere did Obama say that religious tests for refugees are unconstitutional. His reference to religious tests was a reference to a more general principle that America has historically valued freedom of conscience and equal treatment for all people.
Even though Obama stuck up for equal treatment, he called on Muslims to address the radical elements which claim to speak for Islam.

Now, what is also true is, is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true Muslims. And I do think that Muslims around the world — religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people — have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root, even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population. It is real and it is dangerous. And it has built up over time, and with social media it has now accelerated.
And so I think, on the one hand, non-Muslims cannot stereotype, but I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion. And to some degree, that is something that has to come from within the Muslim community itself. And I think there have been times where there has not been enough pushback against extremism. There’s been pushback — there are some who say, well, we don’t believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why Muslims feel oppressed. And I think those ideas have to be challenged.

Obama should be commended for calling Muslim leaders to lead the way in condemning violence perpetrated in the name of their religion. Instead, Barton strikes out on behalf of his favored GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz by doing the very thing he accuses Obama of doing.

President Obama's Speech at Selma on the 50th Anniversary of 1965 Civil Rights March

Like him or not, there is something amazing about President Obama making a speech at Selma 50 years after Bloody Sunday.
Crescendo moment: Restore the Voting Rights Act.
Obama closed with Isaiah 40:31.
Watch some footage of the march over the Pettus Bridge.

Note to David Barton: Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation Does Mention God

Here is an easy claim to fact check.
Last week, David Barton told Andrew Wommack’s audience that President Obama’s thanksgiving proclamation did not mention God. Listen beginning at 2:02:

Barton: Yeah, and that’s a great place to start is who were the Pilgrims because we do track our thanksgiving back to them. Now, if you’re in schools the last three to four years, you don’t know that the Pilgrims even believed in God. One of the unfortunate things, this is in the past several years, the Thanksgiving message out of the White House no longer even mentions God. When we give thanks, God’s not part of that.
Andrew Wommack: Part of that’s because of who is in the White House.
Barton: That’s a real problem. You check Thanksgiving proclamations of this president with the previous ones and it’s not the same.

Barton then says Wikipedia did not mention God as a part of thanksgiving last year. I checked, it does. I have a child in school and he most definitely knows that the Pilgrims believed in God.
Barton’s claim about Obama’s thanksgiving proclamation is simply not true. Here is the 2013 White House proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation — Thanksgiving Day, 2013 

– – – – – – –
Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings — the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad. This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.
Our annual celebration has roots in centuries-old colonial customs. When we gather around the table, we follow the example of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, who shared the fruits of a successful harvest nearly 400 years ago. When we offer our thanks, we mirror those who set aside a day of prayer. And when we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
Our country has always been home to Americans who recognize the importance of giving back. Today, we honor all those serving our Nation far from home. We also thank the first responders and medical professionals who work through the holiday to keep us safe, and we acknowledge the volunteers who dedicate this day to those less fortunate.
This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2013, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together — whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors — and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

This is not the first time Barton has made this false claim about Obama. Obama has mentioned God in a manner similar to other presidents. I addressed this matter in detail last year. Obama has followed the pattern of previous presidents and has also issued other prayer/religious related proclamations. I am no fan of the president’s policies, but fair is fair.
Right Wing Watch and Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta pointed this out earlier this week. It is a shame to Christians when those outside the faith bring these things out in the open.
My experience is that Barton will keep on making these obviously false statements unless another Christian celebrity calls him on it. I’m not holding my breath.

Did Barack Obama Fail to Thank God on Thanksgiving?

Is Barack Obama so anti-god that he refuses to thank God even on Thanksgiving? This is a theme popular among some on the religious right. David Barton issued a document before the election calling Obama the most biblically hostile president ever. I have not examined all of Barton’s claims in that document but, based on his track record, I am skeptical. Furthermore, Barton repeats obviously false claims regarding Obama including the one that Obama hasn’t mentioned God in his Thanksgiving resolutions during his four years as president.  Here is Barton’s tweet:

The link in this tweet goes to an article by Steven Ertelt and the pro-life news source, LifeNews. To his credit, Steve modified his article after I pointed out the facts about Obama’s proclamations to him. Will Barton retract his irresponsible endorsement of the false story? Don’t hold your breath.

In fact, this generalization simply is not true. I have no way of knowing Obama’s real religious sentiments, but fair is fair.  Even though I did not support Obama in the election, I feel it is right to demonstrate that his official actions as president do not support this particular religious right stereotype. As the Texas Freedom Network pointed out, Obama mentioned God favorably in each one of his Thanksgiving proclamations. An easy place to read all presidential proclamations is at the American Presidency Project of the University of Santa California at Santa Barbara. There one can enter a year and then read all proclamations during the year.

To demonstrate that Obama does mention and give thanks to God, here are portions of his Thanksgiving proclamation made during each year in office.

Proclamation 8458 – Thanksgiving Day, 2009 – November 20, 2009

Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed “by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God,” and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war.

Proclamation 8606 – Thanksgiving Day, 2010 – November 23, 2010

Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for “the Almighty hand” to heal and restore our Nation.

As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God.

Proclamation 8755 – Thanksgiving Day, 2011 – November 16, 2011

When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings.

As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 2012 – November 20, 2012

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives.

When President George Washington marked our democracy’s first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come.

Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.

In addition to his Thanksgiving proclamations, Obama issued three prayer related proclamations each year he has been president.  From 2009 through the present, Obama officially recognized the National Day of Prayer, the Memorial Day Prayer for Peace and the National Days of Prayers and Remembrance in September. His language in these proclamations is enough to make atheists cringe. For instance, in his 2009 proclamation on the Day of Prayer, Obama said:

Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2009, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.

In his 2010 Day of Prayer proclamation, Obama said:

On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation. Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation. Let us ask for wisdom, compassion, and discernment of justice as we address the great challenges of our time.

In his 2012 Day of Prayer proclamation, Obama declared:

Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation.

Perhaps these references are not enough for some religious people, but it is wrong to say that Obama does not acknowledge thanks to God in his official statements. In his other public statements (the ones highlighted by religious right pundits), Obama sometimes leans away from obvious religious references but one cannot say that Obama’s official acts as President have omitted God. Indeed, he has maintained the pattern of his predecessors when it comes to presidential acknowledgement of God.

Obama wins second term

This afternoon I made predictions regarding the election and it appears that I got it about right.

At this point, some states are still too close too call but it appears that the electoral math will not work out for Romney.

The discussion about what went wrong has already started. I think the GOP has significant problems which will be analyzed and spun.

Oh hey there’s an election coming up

In contrast to 2008, I have not kept up with the daily changes and controversies of the presidential race. I have some thoughts about it but I prefer to take a more low key approach this time around.

I have enjoyed watching Real Clear Politics however and think they provide a nice service and up to date polling information. Unless something newsworthy comes up or I change my mind, I won’t be posting much until the election since  most other things will get lost until it is over.


What Barack Obama and Thomas Jefferson have in common

Both of them were/are considered infidels and anti-Christian during their tenure in public life by the religious right of their era.

I started this post when some Christian right leaders went ballistic over Barack Obama’s reference to his religious views at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month. Then, Rick Santorum called Obama’s theology “phony.” And then today I see that my friend at Messiah College John Fea is at the heart of a storm over his statement that Barack Obama is “the most explicitly Christian president in American history.”

Glenn Beck is all over the Messiah history prof because of course one cannot view Barack Obama’s statements in the same way one views the religious statements of other Presidents.

For sure, though, there is a parallel between Obama and Jefferson.

During the campaign of 1800, Rev. Thomas Robbins wrote in his diary:

The Anti-Federalist ticket has prevailed in the city of New York, and they have chosen Democratic members for their assembly. It is said this will make a majority of Democratic electors in their legislature, and bring Jefferson into the Presidential chair. Blessed be God that all things are in His hands, and may He avert such an evil from this country, for His name’s sake. I do not believe that the Most High will permit a howling atheist to sit at the head of this nation.

As we know, the Most High did permit Jefferson to sit at the head of the nation.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Jefferson was very cautious about his correspondence surrounding his Presidential years because he feared the reaction of religious leaders – “genus irritabile vatum” (irritable tribe of priests ) he called them. Many in religious establishment in his day believed that Jefferson was antagonistic toward religion and opposed him politically. Sound familiar?

I am not sure I agree with John, although I am not convinced I disagree with his statement regarding Obama. I am sure though that Jefferson and Obama have at least one thing in common.

Fight the good fight, John.

Paul Kengor on President Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech

My friend and Director of the Center for Vision and Values, Paul Kengor, wrote an analysis of President Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech. As I listened to Obama’s speech, I was distracted in a positive way by his reference to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. However, I also noted the President’s references to civility and hope he means it as more than rhetoric. And like Paul, I loved the reference to the Imago Dei – seeing the Face of God in each other.

God and Man at the National Prayer Breakfast

By Dr. Paul Kengor 

President Obama spoke yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast. I’ve long studied the sitting president’s remarks at these breakfasts, particularly President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President Ronald Reagan. I note this to hopefully lend a little credibility in putting my observations into historical context, while also not avoiding the current political climate—as Obama certainly did not. Continue reading “Paul Kengor on President Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech”