David Barton: The Bible in Schools and Violent Crime

In two recent sermons (Whitesburg Baptist Church – AL; Crossroads Church – OK), David Barton told his audience that violent crime has increased 694% since the 1963 Supreme Court decision on Bible reading in schools. Barton cited Benjamin Rush as a founding father who believe the Bible should be in schools. According to Barton, Rush warned that crime would increase if the Bible was ever removed from education.
To his audience at Crossroads (36 minutes into the video), Barton showed this chart as proof of his contention.
This is difficult to see but I have added some notations in yellow. The chart shows number of violent offenses from 1951 through 1993. Crime gradually increased from the 1950s and spiked upward from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. However, does anyone know what happened after that?
If you said violent crime rates began a pattern of decline, you would be correct. Barton doesn’t show what happened after 1993. Click the link to use the FBI data tool to get the numbers. Click here to see a chart of the crime rates from 1960 to 2010.  According to the FBI stats, the violent crime rate in 2010 was the lowest since 1972 and has been falling steadily since 1991. The murder rate is the same as it was in 1961. This chart provides the rest of the history about overall violent crime rates that Barton didn’t tell.


There are many theories about this pattern but suffice it to say that these data do not support Barton’s contention. During the rest of his sermon, Barton decries the Biblical illiteracy of today’s church and cites questionable statistics about divorce rates and other indicators of general decline. If anything, according to Barton, things are worse now than ever. If Barton’s theory was correct, then why would crime rates be falling?
As noted, many theories exist but the pattern of increase and decline probably do not reflect the presence or absence of the Bible in schools.
UPDATE (6/26/13): Also relevant to Barton’s theory is a comparison of the United States with other nations. Good numbers are hard to come by but let’s start with the UN data on homicide (excel file). Historically Shinto and Buddhist but practically non-religious Japan boasts a very low rate (.4) versus the United States (4.8).  Norway (.6) and Sweden (1.0) record low rates despite being quite secular.
Another factor that should be added to any discussion is the fact the Bible had been long gone from many public schools before the 1963 decision. The Cincinnati Bible wars were waged between 1869 and 1871, with the result being the removal of Bible from Cincinnati schools.

Oklahoma City Church to host Scott Lively

As unbelievable as that sounds, Draper Park Christian Church is hosting Scott Lively for a weekend of seminars April 27-29, 2012.

On the church Facebook page, they prep their congregants with an article from MassResistance.

Upcoming DPCC keynote speaker featured in this article…thanks Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries. Church, the Lord said “Be alert and ready for service!”. This Christian lawyer Dr. Lively needs our fervent, effectual, righteous prayers.

It is not clear what the role of Stephen Black and First Stone Ministries is. If that Exodus affiliate has anything to do with this appearance, they would be flying directly in the face of the policy of the national Exodus ministry, who denounced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as well as Lively’s role in Uganda. They also removed Lively’s article about the Pink Swastika from their website.

I want to believe that the Draper Park people don’t understand what they are getting into. They read information from MassResistance calling Lively a martyr, but they will not hear Lively’s real message until he is inside their doors.

Most likely, he will tell them that the Holocaust was animated by homosexuals and gays want to recruit their children. He may tell them that he doesn’t support forced therapy, but he won’t tell them what would happen to gays who refuse state-sponsored ex-gay therapy. He might tell them that he didn’t support the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill but he might not be as candid as he was with Mariana Van Zeller here:


He might tell the church what he thinks causes homosexuality, as he did below to the Ugandans in 2009, but he probably won’t tell them that both Exodus and NARTH have removed his articles from their websites.

I know there other Christians of conservative theology who are grieved by this.  It is sad when Christians are tricked into thinking they are fighting evil when instead they mislead and misrepresent. Mr. Lively, as a Holocaust revisionist, should not have a platform in a Christian venue.

For more on the distortions and misleading presentation that is the Pink Swatiska, see this link.