American Spectator Treads Lightly on The Jefferson Lies

An article out today in the American Spectator by Mark Tooley treads lightly on David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies but manages some good observations before falling a bit at the end. I do appreciate Tooley’s mention of Getting Jefferson Right in a positive manner.

Tooley zeros in on an aspect of The Jefferson Lies that we also cover in our book but which has not gotten much attention in public commentary — Barton’s claim  that Jefferson was moved to change his religious views by the Primitivist/Restoration movement. Barton says Jefferson was orthodox in belief until the end of his life when he became affiliated with central Virginia preachers in those movements. Tooley gently disagrees:

Barton’s linking Jefferson to early 19th century Christian Primitivism and Restorationism (whose descendants largely became Trinitarian and are today in the modern Churches of Christ and the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ) is provocative but, at least in his book, somewhat lacking in direct evidence. Most religious writers tie Jefferson’s religious beliefs to European Enlightenment thinkers.

Although understated, Tooley is right. Barton only direct evidence in The Jefferson Lies — an alleged friendship with James O’Kelly – is a legend with no factual support.

Tooley’s other main point — that people on the right, left and in between, want Jefferson to support their views is of course true. However, where Tooley ends up is not as clear to me. Tooley writes:

It’s pointless to claim Jefferson for the modern Religious Right. But it’s even more absurd to equate him with Norman Lear. And Bishop Willimon’s implication that Jefferson was a sort of Robespierre who drove religion into the closet is equally baseless. Like nearly all the Founding Fathers, Jefferson spoke and acted on grand themes that transcend most modern American ideological categories. That the Religious Right and secular Left can both at times claim Jefferson likely would delight him.

I see in my research no indication that being cast as simultaneously orthodox and unorthodox would delight Jefferson. Stated somewhat differently, I think Jefferson would like it if the right and left moved toward each other, leaving behind that which causes schism. Jefferson hoped for a more peaceful religious syncretism, once telling James Fishback in an 1809 letter that “It is then a matter of principle with me to avoid disturbing the tranquility of others by the expression of any opinion on the innocent questions on which we schismatise.”

 

Cincinnati Area Pastors Urge Boycott of Thomas Nelson Publishers Over David Barton’s Book, The Jefferson Lies

This release from a group called the Cincinnati Area Pastors briefly outlines their objections to The Jefferson Lies. As I understand it, there are more people involved in the group than are listed here. I have spoken at length to Ray McMillian. Most of the ministers in this group have carefully reviewed Barton’s claims about Jefferson and have contacted Thomas Nelson and parent company Harper Collins about their concerns. Mr. Barton cannot continue to complain that his critics are all leftists and secularists. These ministers are all serving in evangelical churches.

…….

PRESS RELEASE 

Christian Leaders Urge Boycott of Thomas Nelson Publishers Over David Barton’s Book,

The Jefferson Lies

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 11:00 am – 11:30 am

Cincinnati area African-American, white, and Messianic-Jewish pastors and church leaders are meeting at New Jerusalem Baptist Church (26 W. North Bend Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45216) to announce their boycott of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Their reasons are rooted in their opposition to the recently published book, The Jefferson Lies, by David Barton.

Bishop Dwight Wilkins, president of The Amos Project, said, “We have privately approached Thomas Nelson about our concerns, with no resolution.” The pastors/church leaders pointed to four major concerns the group has with The Jefferson Lies:

  1. It glosses over Thomas Jefferson’s unorthodox and heretical beliefs about Jesus Christ;
  2. It minimizes and justifies Thomas Jefferson’s racism;
  3. It excuses Thomas Jefferson’s practice of enslaving African-Americans.
  4. The Jefferson Lies is riddled with factual distortions and falsehoods.

Rev. Damon Lynch said, “David Barton falsely claims that Thomas Jefferson was unable to free his slaves.” In fact, Jefferson was allowed to free his slave under Virginia law, but failed to do it. The Jefferson Lies glosses over Jefferson’s real record on slaveholding, and minimizes Jefferson’s racist views.

Rabbi Michael Wolf charges that David Barton also minimizes Jefferson’s unorthodox views of Christ, his negative views of the Jews, and his contempt for the God of Abraham.

Historian, Dr. Troy Jackson, says, “This book is inaccurate, this book is offensive, and this book is dangerous.”

Presbyter Chris Beard said, “We are protesting as concerned believers in the evangelical Christian community, who believe that many are being misled by David Barton’s teachings.” Rev. Ray McMillian added, “You can’t be serious about racial unity in the church, while holding up Jefferson as a hero and champion of freedom.”

_____________________________

Media desiring to attend the press conference should contact Rev. Damon Lynch, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 513.821.0704, or Rev. Chris Beard, Peoples Church, 513.673.7405, chris@peopleschurch.co. (not .com) More information will be provided at that time.

 

In the Cinci area? I hope they have a good turn out.

The Head of Creator’s Syndicate Defends His Brother

This column is an interesting insight into the Newcombe family, obviously full of talent and accomplishment as well as an illustration of gotcha journalism employed by Huffington Post.

One can argue about what a person might say in answer to a question but good journalism requires the reporter to actually ask the question and provide the full meaning of the response.

I think Creators CEO makes a good case here that HuffPo did not do that in the case of his brother Jerry.

Read the article and see what you think.

 

Getting Jefferson Right on Radio in Black and White

 

Click the link above to listen live…

Emails Contradict Dr. Nicolosi’s Conflicting Claims of Cure

Earlier this week, I posted audio of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi talking about using porn in reparative therapy as a technique. A dispute had arisen between Exodus President Alan Chambers and Nicolosi about the use of porn in reparative therapy. In my view, the audio and rejected workshop description decided Round One in favor of Chambers. (See this post for the scoop)

Now, it looks like Round Two goes to Chambers as well. ExgayWatch has posted an email from Nicolosi where he explicitly promises cure to Alan Chambers.  Recall Alan claims that reparative therapists promise 100% cures. Nicolosi contested that in a Facebook posting saying:

Alan, what you are saying is untrue. I have never said I could cure someone completely from homosexuality. All my books make it quite clear that homosexual attractions will persist to some degree throughout a person’s lifetime.

Never say never.

In the email obtained by XGW, Nicolosi told Chambers that he could cure him 100%. After Chambers acknowledged on the Dr. Drew show that he could still find men attractive, Nicolosi wrote this (and more, go read the whole thing):

The point Alan is that you can get to a place where there is no more homosexuality. ReallyYou can actually get to a place where you can willfully (sic) think of an SSA image and have no bodily sensation.

Why stop half way? Why not do further work and finish the task and have it completely behind you. consider this invitation, not only for your sake but also as a testimony of complete healing to truly motivate others.

We have the therapeutic tools to get you over what ever SSA is remaining. (emphasis in the original email)

This is not that surprising to me. I attended three NARTH conferences (2002-2004) and I heard various reparative therapists make these claims. Various ex-gays would come out and say that. Part of the reason I believed the folks in the documentary I Do Exist was because I was hearing these claims made often. Time has told a different tale.

Also, other reports have come along where Nicolosi is quoted making grand claims. Take this one from 2009 – Nicolosi Claims 75% Cured.

Last week I blogged about a homosexuality conference in London hosted by the conservative Anglican Mainstream, and featuring Joseph Nicolosi, Jeff Satinover and Arthur Goldberg. One attendee was David Virtue who runs Virtueonline.com. His website is popular among conservative Anglicans. Virtue had much to say about the conference but one quote stood out. The quotes within this segment of Virtue’s article come from Nicolosi.

Nicolosi said he has been helping people to “increase their heterosexual potential” for 25 years, and puts his success rate among men at about two out of three. “75% of our clients are completely cured, the 25% who are not usually have other factors that are not brought into the counseling situation.”

“It is not the absent father, but the non-responsiveness of the father. It is when the father shuts downs and rejects the boy’s masculine striving and he shames the boy in his strivings to become a man. That boy will find some male to connect with. It is the negative experience of the father that destroys him and pushes him towards men who offer him homosexual sex as a way out.”

Virtue is not a critic and would not have a reason to lie. However, even though Virtue confirmed to me that Nicolosi said those words, he later changed the article to remove the reference to 75% cure at the request of Nicolosi’s wife – who was not at the conference.

Nicolosi is not the only one who makes wishful claims, it seems to be part of the genre. I can recall Richard Cohen doing the same thing, telling an audience once, that his clients, “never go back.”

I have been criticized by many (some of whom are not now doing so), for stealing hope from people as a consequence of my realistic approach to this area. I make no apology for it. Reality is what it is. We have to adapt. Following one’s values and beliefs does not rest on false hope or wishful thinking.

 

David Barton Takes Aim at His Critics in Part Two of The Blaze Series

Part one is here; part two of The Blaze series where Barton answers his critics is more of the same from David Barton’s first response on his Wallbuilders’ website.

The article does not mention that Coulter and I are conservative Christians, both being active in our churches, we are not afraid of religion. We did not write our book to attack Christianity but to be faithful to it. In light of that fact, a reasonable question would have been: why are conservative Christians are also critiquing your work?

Seemingly oblivious to the irony, Barton criticizes me for writing about history since I am a psychologist.

“They don’t attack the facts — they attack the education – and that’s a way to change the topic,” Barton said. “If education really matters, there’s a lot I can point out. Ben Franklin didn’t have an education at all. George Washington didn’t have a military education.”

The historian explained that Americans have traditionally prided themselves “not on the labors you wear, but the fruit you produce.” He took specific aim at Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College (we mentioned Throckmorton in our original piece).

“The case of Throckmorton is a great example. He’s a psychology guy. Tell me what history experience he has — he has no training in that area at all,” he said, going on to wonder why Throckmorton is permitted to critique him with little scrutiny when he, too, purportedly has little formal history education.

We did attack “the facts.”

Furthermore, do you see what he did there? He said his critics don’t attack the facts but rather his education and then he did the same thing to me (ignoring my co-author, Michael Coulter)  in the next paragraph.  He didn’t answer our facts (even the ones raised in Part one of the Blaze series), he just criticized my profession and his perception of my training.

The primary question of fact Barton addresses is Jefferson’s faith. He says Jefferson was unorthodox in the last 15 years of his life. Jefferson was unorthodox as an older man but he began his skepticism of the Trinity before 1788 (he died in 1826), if we can believe his letter to J. P. Derieux — a letter that Barton does not cite in The Jefferson Lies.

To be continued, I am sure…

 

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Begins Series on David Barton

This morning Glenn Beck’s news site, The Blaze, launched a three-part series examining criticism of David Barton. Today was given to a description of some of Barton’s critics while the next two days, Barton will have the platform.

My book with Michael Coulter, Getting Jefferson Right, was mentioned as well as a couple of blog posts. Stephen Prothero’s USA Today column was mentioned as was criticism from a NYT’s article about Barton. I was glad to see the links to the articles so readers can follow them out and evaluate the at least some of the evidence. I do wish it would have been made clearer than the negative evaluation of Barton’s history is coming from people all over the ideological spectrum.

This series comes just ahead of Beck’s Restoring Love conference in Dallas where Barton will unveil his Founders Bible published by a division of Windblown Media.

Press Release: American Christian Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-Homosexuality Laws

Today, forty-six Christian leaders called on Christians in Uganda to reconsider their support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I am proud to say I am one of them. The letter attached should be taken as a general opposition to the application of criminal penalties for adult consensual same-sex relations.

(Washington — July 24, 2012) Today, a group of 46 American Christian leaders issued an open letter expressing solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans in the face of “increased bigotry and hatred.” The letter, coordinated by Faith in Public Life, Human Rights First and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, comes as a new Political Research Associates report released today accuses, among others, evangelicals such as Pat Robertson, Catholics and Mormons of setting up campaigns and fronts in Africa designed to press for anti-gay laws.

Today’s letter from U.S. religious leaders, including former U.S. Ambassador to Uganda and the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good Rich Cizik, and Soujourners President Jim Wallis, mobilizes Christian voices against rhetoric and actions in Uganda that demonize and criminalize homosexuality. In the letter, Christian leaders from across the United States, including prominent Catholics and Evangelicals, seek to establish that Christian beliefs are in direct conflict with the serious rights abuses perpetrated against LGBT people in Uganda.

The Christian leaders write: “Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith.”

They also note that: “As American Christians we recognize that groups and leaders within our own country have been implicated in efforts to spread prejudice and discrimination in Uganda. We urge our Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda to resist the false arguments, debunked long ago, that LGBT people pose an inherent threat to our children and our societies. LGBT people exist in every country and culture, and we must learn to live in peace together to ensure the freedom of all, especially when we may disagree. We condemn misguided actions that have led to increased bigotry and hatred of LGBT people in Uganda that debases the inherent dignity of all humans created in the image of our Maker. Such treatment degrades the human family, threatens the common good, and defies the teachings of our Lord – wherever it occurs.”

“It’s important for Ugandans to know that not all Evangelical and Catholic leaders think LGBT people should be criminals,” says Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate, “This letter from prominent American Christians is a crucial step in our efforts to introduce Ugandans to more positive and loving Christian messages in contrast to the harmful rhetoric from our own pastors that only leads to more violence and hate.”

Sentiments contained in today’s letter will also be at the core of lobbying efforts occurring in Washington, DC this week as part of the 19th International AIDS Conference. In that effort, faith leaders and activists from 15 primarily African countries will spend Wednesday, July 25 in meetings with administration officials and Members of Congress to express the need for bipartisan support to address serious human rights violations, including hate crimes, and challenges posed to HIV/AIDS prevention stemming from laws that criminalize homosexuality. These leaders and activists plan to hand deliver copies of the American Christian leaders’ letter to administration officials and Members of Congress.

In approximately 76 countries, consensual intimate same-sex conduct is criminalized. In Uganda, a proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its current version still includes the possibility of the death penalty in certain cases, and would criminalize any speech or actions the government might deem too positive about LGBT people. It could also criminalize HIV/AIDS and other health services that serve Uganda’s LGBT community. The legislation currently under consideration was first introduced in 2009, eventually tabled after widespread domestic and international pressure, but then re-introduced in the new parliament earlier this year.

For more information please contact:

Cate Urban at urban@rfkcenter.org or 202-463-7575 x234

Brenda Bowser Soder at  bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323

John Gehring, jgehring@faithinpubliclife.org or 240-644-3712

Please click this link to read the letter and view the signers. Join in by expressing your support in the comments.

 

Getting Jefferson Right Now Available in Paperback

 

Now there is no excuse for getting Jefferson wrong!

To get him right, now you can read Getting Jefferson Right on the Kindle, the Nook, any digital device, your computer (for only 4.99) and/or in paperback (12.95).

Amazon will have it available on the main site within a week and it should be in stores within a month or two. If you happen to go into Borders, Barnes and Noble, your local Christian book store, etc., ask them to carry it.

To find out more about the book and order the paperback copy, click this link.

Porn in the Strangest Places: Reparative Therapy and Pornography

There has been some debate in recent days about whether or not reparative therapists use pornography as a therapeutic tool. Recently, Alan Chambers stated that reparative therapists use porn as a part of the change process. This practice is one of the reasons Exodus no longer recommends reparative therapy. One other large reason relates to the unrealistic hope it generates for total change. I will take that up in a future post. For his part, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi denied Chambers claims.

In a Facebook posting, Nicolosi summarizes the allegation and then provides his response: First he says:

Alan: It has been brought to my attention that you have posted the following comments on Facebook:

“As for Reparative Therapy, I do not support it. I don’t think it’s ‘fine’. They use pornography as a means of making people “100% straight”. We stopped allowing Joe Nicolosi to teach because he encouraged attendees to pick up heterosexual porn to encourage heterosexuality. Also, he and others have said that they can “cure” people 100% of SSA.”

Also–

“Joe Nicolosi and a few others are on record in workshops and other places saying that they employ pornography. We do not wish to slander Joe, but it is important for people to know that this is a part of the RT practice even if it wasn’t used in your therapy. This is a fact.”

To these accusations, Nicolosi responded:

Furthermore, I do not use heterosexual pornography with my clients. I do ask them (if they wish to do this; some clients do not, and I never expect my clients to do anything they do not wish to do) to bring up a compelling image from gay porn that they wish to reduce the power of, and we work on diminishing its power (a technique with which we have had considerable success).

However, I do not use straight porn; I use pictures of women they find attractive in mainstream magazines and we work on developing a physical attraction to them, through their imagination, while looking at these non-pornographic pictures.

On point, I have obtained a description of a workshop proposed by Dr. Nicolosi which was not accepted for the 2010 Exodus conference. The description is pretty clear:

Gay Pornography as a Therapeutic Tool
Reparative Therapists have recently developed a therapeutic technique utilizing gay pornographic images to expose deeper emotional needs beneath mere sexual arousal. While many clients have been told that their homosexuality is a defense against emotional needs, this technique offers “experiential knowing” resulting from personal experience. The result is a diminishment of pornographic appeal and movement toward resolving deeper conflicts.
For men and leaders.

The belief appears to be that same-sex pornographic images are only attractive because of the emotional wound of the person viewing it.

I have also obtained audio from an Exodus workshop that was approved and conducted by Dr. Nicolosi that certainly seems to encourage the use of gay pornography and to a lesser degree straight porn. Listen to the explanation:

It appears that everybody agrees that at times gay porn might be a part of reparative therapy. However, it appears that there is some assumption on the part of Dr. Nicolosi that clients might use a similar technique with straight porn.

As I noted above, this all seems to be based on the idea that same-sex attractions derive from a trauma (hence the EMDR) and that the attractions are akin to fear responses in people who have other kinds of trauma. Repeated exposure does tend to help some clients with phobias and various anxiety reactions. However, here Nicolosi seems to think sexual attraction can be reduced in a similar manner. The idea is, shall we say, creative, and I will let my gentle readers have a go at their opinion on that theory.

I will note that I can understand why Exodus might have a problem with this approach and I wonder how the new Restored Hope group will react to it.