David Barton Calls Paying Pastors "Church Welfare"

In a response to the Supreme Court cases on gay marriage yesterday, David Barton said ministers should be “bivocational” to prevent them relying on “church welfare,” otherwise known as a minister’s salary.
Barton was on Glenn Beck’s show yesterday opining about the importance of the two gay marriage cases on the military, the state department, and Christian conscience. In discussing the effect of the rulings on conscience, Barton said ministers who refuse to perform gay marriages may cause their churches to lose tax exempt status. Such a loss would be a problem because ministers derive their income from churches. Here is the segment:

Tax exemption could prove to be a huge bargaining chip for the government, if churches don’t begin to walk away from the loophole.
“What are we going to do to get churches to walk away from their income tax exemption,” Glenn asked.
“I mean, they need to at the state level. What they believe is that they can’t survive without it. Now, I’m a big believer in the way Paul did it. Paul was bivocational. He had his own income so that he wasn’t dependent on a church,” David explained. “Right now what happens is so many ministers depend on their church, and I’m sorry, I often call it church welfare. These are guys that get their check from the church and they don’t want to mess with their check, don’t want to jeopardize that. It’s time for more pastors to become bivocational so that nobody can tell them what to do with their money. They own their own money. If the church money dries up, great, they are still ministers and they can still preach because they’ve got an income. So I’m really into that mold. And until we get out of the church welfare mold, the church takes care of me and I can’t afford to lose my check from the church. It’s going to be really tough to get the guys in a different direction.”

I Timothy 5:17 is often referred to in defense of paying ministers a salary and certainly indicates that they are deserving of their compensation. Calling it welfare insinuates that paid ministers aren’t doing much for their compensation and as such suggests a pretty low view of the minister’s vocation.
The broader topic of loss of tax exemption is an unfounded fear often raised, but never supported. Ministers were able to refuse to marry same-sex couples yesterday without jeopardizing their tax exempt status. Nothing has changed today (or is ever likely to change) due to the Supreme Court cases.
Video of Beck interviewing Barton (church welfare comments begin at 2:40 into the clip.

UPDATED: Supreme Court Marriage Decisions: DOMA Overturned; Prop 8 Dismissed

UPDATE: Scroll down to the update for links to the decisions and excerpts from the cases. In short, DOMA has been overturned and Prop 8 was dismissed based on lack of standing of those bringing the case.
……….
Today, the Supreme Court hands down decisions in two cases which address gay marriage.  One, Hollingsworth v. Perry (No. 12-144) decides whether California’s Proposition 8 violates the Constitution. The second case is United States v. Windsor (No. 12-307) in which the court will decide whether a part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 violates the Constitution. DOMA defines marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” for the purpose of determining federal benefits.
Yesterday, the court announced that the rest of the court’s decisions would be announced today. Court watchers think the decision will be out sometime around 10am. All eyes will be on the decision, and, like a lot of blogs and news sources, I will post links to the decisions and commentary about them.
UPDATE: The DOMA decision is out. DOMA has been overturned on a 5-4 vote. From SCOTUS Blog: “5-4:DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
DOMA opinion is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf
From the opinion (25-26)

DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others,the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The Prop 8 case may be dismissed based on standing.  From Justice Robert’s dissent:

we hold today that we lack jurisdiction to consider it in the particular context of Hollingsworth v. Perry, ante, p. ___. I write only to highlight the limits of the majority’s holding andreasoning today, lest its opinion be taken to resolve notonly a question that I believe is not properly before us—DOMA’s constitutionality—but also a question that all agree, and the Court explicitly acknowledges, is not at issue.

According to Amy Howe at the SCOTUS Blog,

What this means, in plain terms, is that same-sex couples who are legally married will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law– with regard to, for example, income taxes and Social Security benefits.
Now the Prop 8 case:
We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.
From Hollingsworth v. Perry (pg. 3):
No matter how deeply committed petitioners may be to upholding Proposition 8, that is not a particularized interest sufficient to create a case or controversy under Article III.
From the SCOTUS Blog:
Same-sex marriage will be available in CA, at least where court clerks take the position that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
This post, written in anticipation of various possible outcomes, lays out the issues now.

 

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.
violentcrime1993
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.


UCR_Vio_11

 
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.
 

What Should David Barton Do About The Capitol Tour Video?

In light of David Barton’s tacit admission that he has made multiple errors of fact in the Capitol Tour video, it is worth considering how he should respond. Thus far, he has simply edited out some errors and replaced the audio with updated information. The consequences are that new viewers of the video will assume that Barton presented the new information at the time of the tour and that viewers of the prior video will not have the benefit of what was altered. In addition, some historical errors remain in the altered video.
In the Capitol Tour video, you also have the awkward situation of participants in the 2007 tour saying they have been misled by the left when in fact they had just been misled by their tour guide — who now implicitly acknowledges it.
Something just doesn’t seem right about this manner of handling the situation, so I went to the ethical standards for historians for guidance about a more proper response.
Standards for Historians: Accuracy, Integrity, and Trust
The American Historical Association’s standards place a high value on accuracy, integrity and trust. Some statements from the standards of that organization are relevant.

By practicing their craft with integrity, historians acquire a reputation for trustworthiness that is arguably their single most precious professional asset. The trust and respect both of one’s peers and of the public at large are among the greatest and most hard-won achievements that any historian can attain. It is foolish indeed to put them at risk.
All historians believe in honoring the integrity of the historical record. They do not fabricate evidence. Forgery and fraud violate the most basic foundations on which historians construct their interpretations of the past. An undetected counterfeit undermines not just the historical arguments of the forger, but all subsequent scholarship that relies on the forger’s work. Those who invent, alter, remove, or destroy evidence make it difficult for any serious historian ever wholly to trust their work again.
Historians should not misrepresent their sources. They should report their findings as accurately as possible and not omit evidence that runs counter to their own interpretation. They should not commit plagiarism. They should oppose false or erroneous use of evidence, along with any efforts to ignore or conceal such false or erroneous use. (emphasis added)

Seems to me that this standard does not support the obscuring of errors but supports full disclosure. When information that has been presented is determined to be erroneous, such knowledge should not be hidden.

Teaching is basic to the practice of history. It occurs in many venues: not just classrooms, but museums and historic sites, documentaries and textbooks, newspaper articles, web sites, and popular histories.
Good teaching entails accuracy and rigor in communicating factual information, and strives always to place such information in context to convey its larger significance. Integrity in teaching means presenting competing interpretations with fairness and intellectual honesty.
The political, social, and religious beliefs of history teachers necessarily inform their work, but the right of the teacher to hold and express such convictions can never justify falsification, misrepresentation, or concealment, or the persistent intrusion of material unrelated to the subject of the course. (emphasis added)

Historians recognize that websites and public presentations of history perform a teaching function beyond the classroom. As such then, standards of accuracy and integrity are no different for web and public historical presentations.
The standards for historians recognize that historians will engage in advocacy positions, but they require historians to maintain the same standards for accuracy, integrity and trust. According to the standards,

Public discussions of complex historical questions inevitably translate and simplify many technical details associated with those questions, while at the same time suggesting at least some of the associated complexities and divergent points of view. While it is perfectly acceptable for historians to share their own perspectives with the public, they should also strive to demonstrate how the historical profession links evidence with arguments to build fair-minded, nuanced, and responsible interpretations of the past. The desire to score points as an advocate should never tempt a historian to misrepresent the historical record or the critical methods that the profession uses to interpret that record.  (emphasis added)

Historians have a responsibility to make sure that the historical information is accurate and represented properly. When errors are discovered, historians have a responsibility to publicly admit and correct the errors. All writers make errors and there is no shame in correcting them. The problem comes when the corrections are not clearly identified and fully corrected. Millions of people have been misinformed (the Capitol Tour video had over 4 million views) and they are now ill equipped to defend their views on history and religious liberty. Barton has a daily radio show and a busy website. He certainly has the means to alert people that he has misrepresented several key claims relating to the founders and founding era. The question is, will he do it?
Having asked this question, I am aware that I am not a historian by training. I invite academic historians to weigh in on the broader question of what duty historians have to publicly acknowledge and correct errors. To me, the duty seems obvious but I am quite curious about how the standards should be applied.
 

Politifact Debunks David Barton's NRA Origin Story

In January of this year, David Barton told Glenn Beck’s audience that part of the reason the National Rifle Association got started in 1871 was to help newly freed blacks defend themselves after the civil war. Watch Barton at 1:30 in this clip.

In addition to Barton, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, made a similar claim at a press conference in support of the NRA. Alford is the first speaker:

Earlier this month, the fact checking group Politifact.com investigated the matter and gave it their “Pants on Fire” designation which means there is no support for the claim.
I was surprised to read in the Politifact article that my post on the subject was actually offered by Alford’s wife as evidence in favor of the claim. In fact, I believe the claim to be false and provided reasons in the post. Since Alford did not offer Barton as a source, I am now wondering if Barton got his information from Alford. In any case, there is no primary source evidence for the claim and Politifact judged it accordingly.

The Closing of Exodus International: Open Forum

Through the weekend, I am going to post reaction to the closing of Exodus International in this space. Consider it an open forum to discuss the closing, the new ministry, positive and negative reactions, etc. Feel free to post links to articles on the topic.
I am going to start things off with a video of Anderson Cooper discussing Exodus with Lisa Ling.

I was unable to watch the Lisa Ling special on OWN last night but those who did can weigh in. For those who didn’t see it, OWN has several clips available.
More coverage:
The Daily Beast provides some analysis, quoting me in the process.
This Religion News Service article is being cited often.
New York Times
UPDATE: NARTH issued a statement about Exodus.
This line is highly questionable: ?The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a multi-disciplinary professional and scientific organization that is not affiliated with religious ministries in any way.”
NARTH’s lifeblood has always been religious advocates (most of their membership) and religious clinicians. They aren’t the arm of a church but they have clearly marched in step with the conservative wings of several groups (Jewish, LDS, Christian) over the years. Given how many people know what NARTH is about, it is astounding to me that they continue to make that claim.
 

Alan Chambers: Reparative therapy one factor in downfall of Exodus International

In 2003, I spoke at the annual conference of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) on public opinion and homosexuality. In that talk, I noted that favorable shifts in attitudes toward gays were associated with having a gay person as a friend or family member. I added that increased public support for gays would mean that more people would develop friendships with gays, thus building up a momentum for public acceptance of gays and bisexuals. Seeking to make the talk relevant to the audience, I predicted that the public would become more skeptical and critical of various NARTH claims about homosexuality as a consequence of more people knowing and accepting gays as friends. I noted that as the non-gay population became more aware of gays in their families and as friends, they would doubt the claims that gays are incapable of happy lives and/or that their homosexuality derived from problematic family relationships. People will know by their own gay friends and family members that the stereotypes are not generally true. Thus, for NARTH to survive, I suggested that the group incorporate biological research, and stop promoting the view of homosexuality common to reparative therapists (e.g., distant same sex parent, overbearing opposite sex parent).
As I continue to document here, NARTH didn’t listen.
My history with NARTH is for another post, but I was reminded of that 2003 talk and the negative reaction to it from NARTH and eventually from Exodus when I read this attributed to Alan Chambers:

But the belief in “reparative therapy was one of the things that led to the downfall of this organization,” Chambers said in an interview, noting that Exodus in recent years redirected its focus to helping men and women work through their sexual identity.
“I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents,” Chambers said in the announcement. “I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite—or worse.”

Alan is sorry about the problems caused by these therapies but he apparently also sees the damage done to the organization as well.
Alan is on HuffPo Live now…

Exodus International to Shut Down and Start Over

The news is coming fast and furious today.
On their blog, Exodus International announced that the organization will be shut down with a new organization to follow. Here is the press release:

Exodus International to Shut Down

Thirty-seven-year-old ministry for those with same-sex attraction marks its last national conference 

Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced tonight that it’s closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. The Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing (www.exodusinternational.org/apology) to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
Local affiliated ministries, which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.
Exodus President, Alan Chambers, is available for interviews. For press credentials or to set up an interview, contact Amy Tracy at 407/808-9831 or 719/355-9075; amytracybusiness@gmail.com. For additional information and a schedule of activities, please go to http://www.exodusfreedom.org 
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