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 DAY, 2013
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
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.
BARACK OBAMA

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.

Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy

Coming from Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board:

Schlueter’s comment is as follows:

I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.

She added later in the thread:

I’ve read much speculation online, which is understandable given the confusing situation, most of it dead wrong. Being limited in what I can share, let me just say that truth tellers face multiple pressure sources these days. I hosted a radio show for 23 years and know from experience how Big Publishing protects its celebrities. Anything but fawning adulation for those who come on your show (a gift of free air time for the author/publisher by the way) is not taken well. Like Dr. Carl Trueman so aptly asked yesterday in his column at Reformation 21, does honest journalism have any role to play in evangelicalism now? (It was rhetorical.) My own take on that question is, no, it does not. The moment hard questions are asked, the negative focus goes on the questioner, not the celebrity, when there is something that needs scrutiny. Those who have the temerity to call out a celebrity have tremendous courage. The easiest thing in the world is to do fluffy interviews with fluffy guests on fluffy books. So hats off to those like Janet who have the courage to ask at all. And my own opinion on Mr. Driscoll is that despite the bravado, despite the near silence of his Reformed peers and enablers, his brand is damaged, and damaged by his own hand.

To follow the conversation, go on over to Spiritual Sounding Board.
Earlier today, I asked Janet Mefferd for an interview regarding her statement yesterday. In an email, she declined to comment.
UPDATE: The comments have now been removed with comment from Julie Ann at Spiritual Sounding Board.
Here is another side-by-side comparison of material from Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1&2 Peter and New Bible Commentary. This image contains different material from what I posted earlier this week.
See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)

Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience

Just a few minutes ago, in a stunning about face, Janet Mefferd disclosed that she removed from her website the interview with Mark Driscoll that prompted charges of plagiarism. She also removed all of the visual evidence of plagiarism and apologized to her audience for her conduct during the interview. Saying she should have gone to Tyndale House first, she expressed regret that the matter had become a controversy among Christians.
For most of the morning, observers on social media had noted that her blog was down and her twitter feed had been purged of references to the controversy.
In her brief announcement, Mefferd did not indicate what triggered the change of mind.
It strikes me that the horse is already out of the barn on this.
Ironically, her 4pm guest is slated to discuss Christian celebrity culture.
Ms. Mefferd’s full statement as heard on her December 4 broadcast (2nd hour from 5:29-6:28) is as follows:

Before we go to break, I just want to say something really, really quickly to you. A few weeks ago, as many people know, I conducted an interview with pastor Mark Driscoll. And I received lots of feedback on that interview, both positive and negative, but I feel now that in retrospect, I should have conducted myself in a better way. I now realize the interview should not have occurred at all. I should have contacted Tyndale House directly to alert them to the plagiarism issue. And I never should have brought it to the attention of listeners publicly. So I would like to apologize to all of you and to Mark Driscoll for how I behaved. I am sorry.
Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that the story would go viral online the way it did and creating such dissension with the Christian community was never my aim. And so in an effort to right things as best as I can, I have now removed all of the materials related to the interview off my website, and also off my social media.

See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)

Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism

Mark Driscoll and his church have spoken out on plagiarism.
On the Mars Hill website on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, the church forcefully addresses plagiarism. Here is what they say:

IF I USE MATERIAL FROM ONE OF PASTOR MARK’S SERMON’S DO I NEED TO CITE HIM AS THE SOURCE OF THAT MATERIAL?

Yes. If you don’t cite him, you are plagiarizing. If you use content from one of Pastor Mark’s sermons or from one of his books, you need to attribute the content (whether it is a quote or paraphrase) to Pastor Mark. Also, even though we make transcripts available of our sermons, this does not mean you can take the transcript and deliver the sermon as though it is your own. This too is plagiarism.
The same answer applies to your use of sermon content from any other pastors and any of our blog posts.

Perhaps you wondered if Driscoll or his church have commented on the current allegations of plagiarism. To my knowledge, he has not addressed the issues raised by the image below:

Compare the Mars Hill description of plagiarism and the manner of use of New Bible Commentary material by Driscoll and draw your own conclusions.
Driscoll reproduced this quote about plagiarism on his Facebook page. (ht: WtH)
Yesterday, Jonathan Merritt posted what as essentially a “no comment” (scroll to the end of the article) from one of the authors of the New Bible Commentary, D.A. Carson.  I suspect there will be few or no comments from anyone involved until Mr. Driscoll addresses the matter.
UPDATE: Janet Mefferd’s blog is no longer showing up on her website. The video of her interview with Driscoll has been removed from YouTube and the photocopies of material she posted on her blog about the allegations is also gone.
See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll Accused Of Plagiarism By Radio Host (Religion News Service)
More Allegations Of Plagiarism Surface Against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)
 

Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post

First, let me thank Mark Driscoll for his help writing this blog post and give him full credit for inspiring the title.
With all of the allegations of plagiarism and controversy swirling around Mark Driscoll on social media, it is nice that Driscoll can take time to teach us all how to write better blog posts.
I am referring to his article yesterday titled “6 Simple Ways To Write Better Blog Posts.” You’ll have to read it to understand why my title was inspired by Driscoll. I want to give credit where credit is due.
(Did my lead get your attention? See point #3 – “Grab attention with your lead”)
On the same day Janet Mefferd revealed two more books by Driscoll which appear to include content without credit to the original author, Driscoll offers bloggers advice on how to get their message out. Since I am a blogger and I want to write better blog posts, I thought I should check it out.
Have A Tasty Bite Of Blog
After a juicy title, Driscoll suggests that bloggers write in “bite-sized chunks.” Ok, good thought.
I have to say that I lolled (laughed out loud) when I saw Driscoll’s blog post. Even if adventitious, the article still comes across as a clever rejoinder to the controversy over plagiarism, in an in-your-face sort of way. In the post, he touts his writing background and education at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. His reference to his education made me wonder if WSU had any guidelines about citation of sources. And you know, they do. Intentional plagiarism is described as:

  • copying entire documents and presenting them as your own;
  • cutting and pasting from the work of others without properly citing the authors;
  • stringing together the quotes and ideas of others without connecting their work to your own original work;
  • asserting ideas without acknowledging their sources, reproducing sentences written verbatim by others without properly quoting and attributing the work to them;
  • making only minor changes to the words or phrasing of another’s work, without properly citing the authors.

According to the university website, one may also engage in “accidental appropriation of the ideas and materials of others due to a lack of understanding of the conventions of citation and documentation.”  Let’s review. Driscoll included entire passages from the New Bible Commentary in his book on 1 & 2 Peter without citation (see point #6, Show and Tell below). There are uses of other author’s ideas without proper citation which have surfaced. By the standards of his own school, the situation doesn’t look so good.
Social Media Calls People To Action!
In his blog post, Driscoll suggests using social media to get the post exposure (ok, will do) and to call people to action. I am struggling with the call to action. On social media, many have called on Driscoll to acknowledge the issues and correct them. That sounds like a good call to action.
Show and Tell Shows and Tells
And then finally, Driscoll suggests using pictures to get across the message. Here’s one with a side by side comparison of the New Bible Commentary and Driscoll’s book on 1 & 2 Peter.

As Rev. Driscoll says, “You cannot just tell; you have to show whenever you can.”*
*From Driscoll, M. (2013, December 2). 6 Simple Ways To Write Better Blog Posts. The Resurgence.com.
See also:
On The Allegations of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)

On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (UPDATED)

As first reported by Religion News Service, Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll was accused of plagiarism by Janet Mefferd during a November 21 interview with Driscoll about his new book A Call to Resurgence. Originally, the charges related to the new book and material from the work of Peter Jones. Then several days later Mefferd produced more material from another Driscoll book which added to her claims.
Since then, professor Colin Garbarino weighed in at First Things by flunking Driscoll on grounds of plagiarism. For his part, Driscoll has yet to respond to the newest claims. Some have come to his defense. Fellow Patheos blogger, Christian Piatt, likened the response of critics to a “witch hunt” and says Driscoll “deserves better.”
My interest in this has nothing to do with the people involved. In my recollection, I have never heard Driscoll speak and haven’t, until now, read anything he has written. Mefferd has favorably interviewed some people I have criticized on this blog and so my opinions here are not influenced by any desire to defend her against Driscoll’s advocates. When I heard about the claims, I became curious and wanted to check them out for myself.
After looking into it, I think Mr. Driscoll has some explaining to do. Mefferd put together two pdf files of material which I examined. The material which triggered the original allegations is, to me, less convincing than the material she then located. In the case of Peter Jones and Driscoll’s new book, I believe Driscoll should have cited Jones more than he did. He should have made it clearer that his use of terms was derived from Jones as the source. However, the second wave of claims raise more direct concerns of using material, word-for-word, without citation. You can see Mefferd’s evidence here (A Call to Resurgence and one section of Trial) and here (another section from Trial).
To help compare one of the passages from Trial: 8 Witness from 1 & 2 Peter, I have reproduced the relevant section of New Bible Commentary on I Peter from Mefferd’s materials. Then I looked up the web copy of Trial on Driscoll’s website. The side by side comparison is below. The bold print highlights the words that have been changed or altered in some manner from the original.

This is clearly a problem. While I might not immediately fail a student who turned in such work, I would have a conference to determine what happened. I can imagine how a student might inadvertently leave out the source or reference. Some beginning students don’t know that quotes are to be set off in some manner to signal that the material is being lifted directly from the source. I like to measure twice and cut once, so I would check out the situation. However, in academic work, this is a serious problem and should be treated as such.
Given his many books, it seems unlikely that Driscoll is unaware of the rules regarding citations so the burden is on him to offer an explanation for how this passage (and others – see Mefferd’s sources) from the New Bible Commentary appears in his book without citation. It seems clear that he or someone interacted with the material since a few words have been changed. Perhaps he used a ghostwriter or research assistant and simply left that person’s work in the book as his own. Even if this is true, he is still responsible for the work and appropriate acknowledgement and repairs should be made.
After reviewing the material, I don’t think the concerns being raised can be accurately represented as a witch hunt. Efforts to characterize those who raise inconvenient facts as engaging in a smear campaign or witch hunt are misplaced and unhelpful (I have some experience with this). At the same time, if Driscoll addresses the legitimate concerns and questions properly, then the situation can probably be repaired in a manner that honors his Christian faith.
UPDATE: Mefferd says she has more evidence of plagiarism which she will disclose on her program this afternoon. They are now on her blog. The first claim relates to copying the terms “good girl,” “tough girl,” and “party girl” without citation in his book Real Marriage from Dan Allender’s book The Wounded Heart. Driscoll also uses these terms with similar descriptions in his book Death by LoveThe second concern relates to Driscoll’s book Who Do You Think You Are? in comparison to a blog post by Ron Edmondson on forgiveness. These instances are not as blatant as the material first published in the New Bible Commentary, but they do raise important questions about the lack of citation. In the Death by Love book, Driscoll cites unnamed “experts” as the source but does not name Allender. He should have.
It is certainly possible that Driscoll heard the Allender terms at a workshop or from a friend and did not know who used them first. The issue may be sloppiness.  However, in my view, these new concerns are not frivolous and should be taken seriously.
See also:
More allegations of plagiarism surface against Mark Driscoll (Religion News Service)