More of the Story Behind the Demise of David Barton's The Jefferson Lies

On his Wallbuilders show last Friday, David Barton belittled the number of Facebook followers Getting Jefferson Right has. I replied:

At the end of the broadcast, the gang makes light of the number of Facebook likes the Getting Jefferson Right page has. How about another comparison with the now pulled from print The Jefferson Lies? How about comparing the number of favorable reviews from actual historians each book has?
I know our book has several quality reviews posted on our book website, but I am not aware of any for The Jefferson Lies. Looking for one, I went to Barton’s book website for The Jefferson Lies. On the front page, there is a link that appears to be a review page but it goes nowhere but back to the home page. I know of several critical reviews for The Jefferson Lies but no positive ones from historians.
In my search, I clicked through to Barton’s effort to answer his critics. The following paragraph caught my eye:

In August 2012, several media outlets reported that Jay Richards, a philosopher and theologian with the Discovery Institute who was also a public endorser of Throckmorton’s book, had asked “10 conservative Christian professors to assess my work.” It was reported that their responses were “negative.” However, some of the ten listed by him had flatly refused to participate in his quest but yet were still listed as providing “negative” responses against me. And in direct conversations I had with Richards after he coordinated these attacks, he openly confessed to me that he knew very little about history. Only four of the ten scholars contacted by Richards actually provided any critiques of my work: Glenn Moots, Glenn Sunshine, Greg Forester, and Gregg Frazer. Of these four, only Frazer specializes in religion and the American founding, but his critique did not even address The Jefferson Lies, and it is not clear that he even bothered to read it. Instead, he watched and criticized a twenty year old video entitled America’s Godly Heritage.

I asked Jay Richards if the claims in this paragraph are accurate. Richards said that he recalled about six written responses from historians with others saying they didn’t have time to do a written review. In other words, they provided reactions but not all were written. None were favorable to The Jefferson Lies. Some who lacked time later commented publicly about Barton’s vision of Jefferson. In an August 2012 World article by Thomas Kidd, Daniel Dreisbach, Kevin Gutzman and James Stoner all disputed Barton’s characterization of Jefferson as being orthodox before 1813. In the paragraph above, Barton minimized the critical reaction to The Jefferson Lies.
Richards agreed that Gregg Frazer’s written submission was about America’s Godly Heritage (I published Frazer’s devastating critique here) but reminded me that Frazer also critiqued an aspect of The Jefferson Lies in World. It also should be noted that America’s Godly Heritage is still for sale on Wallbuilders’ website so Barton’s qualification that the DVD is twenty years old is irrelevant.
Then Richards added something that I don’t think has been reported before. He said:

The entire context is missing from the statement: I contacted a diverse group of scholars with related expertise and clear conservative credentials to ask them their opinion of Barton’s work and The Jefferson Lies in particular. I also asked for written evaluations if possible. The purpose was to compile these and give them to Glenn Beck so he could evaluate them for himself. In the meantime, Thomas Nelson got word of genuine controversy over the book, conducted their own evaluation and pulled the book. This happened before the World article ever came out, and so was not in response to negative media criticism.

Fewer than ten written evaluations from the scholars does not mean the other scholars refused to critique Barton. They did offer Richards feedback and, as noted above, some of them were interviewed by Thomas Kidd for World. Barton’s answer to critics omits this context. Furthermore, Glenn Beck had this feedback and chose to disregard it. He continues to do so, as do other religious right leaders who know about the false historical claims but continue to tout Barton as a respected historian.
Another little known detail about the incident is that Thomas Nelson had pulled the book from publication before World reported on the story. I have learned that the book had been pulled from the publisher’s website at least several days before it was reported in World.
Barton also claims in his response to critics that Simon & Schuster picked up The Jefferson Lies. To date, that publisher has not issued another edition.
From the vantage point of the present, it seems more remarkable than ever that Thomas Nelson pulled The Jefferson Lies from print. Over the last year and a half, we have witnessed publishers stick with authors who have plagiarized material and books with dubious content.  For instance, Tyndale House stuck with Kevin Malarkey’s The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven long after the publisher was aware that there were credibility problems with the story. The publisher only pulled the book when the boy who was the subject of the book publicly recanted his story. The Jefferson Lies publisher, Thomas Nelson (now part of HarperCollins Christian), is sticking with similar book  Heaven Is for Real and quietly fixed multiple plagiarism problems in Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage. Even in this publishing environment, Thomas Nelson pulled a best selling book because of their investigation of the facts.
Barton appears to want to change the subject in his reaction to critics by invoking the sale of Thomas Nelson to Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins publishing company:

Clearly, Thomas Nelson’s public statements about the reason for pulling the book are incongruous with the above facts, so was there perhaps some other reason behind their announcement? Quite possibly, for only two weeks prior to suddenly dropping The Jefferson Lies, Thomas Nelson had been taken over in an acquisition by Rupert Murdoch and HarperCollins Publishers.

It is hard to know what Barton is implying here. Murdoch is a conservative who founded Fox News, a network which has been generally friendly to Barton’s brand. Given other books HarperCollins Christian offers and has preserved (e.g., Driscoll’s book), it is hard to make a case that the change of ownership had an any effect on the decision to pull the book.
 
 
 

Brian Williams Given Six Month Suspension Without Pay

Reportedly, he makes $10+million a year so he will be able to be suspended comfortably.
However, that is just the tip of this iceberg. Others are investigating his Katrina coverage (gangs and a dead body floating in the street).
I doubt we’ll see him back at the anchor desk.
Now, when will Christians stop propping up leaders who “misremember” how their court cases turn out and whether or not the Constitution quotes the Bible verbatim?

Brian Williams Retreats; He Leaves the Anchor Desk and Backs Out of Letterman Appearance

First Williams turned over his desk to Lester Holt, now he has canceled his appearance on Letterman.
On Friday, President of NBC News Deborah Turness failed to endorse Williams in a memo to staff and announced an investigation. One suspects this isn’t over.
I taught the misinformation effect on Friday and am aware that memories are not tape recordings that can be retrieved with perfection. The “Lost in a Shopping Mall” paradigm illustrates that memories for event that never happened can be suggested and then remembered. However, there has been little explanation about how the event went from being accurately reported at the time to a fabrication of late. It is not at all clear where the misinformation was introduced into the narrative. Whether innocent or not, trust will be an issue for some time to come.
If Brian Williams had the kind of help David Barton has, Williams wouldn’t have anything to worry about.
 
 
 

The Invasion of America

No, this is not a post about a tea party conspiracy theory involving immigration.
Rather, watch this video about Native American dispossession.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/pJxrTzfG2bo[/youtube]
Two of our favorite Christian nation proponents, David Barton and Bryan Fischer, believe the native people got what was coming to them. The history cannot be undone, but we should never forget.
(hat tip to John Fea)

David Barton Denies Plagiarism; Eric Metaxas Appears on Wallbuilders Live

It is surprising to me that Eric Metaxas appeared today on Wallbuilders Live.
Rick Green, Tim Barton, and David Barton spent the first few minutes laughing off Barton’s use of Metaxas’ article without attribution on January 23. On the broadcast today, after tearing down my faith, Tim Barton said at 3:28 into the broadcast that the gang made it clear during the January 23 show that Barton was reading from an article. If you listen to the broadcast, (click here for the entire broadcast), you will see that none of the hosts tell the audience that Barton’s “math test” and related quotes came from any article. At about 4:00 into today’s show, Tim Barton said, “we openly acknowledge that we are reading someone’s else’s article.” I listened again to the broadcast and there is no mention of an article by anyone. If they had mentioned Metaxas or even that the material came from an article, there would have been no need for the post.
Listening to Eric Metaxas say (at about 19:00) that David Barton is doing his part to get the truth out is surreal.
At the end of the broadcast, the gang makes light of the number of Facebook likes the Getting Jefferson Right page has. How about another comparison with the now pulled from print The Jefferson Lies? How about comparing the number of favorable reviews from actual historians each book has?

David Barton Distorts Things Even When He Wins

As I noted here previously, David Barton settled his defamation lawsuit out of court last year. Barton had been accused of being known for appearing at white supremacist rallies by two 2010 candidates for the Texas Board of Education. The Democrat candidates criticized their GOP opponent of relying on Barton who they implied was a white supremacist. Barton and his opponents settled with Barton gaining a financial settlement of an undisclosed amount and an apology. Here is the apology:

During our respective campaigns in 2010 for separate positions on the Texas State Board of Education, we published a video entitled: ”A True Tale From Texas,” that created a false impression about David Barton. The purpose of that video was to discredit our Republican Party political opponents on the State Board of Education, and those on whom they relied, by depicting their position as politically extreme and detrimental to education. Thus, the video stated that David Barton, who advised the State Board of Education, is known for speaking at white supremacist rallies. We believed that statement had been fact-checked by our political consultant, Scott Garrison, who relied for confirmation solely on information provided him from The Texas Freedom Network. As professionals in education and the proper use of language, we understand that this statement suggested that David Barton is a white supremacist, and that the two organizations he is affiliated with, WallBuilder Presentations, Inc. and WallBuilders L.L.C., were associated with or supportive of white supremacists. After learning more about Mr. Barton, we realize this statement was false. We separately and jointly apologize to Mr. Barton for damage to him individually and to his two organizations as a result of that statement.

There is nothing in this apology about Barton’s historical claims or status as an historian. The claim at issue related to white supremacy.
However, as RightWingWatch pointed out last month, Barton told his Wallbuilders’ audience that he had won vindication for his work as an historian so that people who want to use his history can now defend themselves.  Reread the apology above. There is nothing there about Barton’s historical claims.
More recently, at the end of last month, Barton appeared on the Sons of Liberty radio show and said similar things about vindication for his historical claims. Listen:

Host Tim Brown begins by describing the court settlement and asking Barton about the results. Barton tells Brown that the defamation settlement is bad news for the left. At 2:10 into the clip, Barton says:

So after that having gone on for a number of years, we decided to take some folks into court on those two major claims, that we make up our history and it’s all inaccurate and that we’re white supremacists and anti-semitic. And going through the court process, we went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court and came back to District Court, and at that point, the folks settled the case and the court entered a large judgment with a validation of, no the defendants admit that he is not a racist, he’s not anti-semitic, he doesn’t make up his history, and so that’s what we were after was getting some validation that allows us to push back on them when they start telling people  you can’t trust Barton because he makes up all his history. No, you can trust him because here’s the original documents posted on the website.

According to documents posted on Barton supporter Donna Garner’s website, the apology I posted above is what the parties agreed to. There is nothing in that statement of apology about Barton’s historical claims. Now his claims about his claims are suspicious.
I am writing this on the day after NBC News anchor Brian Williams admitted that a story he told about being in a helicopter hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire while in Iraq in 2003 was false. Williams’ future is now the subject of speculation with some journalists calling for him to be removed from his position.
Before its over, Williams might wish he had Mr. Barton’s supporters. Two major Christian organizations, Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have engaged in varying degrees of cover up of Barton’s false historical claims. Other ministers and Christian leaders are also privy to the work of academic historians regarding certain of Barton’s claims, but feature him anyway.

John Hagee's Bad Moon on the Rise

John Hagee must like to scare people. Not only is he bringing out a movie about his Four Blood Moon prophecies, he has David Barton as an — dare I say it? — historian in his movie. Sometime between April 2014 and September 2015, according to Hagee, Israel is going to live out the Creedence Clearwater Revival song Bad Moon Rising:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/4YlTUDnsWMo[/youtube]
I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’.
I see bad times today.
Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.
I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.
Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like we’re in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.
If Hagee doesn’t have this as his theme music, it won’t be nearly as much fun.
I’ve got my copy of When Prophecy Fails handy.
For a little balance, read this CNN Belief Blog op-ed by Kenneth Waters, Sr. and this Space.com article about blood moons; they are fairly common.
 

More Fruits of David Barton's Labor

I suspect this RNC state committeewoman is in Israel if her scheduled permitted.
Tamara Scott is a member of the Republican National Committee from Iowa who has heard David Barton speak. On a radio program (video is on YouTube) called a View from the Pew, Scott lamented the removal of mandatory prayer from the public schools. RWW excerpted a segment of the program, watch:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/iSXb8bFoE-g[/youtube]
At about 55 seconds into this clip, Scott cites David Barton’s “studies and research” which show that schools used to deal with “gum, tardiness and talking.” Now she says, the crimes are “assault, rape and murder.” Long time readers of this blog will know that violent crime spiked in the mid-1990s but has fallen dramatically since then. Barton frequently claims that crime has gone up nearly 700% since Bible reading and prayer were removed from the schools. Not true.
There are more shenanigans. The clip opens up with one of the hosts saying America was founded as a “Protestant republic.” The RNC committeewoman agrees.
She said we never should have allowed prayer to be taken out of our schools. Actually, if students want to pray in schools, they can. God does not need to have the permission of the school teachers for a student to pray.
She opposes the stronger anti-bullying bill in Iowa and doesn’t believe Iowa should have the statute already on the books.
Some within the church question why I believe David Barton’s distorted history matters. Ms. Scott illustrates why it is scandalous for evangelicals to feature Barton’s narratives as being historically sound. It was scandalous when Southern Baptist president Ronnie Floyd hosted Barton last week at his business lunch meeting, the Summit. And it is scandalous that a group of PA pastors will feature Barton as a celebrated historian in March.
Politically, if the RNC has been taken over by Christian nation campaigners then there is no reason to spend a dime on a primary season. Just hand the keys to Hillary; it is over.
 
 

I Am Michael: The Retelling of Michael Glatze

Michael Glatze burst into the awareness of those in the ex-gay world in July 2007. He was a gay activist who in a panic turned to God. At that time, I had turned from my days supporting sexual reorientation change efforts and had established the sexual identity therapy framework as the better approach to traditionally evangelical believers who were also attracted to the same sex. I was very curious about his experience and he discussed some of it with me in an interview very shortly after the his coming out as straight with WorldnetDaily. At the time, I wrote, “I know nothing about Mr. Glatze beyond this article, although I suspect we may be hearing more about him in the coming days.”

Initially, Glatze was portrayed by the evangelical press as an orthodox Christian convert. However, he confirmed to me, albeit reluctantly, that he had converted to the Mormon church. He later left the LDS church and at one point joined a Buddhist retreat center. He gave two interviews to Joe Nicolosi (most recent in 2014) about change of orientation that somehow Nicolosi and Glatze spun into support for reparative therapy (recall that Glatze was not involved in any change therapy efforts).

Glatze resurfaced a couple years later with a series of blog posts sharply critical of President Obama. One, in particular, was featured by ExGayWatch and seemed to express racist overtones. Glatze later provided an explanation to me about the comments which seemed more like unfocused rage at Obama.
I was a little surprised when I heard that James Franco was going to do a movie about Glatze’s changes. The film, I Am Michael has been getting good reviews but may not be available widely. In any case, as a biopic, I am sure it is interesting but at some point I would like to explore what really happened to Glatze. There are clues that he might not have been exclusively gay or that he might be bisexual. Is his experience generalizable to others, or is there some infrequent alignment of circumstances that led to the dramatic change? The writing I have done previously gives me little that’s solid.
In his 2014 interview with Joe Nicolosi, Glatze denigrates the experience of LGB people in much the same way he did in 2007. However, in this video below, he seems to articulate what the American Psychological Association calls “organismic congruence” or being who you experience yourself to be. It is hard to tell what he believes now, at least from this interview, but he seems much more at ease.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/DERC4kpd5Ag[/youtube]
As I wrote before, I suspect we may be hearing more about him.
 
 

The RNC Faces More Criticism Over AFA Israel Trip

Politico’s Ben Schreckinger reports tonight that the Anti-Defamation League privately discouraged the Republican National Committee from participating in a trip to Israel paid for by the American Family Association. I wrote about this trip last week.
In addition, more details about the trip are given (they apparently went despite the concerns) and Christ and Pop Culture editor Alan Noble and I are quoted.
The RNC really should acknowledge this mistake, especially in light of other efforts to field a better primary season this time around.