Donald Trump Revokes Press Credentials from Washington Post

Those who dispute the American fascism claim might want to rethink it. From Trump’s Facebook page:

Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.

White supremacist James Edwards is fine, but WaPo isn’t.
 

Conversation with John Hall on WORD-FM about K-LOVE and David Barton

Yesterday, I was on WORD-FM with host John Hall discussing some issues surrounding the Christian music network K-LOVE. The entire podcast can be found on Soundcloud with the segment starting at 1:37:21 (click this link to start at the beginning of my segment).
Toward the end of the boardcast, John asked me about David Barton’s historical adventures which I was happy to discuss.
It just so happened that later that evening I attended a local festival and guess who was playing tunes for the crowd.
KLOVE Car

Eric Metaxas' New Book: On Tolerance for All Denominations and Religions in Colonial America, Part Two

In his new book, If You Can Keep It, Eric Metaxas writes on page 70:

Since the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, religious freedom and religious tolerance have been the single most important principle of American life.

If only.
As I pointed out in two previous posts (link, link), Metaxas makes the argument that the Pilgrims provided a model of religious tolerance which was incorporated by the Founders into formation of America. In contrast to his claim, I wrote about the persecution of Mary Dyer, Anne Hutchinson, and Roger Williams. Today, I bring forward another exhibit in contradiction to Metaxas’ claim. In the year 1700, the Massachusetts assembly passed an “Act against Jesuits and Popish Priests.” Here is an portion:

Be it Enacted by His Excellency the Governour, Council and Representatives in General Court Assembled: And it is Enacted by the Authority of the same. That all and every Jesuit, Seminary Priest, Jesuits▪ Priests &c to depart the Province by the 10th. of September. Missionary, or other Spiritual or Ecclesiastical Person made or ordained by any Authority, Power or Jurisdiction derived, challenged or pretended from the Pope or See of Rome, now residing within this Province or any part thereof, shall depart from and out of the same, at or before the tenth day of September next, in this present year, One Thousand and Seven Hundred. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid,Penalty on Jesuits or Priests &c. that shall re|main or come into this Province after the 10th. of September. 1700. That all and every Jesuit, Seminary Priest, Missionary or other Spiritual or Ecclesiastical person made or ordained by any Authority, Power or Jurisdiction, derived▪ challenged or pretended from the Pope or See of Rome, Or that shall pro+fess himself, or otherwise appear to be such by practising and teaching of others to say any Popish Prayers, by celebrating Masses, granting of Absolutions, or using any other of the Romish Ceremonies and Rites of Worship, by or of what name, title or degree soever such person shall be called or known, who shall continue, abide, remain or come in to this Province, or any part thereof, after the Tenth Day of September aforesaid, shall be deemed and accounted an incendiary, and disturber of the Publick Peace and Safety, and an Enemy to the true Christian Religion, and shall be adjudged to suffer perpetual Imprisonment, And if any person being so Sentenced and actually Imprisoned, shall break prison and make his Escape, and be afterwards reken, he shall be punished with Death.Penalty for receiving or harbouring any Jesuit or Priest.

Catholics were to “suffer perpetual Imprisonment.” The law allowed the death penalty for those who escaped from prison and were captured.
Even in Rhode Island, Catholics were excluded from complete religious freedom beginning in 1719.

…all men professing and of competent estates and of civil conversation acknowledge and are obedient to the civil though of different judgments in Religious (Roman Catholicks only excepted) shall be Freemen and shall have liberty to choose and chosen Officers in the Colony both millitary and civil. (link, page 25)

None of the original founders were still around at the time and for reasons not completely clear (although perhaps related to a desire to be consistent with British anti-Catholic sentiment), Rhode Island passed a law which singled out Catholics. Thus, in the home of religious tolerance in the colonies, religious toleration went backwards. The law was not repealed until 1783.
In New York, Catholics were tolerated until a purge came in 1688. In 1700, New York’s lawmakers passed a law, similar to the anti-Catholic law passed in Massachusetts, which called for imprisonment of priests who led Catholic worship and death for any who escaped prison and were captured. Other colonies went through anti-Catholic periods as well.
When one considers the experience of the Quakers and Catholics, it is impossible to support the notion that religious tolerance was “the single most important principle of American life.” Metaxas engages in wishful thinking when he writes, “complete tolerance for all denominations and religions” existed for nearly a century before the founding of America.
It is astounding that the founders came together to ban religious tests for federal service and enact the First Amendment to the Constitution. However, one cannot exclusively ground this tradition with the Pilgrims and Protestant controlled colonial assemblies. Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Madison and the others, influenced by Enlightenment writers as well as their religious traditions, took the nation in a different direction than was true of the colonial governments.

Another Indication K-LOVE May Not Need Your Money

KLOVE nascar
In addition to the hefty salaries earned by K-LOVE’s management (CEO well over half-million), the giant Christian radio network sponsors a Nascar car.
According Business Insider, Nascar sponsorship is expensive. Check out this image:
nascar-01-2013
According to the picture on K-LOVE’s website, the network has the premium logo locations and thus must be paying some serious coin to run with that crowd. Even if another party is helping to fund the sponsorship, the money is still being directed away from services to people.
UPDATE: Please see the comments section for some additional information. In a nutshell, Leavine Family Racing may be providing some of the funding for this car and K-LOVE may only be involved in four races, thus reducing the costs of advertising. 
I know it is marketing but if K-LOVE’s marketing budget allows for Nascar sponsorship, then I doubt they are going to close down stations if widows and people on fixed incomes don’t give their “easy” gift of $40/month.  Also, many small local churches who can barely afford to put an ad in the local paper need the donations more than K-LOVE does. Food pantries and kitchens just get by, especially during the summer months.
 
 

On Tolerance for All Denominations and Religions in Colonial America

In his upcoming book If You Can Keep It, Eric Metaxas claims there was “complete tolerance for all denominations and religions” for nearly a century before the founding era of the United States. From page 35 of the book:

On page 70, he adds

Since the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, religious freedom and religious tolerance have been the single most important principle of American life.

Such tolerance was not extended to Quakers and other dissenters in the colonies. In 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged in Puritan Massachusetts as a Quaker dissenter. Anne Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts in 1638 and settled in Rhode Island where Roger Williams also settled two years earlier after being banished from Massachusetts.  Persecution and discrimination were the lot of many dissenters from the state church.
Thomas Jefferson did not attribute his ideas about religious freedom to the example of the colonial governments. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson criticized the treatment of dissenters by colonial governments.

Note that Jefferson judged that Puritans showed intolerance toward other sects, most notably the Quakers. They wanted religious freedom for themselves but not for others. Religious tolerance was the exception, not the rule in colonial times, even in Jefferson’s Virginia. Metaxas tells us that religious tolerance was complete; Jefferson said the intolerance matched the level displayed in England. I’ll go with TJ on this one.
Metaxas mentions exceptions to the general religious intolerance but he weaves them in with his contention that the Pilgrims and Puritans gave us the tradition of religious freedom. For instance, Metaxas briefly describes the Flushing Remonstrance and Roger Williams’ settlement in Rhode Island. The Flushing document was a petition to the leader of New Netherland settlement Peter Stuyvesant asking for relief from his ban on Quakers. Metaxas rightly heralds this action. However, Metaxas fails to set it in context. Despite the noble purpose, the petition failed and Stuyvesant cracked down on dissent. He jailed two leaders of the petition effort. Others recanted their dissent in the face of punishment.
Regarding Roger Williams, he was forced out of Massachusetts because he “broached  & divulged diverse, new & dangerous opinions.” Williams had to secretly escape to Rhode Island in January 1636 during the harsh Massachusetts winter. Dissent was not well tolerated. Metaxas does not give us the whole picture. Without banishment due to the intolerance of the dominant Puritans, Williams would not have established religious freedom in Rhode Island.
I can’t understand why writers omit this history. The outline for Metaxas’ book appears to come from Paul Johnson’s 2006 First Things article on the same subject. The cover similar ground and gloss over similar issues. The America given to us by the founders is much closer to Roger Williams’ Rhode Island than John Winthrops’ city on a hill. That is a good thing and a story worth telling and retelling.
 
Additional information:
See my post from yesterday and Gregg Frazer’s review of Metaxas’ book.

Does Christianity Need Donald Trump's Help?

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and the Election. Read other perspectives here.
Now that Donald Trump is the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, we can look back at some of the promises he has made. Of interest to the current Patheos Public Square conversation on faith and politics are his promises to make businesses say Merry Christmas and his pledge to “work like Hell” for Christian power.
In February, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas TX Robert Jeffress told a rally that if Donald Trump is elected that evangelical Christians “will have a true friend in the White House.” Trump followed Jeffress’ remarks by declaring:

Christianity is under siege. Every year it gets weaker and weaker and weaker and I had a meeting with various ministers and pastors about two months ago and I’m pretty good at figuring things out. And I say with them and some of them said we love you. We want to endorse you but we are afraid if we do we are going to lose our tax exempt status. And I said what’s this all about. That takes you and makes you less powerful than a man or woman walking up and down the street. You actually have less power, and yet, if you look at it, I was talking to some, we probably have 250 million, maybe even more, in terms of people. So we have more Christians — think of this — than we have men or women in our country, and we don’t have a lobby because they’re afraid to have a lobby because they don’t want to lose their tax status. So I am going to work like hell to get rid of that prohibition, and we’re going to have the strongest Christian lobby, and it’s going to happen.

About Christmas celebrations, Trump said.

We’re going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ now on Christmas. We’re going to start going to department stores, and stores, and you’re going to see big beautiful signs that say, ‘Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday,’ and we’re going to have a big, big, big lotta fun.

Working “like hell” seems like an apt description of what Trump has in mind. If we can take him at his word, he plans to somehow coerce business owners to post Merry Christmas signs and favor Christianity as a kind political lobbying force.
There is another religion Trump mentioned briefly in his February speech and then repeatedly throughout the campaign. Trump has famously suggested shutting down some mosques and banning Muslims entering the country. If Trump wins and he follows through on his promises, Christianity will have a “true friend” in the White House and Islam will have quite an adversary.
Does Christianity need this kind of help? Will special help make America great?
The issue of Muslim (Mahometan) participation in the new Republic came up during the North Carolina debates over ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Some delegates expressed worry that the lack of a religious test would allow atheists or people from non-Christian religions to be elected to office. In the debate, James Iredell, appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington in 1790, answered concerns that a pagan or Mahometan might gain office:

But it is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for? This is the foundation on which persecution has been raised in every part of the world. The people in power were always right, and every body else wrong. If you admit the least difference, the door to persecution is opened. Nor would it answer the purpose, for the worst part of the excluded sects would comply with the test, and the best men only be kept out of our counsels. But it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own. It would be happy for mankind if religion was permitted to take its own course, and maintain itself by the excellence of its own doctrines. The divine Author of our religion never wished for its support by worldly authority. Has he not said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it? It made much greater progress for itself, than when supported by the greatest authority upon earth.

Justice Iredell addresses the Trumpish desire to favor Christianity over non-Christian religions. Iredell told his North Carolina peers that even the “least difference” opens the door to persecution. Iredell, speaking as a member of the majority, exhorted his colleagues to resist the temptation to consider themselves always right and others wrong.
As Iredell warned, favoritism can lead to persecution which is why the Constitution protects religious freedom and included the clause barring religious tests for public service. Moreover, Iredell argued, Christianity needs no assistance from the government. He asserts that religion should take its own course and stand on “the excellence of its own doctrines.” If Christianity is the religion it claims to be, why should it require “worldly authority?”
James Madison wrote in 1785, “every page of it [the Christian Religion] disavows a dependence on the powers of this world.” The same is true today. Christianity does not need a “strong lobby” or a “true friend” in the White House to accomplish its mission. We don’t need governmental power to enact a coerced allegiance to our religion. It is unconscionable that Trump would promise such a thing and worse that ministers of the Gospel would applaud it.
Christianity doesn’t need Donald Trump’s kind of help.

Trump University Court Documents Reveal Art of the Hard Sell

I have been reading (and cringing) through the court documents related to the Trump University fraud case. They do not paint a flattering picture of the failed educational venture. Mainly with this post, I want to link to the site where the documents are archived and encourage readers to explore the business dealings of the presumptive GOP nominee.
Searchable Trump University Documents
Just a nibble of what’s there. What should a Trump U. seminar salesman do if the potential buyer wants to discuss the matter first with a spouse? Buy it first, then talk.
TrumpUSpouse
The whole approach is to do anything possible to separate the person from their money. Tell the audience Trump hand picked you when in fact he didn’t and so on.
When one adds in Trumps donations to state AGs who didn’t pursue a fraud case against Trump U., I think this case is poison for Trump’s chances in the general election.

In New Book, Eric Metaxas Takes a Page from David Barton

Yesterday, History professor Gregg Frazer posted a very helpful preview of Eric Metaxas’ upcoming book, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty. In this book, it appears that Metaxas has taken some pages from David Barton.

There is a preview of the parts of the book available at Amazon and Google so I was able to check some of what Frazer wrote and look into a couple of additional problems. Given what I found, I would not recommend it unless one plans to fact check it. However, as Frazer notes, fact checking is not easy since Metaxas didn’t include many end notes or source materials.
Given what I read, Frazer is spot on.

One of the more egregious historical errors is the claim that the “very first settlers on American shores” came “precisely” to gain religious freedom, along with the equally false claim that “in America the idea of religious freedom was paramount,” and that there was “a complete tolerance of all denominations and religions” from the beginning (34–35).

These are not minor differences in interpretation. As Frazer says, these claims are false. Even though it may be a common false claim, it is disappointing to see Metaxas perpetuate it.

Thomas Jefferson and Yahweh

Of interest to me is Metaxas’ treatment of Thomas Jefferson. The first issue I checked revealed an error and a significant misrepresentation of Jefferson. Metaxas, like Barton, seems to want his readers to see Jefferson as much more religious than current political leaders. In doing so, he uses a questionable quote attributed to Jefferson to make it appear that Jefferson believed in “Yahweh of the Hebrew Scriptures.”
MetaxasJefferson
Here Metaxas claims that Jefferson wrote Daniel Webster a letter in which Jefferson said: “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the [Bible] will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

First, Jefferson did not write this in a letter to Webster. The fact checkers at Monticello have looked into this and concluded, “This quotation has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson.”

Actually, in a June 16, 1852 letter to a “professor Pease” Daniel Webster claimed Jefferson told him this quote during Webster’s visit to Monticello. Webster said he “spent a Sabbath with Thomas Jefferson many years ago, at his residence in Virginia.” Webster added that “It was in the month of June and the weather was delightful.” According to Webster, on that Sunday in June, Jefferson uttered the words about the Bible (actually Webster said Jefferson said, “sacred volume”).

There are several problems with this quote. First, Webster visited Monticello from December 14-19, 1824, not in June. The weather was not delightful, as they were delayed in leaving because of bad weather. Webster wanted to leave Monticello early because, according to an account of the trip, he received troubling news about an illness in one of his children. When the weather broke (December 19, 1824 — which was a Sunday morning), they left the area. In the historical account of the visit, Webster made no mention of religious discussions or Jefferson’s quotes about perusing the sacred volume.

Thus, the quote itself is suspicious and Metaxas reports it incorrectly as being written by Jefferson.

There is another problem with Metaxas application of the quote to suggest Jefferson believed in the God of the Old Testament. Jefferson didn’t have very good things to say about the Old Testament. Jefferson wrote that Jesus reformed the deficient religion of the Jews.

His [Jesus’] object was the reformation of some articles in the religion of the Jews, as taught by Moses. That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.

and

Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion: and a step to right or left might place him within the gripe of the priests of the superstition, a blood thirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. (letter to William Short, August 4, 1820)

Jefferson’s view of Yahweh is not well represented by Webster’s questionable quote, but rather by his own words, calling Him “cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.”

I am pleased that Gospel Coalition published this review and hope that Metaxas will quickly address the errors and misleading narrative.

Note: The one concern with Frazer’s review is that he says Metaxas’ used a fake quote attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville. Apparently, Frazer had a prepublication copy of the book with the Tocqueville credited with the quote. Sometime prior to the Google preview being posted, the error was rectified because Metaxas acknowledges in the Google copy that the quote is false (although he cites it and says it summarizes Tocqueville well).