David Barton Goes Full Anti-Vax

Yesterday on Wallbuilders Live, David Barton doubled down on his claim that parts of aborted fetuses are in vaccines. He made that claim last week and after I wrote to refute it, he devoted a whole show to the topic today.

His guest for the program was anti-vax biologist Theresa Deisher. Deisher has a PhD in microbiology from Stanford and at one time was a mainstream scientist. Several years ago, she converted to anti-vax ideology and has focused on the theory that vaccines cause autism via the introduction of fetal DNA into a vaccinated child.

The most shocking false claim that the Barton’s (father and son) make on the program is that body parts are taken from live babies for use in vaccines in use today. This of course would be illegal. Despite what Barton and Deisher say, there is no legal process where children who are alive can be dismembered in this manner. Of course, anyone would be opposed to that.

Federal law (Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002) protects infants who survive abortion. Any baby who survives an abortion must be treated as a live person. I don’t know that this law is always followed but it is the law. Deisher nor Barton offered any proof that babies are being killed in this manner.

Dr. Deisher’s work has been thoroughly debunked.

She predicts that where MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is widely used, autism will spike. However, this has been debunked, most recently in a large population scale study by our old friend Morten Frisch and colleagues in Denmark. Here are selected aspects of their paper:

Participants: 657,461 children born in Denmark from 1999 through 31 December 2010, with follow-up from 1 year of age and through 31 August 2013.

Results: During 5,025,754 person-years of follow-up, 6517 children were diagnosed with autism (incidence rate, 129.7 per 100 000 person-years). Comparing MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated children yielded a fully adjusted autism hazard ratio of 0.93 (95% CI, 0.85 to 1.02). Similarly, no increased risk for autism after MMR vaccination was consistently observed in subgroups of children defined according to sibling history of autism, autism risk factors (based on a disease risk score) or other childhood vaccinations, or during specified time periods after vaccination.

Barton has moved into dangerous territory here. He is trying to scare people away from vaccines with these false claims and as a result may be partly responsible for people deciding not to immunize their children. I would not want that on my conscience. Even the Catholic Church advises members that they may use vaccines due to the greater good of preventing sickness and death.

David Barton Triggers Protest in East Idaho

Founder of Wallbuilders and GOP operative David Barton is slated to speak at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Idaho Falls, ID on April 13. Some local officials aren’t very happy about it.

To protest Barton’s visit, Idaho Falls City Councilman John Radford and Bonneville County Democrats Committee Chairwoman Miranda Marquit have organized a community rally focusing on inclusion.  The group plans to meet on the same day at a nearby park.

The group’s Facebook page says:

Unfortunately, David Barton has been invited to share his brand of exclusion and “wall building” with our community. We’d like to host an event where we discuss the beauty and strength inclusion can bring to our community. we want to present An alternative to the David Barton approach, which focuses on exclusion and exceptionalism around race, religion, and sexuality.

On the Facebook page, a link to a NPR article on Barton’s distorted history can be found and the news article mentions Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies which was pulled from publication due to historical errors.

In today’s GOP, pretending to have an earned doctorate, being an anti-vaxxer, denying climate change and distorting history isn’t a big problem. However, it is good to see others make the public aware of these issues and challenge Barton’s claim to be an expert.

No, David Barton, Vaccines Don’t Contain Parts of Aborted Fetuses

David Barton (left); Eric Metaxas (right)

In addition to history, David Barton often tries his hand at distorting other subjects as well. On his Wallbuilders Live program (which is taped) yesterday, Barton said the following about vaccines:

This is a big fight that’s going on now with the vaccinations. There’s a whole bunch of people that do not like their kids participating in vaccinations for several reasons. One is that so many vaccinations now contain parts of aborted fetuses. So, just as a matter of conscience, “I don’t want that in my kid.”

That’s The Government Getting Involved

David:

And then there’s so many bad things happening from the newer vaccinations. We think we have to have a vaccination for everything now. If somebody gets sick, we’ve got to create a vaccination. And that’s just not accurate. That’s the government getting involved and it’s having bad consequences.

Apparently, Barton is a big fan of people getting sick and opposes medical progress. The only bad consequences come from people listening to nonsense like this and failing to immunize their children. Currently, measles cases are on the rise with more cases reported this year already than all of last year.

Pro-Life = Anti-Vax?

Associating the anti-vax propaganda with a pro-life position would be a ideological win for anti-vaxxers. That is why Barton’s distortion of the facts requires a response. If pro-life people think that actual fetal parts from abortions are in vaccines, some might refuse vaccinations on that basis.  What is the real situation?

In fact, vaccine methods were developed from cells derived from fetuses secured via therapeutic abortions before abortion was legal. The two cell lines in use today came from two subsequent abortions outside the U.S. Fetal cells allow the development of vaccine production indefinitely. As far as I can determine, the abortions were not conducted for the purpose of making vaccines, and no new abortions have taken place to create new vaccines. In other words, vaccines don’t encourage abortion, nor do vaccines use parts of a fetus in the vaccine (see this helpful summary for more information).

If vaccine use was a moral concern for a pro-life position, one would expect the Catholic Church to forbid vaccines. However, the conservative National Catholic Bioethics Center allows the use of vaccines developed from aborted fetuses.

Are there any vaccines for which there are no alternatives?

Unfortunately, at present there are no alternative vaccines available in the United States against rubella (German measles), varicella (chickenpox), and hepatitis A. All of these are grown in the cell lines WI-38 and/or MRC-5. (See note #7 of the statement of the Pontifical Academy for Life for a listing of vaccines and their source).

What do I do if there is no alternative to a vaccine produced from these cell lines?

One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

The NCBC reasons that the risk to the life and health of one’s own children as well as other people’s children make vaccination the greater good. The NCBC also acknowledges that there are no parts of aborted fetuses in the vaccines.

What does it mean when we say that these products are made in “descendent cells”?

Descendent cells are the medium in which these vaccines are prepared. The cell lines under consideration were begun using cells taken from one or more fetuses aborted almost 40 years ago. Since that time the cell lines have grown independently. It is important to note that descendent cells are not the cells of the aborted child. They never, themselves, formed a part of the victim’s body.

How does one know when a particular vaccine has an association with abortion?

The cell lines WI-38, MRC-5 and Walvax-2 are derived from tissue from aborted fetuses. Any product grown in these cell lines, therefore, has a distant association with abortion. The cells in these lines have gone through multiple divisions before they are used in vaccine manufacture. After manufacture, the vaccines are removed from the cell lines and purified. One cannot accurately say that the vaccines contain any of the cells from the original abortion.

Leaving aside the reasons for the original abortions (they may have been to safeguard the health of the mother), any current cells from these cell lines were never a part of the aborted fetus. There are no parts of a fetus in a vaccine.

I don’t know if Barton’s words were ignorance or a deliberate attempt to distort the facts in order to discourage vaccinations. However, it would be a very dangerous development if anti-vax propaganda became aligned with a  standard pro-life position. He should retract what he said.

Hat tip to RWW for pointing this out. 

Is Confronting Fake History Worth It?

After fighting a few of these battles, I still believe it is worth it.

I thought about this question again while watching Princeton historian Kevin Kruse take on Dinesh D’Souza. Kruse created a thread of over 120 historians who either debunked or expressed criticism of D’Souza’s historical writings. For his part, D’Souza seems to thrive on Kruse’s attention and shows no awareness of the significant rebuke by historians of many ideological stripes (left, center, right). D’Souza had this to say in response:

It is obvious that D’Souza will refuse any expert correction. If anything this emboldens his efforts to cast himself as smarter than the academy.

D’Souza’s response, while more brazen and rude, is similar to how other historical revisionists respond to public correction. For many years, David Barton was effectively and accurately debunked by Rob Boston, Chris Rodda, and others. However, Barton and his followers dismissed them as unbelievers who attacked him because he was a Christian. When the criticism started coming relentlessly from within the church, things changed. Eventually, Barton’s book on Jefferson was pulled from publication and he was stung by the scrutiny from once friendly sources.

Those who follow this blog know that Barton made a come back. He eventually published a second edition of The Jefferson Lies with World Net Daily. Barton, pal Glenn Beck, WND claimed that political correctness at Christian publisher Thomas Nelson doomed The Jefferson Lies. However, the evidence contradicted that claim.

Before and after Barton’s book was pulled, numerous Christian historians weighed in against Barton’s writing. Along the way, over 40 Christian historians, some of them quite conservative politically, expressed publicly their criticisms of Barton’s historical claims. It is simply impossible to make a case that the criticism of Barton is based in ideological difference.

Has it made a difference?  I don’t think there is a good way to know for sure.  One can never erase the unprecedented removal of a book from publication. I feel certain Christian history professors are more aware of the issues than ever before. It appears to me that more are speaking out and engaging the public on questions of religious influences during the founding era. I also see fewer instances of false stories such as Congress printed the first English Bible and Jefferson gave his Bible to the Indians as indications that America is a Christian nation.

So what has Barton done? With so many academic Christian historians calling him out, he attacked them back by questioning their Christianity and their expertise. He even attacked Christian colleges and universities. He warned parents to think twice before sending students there. He came up with his approved list of schools where the history departments apparently approve of him. Barton shows no signs of stopping his work recruiting legislators to his brand of Christian nationalism.

Here is a sign of progress. That list was very small with about 10 schools mentioned. Many were small Bible schools. One, Ecclesia College in Arkansas, became embroiled in a fraud and kickback scandal leading to the jailing of the president.

Back to Kruse and D’Souza: Now that Kruse has compiled this list, people who need a quick response to D’Souza defenders have a resource. While an insufficient answer to D’Souza’s overall message, it is a response to D’Souza’s claim that his work is historically sound. Like Barton, D’Souza may yet find a few professors who are willing to put their reputation on the line to support him. If so, the issues will continue to be exposed to more people which will further discredit D’Souza in the long run.

I have watched Kruse and D’Souza for months now and the pattern is that D’Souza makes a claim, Kruse answers, and D’Souza goes silent or responds with an insult. Now that Kruse has confronted several of D’Souza’s claims, this pattern has become clear. That alone has made the effort worth it.

Before Dinesh D’Souza, There Was David Barton

Eric Metaxas (Right), David Barton (Left)

David Barton hasn’t gone anywhere but D’Souza is currently associated with the claim that progressive historians have kept the racist past of the Democratic party out of our education system. In 2004, Barton publihed a book called Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White in which he emphasized the Democratic failings and the Republican history of civil rights advocacy. However, he fails to account for the shift in the Democratic party during the last 50+ years. Typical of Barton, the book is missing important events such as Barry Goldwater’s failure to support the Civil Rights Act. I critiqued the book in a 2012 post.

Currently, Princeton historian Kevin Kruse is documenting on Twitter the many historians who have found D’Souza’s work to be lacking (over 100 at this writing). I was reminded that D’Souza’s spin on the Democratic party isn’t new with him by this tweet from Bruce Wilson:

I don’t know how long D’Souza has been promoting the Democratic party is still the racist party line but he sounds a lot like Barton when he does it. Is it possible that D’Souza lifted it from Barton?

D’Souza claims history teachers obscure the fact that Democrats favored slavery and Jim Crow laws. That certainly isn’t true in our local school system and as Kevin Kruse regularly points out, historians teach the facts — all of them. It is D’Souza and Barton who leave out the facts they don’t like.

Kruse’s thread with the line up of historians is here:

Despite Video Claim, David Barton’s New Book Doesn’t Mention an Earned Doctorate

David Barton (left), Eric Metaxas (right)

In September of 2016, Barton asserted that he possessed an earned doctorate that he had chosen not to talk about. Watch Barton make that claim:

Transcript:

Something I’ve noticed about progressives and liberals is how careless they are in throwing false claims around. For instance, I was recently on a national television network where I was introduced as having a doctorate, and progressives instantly ran stories claiming that I don’t have a doctorate. That false claim is amusing on so many levels. First, things like health information and tax information and college educational information are fully protected by privacy laws. So they don’t know whether I have a doctorate or not! And I’ve always chosen not to talk about it.

Second, just for the record, I do have an earned doctorate. There it is.

And third, not only do I have an earned doctorate, I also have two honorary doctors of letters from other colleges. And according to West Virginia University, the doctor of letters degree is reserved only for individuals who have the highest level of knowledge in their chosen subject matter. Hmmm.

So for all of you critics, sorry to pop your balloon, but I do have an earned doctorate.

The day after Barton posted this video, I discovered that the degree (partially hidden in the video) was issued by unaccredited Life Christian University, a church which passes itself off as a school. Despite those privacy laws, the president of the entity Douglas Wingate confirmed that Barton was given a doctorate in “Christian history” from the school even though he didn’t attend classes. Wingate calls these degrees earned because Wingate uses published books as a basis for giving a degree. No classes are attended, the degree recipient never enrolls. The federal government considers such practices to be signs of a diploma mill and the state of Missouri will not allow LCU degree recipients to advertise the degrees as earned.

New Book Does Not Mention This Doctorate

Recently, Barton is co-author with James Garlow of a book titled This Precarious Moment. In it, Garlow wrote a chapter where he commented on his and Barton’s education. He makes it clear that he has the earned doctorate and Barton does not.

Those Careless Progressives and Their Claims

In their new book, Garlow and Barton take on progressives and liberals and offer Christianity as the solution to social problems. However, it is Barton who threw out a false claim about himself and withdrew it the next day without any comment, explanation or apology. Simply put, it was hypocritical for Barton to blast progressives for false claims at same time he was making one.

Just today, conservatives on social media are reveling in the discovery that a Der Spiegel reporter and award winning journalist, Claas Relotius, was fired for writing fake stories. Popular right wing pundit Pamela Geller used the news to attack all “left-wing journalists.”

What those crowing about Relotius’ demise aren’t pointing out is that he was fired and his awards taken from him by the same mainstream journalists they criticize. In mainstream journalism, there are consequences for falsifying your public claims and published work. His superiors at Der Spiegel took swift action when it was discovered and CNN removed his awards.

What has happened with Mr. Barton after his false credential claim? Nothing. Crickets. Bloggers have written about it but the story didn’t even make Christian news.

Of course, Barton had to pay a price for false narratives in the past when his book The Jefferson Lies was removed from publication by Thomas Nelson. However, he has made a comeback among those who should know better, one even telling me that the number of Barton’s followers mattered more than the accuracy of his work.

The false education claims (and the NCAA basketball claim, and the Olympic interpreter claim) have come after The Jefferson Lies debacle. One might sense a pattern.

Did Your Tax Dollars Pay for This David Barton Conference?

Look at this tweet.

Periodically, David Barton and his Wallbuilders organization bring together state and federal legislators for briefings and pep talks about how to promote the Christian nationalist legislative agenda. This is of course is how grassroots politics works and he has every right to do it. He can tell them aliens founded the nation if he wants to.

Although I have never heard him say anything about aliens, he does teach things which are troubling. For instance, he teaches that American judges should rule according to God’s law.  You hear echos of this in Trump’s recent appointment to the post of Acting Attorney General. When running for Senate, then candidate Mathew Whitaker said he believed judges needed to have a biblical view of justice (no, a Constitutional view is the standard). Did he take a class with Barton? I don’t know. But I do know that Barton’s teachings have influenced Christian nationalism for decades. Despite a disgraced book pulled by his Christian publisher, a fake PhD claim, and multiple debunkings, he continues to have tremendous influence among those who are now in positions of great power.

Although I don’t know what he said to the legislators about immigration and the states, he has talked about this before on his Wallbuilders Live show (which is taped). This claim is a doozy because he has to butcher Thomas Jefferson’s words to make both healthcare and immigration state functions. I have an entire post on this which you can read here.

Did your legislator attend this meeting? If so, did your tax dollars pay for it? Might be worth checking into.

 

 

 

Over Two Years Ago, David Barton Claimed to Have an Earned Doctorate

David Barton with Eric Metaxas

I am slipping. I missed the second year anniversary of David Barton announcing to the world he had an earned doctorate and the second year anniversary of the day he removed any evidence from the Internet that he ever claimed he had an earned doctorate.

On September 7 2016, I viewed a video (posted on both his Facebook and You Tube accounts) of Barton claiming he had an earned doctorate he chose not to talk about. Then after I figured out that the degree was from a school that meets the federal definition of a diploma mill and published those findings the next day, he removed the video from his accounts.

The following comes from a post marking the one year anniversary of the announcement.

In the video, Barton chastises progressives for questioning his claim to have an earned doctorate. He said he has an earned doctorate but that he has chosen not to talk about it. However, the next day Barton chose to take the video off of both websites and chose not to talk about the reasons why.
Barton’s haughty claim to have an earned doctorate gave way to silence after it was revealed that the degree came from Life Christian University, a

Life Christian University diploma reflection
Life Christian University diploma reflection

diploma mill. According to the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate, Barton didn’t attend the school but was given credit for his historical writings. Even though one cannot meaningfully call a degree earned when you don’t take any classes, that is exactly what LCU does with famous preachers and religious leaders.

The state of Missouri advised fellow LCU degree recipient Joyce Meyer that her claim of an earned PhD from the school was against state law. Meyer’s lawyer responded that Meyer had already decided that describing the LCU PhD as earned was false. Meyer now describes her LCU degree as honorary. Although that description is legal in Missouri, LCU is not accredited by a Department of Education recognized accrediting body and the status as a university is unusual since the school is registered with the IRS as a church.

Barton called his degree earned but sarcastically dismissed the honest reporting of what he called progressives. Barton has never explained or apologized for his demeaning and misleading statements. Yet, he still claims to be “America’s premier historian.” Would “America’s premier historian” try to pass off what can only be called an honorary degree as an earned one?

As of now, America’s premier historian has chosen not to talk about it.

And over two years later, he’s still not talking.

Brief Note: David Barton and Ronald Reagan’s Pretty Shallow Faith

Photo: David Barton (Left); Eric Metaxas (Right)

In a Wednesday Onenewsnow article about Ronald Reagan’s Christianity, David Barton is quoted as saying:

Reagan’s faith matured over the years from a “pretty shallow” faith early on to more mature understanding of scripture.

While many people did doubt Reagan’s sincerity, Reagan biographer and Grove City College colleague Paul Kengor told me that Reagan never had a shallow faith. While Barton can be credited with acknowledging that Reagan had a faith, Kengor has shown via his many articles and books that Reagan’s faith was important in his life from his childhood.

Barton was asked to comment on a newly discovered letter written by Reagan to his atheist father-in-law. The letter was in essence an evangelistic appeal for his father-in-law to convert to Christianity. Kengor has a commentary on the letter here.

My concern in this post is not about Reagan’s faith. It seems clear to me that he was an imperfect believer as is the case with any believer. In my view, any comparisons to Donald Trump as court evangelical Robert Jeffress attempted earlier this year are faulty because Reagan actually believed in Christianity. In my opinion, Trump is acting the part and giving evangelicals just enough to keep them as a voting bloc.

Rather, this comment from Barton is another illustration of why he can’t be trusted as a historian. There has been a resurgence of interest in Reagan’s faith over the last decade or so. A historian familiar with the literature should be aware that there are good reasons to believe Reagan’s personal faith was meaningful to him throughout his life. One might contest various applications of his faith or how consistent his actions were with the faith but to call his beliefs or faith shallow isn’t accurate.

By the way, if you want to get an icy silence from Wallbuilders, ask Mr. Barton about his earned doctorate.

David Barton Again Uses Fake Abe Lincoln Quote on Education to Criticize Education

On Friday, David Barton tweeted a video of a talk he gave to legislators in 2017 about education. In it, he gave lots of statistics and what he claimed were historical facts. Much of what he said sounded either obvious or false but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t checked it all. However, at about 30 minutes into the talk, he said something that was vintage Barton. Watch:

He showed a picture of Abe Lincoln and claimed Lincoln said:

The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

Veteran Barton watchers will know where I am going. The quote can’t be found in Lincoln’s writings or speeches. At one time (as late as 2012), Barton considered it an “unconfirmed” quote. Barton knows the quote can’t be sourced to Lincoln but he attributed it to Lincoln anyway.

This isn’t how actual historians behave. They don’t try to fool their audiences into believing something that isn’t true. And this isn’t the first time with this exact same quote.

How can an audience rely on Barton’s claims when he fudges a quote he knows can’t be found in Lincoln’s works? A fair questions is: what is he fudging on more important claims?

Student Follows Teacher

One of Barton’s warnings to legislators is about professors who have the wrong philosophy. He asserts that liberal professors will turn students liberal. The fake Lincoln quote was designed to put the exclamation point on that principle and warn that liberal professors today mean liberal politics tomorrow.

(As an aside, I have to ask if that’s true, then where did Trump come from?)

In any case, I also have to ask if that’s true, what do we have to look forward to from Barton’s students? Find a quote you like and attribute it to your favorite historical figure. Go out of your way to stretch the truth to create an impression that helps you politically. Deceive your audience for the sake of Jesus and his chosen nation, America?

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