Yahoo News: Eric Metaxas' House of Mirrors

In a remarkable Yahoo News article, Jon Ward gives the public a look into the thinking of Eric Metaxas as he defends himself against his critics.

David Barton (left), Eric Metaxas (right)

Metaxas is the author of books on Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce and most recently Martin Luther. Much to the puzzlement of many, Metaxas is also a full-throated supporter of Donald Trump. In his email exchange with Metaxas, reporter Ward sowed sharp questions about Metaxas’ support for Trump and reaped Metaxas’ whirlwind of projection and self-justification. You must read the whole thing at Yahoo and then hop on over to Medium where Jon reproduced the email exchange in full.
I could pick out many aspects of this exchange, but Ward’s piece is so clear that little commentary is needed. I will simply hit one or two high spots and then end with some commentary on Metaxas’ rant about Messiah history professor John Fea.

House of Mirrors

Ward summarized the email exchange:

To read Metaxas’ email was like entering a house of mirrors. It was not Trump who had aroused and played upon xenophobia as a candidate by his endless talk of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and his slur of Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and his talk of banning all Muslims from entering the country. Rather, “Beltway and Manhattan elites” were engaged in a “new and accepted tribalism and xenophobia” against “white European ‘Christian’ varieties” and in favor of Islam.

Ward really captured the contradiction in Metaxas later in the article:

Metaxas firmly planted himself on the side of the common folk against “elites.” He protested the “patronizing” and “fundamentally un-American” attitudes of media gatekeepers, who he said believe “many Americans are too uneducated or too gullible to properly understand all that confusing news in its raw form.” But when it came to the topic of Trump’s many racially charged comments dismissing or demeaning minority groups, Metaxas didn’t hesitate to take the view of an elite who knew what was better for those communities than they did themselves.

Trump, Metaxas said, “has been perceived as wrong by certain groups, by many groups. We need to take that perception seriously, but just how seriously is the larger question. Are we not living in a time when everyone is far too easily offended, so much so that we are taking our eyes off what actually matters, off actually solving the real problems of people rather than giving politically correct lip service to those problems?”

When you attack Metaxas or Trump, you’re patronizing. When Trump attacks, the other side is too easily offended.

Hitlery Clinton

More contradiction comes via Metaxas’ opinion of Hillary Clinton. On one hand, he wrote to Ward:

Christians who think the Church in America might have survived a Hillary Clinton presidency are something like the devout Christian Germans who seriously and prayerfully thought it unChristian to be involved in opposing Hitler because to do so would have dirtied their hands with politics,…

He even once tweeted “Hitlery Clinton” but in the email exchange he told Ward: “Nor do I mean to compare Hillary to Hitler, but the principle at issue is the same nonetheless.” If he didn’t mean to compare Hillary to Hitler, then why bring up Hitler?

John Fea and the Beast of Revelation

Despite his complaints of being pilloried, he did not hesitate to pillory. His response to a question about historian John Fea’s spot-on critique of his book If You Can Keep It is a case in point. Ward asked in part:

The greater point is that Fea thinks you make a common mistake of many evangelicals, that of confusing America with the kingdom of God. This is a complex and nuanced point. A firm rootedness in one’s citizenship in heaven should not produce passivity or fatalism about one’s community or nation here on earth. But the critique of culture warriors often is that they cling too tightly to worldly outcomes because the two categories (kingdom of God and America) have become almost unintelligibly mixed or combined. Do you think you have done this in any way?

Metaxas snorted in response:

Mr. Fea’s critiques have not only not persuaded me, they have helped me see more clearly why what I said in my book If You Can Keep It is necessary to communicate to as many Americans as possible at this time in history. If I could give a copy of that book to every American — or at least to every young American — I would do so. Mr. Fea’s misunderstanding on this central issue — one that particularly seems to plague academics — is at the heart of our problems as a culture and as a church.

To mix these very separate categories is a great sin indeed, but such sins must be in the eyes of the beholder. I am afraid Mr. Fea has committed the opposite sin in being so enamored of a certain anti-populist and anti-American narrative — which view is so trendy in the Academy that he should be concerned about having accepted it himself — that he falls into the category of those who find any healthy celebration of patriotism as like unto worshipping the Beast of Revelation.

Metaxas did not answer the question. All he did was attack Fea’s character and his patriotism. If Metaxas wants to elevate discourse among Christians, perhaps he should start with himself.
Those new to the criticisms of Metaxas’ historical errors in If You Can Keep It should go back and read the many critical reviews of the book by Christian historians (herehere, here, here, here). These critiques documented the many historical problems in the book. At the time, he doubled down on the errors and aligned with David Barton against the critics.
I believe historians writing about this period of history will find Ward’s article quite helpful as a window into the evangelical split over Trump. Agree or disagree with Metaxas, I think and he and Ward deserve thanks for being willing to put this conversation before the public.
Another list of critiques of Eric Metaxas’ If You Can Keep It
John Fea’s series
Tracy McKensie’s blog
Gregg Frazer’s review
My article in the Daily Caller
My blog posts addressing the errors

Military to Hear From Kenneth Copeland Who Teaches PTSD Can Be Cured by Bible Verses and Rebuking Satan

A military religious freedom watchdog group is asking Commanding General Major General Pete Johnson to uninvite Kenneth Copeland from theKenneth Copeland Jet February 1 prayer breakfast at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Kenneth Copeland has a rather checkered history but the main reason for the outrage is Kenneth Copeland’s past teaching on how to address post-traumatic stress disorder. On that topic, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein told the General:

But there’s something else that makes Copeland an even more outrageous choice to speak to any military audience. He has claimed that PTSD isn’t real because it isn’t biblical, saying on a 2013 Veterans Day episode of his TV show:
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, and it doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there [referring to a Bible verse he had just read] will get rid of it.”
Copeland’s guest that day, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, wholeheartedly agreed, adding that warriors in the Bible fighting in the name of God were “esteemed” and in the “faith hall of fame” because they “took so many people out in battle.”

At the time, Barton and Copeland took a lot of heat over that “advice.” Before I go on, here is the segment:

Gospel Destroying and Demonic Advice

The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter called this advice “gospel destroying” and “demonic.” Copeland still has aspects of this advice on his website (source and source). I did a short series on PTSD which highlighted damaging aspects of Copeland’s and Barton’s advice. In short, their advice was insulting to PTSD sufferers. The military should warn their people about Copeland, not invite him to lecture them.

Copeland Disqualified Himself

I hope the General decides to find another speaker. In my opinion, Copeland disqualified himself to speak to our service men and women. In addition to his bogus advice about PTSD, he teaches that people who recite certain Bible verses will survive war. In essence, his teaching is that Christians will survive if they do the right things and recite the right magic Bible verses (Psalm 91 is one he suggests). In his PTSD video, he claims that the Bible gives a promise of survival to soldiers who fight for God. I don’t know what happens to people who don’t believe these things according to Copeland.
I can’t imagine what he will say that will be of general benefit or encouragement to people of all faiths. His teaching in his Veteran’s Day video and on his website requires a rather close adherence to his specific interpretation of the Bible. There are many Christians who reject this approach, not to mention those of other faiths and no faith. Surely, General Johnson can find someone who can bring people together and respect troops of all faith traditions.
Here is the announcement in the Fort Jackson newsletter:

National Prayer Breakfast to take place Feb. 1 at NCO Club sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast for the Fort Jackson Community 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the NCO Club. Nationally recognized televangelist Kenneth Copeland will be the speaker. Tickets are available from your unit. The event is free, but offerings will be accepted at the event. Attire will be duty uniform or civilian equivalent. The purpose of the NPB is to emphasize the importance of prayer for the Nation, Fort Jackson, our armed forces, and our Families. The themes for the breakfast are: prayers for the nation, community relationship and spiritual fitness.

 
This tip came from fellow Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta (who got it from Chris Rodda).

Another Article on Understanding David Barton

Out today, Vox has an article by Tara Burton hoping to help progressive readers understand the David Barton phenomenon. Over the years, Barton

David Barton
David Barton

has been identified as the “historian” behind a Christian nationalist narrative of the nation’s founding. Burton correctly connects newly appointed Religious Liberty Ambassador Sam Brownback and PA Republican candidate for Congress Rick Saccone with Barton. Brownback and Barton have a long relationship. I wrote about the Saccone-Barton link early last year.
Overall, to me as a long time student of this subject, there isn’t much new here.

When an Earned Degree Isn’t Earned

I am disappointed that Burton didn’t use the Vox platform to point out Barton’s academic fraud. She touched on it but left an incomplete impression:

Barton is a self-taught historian and activist. He’s received little formal historical training and his sole credentialed degree is a bachelor’s in religious education from evangelical Oral Roberts University, although he later claimed to have earned a doctorate from officially unaccredited Life Christian University on the basis of his published works.

Yes, he claimed one day to have an earned doctorate, but then the very next day, he took down his boastful claim when I revealed that the “earned doctorate” wasn’t earned but came from diploma mill Life Christian University. Barton no longer claims the degree. He won’t answer questions about his initial claim. Given that Burton said Barton gives Christian nationalism a “veneer of academic respectability,” I think this detail is quite significant.
The issue isn’t simply that he claimed a degree from an unaccredited school. Such that it is, he does have a piece of paper from Life Christian University. The claim which goes to Barton’s credibility is that he said that the degree was earned without specifying the means of earning it. Barton never said the degree was earned based on his published works. That rationale came from the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate.
Despite this missed opportunity, I think Burton’s gets Barton’s influence mostly right when she says:

Barton remains a prominent figure in evangelical and dominionist circles and a regular on conservative conference circuits. He continues to speak on his nationally syndicated WallBuilders radio show, on which he describes himself as “America’s premier historian.” That said, since his fall from grace, Barton has publicly been cited by fewer and fewer prominent politicians, which makes Saccone’s choice to feature him at an early rally striking. But despite this, his influence is such that his particular narrative of American history is still taken by some on the right as, well, gospel.

These days almost no students who take my classes know who Barton is. More younger people seem wary of his claims. However, among those who strongly believe America is a Christian nation, Barton can do no wrong.

Keep Faith in America is a Christian Nationalist Celebration

photo-1432164245265-ab19a48c3d09_opt
Live via webcast from noon to 8pm is a Christian nationalist celebration called Keep Faith in America.  Hosted by former Congressman Randy Forbes and self-styled historian David Barton, the event is sponsored by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, a non-profit organization aligned with the Congressional Prayer Caucus.  You can watch various state legislature events and guest speakers via live stream here.

Keep Conservative Christianity in America

I watched it for over an hour and saw three state events. The first one I couldn’t identify because I tuned in too late and then later on I heard Kansas and Delaware politicians talk about keeping faith in America. Several of the speakers talked about faith and mentioned people of all faiths but the only representative of any faith besides Christianity was a rabbi (I didn’t catch his name). All other people featured during the event were Christian. It became obvious the longer I listened that the event should have been named: Keep Conservative Christianity in America.
These conservative Christians seemed to feel that their faith was under attack. They spoke as if their freedom to practice their religion was in jeopardy. How strange a sight it was to see elected officials standing in places of power praying in the name of Jesus, invoking their specific religion without restriction, and complaining about limitations on their religious liberty. They quoted the Bible as if all religions and people of no religion should respect those teachings. Remember these are legislators who are proclaiming that they, as legislators, need to keep faith in America, but when they say faith, the only faith they are talking about is Christianity.

Bad History

In the Delaware session, bad history was evident. The final speaker of the session (I couldn’t hear his name) told the story of Ben Franklin’s call to prayer as if the Constitutional Convention delegates actually heeded Franklin’s call and prayed daily during the Convention (they didn’t).
Unfortunately, this looks like another concerted effort to confuse Christians about the actual events of the founding era and church-state relations. This can only continue to lead many churches into a false mission of political activism, aligning themselves with Republican candidates who speak Christianese.

Another Idea

Better campaign than Keeping Faith in America: Keeping Christ in Christianity.

Wallbuilders Breathlessly Asks: Was Charles Darwin a Racist?

Oh, how I have missed me some Wallbuilders!
In a stunningly simplistic video, Tim Barton, son of David Barton, holds up a copy of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and asks if Darwin was a racist. Why would he wonder this? The full title of Darwin’s book is: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Because of the phrase “favoured races” Barton says Darwin was racist and evolution shouldn’t be studied in school. Watch:

Did Tim Barton Forget the Constitutional Convention Slavery Deal?

Barton invokes the Declaration of Independence to suggest that the founders didn’t believe in “favoured races.” He said at about one minute: “The founding fathers even wrote in the Declaration, ‘All men are created equal.” There’s not favored races.”
Really? Has young Mr. Barton forgotten about the subject that nearly ripped the Constitutional Convention apart? The favored race was represented in Philadelphia while the African slave was sold out by our founding fathers. How can you tell the story of America without the story of favored races?

What Then Should We Teach?

After insinuating that Darwin was a racist, Barton questions the teaching of evolution. If that is the standard, then we will have to question the teaching of Christianity. Although less so now, in the past many Christians used their religion as a basis for racist attitudes. One major divide during the Civil War was theological between abolitionists and those who believed Christianity supported or even mandated the superiority of whites. One of the clearest illustrations of this is a speech given by the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens in 1861.

MR. STEPHENS rose and spoke as follows:
Mr. Mayor, and Gentlemen of the Committee, and Fellow-Citizens:- . . . We are in the midst of one of the greatest epochs in our history. The last ninety days will mark one of the most memorable eras in the history of modern civilization. . . .
I was remarking, that we are passing through one of the greatest revolutions in the annals of the world. Seven States have within the last three months thrown off an old government and formed a new. This revolution has been signally marked, up to this time, by the fact of its having been accomplished without the loss of a single drop of blood. [Applause.]
This new constitution, or form of government, constitutes the subject to which your attention will be partly invited. . . .
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind — from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just — but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal. (emphasis added)

Darwin or Jefferson?

Below I briefly discuss Darwin and race. However, no matter what Darwin thought about it, it is incredibly hypocritical for Tim Barton to brand

Charles Darwin public domain
Charles Darwin public domain

Darwin as a racist on the basis of the title of Origin of Species while father David Barton elsewhere lauds Thomas Jefferson as an “advocate for equality.” In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson said about African slaves:

It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expence of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. — To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immoveable
265
veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites. Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep
266
of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them indeed have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of
267
the most affecting touches in poetry. — Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar ;oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honour to the heart than the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and shew how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his stile is easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning: yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own colour who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived, and particularly with the epistolary class, in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enroll him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life.

There is serious discussion among scholars about the racial views of Darwin. Some believe he held racist views, others believe he entertained them but eventually discarded them. As an illustration of someone who offers a sympathetic view of Darwin, I offer this video featuring Adam Gopnik on Fora.tv.

Given what Gopnik says about Darwin here (entertained ideas of human being distributed in breeds like animals), perhaps Darwin followed Jefferson’s thinking. I don’t know enough about the intellectual history of that concept to say; Gopnik may be being too charitable. If need be, I can look into that for a future post. However, I hope I have demonstrated that it is sloppy thinking and poor history to try to pin racism on any one view of origins.

Another Conservative Calls Out David Barton's History

Charles C. W. Cooke is the online editor for National Review Online and recently had this to say about self-styled historian David Barton.


Generally, an individual occupying such a position with NR is not known as a liberal or even a “liberal bastard” as Glenn Beck once said about David Barton’s critics. Thus, I was interested to see such plain language aimed at Mr. Barton, a darling of some within what is left of the conservative world.
The Twitter thread is filled with polite give and take wherein Mr. Cooke doesn’t give an inch, reminding his readers that once upon a time Mr. Barton once admitted using second hand quotes without providing proper context. Even then, Barton claimed he only did what those pagan academics did.


Cooke here refers readers to Barton’s efforts to backtrack after it was discovered that some of the quotes in his book The Myth of Separation could not be located in primary sources. Barton said it was his idea to take those quotes out of his books. However, that hasn’t stopped him from using quotes that are not in primary sources or manipulating the words of certain founders to get the meaning he wants (click the links for a few illustrations).
One of the most egregious instances of academic deception was Barton’s effort to pass off a diploma mill doctorate from Life Christian University as an earned degree. He has never explained why he went to all the trouble to create a video for his Facebook and YouTube accounts, post it for one day, but then remove it the next day when I revealed that the “earned” doctorate he proudly pointed to was given to him by a school he never attended. I wonder if donor funds went to pay the fee for that piece of paper.

David Barton Backed Candidate for MI Governor Stripped of State Senate Committee Assignments

David Barton
David Barton

In the war between the alt-right/Christian nationalist and establishment factions of the GOP, battles are being waged in state races around the country. Even Ted Cruz may face a primary challenge in TX. In MI, David Barton and now Sean Hannity have endorsed Patrick Colbeck for governor. Can Steve Bannon be far behind?
Colbeck’s opposition in MI isn’t just the Democrats. On October 10, the MI Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof stripped him of all of his Senate committee assignments. Although Meekhof has not provided a specific reason for the unusual move, it may be an expression of the GOP war between the establishment and alt-right/Christian nationalist factions of the party. According to a Detroit News report, Colbeck is a favorite of the tea party in MI.
Colbeck believes he is being punished for attempting to “drain the swamp.”


Colbeck posted to his campaign Twitter account the extraordinary letter from Meekhof.

Ordinarily, this would be the kiss of death for a GOP candidate. However, Colbeck’s race will be one to watch in order to assess the strength of theMI logo growing coalition between white identity alt-right nationalists and Christian nationalists. Although Trump and Bannon aren’t being mentioned by name as yet, the endorsement of Hannity puts Colbeck in play as an anti-establishment candidate.
Other notes:
Apparently, Sen. Colbeck didn’t like my post on Tuesday about David Barton’s endorsement. He blocked me from viewing his account on Twitter.
 
To follow the blog on Facebook, click here.
To follow me on Twitter, click here.
 

Now Michigan Republicans Know Who to Avoid in the Race for Governor

David Barton
David Barton (screen cap You Tube)

Patrick Colbeck is a Michigan State Senator who wants to be governor. He is polling at about 4% compared to the front runner Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s 42%. While it is understandable that Colbeck would be excited about an endorsement, the one he just announced may provide many people a reason not to vote for him. On his Facebook page, Colbeck just announced that he has received the endorsement of David Barton.
To be sure, Barton’s endorsement is sought by many GOP candidates. The value of the endorsement for those who oppose Barton’s Christian nationalism is that it clearly designates the Christian nationalist candidate. In other words, now Michigan Republican voters who are skeptical about Christian nationalism may consider the other candidates. Nationally, the Republican party is in Civil War with nativists and Christian nationalists at war with the party establishment. As I noted earlier today, even the Christian right in Texas has found a way to splinter within the splinter.
I don’t assume that Colbeck knows about Barton’s record or his penchant for embellishing his bio. However, some conservatives are getting the message. I was pleasantly surprised to see an expose‘ on Barton at Pulpit and Pen, a far right theology website.  The author Seth Dunn covered the fake PhD and the NCAA Oral Roberts basketball story. From Dunn’s point of view, Barton isn’t good for soul winning.

The intellectual dishonesty of David Barton should not be the image put into the minds of lost people.  Christians should be leading the way in the realm of open, honest, forthcoming scholarship.  If the souls of the lost are to be won, it is not by the political operations of a faux-historian who seems to have only Americans pastors and TBN-viewers fooled about his complete lack of qualification.  The visible church should be policing itself.  Rather, it is put to open shame when non-believers and leftists must take the lead in exposing false claims of David Barton and his ilk.

Mr. Dunn, some politicians have been fooled too.
I once lived in the geographic Middle of the Mitten and know that area to be quite conservative. Perhaps, the endorsement will pick up some votes there. However, if Mr. Dunn’s op-ed is any indication, even some on the religious right may start to look elsewhere.

A Year Ago Today David Barton Claimed to Have an Earned PhD

A year ago today, religious right activist and member of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration David Barton posted the following video on his Facebook and YouTube accounts.

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’s 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.

Question for Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration: What Does Indigenous Mean?

President Trump’s immigration policies have split the evangelical world. Many called on Trump to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while others applauded the president for rescinding it.  Now that the matter is in the hands of Congress, lobbying for both sides is fierce. Some evangelical groups have promised an intense lobbying campaign to pass legislation favorable to illegal immigrants while others, such as Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, promote a more exclusionary approach.
The EBI group recently wrote a letter to President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to put Americans first. The view of the world espoused by EBI sounds similar to positions espoused by segregationists during the era leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Historian Paul Matzko illustrated this connection by citing a 1960 sermon by segregationist Rev. Bob Jones. Jones said, “[The Apostle] Paul said that God ‘. . . hath made of one blood all nations of men . . . .’ But He also fixed the bounds of their habitation. When nations break out of their boundaries and begin to do things contrary to the purpose of God and the directive will of God, they have trouble.”
To further illustrate, let’s compare the EBI letter to Caroline County Circuit Judge Leon Bazile’s 1959 rationale for Virginia’s law against biracial marriage in a case which involved Richard and Mildred Loving. That situation ultimately led to the Supreme Court’s 1967 landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia which struck down those prohibitions. First, the EBI letter’s statements about people and nations:

While some faith groups use selective Bible words for open borders and amnesty, we consider the whole counsel of Scripture. We find that the Bible does not teach open borders, but wise welcome. We are to welcome the lawful foreigner, who, like a convert, comes as a blessing (eg.s Ruth and Rahab). We also find Nehemiah building walls to protect citizens from harm. In Isaiah 1, we see God condemning the destruction of borders and indigenous culture.
All lives matter. The lives of North, Central and South Americans matter. The lives of Africans, Asians, Europeans and people from the Middle East matter. In Scripture, we learn that God placed us each in a family, a land, an epic story of creation, the fall and redemption. The Bible envisions a world of beautiful and unique nations, not a stateless ‘open society’ run by global oligarchs. Each of us is called to be a blessing where God has placed us in the world. (emphasis in the original)

Now read Judge Bazile’s rationale for keeping the races separate.

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The EBI letter is not as nakedly segregationist as Bazile’s claim but contains similar reasoning. According to the Judge and the EBI letter writers, God made the borders and put the people in them. Our job is to smile, stay put, and deal with it.

What Does Indigenous Mean?

Without apparent awareness of our own history, the EBI writers say God condemns “the destruction of borders and indigenous culture.” If that is always true, then God must condemn America. The Europeans who came here obviously didn’t stay where God placed them.  Instead they came to this land and destroyed the indigenous culture. Not only did the white European take this land from the native people, the “settlers” forced the native people to leave their lands time and time again, most notably between 1830 and 1840 in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Not only were borders destroyed, but thousands of native men, women, and children died during the march from the Southeast to Oklahoma.

Indian school, Carlisle PA. Public domain
Indian school, Carlisle PA. Public domain

They were punished for using their native language, wearing native dress and for any positive reference to their indigenous culture. If the EBI signers really believe that God condemns such destruction, then they should fall to their knees in repentance and fear.
The EBI letter is a confusing hodgepodge of nativist talking points baptized with references to the Bible used out of their historical context. It is understandable that the Breitbart alt-right crowd likes it.
There are practical reasons for limiting the number of people coming to the country, but I can see no reason, biblical or otherwise, to limit people by race, religion, or national origin. God as a prop for political xenophobia does not reflect his whole counsel, but rather reflects the worldly counsel of the writers.