Christian Right Conference Serves Up Same Old Drivel

Lancaster Bible College hosted the U-Turn Conference last week, sponsored by the American Pastors Network (the ones who aren’t at all bothered by David Barton’s long track record of lying). It was kind of a wingnut B team except for Barton, but they offered up the same old crap:

The threat of anti-Christian persecution was a frequent theme at the U-Turn conference, which took its name and themes from a recent book co-authored by Barton and evangelical pollster George Barna. For example, Steve Scheibner, an American Airlines pilot who narrowly avoided being on a flight that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, declared, “Persecution is coming.” But, he added, “It may be the best thing that’s ever happened to the church.” Another speaker, Dale Anderson, thanked “that rascal” Barack Obama for having woken up the church.

Paul Blair gave David Barton-esque remarks about the nation’s history and cited English jurist William Blackstone in arguing that there can be no valid law that is contrary to scripture. He declared that “Judge Roy Moore,” Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is “a hero” for defying a federal judge’s decision on marriage equality. Blair said America is in its current state because too many pastors and people have been “sheep.” He insisted that marriage equality is a line that Christians must not allow to be crossed…

Barton’s speech contained no surprises for anyone familiar with his shtick about the influence of colonial-era pastors on the country’s founding, the number of Bible verses supposedly contained in the U.S. Constitution, and his insistence that the Bible is filled with specific policy prescriptions, such as opposition to minimum wages and capital gains taxes. In fact, he said, the Bible includes 613 civil laws for running the country.

This also is not a surprise:

Among the vendors doing a brisk business at the conference was the Institute of the Constitution, which promotes a Christian Reconstructionist ideology, and which has used its materials to train Tea Party activists in their vision of a radically, and biblically, limited role for the government.

That group was founded by Michael Peroutka, who is a Christian Reconstructionist. Not a surprise they’d be there peddling their wares.

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  • dmcclean

    613? Does that mean he has a list? If so, that should make for some hilarious reading.

    Also, can we get him to make a list of passages in the constitution that he thinks are “direct quote[s] out of a Bible verse”?

  • dingojack

    “In 1972 a crack team of Christian crack-pots weren’t sent to prison by a military court for any kind of crime, real or imagined. These men promptly escaped from reality to the Los Angeles sewers.

    Today, still unwanted by the government (or anyone else), they survive as pretend ‘Christian soldiers’.

    If you have a problem, if you need psychiatric help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the wingnut B-Team“.

    Dingo

  • Chiroptera

    …and biblically, limited role for the government.

    It’s been my experience that this is a contradiction in terms.

  • eamick

    @1: The number is probably an allusion to the 613 commandments in the Torah. It’s anyone’s guess if the mitzvot are what he actually has in mind.

  • John Pieret

    On the up side:

    [Evangelical pollster George] Barna was the Debbie Downer of the conference, reeling off pages of statistics designed to show the moral decline of America and the diminishing influence of the church in American culture. Among the statistics that seemed to land like a punch to the gut: only nine percent of born-again Americans have what Barna calls a “biblical worldview” – just over 51 percent of Protestant senior pastors make the grade. Barna decried the fact that so many pastors do not preach about current political topics.

    Of course, “moral decline” = “increase of Enlightenment ideals of freedom of conscience for all”.

  • raven

    Barna decried the fact that so many pastors do not preach about current political topics.

    The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously Bishop of Nevada, is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

    Barna might be surprised. Not all ministers and priests are far right extremists who hate science, democracy, and women. The head of the US Episcopalian church is named Katharine and has a Ph.D. in Oceanography. The majority of people who voted for Obama, a xian, were…xians.

    I’m surprised Barna was such a whacko kook. I’ve never seen any indication that his polls aren’t accurate. A fundie who tells the truth about anything is extremely rare.

    Barna’s polling indicates among other things, that a lot of US xians are box checkers and 37% of the population are post-xians.

  • dmcclean

    Thanks eamick, I was completely unaware of that.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The “613 civil laws” (presumably the Mosaic commandments) include all sorts of rules for construction of the Temple, performance of rituals by the High Priest (must be a direct male-line descendent of Aaron) and of course the usual dietary laws. Which, supposedly, are not required any more.

    On the other hand there’s nothing in there about traffic laws, building codes, salvage, …

  • Artor

    “…The Bible includes 613 civil laws for running the country.”

    And that would be different from Sharia Law how exactly?

  • D. C. Sessions

    And that would be different from Sharia Law how exactly?

    Sharia is OK with mixed fabrics, shellfish, and Beef Stroganoff.

  • abb3w

    @6, raven

    I’m surprised Barna was such a whacko kook. I’ve never seen any indication that his polls aren’t accurate. A fundie who tells the truth about anything is extremely rare.

    Barna at least seems to understand that fooling himself about what other people believe might be a potential obstacle to persuading more people to his beliefs. Contrariwise, his evangelical leanings seems clearly to have influence on his work, in that some of his question wordings have seemed subtly skewed or priming, and his interpretations of poll results has struck me as somewhat spin-heavy. Nohow, given how astoundingly lousy Barton’s respect for facts has been, I’m a little surprised Barna was willing to co-author a book with him.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    @1:

    Also, can we get him to make a list of passages in the constitution that he thinks are “direct quote[s] out of a Bible verse”?

    You can see some examples here:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2013/07/01/david-barton-and-the-biblical-constitution/

    Needless to say, they aren’t “direct quotes” or “verbatim” as Barton once put it, and in fact require willful misunderstanding of either the Constitutional or Biblical passage in question to think one had anything to do with the other.

    As always, putting aside all the other stupidities in Barton’s line of argument, if the founding fathers wanted us to think that they modeled the Constitution after the Bible, they would have just said so and quoted the actual Bible with multiple hosannas to Jesus tossed in. It’s not like anything was forcing them to keep quiet about it and express themselves through cryptic passages understood only by the elect.

  • tfkreference

    According to my bible app (KJV), “we” appears in 5,337 verses, “the” appears in 27,435 verses, and “people” appears in 1,924 verses.

    Numbers don’t lie, people!

  • dingojack

    tfkreference – Numbers might not lie, but about Deuteronomy?

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    Intestingly ‘the people’ appears 1106 times. My favourite:

    Genesis 11:6. “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

    Dingo 😉

  • yoav

    On the other hand there’s nothing in there about traffic laws, building codes, salvage, …

    But there are instructions as to how to handle your slaves.