David Barton and the ‘Let the People Decide’ Excuse

The Missouri Baptist Convention is going to include a presentation by professional liar David Barton, so Warren Throckmorton asked the executive director of the MBC, Dr. John Yeats, to defend that decision. He offered the “let the people decide” excuse.

We are grateful for the opportunity to help a leading Missouri Baptist church serve as host of the conference. Whatever your views on David Barton, we support the event and encourage Missouri Baptists to hear him out and decide for themselves. In my many years in Baptist life, I have found my fellow Baptists to be fair-minded and discerning people who love the truth. Certainly, we agree with the stated mission of WallBuilders: to educate the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; to provide information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies that reflect Biblical values; and to encourage Christians to be involved in the civic arena.

Translation: We agree with his position, so we don’t care that he defends it with almost nothing but false claims, exaggerations and outright lies. Throckmorton then also contacted Christian historian Gregg Frazer, who pointed out how absurd this “let the people decide for themselves” position is when you’re only presenting one highly dishonest position:

Baptists may well be “fair-minded and discerning people who love the truth” and it is good that the president wants Missouri Baptists to “decide for themselves.” The problem is that in order to properly discern and to properly decide on truth, people must have access to proper information and actual truth. Missouri Baptists, for example, would never come to the truth of the Gospel if all that was presented to them was Buddhism or Islam. In order to come to a proper conclusion, one must have access to the truth. How can they learn truth if Missouri Baptists hear only manufactured “history” – history as some wish it had been; history as constructed from partial quotes, quotes out of context, misleading half-truths, and complete falsehoods? The vast majority of Missourians/Americans do not have the time or resources to study primary historical documents – so they put their faith in people who claim to have done that study. When that trust is misplaced, Missouri Baptists will inevitably draw false conclusions – through no fault of their own.

If Missouri Baptists are going to hear the eccentric views of self-proclaimed historians and still have a chance to know the truth and to discern it, they must also hear from someone who can point out misleading tactics and errors and show them the actual texts that are distorted and manipulated. I’m from Missouri; I trust that Missourians could discern properly between two alternatives. But IF THEY ONLY HEAR ONE SIDE, HOW CAN THEY MAKE A PROPER DETERMINATION? When they “decide for themselves, “ will they not be captive to the information they have – whether it is false or true? Completely false information can be made to look very persuasive when presented in isolation.

It’s good that Christian scholars like Throckmorton and Frazer are very publicly calling out Barton and the organizations that present him uncritically.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Translation: We agree with his position, so we don’t care that he defends it with almost nothing but false claims, exaggerations and outright lies.

    The term you’re looking for is Biblical Values.

  • John Pieret

    When have religions ever presented other sides of the story? Their history is to just call the people who hold other views “heretics” and burn them at the stake or put them to the sword.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    I assume the Missouri Baptists are going to host a seminar featuring credentialed historians to present the “other side” so that they can make a fully informed decision, right?

  • wreck

    “Certainly, we agree with the stated mission of WallBuilders: to educate the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country”

    Well, as long as he’s not biased.

  • grumpyoldfart

    It’s good that Christian scholars like Throckmorton and Frazer are very publicly calling out Barton and the organizations that present him uncritically.

    Not very often. Not very loudly. And only when pushed.

  • peterh

    This “godly foundation” fundies are fond of mentioning – in which parallel universe is it to be found?

  • Nomad

    “Missouri Baptists, for example, would never come to the truth of the Gospel if all that was presented to them was Buddhism or Islam.”

    On the other hand, Frazer continued, if you only give them the truth of the Gospel then it’s okay, because we already know that’s the truth.

    I can’t help but wonder if Throckmorton couldn’t have found someone whose primary means of criticism wasn’t hypocrisy to go for a quote.

  • https://plus.google.com/101060696320014364594 Darren VanDusen

    @ d.c. wilson I doubt anyone would be invited to present the other side. however maybe Chris Rodda will show up so I can sleep peacefully knowing someone is on that wall. No pun intended