Why Is David Barton Lying and Saying Obama Didn’t Mention God in His Thanksgiving Proclamation?

There are times where we post videos of pastors or conservative pundits saying ridiculous things and their defenders will say we’re taking them out of context.

But when Christians lie so clearly, and the evidence is so conclusive, you really have to wonder how brainwashed their supporters are to just ignore the story.

Listen to pseudo-historian David Barton explain President Obama’s recent Thanksgiving proclamation:

Trust me. I’m Christian.

Barton: One of the unfortunate things, this is in the past several years, the Thanksgiving message out of the White House no longer even mentions God. When we give thanks, God’s not part of that.

Andrew Wommack: Part of that’s because of who is in the White House.

Barton: That’s a real problem. You check Thanksgiving proclamations of this president with the previous ones and it’s not the same.

That’s an easy thing to factcheck!

We just have to go to the proclamations and everyone can see for themselves that God was absent from Obama’s message! Thankfully, Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch did that for us.

Here’s a bit from this year’s proclamation:

Our annual celebration has roots in centuries-old colonial customs. When we gather around the table, we follow the example of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, who shared the fruits of a successful harvest nearly 400 years ago. When we offer our thanks, we mirror those who set aside a day of prayer. And when we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God.

And last year’s:

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives. As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.

On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.

And from 2011:

Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the Nation “to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

God was there in 2010, too:

In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land. As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

Barton lied. He just made something up and paraded it as fact, much like he did with his discredited Thomas Jefferson book. It doesn’t make me happy to say it, but God has been all over his proclamations.

So back to the topic at hand: Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide? Why can’t they admit he’s a liar when the truth is right there? It’s not even like evolution where they can’t see it happening right in front of their eyes. All it took was a simple Google search!

As Mantyla writes:

… one key to [Barton's] success is the fact that his audiences blindly accept everything he says without question, never bothering to actually verify anything he says.

That’s the problem with faith right there. When you’re taught to just obey and have faith, your critical thinking skills damn near disappear, even when proof of your ignorance is staring you right in the face.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Sven2547

    All it took was a simple Google search!

    That would require critical thinking. That nasty little habit that the Texas Republican Party is trying to remove from the public education system.

  • Justatron

    Barton’s acolytes (and pretty much all of the rabid Obama haters) have long since decided that this president is a Muslim at best or an atheist at worst…they are only interested in any information that seems to corroborate their already made up minds…

  • GusSnarp

    Why is David Barton lying?

    Because his mouth is moving.

  • guest

    Maybe it’s because he didn’t say ‘Jesus’? So, he’s obviously praying to Allah or whatever, ’cause if you don’t say Jesus it doesn’t count!

    Perhaps he should have ritually slaughtered a goat and anoited the altar with it’s blood. Worship without dead animals is no worship at all.

    Or they’re so hysterical with hate that facts don’t matter.

  • GusSnarp

    That’s the problem with faith right there. When you’re taught to just obey and have faith, your critical thinking skills damn near disappear, even when proof of your ignorance is staring you right in the face.


  • guest

    Confirmation bias all over the place.

    Or he knows that’s what his viewers pay for.

  • Rob P

    “Why Is David Barton Lying”
    Because reality does not conform to his view of how it should be.

  • baal

    “Why Is David Barton Lying”
    Why is water wet or Why is earth round?
    These are properties inherent in the object ;p.

    What is it in the US that allows Barton to have a platform despite his known problems with facts?

  • randomfactor

    “Why is David Barton lying?”

    It’s his job.

  • deepak shetty

    All it took was a simple Google search!
    Google is a tool of the liberal atheist communist muslims! Answers in genesis is the only reliable website.

  • zoi101

    It’s sad to see Barton and his “followers” so brainwashed that the filter they have to see the world through is distorted with fear and hatred and far from reality. What’s even worse is that they are poisoning children with the same disease, and fashioning for them the same distorted lens to view the world with… The years of programming set in ones head is far more powerful and controlling and they can’t hear what’s being said, only what the filter or conformation bias dictates. There’s minds are not their own. Sad.

  • JA

    “”So back to the topic at hand: Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide? Why can’t they admit he’s a liar when the truth is right there?””

    Obama bashing, plain and simple. They’ve decided to forgo reality and just wildly flail about in their descent into insanity as they realize the world does not work the way they think it does.

  • Rationalist1

    Alas it doesn’t matter that Barton lied and has been so obviously exposed as the audience to whom he is addressing this lie, doesn’t care and that is so sad.

  • Steven

    My mother’s response would be that it may not be factually accurate, but it’s still “true” because he’s anti-God in his heart.

    I like to call this “seeing the forest when there are no trees”.

  • Richard Thomas

    Fun story: When Barton’s book “The Jefferson Lies” was pulled from publication due to pretty much EVERYONE across the board agreeing that it was completely inaccurate, Glenn Beck magnanimously announced he would reissue the book through his publishing company. Nice little tidbit for when you have to sit next to conservative christian Beck fan family members at the christmas dinner table :)

  • GayAtheist64

    Why is David Barton lying?

    Who is David Barton & why should I care?

  • RegularJoe

    Why examine ‘facts’ and use the brain for ‘thinking’ when it’s much easier to simply ‘believe’ and let someone else tell you what is ‘true’.

  • Jeff

    I’ll pick door number 3….

  • arensb

    Thinking is hard! Let’s go praying! Tee-hee!

  • arensb

    Are you sure? At this point, I think it’s a hobby; something he’d be doing even if he weren’t paid for it.

  • TheG

    Why is David Barton lying?

    “Why does the sun come up, or are the stars just pinholes in the curtain of night?”

  • Nemo

    But, but, “President” Hussein Usurper did not mention Jesus. He did not say how Jesus wants small government, and how you must worship and praise Jesus exactly the way David Barton does or the Prince of Peace shall tear your soul into pieces for his pleasure and glory!!!!!!
    Ok, sarcasm off. Anyway, I’m guessing David Barton is just lying like always.

  • Mick

    Barton is just obeying orders:

    It is to be believed because it is absurd … the fact is certain because it is impossible (Tertullian)

    We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black if the hierarchy of the church so decides. (St Ignatius Loyola)

  • Rhodent

    Oh, sure, the proclamations he put on the web include those lines! But how do we know he actually SAID those things? Where’s the proof?

    I, of course, am kidding. But I think we all know there are people out there who would say this in all seriousness.

  • TheG
  • Marisa Totten

    Why does David Barton lie? Because that’s what David Barton does.

  • JenL

    A friend of my dad’s used to email me those horrible completely inaccurate anti-Obama screeds during the first election. One time, I went through the screed paragraph by paragraph and refuted the claims complete with links.

    Her reaction was something along the lines of “well, if you’re going to be THAT way…. Why aren’t you willing to listen to us?”

    I asked her why she didn’t think it was important that their claims had actual facts to back them up. Why she wasn’t willing to look at actual facts and make a decision.

    She hasn’t talked to me much since.

  • kccoallday

    He lies because conservatives don’t care about facts. They just parrot back the first thing they hear as irrefutable truth.

  • Pitabred

    How dare that reality get in the way of a good racist, fundamentalist rant!

  • Machintelligence

    It does seem to be the default option.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    How long before Fox news picks this up as a talking point?

  • James Buchy


  • Fernando Maneca

    Reality has a Liberal bias.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    But it’s not lying when the lies convince people God is real, or that Christianity is good, or to donate money, or to pass laws that discriminate in favor of Christians, or to buy books that make Christians money.

    It is only lying when non-Christians do it.


  • Rain

    What a great scholar. The greatest of all time.

  • Proteus

    He’s an xtian dominionist apologist. What do you expect?

  • Proteus

    Here’s another one:

    “What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of
    the good and for the Christian church…a lie out of necessity, a useful
    lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept
    them.” (Martin Luther)

  • Rain

    Why is David Barton lying?

    Because why did the chicken cross the road.

  • more compost

    Why is David Barton lying? It’s all he knows. It’s what he has built his reputation on.

    The real surprise would be if he told the truth.

  • Rain

    Please God make this a huge internet meme. Please, O Lord, make it go viral.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Barton was only allowed to eat from the Evil side of the tree.


  • JenL

    Oh, this is TOO good. I just got a “Christmas card” email from her, where the “humor” is having fun insulting people who voted for Obama. Apparently, we’re like Christmas lights because half of us don’t work and the rest of us aren’t too bright.

    Such a sweet Christian woman.

  • UWIR

    ” One of the unfortunate things, this is in the past several years, the Thanksgiving message out of the White House no longer even mentions God. When we give thanks, God’s not part of that.”

    So, apparently, if Obama doesn’t say “God”, then “we” are not mentioning God. On the one hand, it’s disturbing that Barton imposes on the presidency the responsibility of validating his religious views. If a Jew were elected president, would he say that it’s “unfortunate” that “we” no longer worship Jesus? On the other hand, Barton implicitly asserts that Obama speaks for him, so that’s an interesting subtext.

  • WingedBeast

    Why does David Barton lie? Well, that kind of assumes he cares enough to find out the truth. But, let’s not go there.
    The real reason he lies, as well as so many on the right lie about such easily fact-checked things, is that the religious right has The Truth. Okay, certain individuals may not fully believe what they’re saying. But, undeniably, some of them do believe exactly what they’re saying. (I believe Michelle Bachman, for instance, actually believed that the Founding Fathers had worked tirelessly until the end of slavery.) They have The Truth.
    They’ve had The Truth all along. The Truth is what they’re not allowed to say because of Political Correctness. The Truth is that it *is* Merry Christmas, because all those other religions are just plain wrong. Those other religions that are included in “Happy Holidays” are not The Truth. The conservative Christianity is The Truth.
    One of the good things about The Truth is that once you have it, you don’t need to go looking for it anymore. The Truth is in the bible, which says that all know that God exists. So, one who has The Truth doesn’t need to ask atheists about their beliefs, not in any way that actually seeks knowledge or admits that they do not currently have knowledge. No, any questions are just rhetorical means of getting them involved.
    The Truth is that they are the right side and others are the wrong side. Since The Truth is that they are on the side of good, the others are against good. So, since Barak Obama is against good, he must be against God and not even mention God in his addresses. There’s no need to look into that. Why go through that much effort before you say something or believe something when you already know that you have The Truth? Why would it even occur to you to go through that effort? After all, you already know it is The Truth.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    He’s a prominent right-wing whacko with a large and politically active fan base.

    (Does that work to answer all three questions?)

  • Fentwin

    “Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide?”

    They remind me of shore birds, frantically skittering back and forth, staying out of the surf (or in this case trying to stay out of an evolving society).

    The squawk and prattle as they run this way and that, avoiding the water. If you try to talk to them they mostly look at you funny manner and then more than likely will just poop on you.

    i.e. They don’t care that he’s lying, they think he keeps them out of the surf and in the loving tidal zone of Jesus.

  • Mario Strada

    They want it to be true and prefer to b e in a state of permanent outrage over a false representation than to look at reality.

  • LesterBallard

    Ooooh, ooooh, I know this one; because David Barton is a lying for Jesus piece of shit Christian?

  • LesterBallard

    “So back to the topic at hand: Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide?” Because they’re lying pieces of shit, too.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Why Is David Barton Lying and Saying Obama Didn’t Mention God in His Thanksgiving Proclamation?

    Wrong question (and one with an obvious answer). The real question is why did Obama find it necessary to mention God in his proclamation?

  • GayAtheist64

    Yes, thanks. I was actually being sarcastic though, meaning his opinion is as irrelevant as any other fitting the same description :)

  • God’s Starship

    Because he’s trying to sell his shitty books.

  • Carpinions

    “…any [sub-intellectual mental tripe] that seems to corroborate their already made up minds…”


  • Anathema

    Why is David Barton lying about Obama’s Thanksgiving Proclamation?

    Because he’s David Barton. Lying is what he does. It’s a core feature of the identity that he’s crafted for himself. If David Barton stopped lying, he’d have to dismiss nearly everything that he has come to stand for.

    Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide?

    Because they don’t care. If Barton’s followers cared about accuracy and holding Barton accountable for what he says, then they’d stop being followers of David Barton. If David Barton ever had any followers who care about the truth, they stopped following Barton long ago.

  • diogeneslamp0

    Barton should become a verb: to Barton- v. to lie without shame

  • Gehennah

    Because he’s a Christian, or at the very least plays one on TV. That, and it would lead to further “he’s a Muslim” attacks from the far right. Hell, many of them still think he’s a Muslim.
    Whether or not he mentions god really doesn’t affect me as I view a Thanksgiving address more of a personal thing, although at the same time I’d rather it have been just a personal thing instead of broadcast.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    David Barton is telling audiences what they want to hear, so of course they’re going to accept it without comment. He is feeding their persecution fantasies. He is telling them that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. He is making them feel smug and superior to all those ignorant savage “libtards” who don’t know that this is a “Christian nation” and that Obama is a godless Kenyan Muslim. He gives them that delicious little frisson of fear about Christianity becoming a minority faith and seeing Islam and atheism take over. And he feeds their belief that “the good old days” were awesome and that Christians need to take back those “good old days” in any way they can so they can get their dominance and privilege back again.

    His paycheck depends upon lying to people. He makes a lot of money lying to people. It’s a shame that Christians can’t patrol their own ranks and that non-believers have to do it for them, but their own willingness to believe any old guff if it confirms their fears and excites their biases is one of the black marks against the religion, in my opinion. I hope that as his lies become more obvious and blatant, there’ll be some tipping point. I don’t hold out a lot of optimism though considering Pat Robertson is still on the air.

  • stop2wonder

    ” one key to [Barton's] success is the fact that his audiences blindly
    accept everything he says without question, never bothering to actually
    verify anything he says.”

    Important lesson here for all of us: It’s easy to be skeptical and fact check a person or persons we don’t like or usually disagree with.

    We should be cognizant of the fact that those we usually trust and agree with make mistakes too, or can even lie sometimes.

    If the truth is important as we say it is, then we should be willing to put statements we want to believe in under even a greater scrutiny than those we disagree with, as these are the times we are the most gullible to believing a falsehood.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    The problem with Barton isn’t so much that he lies. It’s that he lies … and he lies again, and then he lies again, and after that, he lies some more … and on it goes. His fellow Christians refuse to stop him from lying any more.

    It’s reached the point where fact-checking the Christofascist no longer matters. He doesn’t pay attention to any criticism, because he doesn’t have to. His fellow Christians will just let him skate.

    And that’s assuming any of them care at all. Most of them don’t. The majority of them like hearing his paranoiac lies. It gives them emotional satisfaction to hear them. They want to feel persecuted for Jesus — even if they aren’t being persecuted — because that wish is buried deep within the psychopathology of their religion. They more or less can’t help themselves.

    So the bottom line is, Barton will continue to lie, because Christians like his lies. Most won’t admit it, because they’re too deluded to understand why it’s wrong, and the few who do recognize it, lack the courage to confront Baron and force him to stop lying for Jesus.

  • Nemo

    To be fair, I’m sure many Christians either don’t know who David Barton is (even if some of them do or do not use his Founding Fathers quotes). And many on the evangelical channel here do acknowledge him as a liar. It’s just within his far right circles that he has influence.

  • Carpinions

    Welcome to the experience pretty much everyone that challenges those hate emails has. I did that sporadically over the course of a few years (like, 2nd term Bush through 2008 election) and pretty much every family member CC’d on the emails either stopped emailing me or stopped participating in email altogether.

    Facts and thinking are hard, especially if those facts and thinking basically destroy everything someone thinks about a person or subject. I shot down all kinds of lies on subjects like abortion, Obama, Clinton, taxation, immigration, perceived slights against American patriotism, public education, the Democratic Party, World War 2, race, you name it. Some subjects devolved faster than others but it was basically me against nearly everyone else every time, and those that didn’t get bent out of shape played the “LA-LA-LA stop fighting! everyone can have an opinion!” card.

    You can make it about facts and logic all you want. I can’t tell you how much time I spent finding links to back up my positions, work that was summarily ignored because some people need only yell louder and sweep everything off the proverbial table for their position to win. It’s an utterly thankless, fruitless, self-defeating and ultimately self-loathing activity because you will be ignored, seen as an arrogant know-it-all that has to win every argument, and all you’ll get are sideways glances at family functions. It’s a no-win scenario 99 times out of 100, so I wouldn’t waste much more of your life doing it.

  • shuteme

    What makes you so damn sure that water IS wet? You can’t prove that to my understanding. And the earth IS flat! Have you never seen a map or read the bible?? snark snark.

  • Robster

    David who?

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic


    I completely agree.

    I try to take the time to confirm the information that I read. I hate articles that do not provide a link to the original material, but it is usually not difficult to do a Google News search using a relevant search term or name of someone from an article.

    The problem is that I sometimes end up with dozens of tabs open and I forget what I was originally looking for, because one source is rarely able to answer all of my questions.

    This is one of the reasons I love Wikipedia. The sources are listed and many of them are available on line.

    Quotes are a great example. If a quote is not attributed in Wikiquote, I do not trust it. The big problem is when I think I know the origin of a quote, but I am wrong. Rechecking is important and can provide information about sources that preceded the quote I might be familiar with.

    A great way to learn, but it is time consuming.


  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    They may “acknowledge him as a liar,” but they aren’t doing anything about it. Which is all I need to know about them, and about their religion. Its psychopathology encourages delusion and deception, and its followers won’t do anything to stop it when it happens.

  • meekinheritance

    Hemant, you wrote, “We just have to go to the proclamations and everyone can see for themselves that God was absent from Obama’s message!”
    Did you mean “wasn’t absent”, or were you being sarcastic?

  • Brodestar

    Obama mentioning “God” in his addresses doesn’t mean much to those who think hes a Muslim. They will think, and im sure do think, that hes speaking of Allah and not Yahweh when he says “God” or “Almighty”. If hes a christian, which I think he is, hes just saying what he feels is right to say despite what others, including atheists, think is right. I as an atheist have no problem with his spiritual beliefs as long as he doesn’t allow those beliefs to influence or dictate how he leads which I don’t think he does.

  • David B. Appleton

    That just tells you _when_ he is lying; it doesn’t tell you _why_ he is lying.

  • David B. Appleton

    “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

  • GusSnarp

    I know, but it was as close to the perfect set up as I was going to get!

  • JenL

    “Don’t try this at home.”

  • kielc

    A couple years ago, a FB friend of mine made the same claim about Obama’s Easter address. I looked it up, found it was full of “God,” and pointed this out. The FB friend apologized, then unfriended me. People like this don’t appreciate it when facts get in the way of their beliefs.

  • Carpinions

    Has this woman similarly mocked empathy in the past?