Perhaps this boost to Lively’s credibility comes as a pay back for Lively’s conspiracy theory about why The Jefferson Lies was attacked by so many Christian historians prior to being pulled off the shelves by publisher Thomas Nelson. In August, Lively linked my blog posts debunking The Pink Swastika in 2009 to my recent book with Michael Coulter (Getting Jefferson Right) debunking Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies. Since everything has to do with homosexuality for Lively, he opined that our book fact-checking Barton’s book was written because David Barton is anti-gay. Barton ran with that idea by tweeting the article to his followers, and having Lively on his Wallbuilders show.
The whole conspiracy idea (and it is a false one – we wrote the book about The Jefferson Lies because it had just come out and because Barton made/makes many false claims) was used by Barton to deflect the substantial criticisms we made in Getting Jefferson Right. Neither Lively nor Barton have responded directly to the evidence we presented about their various claims.* Instead, their tactic has been to launch ad hominem attacks against me and others. The primary strategy of both Lively and Barton has been to invent a narrative where I am a liberal who has somehow persuaded scores of conservative people to write critically about these two men. Barton’s right hand man, Rick Green, compared me and others conservative Christian scholars to Adolf Hitler and Saul Alinsky because we pointed out blatant errors of fact in David Barton’s work.
Perhaps I should not be surprised but I am disappointed that very few people called Barton and Lively out on this obvious effort to change the subject. Many other conservatives came out with critiques of The Jefferson Lies (e.g., Breakpoint, American Vision) The main organizer of the effort to bring Barton to accountability was Jay Richards, a conservative Catholic and Fellow at the Discovery Institute who has co-authored a book with James Robison, another conservative author and minister. Richards asked 10 conservative Christian scholars to read our book and Barton’s book and issue a report. They did and in every case, the scholars found that Barton was incorrect on many of his key claims. About Barton’s books and videos, Richards said they contain”embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.” Michael Coulter and I still don’t know who all of those scholars are.
Appearing at Lively’s ministry is not likely to hurt Barton’s reputation but it is stunning that a Christian leader of Barton’s stature would do so. Lively’s work has been rejected and removed from websites of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Exodus International and Campus Crusade for Christ, among others. None of those groups are liberal.
In 2009, Lively told a Ugandan audience that homosexuals were likely involved in carrying out the Rwandan holocaust and that homosexuals prey on children. Although he told Current TV’s Marianna Van Zeller that he did not favor the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda, he said favored a state run ex-gay therapy program as an option to punishment. However, if the death penalty would be removed he would favor the Ugandans maintaining criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior. His interview with Current TV makes this clear:
Lively’s thrust and work are at odds with Barton’s benefactor Glenn Beck. Beck told Bill O’Reilly that he didn’t think the gay issues should be high up on the list of conservative worries.
This is about the same position I have. Beck quotes Thomas Jefferson saying, if it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg, why should I be concerned. I am a theological conservative who believes discrimination against individuals is wrong, even if they are gay or their moral views are different from mine. I think evangelicals are have spent too much time and money fighting the culture war when they should be worried more about reaching people with the essential message of the church.
However, when I articulate such views, I am a leftist, Alinskyite, Hitlerian elitist. When Beck does; well, he is Glenn Beck.
*Barton has responded to some of our criticisms but he has framed the arguments in friendly venues (e.g., Glenn Beck Show). For instance, he acknowledged on the Beck show that he left out part of the 1782 Virginia law allowing for manumission of slaves but he never said why he did it and has not provided any evidence that other laws in Virginia prevented manumission. He said he would but he has not. His responses to critics has been to dismiss them as liberals or limit his responses to parts of the criticism he wants to address. For the most part, Christian leaders are letting him get away with that.