Bradlee Dean says distorting history is a lie and lying is against the law. Can I make a citizen’s arrest?

In his WorldNetDaily column today, Bradlee Dean says:

Friends, distorting American history is a deliberate lie, and lying is not permissible by law.

Dean enters David Barton’s world to make several claims about Thomas Jefferson that we cover in our book Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President.  I’ll note them briefly with links to the correct information.

First, Dean says that Jefferson worked for religious freedom under the umbrella of Christianity. Jefferson worked for religious freedom and he did want the VA law for religious freedom listed as an accomplishment on his tombstone. However, Jefferson said that VA law covered non-Christian religions as well.

Dean said Jefferson help found the Virginia Bible Society and was a “substantial financial contributor.” In fact, Jefferson did not help found the organization.  He once gave $50 to the group with the proviso that they not extend the work of the society to foreign nations.  Fifty dollars was not an insignificant sum but it was a tiny fraction of Jefferson’s expenditures for fine wine and imported china.

Dean said Jefferson had a “had a long history of working with missionaries,” especially those evangelizing Native Americans with Christianity. We deal with this myth extensively in our book. In at least two letters, Jefferson said mission work was the last thing one should do to advance the Indians.  Furthermore, he advocated a plan to get native people into debt so that they would be willing to sell off their lands cheaply as payment. At times, Jefferson used missionary societies to collect samples of Indian languages. However, a leader of one of those mission societies was William Linn who became a staunch opponent of Jefferson in the 1800 presidential election. Linn said in an influential pamphlet written to oppose Jefferson:

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures, or in other words, his rejection of the Christian religion and open professions of Deism.

While Jefferson was not an atheist, he did not work to convert Indians to orthodox Christianity.

Dean says the Jefferson Bible was constructed to evangelize Indians, was then given to members of Congress and contains miracles of healing.  Dean seems unaware that Jefferson edited the gospels twice.  The 1804 version has been lost and so it could not have been given to members of Congress. The post-1820 version was found long after Jefferson’s death and copies were given to incoming members of Congress from 1904 through 1957.

Dean takes a page from Barton’s mistakes by claiming that the Jefferson Bible contained healing miracles. As I point out here, here and here, this is not true. In The Jefferson Lies, Barton failed to check his sources which turned out to be incorrect. A comparison to Jefferson’s list of verses to be included, along with what he actually included, reveals that Jefferson did include passages about the afterlife but excluded parts of the gospels that make Jesus appear to be divine, including His miracles.

After distorting history, Dean then writes:

Friends, distorting American history is a deliberate lie, and lying is not permissible by law.

Who wants to make a citizen’s arrest?


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  • Richard Willmer

    Telling porkies (e.g. “It’s lovely to see you” when it is nothing of the sort) against the law? I’d better turn myself in!

  • Richard Willmer

    (Perhaps I should explain: ‘porky pie’ [a.k.a. ‘porky’] is Cockney Rhyming Slang for ‘lie’.)

  • Nelson

    Frankly the thought of a citizens arrest of the far right wing squirrel nut job history revisionists thrills me to no end. The trouble is that lying although unethical and immoral is not against the law in any way except in a court of law. We need to ferret out the prevaricators for ourselves and what will help in this endeavour is knowing the historically accurate information regarding the founding of this nation.

    Please stop the madness of listening to the far right wing squirrel nut jobs and start hearing and listening to those who have given their lives to the pursuit of truth and knowledge of the founding of this nation. We are fast becoming historically illiterate, and should this trend continue we’ll eventually fall prey to the likes of people like Bradlee Dean, David Bartion and of course the ever present and most watched prevaricator Glenn Beck.

  • Lynn David

    History can be what you want to make of it, I guess. But when you believe it, well, that is close to being delusional. Perchance he needs your services instead of your arrest?

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Lynn David

    Love your comment! But Warren should charge ‘top whack’ (a good portion, maybe all, of which I know he would give charity).

  • Richard Willmer

    Nelson says: “We are fast becoming historically illiterate …”

    I agree that there is, in this ‘instant soundbite’ world of ours, a real danger of this. Working to maintain a proper approach to history (‘enquiry’ is the literal meaning of the Greek word from which our word ‘history’ comes) is a huge task, but an essential one.

  • Zoe Brain

    There’s plenty of caselaw protecting the right to deliberately lie.

    It’s only restricted in a very few specific cases:

    1) Not permitted to lie under oath

    2) Not permitted to lie to Federal Law Enforcement

    3) Not permitted to abet Fraud

    4) Not permitted to lie to harm individuals not public figures.