World’s David Barton Coverage: What Will Evangelicals Do?

World Magazine has been shining extraordinary light on the David Barton controversy.  Friday, the evangelical publication printed a brief article by Gregg Frazer which contradicted Barton’s contention that Jefferson was orthodox for most of his life and only questioned orthodoxy after 1813.

Frazer’s article is clear and convincing but that does not surprise me for two reasons. One, Gregg was right on this in his earlier writings and two, we covered similar ground and so much more in Getting Jefferson Right. What is stunning is Barton’s response already up on the World website.

Gregg Frazer disagrees with my interpretation of one document in one of The Jefferson Lies’ nine chapters. I appreciate his position but remain convinced that, as I wrote in my response to Warren Throckmorton:

“Early in life Jefferson apparently was a typical Anglican gentleman, but later in life he embraced unorthodox beliefs. [In fact, I devoted 16 pages in my book to documenting Jefferson’s heterodox beliefs.] But throughout all phases of his life he maintained an open respect and admiration for Jesus Christ and Christian values and morality, and he regularly promoted Christianity in ways that make today’s secularists and separationists uncomfortable.”

Throckmorton’s original assault on my book managed to avoid its major points and instead criticize minor and even obscure facts, and this new attack by Frazer seems to suggest that this “debate” may become a never-ending discussion over less and less. With so many important cultural battles that desperately need our focused attention, it seems a misuse of time and energy to continue arguing over relatively inconsequential points with those who profess to hold the same common Christian values, so I will now resume my efforts attempting to beat back the secularist progressive movement that wrongly invokes Jefferson in their efforts to expunge any presence of faith from the public square.

I am grateful to WORLD for allowing this “debate” to occur, and consistent with my regular practice, if errors in my work are called to my attention I will continue to address them in subsequent editions.

Those hoping for recognition of those errors will be disappointed. In his article, Frazer demonstrates that Barton overlooks Jefferson’s relationship to Joseph Priestley as well as Jefferson’s views prior to 1813. These are not minor matters of interpretation but Barton dismisses them as trivial.

Furthermore, his response to me and to Frazer changes the subject. In his book, he claimed that Jefferson did not question the Trinity until 1813. That is clearly false and yet Barton does not admit it. Instead, he changes his position, calling Jefferson “an Anglican gentleman” and saying he went heterodox “later in life.” However, this is still a misleading narrative. In his book, Barton claims Jefferson was orthodox until he was turned away from traditional Christianity by Restoration preachers in central Virginia. As Frazer notes in his World piece  and we document thoroughly in our book, Barton claimed but never documented that connection. In his book, Barton presents but does not establish a fundamentally flawed historical picture of Jefferson’s religious views. Historically speaking, these are not trivial matters.

In recent weeks, Barton has claimed that Ronald Reagan opposed the Brady Bill (Reagan favored it), the National Rifle Association was founded to oppose the KKK (it wasn’t), that school children in the 1850s saved a teacher from an assailant by brandishing their weapons (no documentation has been offered, the story may have come from a Louis L’Amour novel), and that there were only two gun accidents during the founding era of history (of course there were many more).

Besides these errant claims, Barton also claims that the Constitution quotes the Bible “verbatim” (it doesn’t), that the first English Bible in America was printed by Congress (it wasn’t), that the state of Texas uses reading levels in the third grade to predict the need for prison beds in the future (it doesn’t), and that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a murder conviction because a prosecutor recited the Bible in court (it didn’t).

As regular readers know, I am only scratching the surface. Our book is full of illustrations of how Barton uses partial quotations, incorrect sourcing, and legends presented as a fact. In private, some have argued to me that these matters are significant but that the left distorts the truth too so this is not important. A few evangelical leaders have written to take me to task for our book, saying it helps the secular left. They argue that the end justifies the means (accuracy is not important if your cause is right).  On the plus side, others have taken the position that Christians need to reject such relativism (e.g., Tom Gilson - we need more of this).

I am on record as believing these objections are false defenses.

World Magazine has now put these matters on the front burner. My question is what will evangelicals do about it?

Print Friendly

  • Zoe Brain

    If by “Evangelicals” you mean the great majority of God-fearing Christian Right Wing Republicans – they’ll side with Barton. He’s on their side in the Culture War.

    “My country, right or wrong”, so to speak.

    It’s only that minority who see the Culture War as being a mis-step, a turning away from Christ’s teachings, that will dare to differ. They’ll be called traitors to the cause of course. As they are.

    And you know what? I really hope I’m completely mistaken. I don’t think so though. Truth is the first casualty in War.

    I also wish I could say that the other side in the Culture War is any different. I can’t. Both sides’ warriors are too committed to what is Right and Good to worry about little things like honesty, integrity and kindness.

  • Mary

    That someone would argue that the truth is supporting the “left” and we should stay put in falsehoods “for the greater good” is just crazy. These are exactly the kinds of things Jesus warned.

  • Zoe Brain

    In private, some have argued to me that these matters are significant but that the left distorts the truth too so this is not important. A few evangelical leaders have written to take me to task for our book, saying it helps the secular left. They argue that the end justifies the means (accuracy is not important if your cause is right).

    See what I mean?

    A lie that supports The Cause is to be propounded.

    A truth that undermines The Cause is to be suppressed.

    How many politically active Evangelicals are not Culture Warriors? 20%? 10? Less?

    Irrationality reigns. Not just in the US, not just in the Republican/Christianist or Christianist/Republican party, but in the Zeitgeist of the times. A longing for old fashioned Traditional values. In some places – Uganda comes to mind – the consequences can be deadly. New Guinea is the latest flashpoint.

    “They took them to Siguyagu creek before releasing the wife, son and the other man. They took Ogono (deceased) to the village and interrogated him in a hastily convened court comprising four church pastors, a peace officer, and a village court chairman,” the eyewitness, who declined to be identified in fear of his life, said.

    He said at around 11am, the villagers led by a prominent village leader (named) interrogated Ogono, forcing him to admit to practicing sorcery.

    The deceased’s last words, according to the eyewitness, were: “In the eyes of the leaders, only God knows, I am innocent.”

    The pastors are from the Four Square, Lutheran, Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) churches.

    Witchburning is making a comeback worldwide. And the pastors who might rein it in cannot, for the tenets of American Evangelical Christianity as practiced by missionaries involve belief in demons, witches evil spirits. It’s the “Secular Left” who are opposing this, not them. It’s the same in the Islamic world, the extremists are taking over. In Africa, where animism is still rife…. the Charismatics affirm that sorcery exists.

    Attackers collecting body parts of albinos for witchcraft have hacked off the hand of a seven-year old boy in Tanzania, the latest in a series of bloody assaults, officials said on Sunday.

    “The boy was attacked on Saturday by three people as he walked home with his four school friends,” said Apolinary Macheta, the local government leader in Tanzania’s southwestern Milepa district.

    The boy, Mwigulu Magessa, is recovering in hospital, Macheta added.

    The attack came just days after an albino mother of four had her arm chopped off by machete-wielding men, with police on Saturday saying they had arrested five men after discovering the decomposing limb hidden in a field.

    In Tanzania, albinos are killed and dismembered due to a widespread belief that charms made from their body parts bring good fortune and prosperity.

    It’s even infected the Catholic church, which is taking an increasingly hard line on Intersex people in places like Australia.

    Senator PRATT: So you would like to see, if religious exemptions were to continue, intersex status specifically taken out of those exemptions?

    Gina Wilson : Certainly. To allow anybody to discriminate against intersex people and to allow religious organisations to have an exemption from the law is no different to allowing a religious organisation to discriminate on the basis of colour of skin or a disability that you were born with.

    Senator BRANDIS: No, it is not, because there is an ethical difference.

    Intersex people being inherently sinful, the spawn of Satan, the result of un-natural congress with Demons. Twice, the soon-to-be-ex-pope called them a “threat to humanity’s existence”. Not that that was well publicised.

    It’s really difficult not to over-generalise here. But Religion as a whole, worldwide, is becoming inceasingly superstitious, increasingly assertive, and increasingly irrational. I don’t know what’s triggered this, but the pattern’s pretty clear.

    War has been declared on the”Secular Left”.. Not that they’re particularly Leftist, they’re just painted that way in order to Demonise them.

  • Kate

    I first came across David Barton about ten years ago when my brother heard him speak at a home school convention. Personally I did not feel comfortable with his materials. I’m not a historian but something just didn’t feel right to me about what he was saying.

    Thanks, Warren, for challenging him. I don’t understand why Truth needs to be defended with lies. I can’t understand why evangelical leaders would support and encourage someone who is lying. Just because the ‘other side’ lies does not make it right. Just because a ‘minor’ point (unfortunately with David it’s pretty much his whole point) is founded on lies, omissions, misstatements does not make it ok.

    Truth does matter even minor truths. For years I have heard bandied about the statistic that 80% of evangelical youth lose their faith in college. How many of those lose their faith because something their church or their parents or a respected Christian leader said was true, turns out not to be true? If a truth that can be tested turns out to false how are we to rest secure that those truths in the Bible which aren’t testable are true?

    45 years ago I lost my faith while attending a Christian college because I learned that things my church and family had taught me as truth, were not, in fact truth. These truths were minor truths; however, they were the rocks that started the avalanche of me questioning any of the truths that I had been taught. It took me twenty years before I came back to Christianity.

    Truth matters. Testable lies/omissions/purposeful misrepresentations like those promulgated by Barton or by creation scientists or by people telling LGBTQ people that their orientation is a choice and it can easily be changed by following these simple steps can cause the faith of our children to stumble. They also cause people in the culture to look at Christians and Christianity as a religion of simpletons.

    Thanks for standing up to those who lie about history and sexuality. We need more people willing to challenge those who would sully the name of Christ by persistently distorting truth.

  • Byron Harvey

    The answer, it seems to me, is that “evangelicals” will do nothing or, perhaps more accurately, they will do everything. Everything from circle the wagons and defend Barton because he’s “one of ours”, to crying “peace, peace”, when there can be no “peace” as long as lies are tolerated, to the brave few who will side with truth over against the sycophantic impulses of many “evangelicals”, to those who are clueless, etc. Factually, the term “evangelical” means less and less as the days and months go by, lumping together, as it supposedly does, everyone from that nutball Joel Osteen to John MacArthur, from lefty Jim Wallis to Moral Majoritarians, from “open theists” to 5-point Calvinists to…you get the point.

    Amazingly, I guess for lack of a better term, I still call myself one. But as Carl Trueman so rightly points out, in response to Mark Noll’s yesteryear book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”–which raised the idea that there was little left of evangelicalism that concerned itself with the mind–that the real scandal may be that there’s nothing left of the “evangelical”, that when you’ve said that word, you’ve said almost nothing. Which is the sum total of the response this World article will get, likely.

    Anyway…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Byron raises a good point. I think I need to more specific since apparently, when it comes to David Barton’s definition, evangelical now includes Mormon.

  • Zoe Brain

    Warren – thanks to you, and others I know, for being you.

    It’s getting increasingly difficult not to see Religion as inherently evil. To give in to prejudice. I need your example to help me not fall into that trap.

    I’m sure there are many of the more “My Religion, Right or Wrong” types who have let themselves be corrupted that way, seeing Secularism as inherently evil. They do horrible, cruel things, not because they’re bad people, but because they have an overdeveloped thirst for the good. Rather like me, in fact.

    I see that SteppingStones Nigeria is now under fire for its “attack on religion”.

    “Stepping Stones Nigeria does not believe that children can be ‘witches’. However, Stepping Stones Nigeria acknowledges the right of individuals to hold this belief on the condition that this does not lead to the abuse of child rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)”.

    It’s not just Freedom of Belief that’s now being demanded by Traditional Religion – it’s Freedom of Action, and Freedom from secular constraint. Hence Uganda. Hence the Catholic Paedophilia cover-up. Hence the many bills working their way through state legislatures in the US and elsewhere demanding religious exemptions from laws everyone else has to follow. “Freedom of Conscience” they call it, and I can see their point. Much evil has been done by persecuting believers.

    It’s when they demand the right to impose their beliefs on others that the border is crossed, and for Traditionalists, they consider the right to impose their beliefs on others an inherent part of their doctrine, Any constraint on that is an attack on their Religious Freedom.

    With such a position, I see no end to the Culture War without Religion as a whole suffering a massive defeat, with many, many innocent casualties. Islam being first in the firing line.

    I also see Evangelical Christianity in the US being colonised and “converted” to beliefs strongly held in Africa, where Christianity is waxing strong, not waning. When I was young, to have a US politician prayed over to protect them from witches would be seen as, well, insanity. Starting with Palin, it appears to becoming more mainstream. Not usual yet. Yet.

    In a world where “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, superstition is making a comeback.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Not one word about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. Fascinating, Captain.

  • Richard Willmer

    Persecution of Christians in Nigeria notwithstanding, Zoe’s point still holds: after all, it is those of another religion that are conducting the persecution, not ‘secular leftists’ (who, if they are aware of it, would probably find it abhorrent).

    I was at a regional C of E synod (of which I happen to be a member) two weeks ago; one of the matters that concerned us was the problem of ‘religion’ leading to the surrender of true human values and of intellectual integrity. The situation is worrying, and some of us feel distinctly ‘squeezed’ between two tendencies (‘mindless/heartless religion’ and ‘ideological secularism’) with neither of which we can agree. Which ‘tendency’ poses the greater ‘threat’? IMO it is ‘mindless/heartless religion’ … so I’ll aim my (non-violent) fire in that direction for now!

  • Richard Willmer

    Zoe also mentions the Catholic Church, and we should not be unaware of the problems there, which were so clearly shown by Turkson’s anti-gay outburst last week: http://newsone.com/2241429/peter-turkson-catholic-pope/

    Thankfully it seems that at least the English and Welsh bishops aren’t buying Turkson’s ‘thesis’. I suspect (and hope) that many other bishops will also know better than to confuse ‘sexuality’ with the ‘power issues’ that fuel the sexual abuse of children.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Yes, I realize you don’t care. And this thread has nothing to do with the Roman Church either, but if it’s OK with Warren to turn this into an anti-Catholic or anti-evangelical soapbox, so it goes.

  • Richard Willmer

    About what are we supposed ‘not to care’, Tom? Please enlighten us.

  • Richard Willmer

    Just going back to the Nigeria issue, for a moment: it is good to see that there are Muslims who are prepared to be increasingly vocal in their opposition to the persecution of Christians in that country: http://muslimsagainstterror.com/

  • Richard Willmer

    (I do of course understand, Tom, that your “you don’t care” was a silly bit of chaff on your part because, for some reason, you didn’t like something I said. As it happens, I am very far from ‘anti-Catholic’*; I just happen to be concerned when a ‘front-runner’ for Pope spouts anti-gay nonsense. I’m not ‘anti-evangelical’ per se either. As for being ‘on topic’ is concerned: it was YOU who introduced Nigeria into our discussions – again, as a ‘blind’ designed to ‘undermine’ Zoe’s points. So there we are.)

    * The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says that, in regard to ‘homosexual persons’, “all signs of unjust discrimination should be avoided.” I regard comment that could create in people’s minds the idea that homosexuality can somehow be equated with paedophilia as a grievous ‘sign of unjust discrimination’. I contend that, in challenging Turkson’s behaviour, I am being faithful to the teaching of the Church. I believe that such a contention is a credible one, and stand by it.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I wasn’t really thinking of you, Richard. You’re reliably civil and sane. But others use this blog for anti-religious rants, and I find h8ers of all stripes distasteful.

    As for the term “anti-gay,” no real principled exchange of views is possible in its presence, for aside from that horrible “God hates Fags” bunch, the issue is about conduct and social/family structure, not about those human persons who are our brothers, sisters, and children.

  • Richard Willmer

    Okay, Tom.

    But surely it is entirely reasonable to suggest that statements that could lead to people forming the view that homosexuality may be somehow ‘equated’ with the horrible crime of child sexual abuse are ‘anti-gay’? Remember that Turkson is not some insignificant (and theologically-illiterate) ‘private individual’ – he is a senior member of the ‘leadership corps’ of the largest Christian denomination there is. He must – and he will – be challenged by his fellow Catholic Christians. If we do not respond truthfully to what he is saying, we are IMO guilty of a gross dereliction of duty.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Despite the social sciences’ claim to have the psycho-sexual matrix puzzled out, we don’t. What I can say is that there was indeed a “lavender mafia*” among the Catholic clergy that kept each other’s secrets. The true story of the cycle of abuse and cover-up is not yet known–or understood by the Church itself, really.

    As for African culture’s own taboos against homosexual conduct meeting Catholicism’s**, I can only note that religious tolerance and multi-culturalism hit the skids damn quick when the wrong ox is gored.

    ________

    *http://www.newoxfordreview.org/dossier.jsp?did=dossier-lavender-mafia

    **The more urbane Church of England’s, in conflict.

    http://global.christianpost.com/news/african-anglicans-say-gay-bishops-affirmation-shatters-hopes-of-reconciliation-88038/

  • Richard Willmer

    Of course, the most wicked thing about the child sexual abuse scandal is the cover up. And it may well be the case that there was some kind of ‘mafia’ whose members where covering up for each other. This is deplorable; nobody with any sense can pretend otherwise.

    However, what is so wrong is to promote generalizations about gays based on these abuse cases: available data for the population as a whole do not support such generalizations. And it is not we who say “we know it all”; rather it is the likes of Turkson. We are simply challenging his misplaced ‘certainty’.

    I would make one other point on the abuse scandal: most of these abuse cases date from a time when ‘homosexuality’ was more of a taboo in ‘the West’ than it is today. I think that the much greater clarity we now have regarding both human sexuality and the real causes of child abuse is helping us to deal ‘in advance’ with potential future problems. To return to the ‘bad old days’ of ignorant gay-bashing would IMO be to make things more dangerous for children.

    As for the Anglican Communion: well, I’m something of a ‘hard liner’ on this – I think it is now a fiction and the various bits of it should go their own ways and stop ‘pretending’. Those African bishops who don’t like the new C of E guidelines regarding ordination to the episcopate don’t really understand what those guidelines are saying – they’ve just ‘seen gay’ and ‘kicked off’ about it. Meaningful dialogue looks less and less to me like a realistic option … although we could ‘have a go’, I suppose.

    And ‘African culture’: that is as diverse as ‘European culture’. And when faced with such murderous designs as the Bahati Bill, then all notions of exercising (so-called) “religious tolerance” should IMO be unceremoniously dumped. Proposals for arbitrary slaughter and/or incarceration should never be ‘tolerated’. To me, it would be like tolerating eugenics. Don’t forget, as well asking its members to avoid “all signs of unjust discrimination”, the Church’s (official) view is that homosexual orientation is not chosen.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Again, the necessary distinction between sexual desire and sexual conduct is being fogged over.

    As for anti-sodomy laws, they’re presently on the books in 70+ countries. While I certainly agree that the death penalty is unjust, that societies legislate morality for their own self-preservation is not controversial in the abstract. It’s what societies do, and must do. A libertarianism [or libertinism] is a modern Western concept and by no means a successfully proven one.

    As for the RCC scandals, frankly I think the distinction between pedophilia [6 years old] and pederasty [the victim is say, 13], or some sort of jailbait [15-17] is intentionally being blurred. So at this point, I don’t even think the necessary conversation is taking place. And so, I’m not quite sure what Turkson is getting at, I’m not sure he knows what he’s getting at. He’s certainly throwing it all into one big soup called “gay.”

    OTOH, I’m not confident that his critics know what they’re talking about either, especially if we take pedophilia out of the soup as a universally agreed-upon taboo. I’m dissatisfied with the [non-]discussion of this issue on all fronts, except to say that if a society can legislate morality for its own self-preservation, a church certainly can. And although there might always be an England, I’m not sure there will always be a Church of England, its reason for being perhaps expired.

  • Richard Willmer

    The idea that unjustly discriminatory penal laws against gays is ‘necessary for a society’s survival’ is a pretty tenuous one. In the Siwa Oasis (in Africa), there has been gay marriage (which the British – God bless their little jack boots – tried unsuccessfully to stop) for centuries, and it would appear that the Siwans have done ‘very nicely thank you’ for as long as anyone can remember. (I’ve been there, by the way – do go … it’s a magical place, and even the straights are nice!!! Little joke! :-) )

    You may well be correct about the ‘blurring of distinctions’ when it comes to the age of victims of non-consensual (in the legal sense) sex. However, as someone who has a professional ‘duty of care’ for young people aged 16 to 18, I am very mindful of the (entirely correct, in my view) idea that ‘lop-sided’ relationships between a young person and an ‘authority figure’ can be very damaging to the young person involved.

    Do not make the mistake of suggesting some kind of a ‘blanket characterization’ of those who believe in a ‘fair deal’ for gay people as ‘out-an-out libertarians’. This is not the reality.

    I agree that it is possible that Turkson may not be entirely clear in his own mind when it comes to what he is saying. Well now, that just makes his outburst all the less appropriate.

    I am not proposing a clear ‘explanatory thesis’ for what went on regarding these abuse cases; I am simply opposing Turkson’s all-too-obvious ‘subtext’. It represents IMO a dangerous diversion from the real issues.

    On ‘Africa’: is the apparent recent upsurge in homophobia bringing joy and prosperity to (straight) Africans?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    As to what is good policy, again, we seem to value multiculturalism and self-determination, except when we don’t. What a society’s morality is may be problematic, but I won’t say they have no right to legislate it.

    Unfortunately, modern “rights talk” seldom makes the distinction between natural rights—which are inalienable—and political, “social contract” rights, which are conventional, malleable, even arbitrary.

    “So in those days, any common-law decision of one state would readily cite common-law decisions of other states, because all the judges were engaged in the enterprise of figuring out the meaning of what Holmes called “the brooding omnipresence in the sky” of the common law. Well, I think we’ve replaced that with the law of human rights. Which is a moral law, and surely there must be a right and a wrong answer to these moral questions — whether there’s a right to an abortion, whether there’s a right to homosexual conduct, what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and so on — surely there is a right and wrong moral answer.

    And I believe there is, but the only thing is, I’m not sure what that right answer is. Or at least, I am for myself, but I’m not sure it’s the same as what you think. “—Antonin Scalia

    As for Siwa oasis, it doesn’t sound so idyllic to me, then or now.

    http://oldbagofcairo.blogspot.com/2011/11/oldbag-of-siwa-visit-to-siwa-oasis.html

    Gay men: Siwa has an appeal to gay men which Siwans find increasingly annoying. Some sites on the internet tout the location as being a paradise for gay men. This is based on a tradition of same sex marriage which only died out in the early 20th century but which is often referred to on the internet. This was allowed because the fortified, defended nature of the traditional Siwa town required young men of the town to live outside the walls to guard it from marauders, incomers and so on and as they weren’t allowed to live inside the town until age 40, same-sex marriage was permitted. The current male population do not take at all kindly to being propositioned by western males acting under the misguided belief that attentions will be welcomed, and they may be dealt with ‘harshly’. I got this information directly from Siwan men. If you are a gay man be advised that it is ILLEGAL to practice in Siwa as elsewhere in Egypt and you may find yourself in trouble both with the law and with the locals.

    And I’m sure mileage varies. But a recurring theme in this thread has been to bash on Christianity/the West and giving Muslims a pass. Siwa hasn’t been under British rule since 1922; the illegality of homosexual conduct there is not their doing.

  • Joe Winpisinger

    I totally agree that Barton should be called out. Nonetheless, I think those in Christendom that do so should make sure to point out that his overall thesis is more or less correct and it is just his facts that are off. This is because the Chris Rodda’s and Ed Brayton’s of the world quote excerpts from posts like these as full for their fire that his thesis is off.

    I think Gregg Frazer does a good job at refuting the “Deist” founders myth but his thesis is skewed a bit too because of the improper frame for this discussion. If it is to know whether American was founded a Christian Nation or not I think the ideas that were used matter much more than the personal beliefs of those that used them.

    Simply put, I think the Rothbard term “Protestant Scholastic” tells us much more than Frazer’s term. I also see less room by the secularist left to exploit it for their own use. This discussion is more nuanced than many want to let on….

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Joe – Barton’s thesis seems to change depending on the crowd so I don’t know that I can agree that it is more or less correct.

      How would you describe his thesis?

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Tom

    Of course Siwans would not appreciate ‘sex tourists’; neither would I here where I Iive! My point was simply that the notion that it might be necessary for a society’s survival to have unjustly discriminatory penal laws against LGB people is a somewhat tenuous one. (The occurrence of same-sex marriage was indeed to do with the defence of the Oasis.)

    It is a wonderful place: go there at least once in your lifetime. (Obviously, one should treat the locals with respect – but that goes without saying, doesn’t it?)

  • Richard Willmer

    Anyway, here are some pickies: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1163132992619&set=a.1163121352328.2025435.1056674851&type=3&theater

    One reason for my visit was to see two particular sites: the Temple of the Oracle (the ‘later’ Temple of Amun) and the ‘original’ Temple of Amun. I took pictures for a book being written by a friend (it’s the second listed on this link): http://www.societyforlibyanstudies.org/silphium_press.php

  • Gregory J. Rosmaita

    @tom – ANY sexual relation with a minor is an abuse of power, clear and simple… any claim that homosexuality is related to child molestation or abuse of minors of either sex is a well-debunked fallacy… that you would excuse actions based on “gradations” of age is inexcusable and abhorrent by any standard, and i am basing my revulsion not on any religious or philosophic grounds, but on purely humanistic grounds… 15 to 17 year-olds are not “jailbait” — they are minors, and the technical distinction between “pedophillia” and “pederasty” means nothing to the victim of abuse/rape… if you can mitigate abuse because a child is 9 or 13 or 17 you are not only delusional, you have no moral compass of any kind whatsoever, and have definitively disqualified yourself from ever being taken seriously on any subject whatsoever…

    PS: i’m not surprised you should cite scalia in a subsequent post — his contempt for the law and his willingness to make law from the bench based not on judicial precedent, but rather on rank prejudice, is fed by an ignorance equal to yours, as evinced by such “enlightened” statements delivered from the bench of the supreme court as:

    Romer v. Evans, 1996: “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct….”

    Lawrence v. Texas, 2003: “The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable,” Bowers, supra, at 196—the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity…. Even if the Texas law does deny equal protection to “homosexuals as a class,” that denial still does not need to be justified by anything more than a rational basis, which our cases show is satisfied by the enforcement of traditional notions of sexual morality.”

    and THAT is the man who is constantly upheld by the right as the intellectual guiding light of conservative jurisprudence, constitutional and judicial “restraint”, and the model of a public servant whose work is “informed” by his “deep religious convictions”… barton may be the symptom — scalia is the disease…

  • Tom Van Dyke

    blahblah

  • Boo

    Tom- yeah, that about sums up why your side is losing.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    He missed the point entirely about pederasty and there’s really nothing you can do about anti-Scalia rants. Life’s too short. As for my “side” losing, I’m coming more from caution, and the fact that if there were/are negative consequences from declaring all sexualities equal, I don’t trust the social science establishment to honestly reveal them. Nobody wants to be the next Mark Regnerus–it’s easier just to shut up and fall into line than risk being ruined personally and professionally. And that’s the name of this tune.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    The easy way to avoid being the next Mark Regnerus is to make proper inferences from the data you have.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    No, they didn’t just disagree with him, Warren. They tried to destroy him. It was a disgrace. And don’t think other members of the social science community didn’t get the chilling message. Don’t get out of line.

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/the-regnerus-affair-at-ut-austin/33509

    “Updated 3:30 pm 7/16/12. Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, is under attack. In the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research, (Vol. 41, Is. 4) he published a peer-reviewed article, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” No doubt had the study eventuated in the finding “no significant differences were found,” Regnerus would have received encouraging nods from the many academics who believe that to be the appropriate answer. But Regnerus’s data revealed “numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents.”

    In the view of a good many academics, that’s not an acceptable finding. How many? Well, more than 200 “Ph.D.’s and MD’s” are said to have signed a letter to James Wright, the journal’s editor, questioning “the process by which this paper was submitted, reviewed, and accepted for publication.” The text of the letter is embedded in this blog by Scott Rose, on “The New Civil Rights Movement.”

    “Scott Rose” is the blogonym of freelance writer and gay activist Scott Rosenweig. He is the primary instigator of the attack on Regnerus, and appears to devote much of his time to writing screeds against defenders of traditional marriage, a collection of which can be found here. Rosenweig is not a scholar or an expert in Regnerus’s field and his views on Regnerus’s research might occasion little attention except that he has triggered the University of Texas at Austin’s procedure for handling allegation of “scientific misconduct.””

    I’m not saying that the research is without problems, but a study painting a rosy picture with the same methodology would never have triggered such a massive counterattack.

    As for the lack of good data across the board in the study of homosexuality, I believe you’re acquianted with Stanton Jones, who gives an overview here.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    A recent research synthesis by Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School dedicated to sexual-orientation law and public policy, suggests that among adults in the United States, Canada, and Europe, 1.8 percent are bisexual men and women, 1.1 percent are gay men, and 0.6 percent are lesbians. This infrequency makes it hard to find participants for research studies, leading researchers to study easy-to-access groups of persons (such as visible participants in advocacy groups) who may not be representative of the broader homosexual population. Add to this the difficulty of defining homosexuality, of establishing boundaries of what constitutes homosexuality (with individuals coming in and out of the closet, and also shifting in their experience of same-sex identity and attraction), and of the shifting perceptions of the social desirability of embracing the identity label of gay or lesbian, and the difficulty of knowing when one is studying a truly representative sample of homosexual persons becomes clear.

    After what happened to Mark Regnerus, if there are negatives to be found, it’ll take a very brave or insane person to go find them.

  • Gregory J. Rosmaita

    @tom — what IS your “point” about pederasty? either you are simply attempting to undermine civil conversation, or you are excusing pederasty, neither of which is a defensible position… thus, i can only conclude that you are here not to spread light into the lives of others, nor to have light spread into your intellect, but merely to antagonize and frustrate others and to indulge in the that most all-american of pastimes — shooting off your constitutionally protected mouth in order to remove any doubt that you are nothing but a small minded biggot…

    by the way, there was no anti-scalia rant — i wouldn’t have thought of mentioning him had you not invoked him yourself… i simply included quotes that show that one need not travel abroad to find hate-mongers in the guise of guardians of morality, who loudly and frequently proclaim themselves guided by the teachings of jesus, but who then attempt to legistlate judicially based not on the word of the law, as they claim, but rather on their interpretation of what they perceive as the spirit or the intent of the law (see scalia’s recent comments from the bench on the voting rights act and his presumption of the motives of the senate for having recently reauthorized it by a vote of 98-0)… to return to the examples i included in my comment, they merely show that the basis of scalia’s objection to homosexuality is based on a moral revulsion rather than a legal objection, since — from a “moral” standpoint — he has repeatedly stated, both in opinions, dissents, public speeches, and writings, that homosexuality is indistinguishable from murder, and that any homosexual act ought to invoke the same contempt and outrage in “normal” “moral” inividuals as does murder… the point is, you, barton and scalia all occupy notches on the same sliding scale — the only difference is in your ability to influence others… your ability, tom, to influence others is practically nil; barton’s — for some reason — is still strong in some quarters; while scalia is the most dangerous of the lot, cloaked, as he is, in the robes of respectability of a supreme court justice, but with the heart and the morals of an obscure internet commentor who believes he proves his moral and intelectual superiority with each post and a thuroughly debunked charlatan, who continues to flog his wares to the gullible and naive

  • Boo

    Tom- you’re dealing with people who already know how Regnerus manipulated his data. Try to keep that in mind. Mindless right wing talking points don’t do too well on this blog.

  • ken

    And once again Tom has managed to deflect the discussion away from the subject.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Typical shoutdown

  • ken

    Yes it is. Seems to be standard practice for you tom. Go into a topic about Barton then derail the discussion by misrepresenting the facts in a totally unrelated topic so that everyone starts responding to your misrepresentations and stops talking about the subject at hand.

  • Richard Willmer

    The ‘homosexuality’ issue is related to the subject of this post inasmuch as we see ‘common patterns’ of behaviour: dogmatic assertions based on little real evidence.

    I agree with Tom that it is difficult to be ‘cut and dried’ about the very ‘diverse’ phenomenon of ‘homosexuality’, not least because the term ‘homosexuality’ means different things to different people. That said, I also believe what has been said (and, in the light of ‘Papabile’ Turkson’s recent comments about ‘gay priests’ being the [principal] cause of child abuse scandals that have rocked the Church, restated) by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

    “[T]here is [sic] no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse.”

    Incidentally, if Turkson becomes Pope, I can foresee some real ding-dongs in the Catholic Church. Many bishops were upset with Benedict’s [relatively mild] anti-gay rant in late 2008, and (albeit in nuanced terms) said so publically … which was almost unprecedented. Many liberal Catholics in ‘the West’ see no problem with gay marriage, and many more dislike anything that smacks of outright homophobia. If is ‘Pope Turkson’, I can see the ‘fat in the fire’. (But my guess is that it won’t be as those cardinals are a canny lot and many will not have appreciated Turkson’s ‘playing down’, relative to their native Europe, the problem of [often unreported] child sexual abuse in African churches … but we’ll see!) In a way, a ‘Pope Turkson’ would bring up very sharply the same kind of dilemma for Catholics as Warrens suggests there is for Evangelicals: ‘party line’ or ‘quest for truth’?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X