Recently, David Barton told an audience that violent crime in Las Vegas has declined 75% due to the use of biblical principles by that city’s police department and churches. Listen (clip courtesy of Right Wing Watch):
There are so many problems with his analysis that it is hard to know where to begin. On the matter of religious schools and achievement, Barton completely ignores the fact that those who attend religious schools have been chosen to go there. The students have not been randomly assigned to public versus private schools for a fair comparison. The private schools can eliminate students who aren’t performing well or misbehaving, and they don’t have to worry about providing an education for students with disabilities or learning disorders. Private schools can select their students to create a higher achieving result.
Because the claim about Las Vegas crime rates is a new one, I decided to check it out with the Las Vegas Police Department. Lo and behold, Barton is again wrong.
Barton told the Patriot and Preacher radio audience:
But when God is reintroduced back into policy, for instance, in Las Vegas, the churches there worked with the police department to teach morals in the city, the violent crime rate has gone down 75 percent in Las Vegas by the reintroduction of biblical teachings back in the city through the police department and the churches.
I sent the above audio to the Las Vegas PD Office of Public Information and asked if Barton’s claims were true. About the claim of a 75% decline in crime, Officer Rodriquez said flatly, “That is not true.”
Rodriguez added, “Sadly, we’re seeing an increase in violent crime year to date as compared to the same period last year.” For the calendar year 2016 thus far, homicide is up 79% over last year (1/1 — 3/16/15). Violent crime overall is up 24.8% in Las Vegas as compared to the same period in 2015.
While the LVPD collaborates with faith based groups around Las Vegas, Rodriguez said “officers are not preaching and teaching the Bible” in the community. Furthermore, the department collaborates with all religious groups in the same manner. They work with Jewish, Muslim, and other non-Christian groups to build bridges.
Not surprisingly, Barton’s claims about crime in Las Vegas fail the fact checking test.
Mostly, this would be an annoyance if not for the fact that David Barton advises Ted Cruz. I am working on a post which demonstrates that Barton and Cruz promote very similar incorrect facts about climate change. Cruz has been known to play a little fast and loose with the facts and he uses Glenn Beck as a surrogate. It is one thing to simply be mistaken, it is another thing when those easily debunked falsehoods make it into policy provisions. Can you imagine a David Barton appointment to a policy making post in a Cruz administration? I can imagine needless fact-free debates over AIDS, PTSD, climate change, crime rates, etc.