Based on Biased Reading of New Mortality Study, Paul Cameron Gives Sen. Portman Parenting Advice

In this month’s edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology, Morten Frisch and Jacob Simonsen reported a new study of mortality in Denmark. Paul Cameron wasted little time trotting out the study to give Senator Rob Portman advice on how to parent his gay son – tell him to get married to a woman. Apparently, any woman will do. After all, in the words of the song, what’s love got to do with it?

Cameron says he even went to Ohio to deliver his advice:

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 24, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Dr. Paul Cameron, the first scientist to document the harms of secondhand smoke, went to Ohio’s capital to call upon U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to reconsider his recently announced support for gay marriage. “Sen. Portman, gay marriage is hazardous to one’s health. For the sake of the son you love, urge him to marry a woman.”

Cameron did say at least one thing that was true in his presser:

Cameron said, “Bad science is bipartisan…”

Proven by Cameron’s own press release, bad science is indeed everywhere.  And bad advice. One of the findings of the Frisch and Simonsen study is that mortality for same-sex married men is better than “unmarried, divorced and widowed men.” It is also important to note that the mortality rates for gay married men have improved since Frisch’s last study. Cameron doesn’t tell you that.

Cameron and Frisch tangled on this blog back in 2007 and 2008. Cameron made his mortality claims in a “study” presented before the Eastern Psychological Association and Frisch responded to him as a part of a nine-part series I did on gay mortality claims. Frisch’s first study on gay mortality was done in part to address Cameron’s spurious claims.

To understand more about Paul Cameron and his feelings about gays, read part 9 of the series. Disturbingly enlightening.

I have asked Morten for additional reactions and will have more reflections on the study in a coming post.

Writer of Kirk Cameron’s Monumental Movie Dismisses Mental Illness as Cause of School Shooting, Blames Sin and Educational System

Marshall Foster, president of the World History Institute and co-writer of Kirk Cameron’s documentary on American history, Monumental, issued a press release today dismissing the role of mental illness in the Newtown CT school shooting. Instead, he blamed sin.

School Shooting Caused by Sinful Soul, Not Imbalanced Brain

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 18, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — “I’m sick and tired of the media’s attempt to make excuses for Adam Lanza’s mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the face of all the politically correct mumbo jumbo from pundits and religious leaders alike, it’s time that someone took a stand and told the truth. The culprit is not an imbalance of chemical enzymes in Lanza’s brain; the culprit is Lanza’s sin nature! Man is wicked beyond belief,” declared Dr. Marshall Foster, Christian historian, founder of the World History Institute and author of the introduction to the newly republished 1599 Geneva Bible.

While many conservatives are calling for significant attention to the nation’s mental health system, Foster calls talk of brain imbalances “mumbo jumbo.” Foster also appears to blame the victims for their death because of the educational system.

“Connecticut and the other 49 states have rejected the original vision for education which was to develop the moral character of the students in favor of the fiction that everything is morally gray. That kind of education emboldens mass murderers like Adam Lanza,” said Dr. Foster.

The press release through Christian newswire also includes a link to his new Geneva Bible. Cameron is shown promoting it on the website.

This is an irresponsible and misguided press release in my opinion. While the victims of the shooting are trying to grieve and recover, this would-be Christian leader uses the tragedy to hawk his products. Furthermore, he blames the victims and opines about something he clearly knows nothing about.

Kirk Cameron vs. Paul Finkelman on Jefferson and Slavery

Although Kirk Cameron cites none of his own research, he refers approvingly to an article by Stephen McDowell (Providence Institute) which is hosted on the Wallbuilders website about the Founders and slavery. McDowell refers to Thomas Jefferson but does not give the whole picture. Historian Paul Finkelman in the NY Times accentuates the negative but reports Jefferson’s racist views and his active involvement in owning slaves much more accurately.

As we document in Getting Jefferson Right, Jefferson was not a passive slave owner, and he was legally allowed to free his slaves but did not do it.  I am pretty sure Cameron has been made aware of the problems with Wallbuilders’ “scholarship” and yet he continues to promote it.

 

 

Kirk Cameron’s Monumental Revision of Thomas Jefferson

Kirk Cameron is giving some in the media advanced looks at Monumental (which premieres tonight), including Christianity Today. In a follow up interview, Cameron extends his revision of Thomas Jefferson to a discussion of Jefferson’s faith and the Jefferson Bible.

Interviewer Andrew Thompson gets credit for asking a couple of hard questions about Jefferson’s faith. Cameron dodges them with historical fiction. Thompson asked:

The documentary mentions that the founding fathers were Christians, even implying that Jefferson was a Christian. But most scholarship would say he was a deist who hardly held evangelical views.

Cameron directs Thompson to someone who Cameron says has studied Jefferson’s life and faith, Stephen McDowell, who is involved i the Providence Foundation, another revisionist history organization. It is no wonder that he then spins a yarn about Jefferson’s extraction of miracles and the deity of Christ twice, first in his 1804 Philosophy of Jesus and then again sometime between 1820 and 1824, in order to form what Jefferson considered to be Jesus’ real moral teachings. Cameron answered:

For that, I would direct you to other people who have studied his life and his faith for thirty years—like Stephen McDowell [author of America’s Providential History], who’s at the end of the film. We’ve all heard about The Jefferson Bible that Jefferson edited by taking scissors and cutting out the parts didn’t like—removing the miracles, and only keeping the moral teachings of Jesus. Well, that actually is not true. The story is that Jefferson was so enamored with the teachings of Jesus that he wanted to have a personal devotional book. And he cut those sections out of several of his Bibles and glued them into a personal handbook that he could keep in his back pocket for his own devotional reading. He was opposed to the idea of calling it a Jefferson Bible.

Thompson is ready with a pretty good reply (although with an incorrect quote) to that story:

In a 1787 letter to Peter Carr, Jefferson wrote that “trying to find the truth in the Bible is like picking diamonds out of dunghills.” Sounds like a pretty low view of Scripture, doesn’t it?

In fact, the phrase — diamonds from a dunghill — although quoted incorrectly here by Thompson, is very relevant to what Jefferson said he did with the Gospels. In 1813, Jefferson told Adams that he had edited the Gospels with this description:

I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.

Jefferson extracted the diamonds from the Gospels and left in the dunghill. For Jefferson, diamonds included the Golden Rule, and the Sermon on the Mount, and dunghill included the virgin birth, John 3:16 and the resurrection. Viewers of Monumental might find that surprising. Sounds like Cameron might find that surprising. Cameron’s answer to Thompson dodges the central problem with what I have seen of Monumental:

Yeah, it sure does. I’m not running around waving the Thomas Jefferson flag. Even if Jefferson is a complete infidel—and I’m not saying that he is—he certainly promoted the basic principles of Christianity and funded major Christian efforts to get the principles of Christianity deep into the hearts and minds of people. He understood that it was only those principles that could provide the basis and foundation for a free and just society.

What are the basic principles of Christianity? This is a pretty important question since he said Jefferson promoted these principles. Jefferson believes you get to heaven by doing good works, and sure did many of them. He believed in treating others the way you want to be treated. He also believed that one’s life of virtue is proof enough that one’s religion is personally valuable, no matter what that religion was. Are those the basic principles of Christianity?

Jefferson is a fascinating figure who remains at the center of conversation after all these years. Pity for viewers that Monumental does not appear to get Jefferson right.

**Regarding the quote attributed to Peter Carr, I cannot find that exact quote. Jefferson did tell young Carr to “Read the Bible, then, as you would read Livy, or Tacitus. The facts which are within ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces.” He added that Carr should question Joshua’s story of the sun standing still because it violates the laws of nature. Regarding the New Testament, Jefferson advised reading extra-biblical literature to contrast with the canon of Scripture. However, I think CT’s Thompson has blended a couple of quotes together incorrectly.

Kirk Cameron’s Search for National Treasure Leads to Christian Reconstruction

Let me begin this post by saying that I have not seen Kirk Cameron’s upcoming movie Monumental, but I have seen the trailers. These clips are the basis for this post and the one on Saturday. On Saturday, I noted that Cameron recruited Herb Titus for his movie. Titus has become popular with Birthers who believe Obama is not a natural born citizen and therefore ineligible for the Presidency.

Reading more, it appears that Dr. Titus is also of the Christian Reconstructionism persuasion. Here he delivers a tribute to Rousas J. Rushdoony, father of Christian Reconstructionism, here he argues that public education is unbiblical, here is his book on dominion and law and here he and law partner William Olson argue against the Lawrence vs. Texas case that nullified sodomy laws nationally.

According to this Atlantic article by Harvey Cox, Titus was fired as law school dean at Regent University because of his dominionist views. Titus later sued the school for $70 million (I don’t know how it turned out). Cox featured Regent University in a November, 1995 article on the religious right. Concerned about Pat Robertson’s dominionist writings, asked about the views among the faculty there:

I [Cox] thought it was important, if awkward, to bring up these questions with Regent faculty members. And I did so. The answer was very clear. Regent, they insisted, is absolutely not a dominion-theology school, and Robertson himself had demonstrated this recently by getting rid of the dean of the law school, Herbert Titus, because Titus was leaning in the dominion direction. (Titus, who was a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union before his conversion to evangelical Christianity, is currently suing the school for about $70 million.) I did not wave quotations from Robertson’s books in front of anyone, because by this time I thought I might hear once again that he just doesn’t choose his ghostwriters carefully enough. Also, Terry Lindvall sounded persuasive when he told me that whatever might have been the case in the past, the battle over Herbert Titus had really been a “struggle for the soul of the university” in which the dominion-theology party had decisively lost. “This is no Masada,” he said. “We just want the evangelical voice to be heard and to make a positive contribution.” In his mind, the matter was settled once and for all.

Most viewers of Monumental will not know this.  About Titus, Cameron says he has been the Dean of two law schools, not saying, of course, that Titus was let go from one of them.

Many evangelicals will jump on this bandwagon without really understanding the implications.

 

Barton, Birther featured in Kirk Cameron’s new Monumental movie

Kirk Cameron has a new movie coming out called Monumental. It claims to search American history to find our natural treasure. Cameron interviews a variety of people, most of whom appear on the Christian nation wing of the church, to make his points. As RWW pointed out Friday, Cameron interviews David Barton about the Aitken Bible. Barton, as is typical, takes an interesting story and misleads his audience.

 

You can read Chris Rodda’s more accurate rendering of the situation here. I hope to have something on this within the month (stay tuned for more on a new project on this coming soon).

Another of Cameron’s “experts” is Herb Titus. Titus has been Dean of the Oral Roberts and Regent University law schools and is prominently featured on birther websites such as this one. (obamareleaseyourrecords.blogspot.com). Titus and Cameron go to Harvard to tell viewers that the separation of church and state is a myth.

A lot of evangelicals will go see this movie and will come away believing that Cameron has assembled unbiased scholars who are simply revealing what the evil statist academic machine wants to hide. Lots of potential for mischief there.

I will have to wait to see what conclusions Cameron provides, but an effort that leads with Barton and a Birther is not getting off to a good start.

Note to Kirk Cameron: If you don’t want a fight, then don’t start one

I grew up in the Southern Ohio town of Portsmouth, Ohio (BTW, the same place BTB’s Jim Burroway called home). In my little town in the 1960s and 70s, group identifications were clear and animosity toward minority groups was in style. Name calling toward African-Americans, Catholics, gays and Kentucky natives was common and often vicious. I lived near the river as opposed to the section of town farther from the river and on a higher elevation. I was a river rat, and the others in the more well-to-do side of town were the hill toppers. Sometimes, hill toppers said “river rat” with a sneer as a put down; hill topper could be said with a sneer but it just didn’t sound as sinister. I still don’t know how that was fair.

Anyway, in my neighborhood if you called someone a name, you better either be really fast or be able to defend yourself. I saw many fights (and took part in a few) that started with a racial or religious slur or just plain old school yard name calling. What I learned is that people don’t like to be called names. In fact, they can get downright defensive and ugly over it. So, I learned something early — if you don’t want to start a fight, don’t call people nasty names.

I don’t know where Kirk Cameron grew up but it appears he didn’t learn the same thing I did. On CNN’s Piers Morgan Show recently, Cameron said about homosexuality:

I think that it’s unnatural. I think that it’s — it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.

Predictably, reaction has been negative to Cameron’s words. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)’s statement about Cameron’s comments was direct but really, pretty tame.

Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.

I know a lot of other people weighed in and some were probably pretty offended. So Cameron came out with a rebuttal, saying

I believe that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand-in-hand in America. I should be able to express moral views on social issues–especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years–without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach “tolerance” that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.

He is right, of course, about his ability to express his moral views. However, I think other people have the right to express their moral view of his moral views. When those offended by his comments say he is a homophobe, they are expressing a moral view, right?

This seems so elementary to me. If you say a group of people is “destructive to the foundations of civilization,” you might expect members of that group to react. Like if you say, Christianity is destructive to the foundations of civilization, then one might expect a reaction from members of that group.

Back home, if you called someone a slur, then they would probably call you one back. Then another more hateful sounding name would come out, followed by an escalation until fists flew. Happens all the time. Why would anyone be surprised by this?

I admit I called a few people names in my boyhood, but I can’t remember ever saying to an opponent, “you are destructive to the foundations of civilization!” I wasn’t fast enough to say stuff like that. But on the play ground, all manner of one or two syllable words were used to communicate the message that the name caller is better than the one being branded. Essentially, whether one says, “redneck,” “homo,” “river rat,” or “destructive to civilization” about a person because of their membership in a group, the message is clear: you are less than me and I wish you would go away.

One of my mentors often told me that discretion is the better part of valor. I agree. Cameron says he is a Christian. The Bible teaches us that all things are lawful, but not all things edify. Just because you have a right of free speech doesn’t mean you should use it. Sometimes it just confuses things. Like how Cameron now says he loves everybody. I never tried that in my old neighborhood, but I doubt it would have worked — hey you’re a jerk! But I love you! I am trying to figure out how to tell people I say I love that they are destroying the foundations of civilization and make that work.

So I think Mr. Cameron needs to understand that when you use your free speech, people will reciprocate. When you call people names, they often call you some back. The best thing to do is to stop whining about it and stop calling people names. If you can’t help yourself, then don’t feel surprised when the targets of your free speech don’t feel the love.

Paul Cameron to appear in Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno”

This may make it worth the price of admission.

Paul Cameron – yes, that Paul Cameron – will be in Cohen’s new film, “Bruno”, out Friday. From the NY Post, via Fox News:

The Post talked to six people involved with the film — including four victims duped into appearing — to get their stories and figure out how, even after the massive success of “Borat,” there are still people unfamiliar with Cohen’s shtick. One didn’t even know he was in the film until The Post phoned.

Victim: Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, Colorado

Scene: Bruno comes to him for advice on going straight.

“I did a German thing a year ago. Is that this? I wondered what had happened to that. I’m in this bloody film? Well, I’ll be jiggered. I guess you never can believe when people are in distress.

“I had to go to Kansas City. I was told that this chap was a homosexual in Germany, had a popular TV program in Germany, was perhaps suicidal and wanted to [become straight]. And I was supposed to see if I could help him in some way.

His producer was telling people what to do. He’d say, ‘Here’s the setting. This will be your office. He’ll come in, give him the kinds of advice that will be useful for him.’ It took about two and a half, three hours. To put it mildly, a few of his questions seemed strange. When he tried to sit by me and he wanted to give me a b – – w job, that kind of stuff pushed it.

“If it’s a gag, it was pretty well staged. I’ll be another laughing stock. Oh, well.”

I’ll be jiggered…

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