Congressman Randy Forbes -- David Barton's "Hero"
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 06, 2008 at 09:24:27 PM EST
Last week, while in the middle of writing my next post about House Resolution 888, a friend forwarded me an email that had just been sent out by David Barton's organization, WallBuilders. As those following H. Res. 888 have probably noticed, the "Christian nation" crowd has been oddly silent on the issue, in spite of the countless organizations and blogs that began to oppose and put out action alerts about the resolution almost immediately after my initial post about it on January 4. It wasn't until January 23 that any signs of life were seen from the other side, when Barton posted the text of H. Res. 888, which he subtitled "The God Resolution," on his website. On that same day, 13 more representatives added their names as co-sponsors, raising the number from 31 to 44, and Congressman Randy Forbes, the author of the resolution, pre-recorded an interview for Barton's WallBuildersLIVE! radio show, which aired on January 29.

In my first post about this resolution, I addressed fourteen of its seventy-five "Whereases," focusing on those related to our country's founding era. In my second post, I pointed out Mr. Forbes's misrepresentations of several 20th century presidents. I had intended to continue the debunking of the resolution's many lies about American history, but, before getting back to that, I want to let everyone know what Barton and Forbes have been up to.

On January 28, the day before the Randy Forbes interview was to air on WallBuildersLIVE!, David Barton sent out a "Call to Action" e-mail to his minions. The e-mail urged its recipients to support H. Res. 888, "Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as 'American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith," by calling their representatives and asking them to co-sponsor the resolution, calling Randy Forbes's office to "thank him for standing up for our religious heritage," and forwarding the resolution to others to "remind Americans what God has done for them and instruct the next generation about God's hand in America's history."

According to Barton's e-mail: "...Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia introduced a Congressional Resolution affirming America's Godly heritage through dozens of documented historic examples." Now, those who have read my two previous posts on "The God Resolution" have already seen that many of these "documented historic examples" listed in H. Res. 888 are distortions, misrepresentations, and outright lies. Obviously, revealing the numerous instances of historical revisionism in the resolution was the main point of my previous posts, and virtually every blog, message board, and organization that picked up the story made this historical revisionism either the main reason, or at least one of the reasons, that the resolution should be opposed. But, as you will see from the transcripts that follow later in this post, nobody listening on January 29 to Randy Forbes, David Barton, and his WallbuildersLIVE! co-host Rick Green, would have any idea that anybody had even brought up these history lies in their objections, let alone that someone had written detailed rebuttals. According to Mr. Forbes, people are objecting to the resolution because "they think that God is a myth, that he doesn't exist, that people are gullible to believe in him" and that "what they're really upset about is that they have been successful in being a very, very small minority of people in the country, but they have been very extreme in trying to enforce their belief that God doesn't exist on the rest of the American people."

There are two other things I want to mention before getting to the transcription of the whole show.

The first is Mr. Forbes's implication that the ACLU is somehow at the forefront of the fight against his resolution:

"You know it's amazing to me -- we get groups like the ACLU that are fighting so hard against this resolution, and yet you know some of the things that they have fought to allow people to do and say which so undermines the strength of this country, but yet they're right out there fighting saying that we don't even want these words discussed -- we don't even want 'em put out there for the American people to talk about 'em and see 'em, and you know, it just isn't a lot of intellectual honesty that goes around."

The ACLU? As far as I know, the ACLU has had nothing to do with the fight against this resolution. I've checked the ACLU website and looked around a bit, and all I can find is a single post about it on the blog of one of the ACLU's state chapters, a post like those on numerous other blogs, quoting and linking to what I wrote. But, the lack of involvement by the ACLU in this particular issue is apparently no reason for Mr. Forbes not to invent a connection on Barton's radio show. He's pushing a resolution full of lies, so why not mislead the listeners about who's fighting the resolution, too? Barton's audience has already bought into the demonization of the ACLU hook, line, and sinker, so obviously this is the enemy of choice to enrage that audience.

If Mr. Forbes is going to blame an organization for throwing a monkey wrench into his plan to have Congress quietly rubber stamp his masterpiece of historical revisionism, it should be the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) -- the organization that I work for. It was while looking up something for MRFF that I first came across the resolution, and, because of MRFF's interest in other aspects of Mr. Forbes's crusade, this is one of those cases where my work fighting history revisionism collided with my work for MRFF.

As I explained in my last post, Mr. Forbes, the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was instrumental in holding up passage of the 2007 Defense Authorization Act for several weeks over the Senate's removal of a military chaplain prayer provision authorizing chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus at military invocations. The guidelines for Air Force chaplains were rewritten in 2005 and revised in 2006 after Mikey Weinstein, the Founder and President of MRFF, exposed the religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. In 2006, the Navy also instituted a new policy regarding prayers at command functions. (Read Mr. Forbes's comments on military chaplains.)

There are other organizations, including Americans United and the Secular Coalition for America, that are now fighting H. Res. 888, but the ACLU is not among them. David Barton, who, on his radio show, reported that he'd been "getting e-mails from [Forbes] on just who's saying what about him," may be unaware of who actually started this fight, or who has taken it up, so maybe someone should email him at and let him know. Also, If you have not yet contacted your representative to oppose the resolution, the above links to Americans United and the Secular Coalition will take you to pages where you can do so.

The second thing I want to point out is the revelation on Barton's radio show that H. Res. 888 is really just a foot in the door to get religion into our public schools. On what grounds could anyone object to a school in their state having a religion week if the United States House of Representatives has designated it a religion week? Barton and Forbes even urge their audience to try to get their state legislatures to pass similar resolutions to reinforce this. That way, according to Barton, the response to any objection would be: "It's state law. You'll have a state law that designates the first week of May as faith in American history week." Co-host Green explains it like this: "When you get this type of thing passed, it opens the door for you to go to your local school district and encourage them to do something on this, and it allows for those teachers that have been wanting to get this curriculum into the classroom and teach it. There you go. It's a perfect way to do it." And if this isn't bad enough, Barton and Green even go as far as saying that the resolution itself -- with its 75 lie packed "Whereases" -- would be the perfect curriculum.

Now, on to the show, which begins with some banter between David Barton and his co-host Rick Green, extolling the virtues of their guest, Congressman Randy Forbes, with an introduction full of comments like "...And we got our hero on today -- Randy Forbes..." and "He's on today with a religious liberty thing that's really cool what they're doing in Congress with this -- so -- Randy's a great hero..."

This transcription picks up with Rick Green welcoming Forbes:

GREEN: "...Our guest today, Congressman Randy Forbes from Virginia. Thanks for coming on Congressman."

FORBES: "Thank you. It's always a pleasure to be with you guys."

GREEN: "Hey, man, we love having you and love the good work that you do, and, man, this resolution -- House Resolution 888 -- just incredible what you guys have got in this thing, man. This is an education in itself. If we could get folks just to teach this resolution it would be a full education."

FORBES: "Well you know the resolution -- it's amazing when you begin to look at just the tip of the iceberg of the role that faith and belief in God has played in the formation and the sustaining of this nation. It really awes you. And what this resolution does is -- it does begin to bring that together in a documented fashion and just show you the great rich history we have in this country of religious faith, both in the founding fathers and our presidents and the executive, legislative, and the judicial branches of government."

GREEN: "Hey Congressman, kind of educate us on what a resolution does and why you thought this was an important thing to do to use this resolution to get this information out there."

(The portion of Forbes's response explaining generally what a resolution is has been omitted here.)

FORBES: "...This particular resolution we think is so crucial because there has been this -- what we think is an extremist position of saying that we want to keep God and any references to faith out of any of our buildings, out of any political discussion, and almost out of the public square across American, and what a lot of Christians and people of faith don't realize is that most of these decisions have been made in back rooms somewhere and small committees or by administrators, bureaucrats, and it has never seen the light of day until all of a sudden you look around and say my gosh, God is coming down of of buildings, references to faith are no longer there, and we miss this opportunity to pass this on to a whole generation of people. This resolution is designed to create a balance there and say wait a minute, there is no aspect of the history of America that is greater and more significant, in both quality and quantity, than the history of faith in this country, and shouldn't we at least be putting that up and having a discussion of those topics as well as doing the other great historical topics that we can discuss across the nation. And what this resolution does is it begins to pull that together so that when the reader reads what Congress is saying here -- it's saying look at this rich history -- we're reaffirming that history -- now we're gonna stop this attempt to rewrite history and to take these great words off the walls of our buildings across the nation. The other great thing it does is it actually establishes a week each year which is a religious history week where we talk about some of these great ideas and thoughts and the great men and women who had them throughout the foundation of our country."

GREEN: "Yeah, I love that piece of it and actually want to ask you a couple things about that. First, let me just say what an encouragement that is to so many folks out there because just like you're saying there are so many attacks and so many efforts to get God out of our equation of freedom that I think this sends a real clear signal to the American people that that is a minority that has pushed for those things -- that the folks in Congress there like yourself do not buy into that and are doing everything you can to preserve our rich religious history in our country. So thank you for encouraging the American people as a result of this resolution. That history week is very interesting to me. So that's going to take place the first week in May, and I guess what this does through the resolution is essentially endorses that idea and encourages folks -- maybe even the education system -- to do something during that week that would highlight the things that you point out in the resolution.

FORBES: "Rick, that's so true, and you know with a resolution like this, it's not mandating anything on any particular individual. In fact, we have said if the people who are opposed to this resolution -- if you read some of their writings -- they think that God is a myth, that he doesn't exist, that people are gullible to believe in him, and if he can find a president that's taken -- or any of our opponents can find a president that's taken their position and, you know, believes in that, let them put their words up on the wall, but don't be so narrow-minded as to say that for every single president of the United States thus far who has included God in their inaugural addresses that we're gonna censor those words -- that we're gonna take them out -- and I think one of the things that you mentioned is that when people across the country just begin to study these great concepts and great ideas that people of faith have had for so long, I think you are humbled and awed and you just step back and say could all of these great people have been wrong? I think the answer is clearly they weren't."

GREEN: "Man, exactly right and -- of course we're gonna have it on our website today -- for all those listening -- where you can go and actually read it. Congressman, I'm just blown away as I go through -- I mean it's not like you got --okay well here's three or four instances so we got -- no -- I mean you've got dozens and dozens and dozens of fantastic instances of where faith played such a prominent role, not just in our private life but in our public life as well -- I mean all the way back to the Continental Congresses up through things presidents have done -- I mean it is incredibly thorough and like I said at the beginning just really the resolution itself would be a great thing for folks to study. I'd encourage homeschool parents, private school teachers, public school teachers -- take even this resolution itself and use it as a teaching tool. What about support for this, Congressman? Did you have a lot of co-authors? A lot of folks jump on?"

FORBES: "We've had a number of people that have signed up and we really haven't even begun to process yet to get all of the co-sponsors. We will be continuing that for weeks to come now, but we have had a great outcry so far from members who have signed up and do want to join with us on this resolution, and what's exciting Rick, too, is that we're hearing from people across the country who want to take this resolution and introduce it in state legislatures where they modify it somewhat to be utilized also for the history of faith in that particular state, so one of the things that we hope we will see is this same resolution not only being debated in Congress, but being debated across the country in state legislatures over the next several months."

GREEN: "...What do you do now in terms of opposition? How do you respond? Well, I guess the first question is how could anybody oppose it. I mean all you're doing is stating facts from our history. I'm sure, though, you're gonna get some of those radical leftists that would be against this. What do they say against it and then how do you respond to 'em?"

FORBES: "I think a couple things you're getting -- first of all, as you mentioned earlier -- this -- I don't know of a resolution that has ever been introduced in Congress that is better documented than this resolution. As you know, most of 'em that are introduced don't have any footnotes, don't have any cites as to where they get the facts that they quote. In ours, we have documented every i, every t. We have cited the sources that people can go back and look for themselves and say -- my gosh -- how exciting it is that all of this exists. The interesting thing is that when you see these groups out -- many of these groups -- what they're really upset about is that they have been successful in being a very, very small minority of people in the country, but they have been very extreme in trying to enforce their belief that God doesn't exist on the rest of the American people, and since they've been able to do this behind the scenes, a lot of times citizens across the country haven't really known about it. What they really believe is that they believe that God is a myth, that he doesn't exist, and what's even more startling to me is that they don't even want these concepts discussed or the words mentioned, and if you look, they really are poisonous in their attacks and -- you know the question I raise to everyone is why are they so afraid of these words? They must have a lot of power and a lot of meaning if they don't even want people to discuss 'em. And the other thing, Rick, that we've said to people -- judge for yourself, which is the more balanced approach and which one is the extreme approach. Isn't it balanced to take all of this enormous history and simply put it out there and say shouldn't we talk about these words that all these great men said throughout history, because even if you don't believe that the words are true, we have to recognize these men stated those words. They believed that they were true, and we ought to look at the impact they've had on our culture and our history. We think that's a balanced approach. We think it's an extreme approach to say, when every single president of the United States has asked for God's blessings in their inauguration, that we're gonna edit that portion of the inauguration -- we're not gonna use the words -- that when many of these great men have included statements of faith in their great quotes that we're gonna use every part of their quote except those portions of faith we're gonna exclude. I think when the American people see that, I think they're gonna agree that they want a resolution like this that they can say let's do it out in public -- let's don't do it behind closed doors -- let's have a balanced approach where we just talk about this rich historical history that we have of faith and the strength that's had in creating and sustaining America."

GREEN: "That's well put, man, and those same people that would oppose and want it censored are the same ones that say -- you know -- that say they're against censorship and all that stuff. It's awfully hypocritical a lot of times, the opposition that you get to this."

FORBES: "You know it's amazing to me -- we get groups like the ACLU that are fighting so hard against this resolution, and yet you know some of the things that they have fought to allow people to do and say which so undermines the strength of this country, but yet they're right out there fighting saying that we don't even want these words discussed -- we don't even want 'em put out there for the American people to talk about 'em and see 'em, and you know, it just isn't a lot of intellectual honesty that goes around. But the great news is that we are having a huge outcry from people across the country who are calling their members of Congress and saying you can't ride the fence on this one. Where do you stand? Are you for it or are you against it?"

GREEN: "That really answers one of my last two questions -- what folks at home right now can do. I assume it helps you if they encourage their particular congressman to get on board, not only to co-author -- but to -- not only to support it from a vote, but also to co-author and help you with it."

FORBES: "Rick, they can -- this is one of those times they don't have to sit back and say there's nothing we can do, we feel helpless. They can literally pick up the phone. They can call their member of Congress and and say: Don't ride the fence. We want to know are you for this resolution or not. If you're for it -- you know -- it's real easy just to co-sponsor it. If you're against it we just need to know that because we want somebody else in Congress to represent our beliefs and what we think is right for the country. The other thing they can do is call their state legislators and say: Hey, we like this resolution. How 'bout doing something in the state government for us."

GREEN: "Love it. What about just process itself, Congressman. Where are you at this point, and how do you get a Nancy Pelosi to bring this thing to the floor and allow you guys to discuss it?"

FORBES: "Well there's two great things. First of all, you and I are discussing it now and the American people are hearing it, so just the fact that this resolution is filed, they won't be able to keep us from having the debate on it. Whether they bring that resolution up or not, we will debate it. We will debate it over and over again in the House of Representatives. We're gonna bring it on the floor. We're gonna talk about this issue. We're gonna ask why they don't want to bring it forward. But, you know, hope springs eternal and what we're trying to do right now is to get enough co-sponsors so that we can even begin -- if they won't bring the resolution up -- a discharge petition where the leadership of the House can't stop the American people from having this issue come before them in the House of Representatives and it can get passed anyway, but what we will be focusing on the next several weeks is getting additional members to co-sponsor it, then we will begin our efforts for discharge if they don't bring it up. But the big thing is, regardless of all of that, we hope that this debate is one that we're gonna carry across the country and on the floor of the House of Representatives with much to come."

GREEN: "Well, way to go man -- appreciate your good work here and obviously we'll be praying for this thing. I love it as a way to flush out some of those folks out there that hide behind God speak but then they don't support these type of things that really have some meat to them, and we'll see a lot of that in the coming weeks as you do this, but we'll be praying for your success and certainly encouraging our folks to call their member of Congress and encourage them to get on it as well, so Congressman, thanks for your good work."

FORBES: "If I can add one more thing. We are getting ready in the not too distant future to open this new visitors center in the U.S. Capitol. This is a center that will show the world and future generations what the history of the Capitol was as they walk through this visitors center and look at it. Right now, as it stands, that visitors center has almost been sanitized of any references to the history of faith and religion in this country, in spite of the fact that it has been so instrumental in everything we've done. We think this resolution also gives us an opportunity to come before the House and say wait a minute, let's don't do this, let's don't stop generations of future Americans from knowing really what our history was and how much faith that men and women had when they built this country. This resolution gives us a great timing sequence to begin to debate what should be passed on to future generations too, so that's why it's important that the American people should join in this debate, if they want that reference -- that -- carried forward in the visitors center for decades to come."

GREEN: "Man, that's a great point and that also points to the fact that it really does matter who's in charge. You know, a couple of years ago when you guys were in charge and some of the groundwork was being laid for this center, there were lots of great references going in. There was some wonderful displays that were gonna be done on our faith. The other side got in charge and, man, they've wiped all that out."

FORBES: "And that's why we just have to fight to make sure it doesn't continue that way."

GREEN: "That's right. That's right. Well, Congressman, keep up the great work and I appreciate so much your time this afternoon -- know you got a meeting you got to get to, but please come on and update us. Let us know how the fight's going on this thing."

FORBES: "Rick, thanks for all your great work and thanks for having us on today."

GREEN: "You bet. That's one of our champions -- one of the great congressmen fighting for the good things there in Washington D.C. -- that's Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia. We'll be right back with David Barton."

GREEN: "David, this thing, I'm telling you -- I didn't even get to read through the whole thing."

BARTON: "Well it's only 15 pages long. [Laughter] It only has 75 'Whereases,' Rick, why didn't you read that?"

GREEN: "I'm telling you. It does. I think it does have that many."

BARTON: "No, it literally does."

GREEN: "Oh, you actually counted them, huh?

BARTON: "Yeah. It is 75 'Whereas' clauses, and then there are 4 resolve clauses. It is 15 pages -- or actually 13 pages long counting the footnotes. The resolution is 8 pages and then there are 5 pages of footnotes."

GREEN: "Hey, what do you think about this? This is a good recommendation. Just take this resolution itself and make it a curriculum. I mean you could spend a day on each 'Whereas.' I mean it really would be a great, phenomenal way to teach your kids about this."

BARTON: "You got it exactly right. This is one of the best surveys of American history 'cause it's got a section on God and the federal structures, God and the judicial branch, it's got God in the executive branch, it's got God in the legislative branch. It has a section on God and the American founding. I mean it just goes through chronologically and then systematically through the government itself, and it just gives you all these 'Whereases' that are in there, and it's really cool stuff, and here's the action item -- really cool -- I love what Randy said -- but first off, everybody needs to get, number one, this Res. -- H. Res. 888. We'll have a link to it on the WallBuildersLIVE! website. You can go there and you call your congressman and say: Hey, are you co-sponsoring this? I want you to co-sponsor H. Res. 888. Give 'em that number. Second thing you need to do is you need to call Randy Forbes and tell him thank you for co-sponsoring it. He is getting the dickens beat out of him. I've been getting e-mails from him on just who's saying what about him and, man, they are vicious and merciless on what they're doing. And that's why everything's footnoted."

GREEN: "Yeah, the good guys need to hear from us too, man."

BARTON: "He's getting all the calls from the bad, hostile people and none of the calls from the good things, but I hadn't thought of it, but I love what he said. We'll have this on the website. Download it and take it to your state legislator and say: Hey, let's do this in our state, and here's what's cool about it -- is at the end, with the 'Whereas' clauses it has specific actions, but this is part of it. It designates the first week in January of every year as faith in American history week every for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith. Now, how cool is that?"

GREEN: "I think it's May."

BARTON: "May. Excuse me. Yeah.

GREEN: "Yeah, I think it's May."

BARTON: "First week in May.

GREEN: "But you know you're exactly right because that opens the door to really be able to focus on this."

BARTON: "That's right."

GREEN: "Whether it's public school, private school, doesn't matter. You can take this to a teacher and say: Hey look, why don't you do something during that week?"

BARTON: "It's state law. You'll have a state law that designates the first week of May as faith in American history week."

GREEN: "It's very similar to what we did -- David, you helped me with it -- that legislation we passed here back in whenever it was -- 2001 -- that created Celebrate Freedom Week that opened the door to teach the Declaration and really hone in on what the founding fathers gave us. It's the exact same thing here. When you get this type of thing passed, it opens the door for you to go to your local school district and encourage them to do something on this, and it allows for those teachers that have been wanting to get this curriculum into the classroom and teach it. There you go. It's a perfect way to do it."

BARTON: "The four action items -- Number one: Get it yourself, read it, study it, be edified. Number two: Get it, get the number on it, call your congressman and say I want you to co-sponsor this. Number three: Call Randy Forbes and say thank you for doing this. And number four: Take it to your state legislator and have 'em enact it as a resolution in the state."

GREEN: "I love it. And I had not even thought about the state thing, you know, being able to take something like this and model it, but, I mean, if the Congress of the United States is -- and I can't wait to see the debate on this -- to see how somebody could actually be negative on this -- I'm sure they'll come up with something, but, I mean, if the Congress of the United States is saying look, here's just the basic facts -- and, David, you've been teaching this type of thing for twenty years -- I mean, have you seen a better summation of the faith of our nation? I mean, this thing goes through everything that -- it details year after year after year."

BARTON: "Well, let me just pick one here. 'Whereas in the Library of Congress, The Giant Bible of Mainz, and The Gutenberg Bible are on prominent permanent display and etched on the walls are Bible verses, including: 'The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not' (John 1:5); 'Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding' (Proverbs 4:7); 'What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah 6:8); and 'The heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork' (Psalm 19:1).' That is just one 'Whereas' out of seventy-five, and who knew that that was in the Library of Congress?"

GREEN: "I see a problem here, David. If everybody gets this resolution and learns it, there'll be no need for you and I to go speak on what we do because --"

BARTON: "I'm looking to be put out of business."

GREEN: "Yeah, that's right. You get to go to the ranch and ride your horse a lot more."

BARTON: "Looking to be put out of business."

GREEN: "I get to stay home with the kids. No, this is great stuff, and thank the good Lord for guys like Randy Forbes. Not that he's the only one there. There's some other wonderful folks like him, but he's such a champion and such an --"

BARTON: "And by the way, the bill also has the co-sponsors on it, so first find out if your congressman has co-sponsored. If they haven't, ask them. If they have, tell them thank you."

GREEN: "That's a great idea. Thanks for being with us -- Congressman Randy Forbes, for the good work you do."

On their February 5 show, Barton and Green had a bit more to say about H. Res. 888:

BARTON: "...We recently sent out an e-mail to folks letting them know about a really, really, really, really, great bill that was filed in Congress. Our friend Randy Forbes did it, and it's a history bill actually. It's a resolution that gives 75 clauses of "Whereases," you know, like -- Whereas, God's carved in this building and Whereas, these scripture verses -- and it goes through and gives 75 examples across the nation of federal buildings and government buildings and history that is just purely religious. It's a great resolution. It's a great way to teach your family, your neighbors. your kids -- anything else -- and it's been really funny too because it went out and all the atheists have gone through the roof on this thing, and so I'm getting all these media calls from people who want to interview me on it because the atheists are claiming that I'm the one who wrote the resolution, and that I'm the one who put all this in there, and its been kind of fun responding back because I say, well, you know, I'm flattered by the attention of all the atheists and all the secularists, but I promise you I'm not the one who went in the Library of Congress and painted the Bible verses all over the walls, and I promise you I'm not the one who carved the Ten Commandments in stone in the Supreme Court. And, you know, it's been kind of funny because anything that comes up religious they're blaming us for."

GREEN: "And you weren't around in the 1700s or 1800s to do all those proclamations either, were you?"

BARTON: "I wasn't around in 1885 to put the capstone on the Washington Monument. I'm sorry -- I'm -- oh -- oh -- I got white hair, but I'm not that old.

(This is followed by some inane banter about Barton's age, and further comments about what a great teaching tool the resolution is.)

First of all, Barton's assertion that "the atheists are claiming that I'm the one who wrote the resolution" is just ridiculous. Nobody is claiming this. The connection between Barton and the resolution was made by me, but I didn't claim that he wrote it. All I said was that the resolution was filled with lies like those in the books of authors "like" him. If you Google the resolution number and Barton's name, what you get are a few hundred hits from websites that quoted the following from my post of January 4:

"This resolution, which purports to promote 'education on America's history of religious faith,' is packed with the same American history lies found on the Christian nationalist websites, and in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton."

That's it. I can't find a single instance of anyone claiming that Barton wrote the resolution. So, either all those "media calls from people who want to interview" Barton are from people who have a collective reading comprehension problem, or Barton is just making stuff up.

Now, I did, in fact, name Barton in a few other places in my January 4 post, but this was for good reason. There are a number of lies in the resolution that Mr. Forbes's clearly borrowed either directly from Barton, or from the works of other history revisionists who copied them from Barton. Take, for example the "Whereas" that begins:

"Whereas Thomas Jefferson urged local governments to make land available specifically for Christian purposes..."

This is copied verbatim from David Barton's article The Founders on Public Religious Expression, which states:

"Jefferson urged local governments to make land available specifically for Christian purposes."

Mr. Forbes also cites exactly the same source as Barton for this vague claim, a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Bishop Carroll, dated September 3, 1801. So, both Forbes and Barton, for a claim in which they both pluralize "governments," indicating that there were multiple instances of such an action, both give only the same single source -- a source that doesn't even support their identically worded claims to begin with. A coincidence? Are we to believe that they both, independently, found the same obscure letter, and both, independently, upon finding this letter made up the same lie about using exactly the same words?

Then there's the matter of one of Mr. Forbes's footnotes containing exactly the same error that Barton made when citing the same source in the footnotes of one of his articles. Here is the "Whereas" from the resolution:

"Whereas in 1795 during construction of the Capitol, a practice was instituted whereby 'public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o'clock';"

This is a variation of a lie that originated in an article by David Barton entitled Church in the U.S. Capitol. Barton's source for this is the July 2, 1795 issue of a Boston newspaper, the Federal Orrery. Barton, however, made a mistake in his footnote, saying the notice appeared on page 2. It didn't. It appeared on the third page. Amazingly, Mr. Forbes makes exactly the same mistake in his footnote, also giving the page number as page 2. So, are we to believe that both Forbes and Barton found this same obscure newspaper, and, on top of that, by sheer coincidence, both got the page number wrong?

As I wrote in my book review of Stephen Mansfield's Ten Tortured Words, Mansfield, who copied much of this same story from Barton, also made the same footnote mistake, so, not that it really makes much difference, but it's possible that Forbes may have copied this one second hand from Mansfield's book.

As for Barton's statement that "all the atheists have gone through the roof on this thing," of course the atheist groups are opposing this resolution. But so are many non-atheists. Among the many blogs and websites that I've seen quoting or linking to my posts, or opposing the resolution with other posts and articles, are those of Christian groups, at least one Jewish group, and a whole bunch of others that don't appear to be either religious nor non-religious.

Something else I'd like everyone to take note of is how has Barton is avoiding the "Whereases" that have been or can be proved to be lies, continually focusing on the 9 out of the 75 that have to do with religious references in public buildings. Obviously, it is not these "Whereases" that anyone is saying aren't true. We all know there are Bible verses and religious mottos and artwork in and on federal buildings and monuments. The only argument here is that these things were added so long after the days of the founders that their existence itself cannot be used as an historical justification for their existence, or for further religious displays.

And, finally, while I've seen a number of people who oppose this resolution writing that they want it to die in committee, this is the last thing I want to see. I want this to come to the floor. I want to see each and every "Whereas" debated. I want to see a showdown between historical fact and historical fiction. So, please, contact your representative, not just to say that you oppose the resolution, but to let them know that H. Res. 888 is packed with easily demonstrated historical misrepresentations and lies, and that the perpetrators of these lies need to once and for all be exposed.

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by henrycooper on Thu Jun 29, 2023 at 04:03:39 AM EST

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