Book From Alan Grayson Opponent Todd Long Features Falsified American History
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 09:50:07 AM EST
[note: part one in this series was In '05 and '08, Todd Akin Entered Christian Nationalist History Lies in the Congressional Record]

In honor of Columbus Day, a federal holiday honoring the abundantly mythologized Christopher Columbus, I'm again delving into falsified American history. I knew Former U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson was running for a seat in Florida's newly-created 9th District, but I didn't know a thing about his Republican opponent in the race. However, I've just started a new series about how often, these days, Republicans promote falsified Christian nationalist versions of American history, the sort most notably promoted by discredited author David Barton. I had a hunch that, given the odds, I might find Grayson's opponent, Todd Long, promoting fake history too.

Obviously, my hunch panned out.

In 2010, Todd Long published a book called The Conservative Comeback: The Battle For The Soul of America and, if the contents are any indication, that battle, on the conservative side, is being powered by fake American history and incompetent or deliberately deceitful scholarship.

My introduction to Christian nationalist falsified American history came about most notably through the writings of Chris Rodda, author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, who has contributed an impressive body of writing, on falsified history, on the website I co-founded with Frederick Clarkson in late 2005, Talk To Action. From Rodda's writings, I became familiar with the most common Christian nationalist American history myths, lies, fibs, mischaracterizations, distortions, and so on.  

Learn the top ten or so of the history lies and you'll go far. While it would be a big project to survey them all, I think it's a fair guess that many of the books recently put out by Republicans running for national office this electoral cycle feature Barton-esque fake history; if I can pick one, more or less at random (in this case a book by Todd Long) and hit pay-dirt, my guess is that you, the reader, could probably ferret out such falsified history too (if you do choose to pick up this pastime, and find some good examples, please let me know.)

Moving along to Todd Long's book:

The most blaring example of falsified history in Long's book appears on page 12, with the setup on page 11, in which Long announces,

"Here is a little known fact: almost one half of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration [of Independence] were seminary graduates. God and the Bible were central to their belief system and lay at the heart of the laws that were enacted in those early days. One has only to consider the words of our earliest presidents to gain appreciation of the importance they attach to those values:"

Now, there's a significant type of history lie, or wildly misleading characterization if you wish, in the first quoted sentence. At the time the founders were going to school, the word "seminary" was typically used to refer to what now are called colleges. While religion certainly would figure significantly in such institutions of the era, there was a difference between a seminary and a theological seminary.

Only four of the fifty six signers actually went to seminary to study theology, only two became ministers, and only one, John Witherspoon, stayed a minister for long (read more about it here.) This particular history lie seems to be unique to David Barton. Todd Long might have encountered it from reading Barton's books or (per the Chris Rodda story I've just linked to) by watching the (now cancelled) Glenn Beck show on the Fox network in 2010.  

Moving along, after that history lie, or misrepresentation if you will, Long went on to provide, on page twelve, three alleged founding father "quotes", only one of which is, strictly speaking, accurate.

The first quote Long provided, which he identifies as a "paraphrase" from George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address, is ridiculously sloppy - not really a "quote" at all. What Washington really said was, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." In Scott Long's rendition that becomes, "Religion and morality [based on the teachings of the Bible] are indispensable supports of this self-government."

In the authentic  Washington statement, religion and morality support political prosperity, in Long's version they support government. Some might say I'm nitpicking, some might say this is a substantial distortion. But as for Long's third "founding father" quote, allegedly from James Madison, well...

Here's the fake Madison that Long trots out, on page 12:

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."

Long attributed that quote to "James Madison, Fourth President, Principal Author of the U.S. Constitution", and went on to ask, immediately following the [fake] quote,

"Do politicians talk like this anymore? Certainly, no one in the Democratic Party, and far too few in its Republican counterpart, do. In fact, when President Barack Obama stopped in Turkey during his first European tour as President, he felt compelled to opine that the U.S. "is no longer a Christian nation," despite the fact that many of the founders stated just the opposite".
A decade and a half before Todd Long's book came out, University of Richmond historian Richard Alley set out to determine the source of this alleged Madison quote, which appeared most notably in David Barton's 1989 book The Myth of Separation. As a September 2006 Texas Monthly story on Barton, King of the Christocrats, described,

"In 1995 the historian Robert Alley attempted to trace the provenance of a quote that Rush Limbaugh had mistakenly attributed to James Madison, in which Madison purportedly called the Ten Commandments the foundation of American civilization. All roads led to David Barton... Barton cited two sources for the quote: a 1939 book by Harold K. Lane called Liberty! Cry Liberty! and Frederick Nyneyer's 1958 book First Principles in Morality and Economics: Neighborly Love and Ricardo's Law of Association. Alley couldn't find the quote anywhere in Nyneyer's book, however, and eventually concluded that Barton had pulled it from an article in a journal with the unlikely title Progressive Calvinism, which, in turn, had attributed it to something called the "1958 calendar of Spiritual Mobilization." In any case, Alley reported, the editors of Madison's papers were unable to find anything in his writings that was even remotely similar. "In addition," they added, "the idea is inconsistent with everything we know about Madison's views on religion and government, which he expressed time and time again in public and in private.""

Of course one can't prove a negative, but Alley's case was sufficiently persuasive that David Barton, who himself played a key role in popularizing the bogus Madison quote, subsequently stopped using the fake quote, and by 2000 Barton had relegated it to his list of "unconfirmed quotations". In other words, in 2010 Todd Long was promoting a fake Madison quote that David Barton himself had tossed on the trash heap ten years earlier.

Indeed, by 2009 unregenerate Christian Reconstructionists on the hard theocratic religious right were themselves denouncing the Madison quote as unsubstantiated, though Todd Long seems not to have gotten the memo.

Not that David Barton is especially reliable as a source to begin with - although Barton's writing has for years been debunked by secular critics, in 2012 a withering storm of criticism from conservative evangelical scholars convinced the evangelical publisher Thomas Nelson to take the nearly unprecedented step of pulling its published copies of Barton's book The Jefferson Lies, which had hit the New York Times bestseller list, off bookstore shelves - in effect unpublishing Barton's book - because of numerous factual errors.

That's almost all I have to say about history lies in Todd Long's book, at least from the limited text of Long's book I'm able to access via the Google Books "look inside this book" feature. But to finish up, Todd Long attached a footnote to the fake James Madison quote in his book, which references a May 30, 2005 article on the History New Network, by University of Dayton Professor Larry Schweikart, titled "Did You Know that Half the Declaration's Signers Had Divinity School Training?", in which Schweikart propagates the forementioned "56 signers" myth and several other classic history lies and distortions as well.

While Schweikart's 2005 book A Patriot's History of the United States seems to steers clear of the typical Christian nationalist history lies, the 2005 History News Network article promoted a number of egregious American history falsifications - including the claim about the founders' "divinity school" training, the assertion Thomas Jefferson was head of the American Bible Society, and the often-debunked myth that in its early period the U.S. Congress "authorized the purchase of 20,000 Bibles in 1777 from Holland---a fact that anti-religious websites deliberately misrepresent" (as Schweikart's HNN article put it.)

Schweikart's article concluded, with a histrionic and perhaps unintentionally ironic flourish,

"I'd wager that had they [the founders] seen the perversions of their intended protection of Christianity, more than a few would have uttered, "Oh, my God!" "

One might suppose that Todd Long, a lawyer by training, would have had at least a passing interest in maintaining factual accuracy, by determining the provenance of these claims, including the false Madison quote - especially because such claims seem to upend traditionally accepted historical assessments of America's founders.

But in the end Long would seem to be notably incurious, a history ignoramus even, or, as author Rodda might put it, a "liar for Jesus". How many more in the Grand Old Party  will wear this inglorious appellation? It's an unfortunate fate that's overtaken the once-great party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower.

In 2008, almost 1/3 of Republican representatives in Congress (and several Democrats as well), including the esteemed Republicans Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, Paul Broun (himself author of a history lie-derived House resolution), and Ron Paul, signed on a cosponsors of the history lie-packed House Resolution 888, "Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our nation's founding" -- a measure sponsored by Republican Randy J. Forbes, co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who reintroduced versions of the fake history-replete resolution in subsequent Congressional sessions as well. As a block, the Congressional Prayer Caucus members constituted the overwhelming bulk of endorsers of H.R. 888 and its subsequent clone resolutions.  

Another of the original H.R. 888 cosponsors was Former Mississippi Republican Representative Charles "Chip" Pickering, who made an inadvertent appearance in the 2006 mockumentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

In 2008 Pickering opted to not run again for his twelve-year congressional seat, and the following year Pickering's wife, with whom Chip Pickering had fathered and raised five sons, filed a lawsuit for alienation of affection which alleged that Pickering had carried on an adulterous affair while living at the infamous "C Street House" maintained by the Washington D.C. neo-evangelical network known as The Fellowship (or The Family), which sponsors the yearly National Prayer Breakfast.

Pickering's surprise retirement from national politics came shortly after cosponsoring legislation to declare 2008 "the National Year of the Bible".  


The only place I'd rather see Grayson than back in Congress is as U.S. Attorney General. I can't give much in political contributions, but he gets the lion's share.

by Rey Mohammed on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 09:10:39 PM EST
I'd like to see him in the White House, LOL. I have been supporting him and Tammy Baldwin, along with Raul Grijalva. We need them.

by phatkhat on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 11:30:45 PM EST
In 2016.

by Rey Mohammed on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 01:07:42 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Progressives Are Taking Up Religious Freedom Day
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don't see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
One Million Maniacs?: AFA Attacks Magazine For Highlighting Family Headed By Same-Sex Couple
I have a daughter named Claire who is 21 years old and working her first job in journalism since graduating from college. I'm awfully......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don't Want You To Know About Secession
During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Sex And Common Sense: Texas Public School Reconsiders `Chastity' Speaker
A self-appointed expert on sex and relationships won't speak at an El Paso, Texas, high school - for now.Jason Evert runs an outfit called......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Two Trials that Impacted American Religion
Silent movie, Birth of a Nation, became the first blockbuster screen phenomena.  Civil Rights groups deplored the production and sought to ban it.  It......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
The Francis Trajectory.
The recent dust-up over the meeting between Pope Francis and culture warrior Kim Davis has caused the Pontiff's stock to fall somewhat among liberals.......
By Frank Cocozzelli (11 comments)
Taking Care Of Business: Religious Right Group Plans `Religious Liberty' Ratings For Companies
My inbox this morning contained a press release from the American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Miss.-based Religious Right group has exciting news: It......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Quest for Utopia
Surfing through old videos on youtube I found some interesting tapes of H. L. Hunt.  Certainly one of the original founders of the modern......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.