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Sunday, 12 August 2012 17:00

Thomas Nelson Pulls David Barton Book on Thomas Jefferson

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Christian Bible and book publisher Thomas Nelson announced that it has pulled a book by noted conservative historian David Barton on Founding Father Thomas Jefferson for what it claimed were factual issues with the text. According to the Nashville Tennessean newspaper, Barton’s book, The Jefferson Lies, “claims to expose liberal myths about Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s third president.”

The publisher began getting cold feet about the book when some historical scholars challenged its factual authenticity, and “a group of ministers from Cincinnati called on Nelson to cancel the book,” reported the Tennessean.

Casey Francis Harrell, Thomas Nelson's director of corporate communications for Thomas Nelson, said that after reviewing a number of complaints about the book, the publisher decided to cancel publication. “Because of these deficiencies, we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to cease its publication and distribution,” said Harrell.

When Thomas Nelson first published The Jefferson Lies, it promoted the book as Barton's attempt to counter revisionist history and tell the truth about Jefferson. “History books routinely teach that Jefferson was an anti-Christian secularist, rewriting the Bible to his liking, fathering a child with one of his slaves, and little more than another racist, bigoted colonist — but none of those claims are actually true,” declared a Thomas Nelson press release about the book.

One of Barton's chief antagonists appears to be Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who is more recognizable as a onetime proponent of reparative therapy for homosexuals, but who took time enough to publish a book attacking Barton's take on Jefferson. Throckmorton claimed to have closely checked Barton's work on Jefferson and found that what he wrote didn't match the available research. “We checked all the footnotes [from Barton's book] and we found they didn’t support what he wrote,” Throckmorton told the Tennessean.

As just one example, “Throckmorton said Barton claims Jefferson was an investor in an early American printing of the Bible, when it turned out that Jefferson only bought one copy,” reported the Tennessean. “He also claimed that Barton downplayed Jefferson’s views on slavery. Throckmorton said that Barton wrote that Jefferson owned more than 200 slaves but said that Virginia laws banned him from freeing those slaves. 'That’s not true,' said Throckmorton. 'Jefferson freed two slaves, one in 1794 and one in 1796. So you can’t say he didn’t free slaves, because he did free two slaves.'”

According to the Tennessean, Barton “said he has documents to back up all the claims in his book. For example, he said that the laws in Jefferson’s times fined any owners who freed slaves and that Jefferson would have freed his slaves if he could have. He said Throckmorton doesn’t understand how complex the laws about freeing slaves were. 'This is one of the cases where he is just nuts,' he said.”

Throckmorton also challenges Barton's claim that Jefferson helped to print an early Bible published in America, claiming that the founder purchased only one copy. On his website, Wallbuilders.com, Barton answers that claim, noting that not only did Jefferson publicly attach his name as a personal endorsement of the publication of the John Thompson Bible, “the largest Bible ever published in America to that time,” but he also noted that “the Thompson Bible was one of many examples I provided to demonstrate occasions where Jefferson helped promote/fund/print the traditional unedited Bible.”

The group of Cincinnati ministers who took exception to Barton's book included black ministers who were offended about the author's defense of Jefferson over the issue of slavery. The Rev. Damon Lynch, pastor of the mostly black New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Cincinnati, voiced the predominant complaint when he argued that The Jefferson Lies “glosses over Jefferson’s real record on slaveholding, and minimizes Jefferson’s racist views.” Added Chris Beard, a pastor at Cincinnati's First Christian Assembly of God church: “We are protesting as concerned believers in the evangelical Christian community, who believe that many are being misled by David Barton’s teachings.”

Not only did the ministers condemn the book, but threatened that they would have stopped purchasing Thomas Nelson books and Bibles had the publisher not bowed to their demands to pull the Barton title. “We love Thomas Nelson,” Lynch said. “My library is filled with Thomas Nelson books and I didn’t want to stop doing business with them.”

According to World Magazine, other historical scholars have expressed concerns over Barton's work as well. “Glenn Moots of Northwood University wrote that Barton in The Jefferson Lies is so eager to portray Jefferson as sympathetic to Christianity that he misses or omits obvious signs that Jefferson stood outside 'orthodox, creedal, confessional Christianity,'” reported the magazine. “A second professor, Glenn Sunshine of Central Connecticut State University, said that Barton's characterization of Jefferson's religious views is 'unsupportable.'”

And after evaluating Barton's popular video America's Godly Heritage, Gregg Frazer of the Master's College in California questioned a number of Barton's claims, such as that 52 of the 55 delegates to America's constitutional convention were “orthodox, evangelical Christians” — a number Barton claimed he got from author M.E. Bradford's book A Worthy Company, according to World Magazine.

According to World Magazine, among Barton's staunch champions are Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and other neo-conservative leaders. Barton “questions how many of his new critics have actually read his work, especially The Jefferson Lies,” World reported. “Barton concedes that Jefferson doubted some traditional Christian doctrines, but argues that these doubts did not emerge until the last couple of decades of his life. He says that all of his books, including his latest, are fully documented with footnotes, and that critics who look at the original sources he is using often change their minds.”

8 comments

  • Comment Link votemout Saturday, 18 August 2012 12:44 posted by votemout

    For David Barton's defense, watch Glen Beck's show for Thursday, August 16, 12. Beck interviews Barton, and Barton answers to (and defends quite convincingly) the claims against his book.

    GUYS, THE REASON HE WROTE THE BOOK, TO BEGIN WITH, IS BECAUSE OF THE NONSENSE THAT PASSES AS SCHOLARSHIP IN THE CLASSROOMS OF OUR INSTITUTIONS OF "HIGHER LEARNING." IT'S NO SURPRISE THAT THE LIBERAL PROFESSORS ARE COMING OUT AGAINST IT; THEY DON'T WANT TO RELINQUISH CONTROL OF THEIR OWN RENDERING OF HISTORY (REVISIONISM).

    I am a subscriber to the New American, and I'm quite disappointed in the New American for their rendering of this story - for not at least giving the benefit of a doubt to this Patriot and defender of freedom and liberty. I'M ALL FOR TRUTH, EVEN IF IT COMES FROM THE LIPS OF A CONSTITUTIONALLY ILLITERATE LIBERAL. Unfortunately for the liberals, Barton is right and his detractors are wrong. And the New American, if it has any credibility, needs to apologize for their flaccid account in Barton's defense.


    SHAME ON YOU NEW AMERICAN!!!!

  • Comment Link Patrick Lee Thursday, 16 August 2012 15:17 posted by Patrick Lee

    Thomas Jefferson now blogs! Even about religion!
    For a accurate view of the man, read his own words at http://ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com/blog/
    Several times each week, he posts briefly on a variety of topics.
    Last week's posts were:
    - What principles would guide your design?
    - Do newcomers have the same privileges as old-timers?
    - Should females be educated?
    This week's are:
    - Does your head (reason) of heart (emotion) prevail?
    - Should the government subsidize anything? If so, what?

  • Comment Link REMant Monday, 13 August 2012 21:01 posted by REMant

    I haven't read this, indeed have never heard of the author, nor any of the institutions mentioned, but I know enough about TJ (virtually all of whose writings, and associated documents are in the public domain) to know that a lot of what liberals have had to say about him is no more accurate than what conservatives traditionally have. His views on Jesus were certainly not in line with the Baptists and Presbyterians, nor many of his own denomination, and more in line with a very commonly-held deism or Arianism, but the fact that he so defended religious freedom argues that he held no animus against their beliefs, and he has a great deal of sympathy for the man, himself, probably, I'd say, than many zealots.

  • Comment Link ware Monday, 13 August 2012 19:13 posted by ware

    Shouldnt Christians be devoting more time to doing Gods work and Jesus' s last instruction to his desciples of going out and preaching the gospel (the good news) , than lifting up ANY man? Not to mention a man who owned slaves. Yes, I know that it was the way things were back then, right? Do you really understand the brutal and sinful acts surrounding slavery? Really, thats all I need to know about a man when assessing his character. But if you want to go further, there is "Jeffersons Bible", which of course is where he cut out scriptures in the bible to make his own bible. Read Revelation 22, 18-19 and tell me if God would support that? What Barton, I think, is motivated by is American Pride. Its the American way, we have songs about it, it motivates us to be among the best in the world. But newsflash..... Pride is an abomination to God and the spirit of Adam. I know... I know..., we all have it down in us somewhere, especially in America. But Jesus said that if you want to follow him, you must 1st? Deny yourself. I say all that to say this. Bartons attempt to show that our founding fathers were Christian is simple not proven by many of their very own actions. Thats why his book was pulled. It may find a publishing home, but I pray that its inaccuracies and its motivating factor are exposed. Also that its supporters begin to seperate their love for ancesters with the love of Jesus.

  • Comment Link votemout Monday, 13 August 2012 03:30 posted by votemout

    Well, David Barton does personally own the world's largest original source library of founding documents. So he's probably better able to report on the veracity an issue relating to the founders better than any.

    Like so many bold print lies that are distributed widely on the front pages of our main stream press, the retractions are always on page fourteen just under "lost cat" in the classifieds. Barton has convincingly proven that Jefferson DID NOT father a child with his slave, Sally. (Haven't finished the book, but I am reading it presently). At least, it is impossible to prove otherwise. But we never hear that.

    And, really, is anyone interested in what some obvious left wing, "psychology professor" from "Grove City College" thinks? What David Barton does, I feel, is research the data and report on the most likely trend. I mean if there are two hundred documents reporting "A" and one reporting "B," what should be reported? "A," right? But, we'll hear "B" screamed about from the rooftops in order to disparage Jefferson and others like him routinely.

    I'm a committed Christian and I have a heart motivation that I try to maintain with steadfast discipline every day. Yet, I find myself, like the St. Peter, denying my heart motivation sometimes. I wonder if Jefferson ever wavered in his commitments? I'm guessing he did, and I’m sure that those misguided fits of emotion manifested themselves in print once in a while. But, who cares?

  • Comment Link ware Sunday, 12 August 2012 23:50 posted by ware

    Well, this article may not provide all the necessary content to support a full debate on this argument. However, I think it serves its purpose of highlighting the reason for the latest story of the book being pulled. From there, readers can do their own research.

    The main pount here is that any book published that is supposed to be non fiction and more over, coming from an acclaimed "christian conservative" should not contain so many unsupported claims that appear to go against many proven research literature to the contrary.

    Even more astonishing is Barton and his supporters steadfast efforts to praise the life of Jefferson and other founding fathers in an near idolized "ancestry worship" manner. These were mere men! Men who did good things for Americas development. But these men were not saints! They supported slavery and many other " non christ like" things. The bible is very -very clear in that there is the kingdom of this world ( ie.. Rome, Ceasar, Egypt, Pharoh, America, Jefferson, etc...) and the kingdom of God ( heaven, God, Jesus, those saved). It says that any man who loves the world then the love of the father is not in him.

    IF & only IF, anyone wants to follow Christ (being a Christian) then that person must face the facts and relinquish their love for the world and men like Jefferson in it. Especially when that person is supposed to be conservative leader of the church in America with millions of supporters.

    One book, whether not bought by those that disagree or not, will influence the thoughts of many who reads it oe simply supports its author. You dont have to be a Christian to look into ALL documented literature on Jesus and compare to ALL documented literature on Jefferson to know that though he was an important part of American history, his life didnt run parralell to one of a true Christian.

  • Comment Link tookson Sunday, 12 August 2012 19:57 posted by tookson

    Liberal Activist Tactic: If you don't like the contents of a book, send the author hate mail, call the publishing company and threaten never to buy their books again unless they stop publishing the particular book you disapprove of, threaten to pollute the minds of your congregation against their book publishing company, and mobilize others to repeat this behavior.

    Christian Tactic: If you don't like the contents of a book, don't buy the book.

  • Comment Link Duncan MacPherson Sunday, 12 August 2012 19:25 posted by Duncan MacPherson

    Well, this whole thing is interesting. I'm not sure I'd characterize this article as "fair," as much as I dislike the word in such an application. The article seemed to focus on the voices of the "accusers," and not the validity of the book itself. Had the author (of the article) read the book in question?

    It has long been acknowledged the the "least" religious of the founders was Benjamin Franklin, yet even Christians attack the author for trying to help re-establish our nation's Christian roots in our minds. Sad.

    "World Magazine" is respectable, but the "Master's College?" Really?? It is no stretch to say that they do NOT represent your average Christian, even the "committed" ones.

    Lastly, what of the fact that Thomas Nelson is still popularly considered a "Christian" publisher, yet has been sold to a major "non-Christian" entity. Think that might have played a role?? C'mon, TNA... Usually you dig a little more behind the surface than this...

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