Liars for Jesus
February 18, 2008
Amazon.com reviewer: Steven L. Roberts (Madison, WI)
Liars for Jesus by Chris Rodda is one of the best written and most important books about contemporary American politics that I have read in years. The only problem with this book is that it was apparently published with the author’s own money, making its availability somewhat limited. This book should be widely read and discussed, because it helps explain why the Christian Right seems so incomprehensibly loony to most of us who are not part of that movement, and, conversely, why they attack the rest of us with such unfettered zeal.
There has been a series of revisionist “history” books published since the end of WWII which give a “Christian” version of American history that attempts to paint the Founding Fathers and subsequent American culture in a way that is in agreement with contemporary Fundamentalism. We have now had a couple of generations of conservative Christians who have been buying into this version of history and reacting angrily to an America that assumes fundamental principals like the separation of church and state to be at the core of what America stands for.
Author Rodda systematically lists and then busts a series of myths that these spurious history books have generated. She leaves no stone unturned in doing so.
Things get really scary when she starts quoting Supreme Court opinions written by Rennquist, Thomas and Burger, and it becomes apparent that members of our highest court do not know the difference between real history and Fundamentalist wishful thinking.
The book is a fascinating study in how the desire for a different set of facts can, over time, morph into an alternative if deluded “reality”.
There is an insidious clandestine effort underway driven by Christian fascists to pollute the common person’s understanding of American history and the part religion plays in that history. This is not merely the usual difference of interpretation that ethical historians normally write about. As Michelle Goldman explains in her book, “Kingdom Coming”, what is dangerous is that a gradual shift has occurred so that what would have been unthinkable rubbish ten years ago is now embraced by the fascists as absolute truth.
Others, trained from childhood to follow authority blindly, accept the lies as truth. Since kids in sham home schools never encounter any other point of view they readily accept the lies. Which is exactly why their misbegotten parents sequester them in their sham schools to begin with.
Accordingly, this propaganda posing as history is being freely passed around over the Internet and incorporated in textbooks sold to the child abusers engaged in lying to their children. Revisionist history books by several different authors (David Barton, Peter Marshall, Mark A. Beliles (Author), and Stephen K. McDowell to name a few) are widely used in sham homeschools along with grossly distorted books on science that are teaching ID and creation myths and calling it science.
Intelligent Design (ID): somewhere, at some point in time, someone did something, somehow, for some reason, that affected the history of life somehow – Michael De Dora Jr, CFI in a Tweet
Parents do this because they trust the likes of James Dobson, Michael Farris, Phylis Schafly, and Pat Robertson and they have no critical faculties. James Dobson, the high priest of religious child abuse, insists the most important quality a child can have is obedience. According to him children are inherently incorrigible and they must be whipped to convince them to obey what they are told to do. These are the methods totalitarians use.We know from engaging parents on public discussion forums how deranged these people are and how futile it is to try and hold an intelligent discussion with them. A constant retort is, “well that is your opinion”, facts mean absolutely nothing. Their brains are reduced to a worthless pile of rotten cells that serve no function. Thus, we see the result of The Rise of Idiot America.
Liars for Jesus is an excellent book that I would highly recommend. It carefully deconstructs the often ham handed attempt by evangelicals to rewrite American History to be The History of The Christian United States of America. But the garbage and easily demolished lies in their versions of history are bought lock, stock, and barrel by millions of American evangelicals.
People who should know better, read and believe, or read and pass on because of an agenda, Barton's garbage history:
David Limbaugh links to David Barton's Wallbuilders on his blog. He appears to enjoy an inordinate number of religious frauds, liars, and bigots for friends. He is now appearing alongside Brannon Howse (a true lunatic bigot to be covered in another post). I believe it is via this link that hints of this evangelical garbage increasingly show through on Rush Limbaugh's show. At one time Limbaugh tended to avoid much religiously influenced material, in order one supposes, to avoid alienating any potential audience segment. Not so any longer, although it is very subtle.
The now blessedly dead D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wrote books on the Christian history of the United States wherein he lifted much from Barton (who himself lifted lies and distortions from earlier frauds). Only poor little Jimmy Kennedy was so intellectually stunted that he managed to mangle Barton's subtle distortions into outright lies.
This lead, I believe, to one of the more amusing events in the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Mike Huckabee's claim that most of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence were ordained clergy. Which is, of course, almost as completely wrong as it would be possible to get.
"1 out of 56 equals 'most'? No, it doesn't During the Republican debate, Mike Huckabee said he believes one of the defining issues facing the country is the sanctity of human life. Arguing that the issue is of historical importance, he invoked the Declaration of Independence's rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and said that most of the signers of the declaration were clergymen.
Not even close.
Only one of the 56 was an active clergyman, and that was John Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).
A few more of the signers were former clergymen, though it's a little unclear just how many. The conservative Heritage Foundation said two other signers were former clergymen. The religion web site Adherents.com said four signers of the declaration were current or former full-time preachers. But everyone agrees only Witherspoon was an active minister when he signed the Declaration of Independence.
One issue that may contribute to the confusion about which signers had a history in the clergy is that during the time the Declaration was written, people who studied at universities often received doctorates of divinity, a common degree designation, even if they were not working clergy, said Mary Jenkins of the Independence National Historical Park. As for religious affiliations, all of the signers were Protestant Christians with one exception, Charles Carroll of Maryland, who was Roman Catholic.
We'd like to give Huckabee every benefit of the doubt, but even if you consider former clergymen among the signers the best you could come up with is four. Out of 56. That's not "most," that's Pants-on-Fire wrong."
This almost certainly came from Huckabee (who had been invited to conferences at Kennedy's church) reading of one of Kennedy's books where Kennedy lifted a distortion from Barton, but managed to both misunderstand it, and to mangle it into a completely egregious lie.
The story of how this lie managed to pass via Barton, to Kennedy, and finally, I believe to Huckabee is worthy of a future post of its own. But most of the chronology on the evangelical fraud writer side can be followed in Chris Rodda's excellent book Liars for Jesus.
Richard Collins is angry. I am angry too.
It was anything but "innocent" confusion.