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Mar 22 2012

“Monumental” Lies – Kirk Cameron Visits David Barton

Child star turned fundamentalist Christian activist Kirk Cameron’s pseudo-documentary Monumental is coming to over 500 theaters across the country on March 27, and from the clips available online, it’s clear that Cameron’s movie promises to be packed with the same Christian nationalist historical revisionism that David Barton is so well known for. In fact, Barton himself appears in Cameron’s film. One of the clips available online shows Cameron visiting Barton’s personal museum in Texas, and hearing a few of Barton’s lies about the early Congress and Thomas Jefferson printing Bibles to spread the word of God to all American families.

30 comments

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  1. 1
    otrame

    Cameron is an absolutely classic example of someone who wouldn’t know the truth if it walked up and bit him on the ass.

  2. 2
    Ellie

    I know everything you are saying is true, but what took me aback about those film clips is the…nonchalant manner in which Barton is handling these books! No gloves? Nothing to protect the fragile pages?

    However, the most important question is: After this great meeting of the minds, did they share a banana?

  3. 3
    michaeljacobsen

    otrame: Kirk Cameron might not know the truth if it bit him on the ass but I’m sure he would know a crocoduck if one bit him!

  4. 4
    Ace of Sevens

    David Barton is definitely a liar, but I wonder about Kirk Cameron. I suspect he’s a true believer.

  5. 5
    d cwilson

    Ace of Sevens:

    That’s the scary thing about Cameron. He probably does truly believe that paleontologists are out looking for evidence of a crocoduck.

  6. 6
    mithrandir

    I saw the trailer for this in the theater – very fluffy and warm and fuzzy without actually saying anything about what would actually be in it. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I was thinking about it.

    I still find the banana video stupendously unbelievable. One of these days I’d love to have someone ask him what he thought of the argument that the nose was intelligently designed because it is perfectly shaped to keep your eyeglasses from falling off your face. (I guarantee you he wouldn’t get the reference, unless of course someone’s tried this on him before.)

  7. 7
    besomyka

    Chris, would is be possible for you to put together a leaflet of some sort that I could print out and have on hand for people going to see this movie in my area? Something with the TLDR version and references to more detailed explanations?

    I mean, I can do something like that on my own, but if you did it I think it’d be in more people’s hands and there’s be a more uniform, polite, opposition.

  8. 8
    Pinky

    Chris you are a very patient person to explain David Barton’s lies over and over without an exasperated sigh.

    It sure would be nice if the shows that will have Kirk Cameron, biblical scholar ex-child star, on to plug his propaganda movie would include a rebuttal by you.

    Did several takes need to be taken of Cameron’s parts of the movie so he could get his studiously concerned, boy this is important, face correct? I like the way Cameron is leaning nonchalantly on the two volume bible Barton claims Congress had made, while listening to Barton prevaricate about a bible made to force upon schoolchildren.

  9. 9
    Who Knows?

    That last bit, where Cameron says “make America blossom, flourish and thrive” made me laugh. What a duffus.

  10. 10
    grumpyoldfart

    #7 Pinky said:

    Did several takes need to be taken of Cameron’s parts of the movie so he could get his studiously concerned, boy this is important, face correct?

    They are the bits that intrigued me as well. Talk about over-acting.

  11. 11
    billdaniels

    Being a true believer and being a liar are not mutually exclusive.
    I wonder if Kirk mentions the huge Masonic influence on the monuments in his “docmentary”.

  12. 12
    timgueguen

    Actually some other conservative relgious type recently criticised Cameron’s film for exactly that, promoting monuments designed by evil Satantic Masons.

  13. 13
    gfeltham

    Following up on Ellie’s comment, I agree about the man-handling of the old texts. Made me cringe. As much as Barton has trotted out the Aitken over the years, I’ve got to believe that there had to at least a couple more in existence when he first started out.

    And another aspect of the ‘hands all over the Bibles’: He must be oblivious to his own continuous dissembling. If he had consciousness of what he was doing, and he has the faith that he proclaims; I would think he would have , at least, some trepidation about how God might be feeling about his actions. I know he has stated a very strong conviction about the importance of swearing oaths upon the Bible.

    Did anyone notice toward the beginning of the video that there is a copy of The Godless Constitution on display in Barton’s Inner Sanctum?

  14. 14
    jimmiraybob

    Chris,

    You’ve written extensively about the Aiken Bible (1782) but have you also written about the subscription Family Bible (1798) claim?

  15. 15
    Chris Rodda

    @ jimmiraybob … No, I haven’t written anything about that one yet. That was actually the first time I had heard it. Of course, it only took about five minutes to debunk it once I figured out what Bible that 1798 Bible was. I was quickly able to find out that Jefferson owned a copy and had subscribed to it (there are several resources listing what books Jefferson owned, so I just had to find this Bible in one of those to confirm that he owned a copy, and one of these resources had the details of him having subscribed to it). I’m going to add it to the chapter in volume 2 of my book of Jefferson lies that weren’t in volume 1, either because I hadn’t seen them yet when I wrote volume 1 or because they’re new ones invented after I wrote volume 1.

  16. 16
    conniebaker

    “I still find the banana video stupendously unbelievable. One of these days I’d love to have someone ask him what he thought of the argument that the nose was intelligently designed because it is perfectly shaped to keep your eyeglasses from falling off your face. ”

    Well, properly speaking, the banana IS an excellent example of design. Intelligent design, even, which puts it worlds ahead of most living species.

    The perfect shape, the delicious taste, the ease of peeling and seedless nature of the banana? Yes sirree bob, these are all the product of ten thousand years of careful, patient cultivation and breeding. Wild bananas have few, if any of these features… especially the “seedless” one. On the contrary, they’re chock full of the things, hard and inedible though the seeds they are!

    This, of course, is why wild-type bananas aren’t facing extinction and Cavendish bananas (the ones you find in the store) are. Cavendishes, like the Gros Michel before them, have no genetic diversity to speak of. Each banana is a clone, identical to all others of its variety. This means you get a consistent flavor, but if one is prone to a certain disease or fungus, they all are. And now the same disease that virtually wiped out Big Mikes is coming for Cavendishes, which are decidedly second-string to begin with. It’s like the potato famine all over again, but with more bananas and hopefully a lot less famine.

    But still, all that aside, bananas WERE designed specifically for consumption by humans. It took a darn long time, but we got there eventually.

  17. 17
    jimmiraybob

    Thanks Chris. I see you cut to the heart of the matter. :)

  18. 18
    frankcoffey flammini

    I’m wondering how in the world you would know they are “lies”? Have you studied the documents from that era?

  19. 19
    Chris Rodda

    @ frankcoffey flammini … I’ve studied the documents from that era extensively. If you visit my website. liarsforjesus.com, you will see that I wrote a book on the subject. My book is not only fully footnoted with primary sources, but I even have an archive on my website where you can view images of all the documents and book pages cited in my footnotes to verify them for yourself.

  20. 20
    mikeyb

    Chris,

    Thank you for doing the non stop thankless work exposing pseudohistory by the obvious fundamentalist propagandist David Barton and the never ceasing to disappoint fool Kirk Cameron.

    I think getting history right is an ongoing task which is never complete, especially as you go further back in the past it gets murkier and murkier. As far as I’ve read and been aware of, few if any of the founding fathers were fundamentalist dolts or even quasi intellectual Christian zealots ala Johnathan Edwards. In any case it is clear from my readings that the founders were influenced by John Locke and David Hume among many others and were clearly aware of the dangers of Theocracy. At the same time they were informed perhaps by a sort of provident secular deism which is hard to articulate by modern standards which drew strands of its moral precepts from the Bible. In any case in no sense were the founders revivalists or evangelicals as David Barton and his ilk seem to want to portray. At the very least, why for example is god not mentioned in the constitution. If they were such holy men, why wouldn’t this be mentioned even if just as part of a preamble or dedication statement.

    But just for the sake of argument, what if we granted that the founders were bleeding fundamentalists who wanted every family to have a Bible and go to church. They were also apparently open to maintaining slavery, continual and persistent war with American Indians, maintaining a class society where women had few to little rights including voting. So what kind of Christian society is this model of our godly founding fathers supposed to uphold.

    But say for whatever reason, sometime in the future some founding document were discovered in which every signer of the Declaration of Independence swore their loyalty to Jesus, what would this mean? I’d say precisely nothing. It would definitely change our views of the founders but what real difference should it make to us today.

    I greatly admire Isaac Newton. He got it by and large right about Gravity until Einstein came along. He also apparently wrote more on biblical prophecy and alchemy than his scientific works. He apparently was an Arian Christian heretic which he kept to himself. So if Newton was right about Gravity does that mean he was right about God?

    Their logic seems to be that the founders were fundamentalist Christians not secularists or at least precursors to secularism, ergo we should follow their model and be fundamentalist Christian too. I think it is important to find out the truth – which is that the founders were by no means fundamentalists in the modern sense of the term. But at the same time, even if this were proven false – so what. Why should what the founders believed or did have any bearing on what we believe or do today with the possible exception of drawing history lessons for similar circumstances in the future or principles to follow based upon experience or reasoning, on the merits not their antiquity.

    This makes as much sense to me as a Devout Anglican insisting we go back to the fundamental roots of parsing out the pros and cons of the various reasons for Henry VIII’s infidelities as the reflect upon the validity of the 39 articles.

  21. 21
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Good clip – cheers, & ‘monumentally’ well done Chris Rodda.

    A collection full of Bibles?

    I’m imagining seeing a whole shelf or three of books – all the same text – and still having nothing good toread. Horrible thought!

    If I have two copies of a book I’ll usually give away one copy and keep the other for reading /re-reading /future reference.

    How many Bibles do you need?

  22. 22
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    PS. I suppose I can understand having a few copies that have slightly different texts and interpretations – but not a whole library-full!

  23. 23
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    PPS. Is it wrong that the line :

    “..I wanted to see John Hancock’s John Hanock for myself ..

    (About 50 secs in) made me laugh!?

  24. 24
    Ellie

    @21 Eleven. I need eleven. That’s why I have eleven.
    @23 Made me laugh too, and Barton hardly ever does that for me…usually makes me want to spit — tacks.

  25. 25
    petzl20

    Great article, Chris!

    Cameron is so funny. He’s a 45 year old man-child who just barely
    finished high school and he’s trying to educate Earth about
    religion and US religious history.

    My favorite part was at 11:08, when he does that exaggerated
    squinting
    “So, hold on!! The United States Congress was printing
    and commissioning bibles…”

    I thought it resembled the histrionic overacting you see in the
    early morning infomercials: “So hold on!! It’s a floor wax
    AND a dessert topping?!”

  26. 26
    robertkarma

    I am a historian but by no means the in-depth detailed scholar of the Founding Fathers and the Enlightenment Era philosophy that influenced their political thinking as practiced by Chris Rodda. I have battled the disciples of David Barton over the past 14 years since I was in grad school. To say that Barton has had a pernicious influence on how Christians view American history is a gross understatement. I recently had a letter to the editor published in a Tennessee newspaper about their ongoing brouhaha in Lenoir City over the editorial published by a high school senior who is an open atheist. Sure enough in the comments section of the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s online version you find Christian apologists who cite Barton as “proof” that America was founded as a Christian nation. I have refuted people like this for years but I have found that factual historical evidence does not matter to people of faith. They cling to Barton’s revisionist bastardization of history like they cling to their Bibles…. eyes closed to the evidence.

    Barton has been called out and refuted by a legion of actual degree holding historians with a specialty in early American philosophy, law and religion. Constitutional scholars laugh at Barton’s BS but give Barton credit, he has gotten rich and influential by peddling his revisionist crap to the faithful. Even the self-important Newt Gingrich has hitched his wagon to Barton despite knowing full well that Barton’s version of our history and law is without any basis in fact. I have not gotten wealthy or influential by being a historian but I am limited by having ethics and a sense of common human decency.

    My professors at that bastion of liberal indoctrination, East Tennessee State University, taught me that Historians do not merely quote the historical record, they interpret. Doing history requires investigating original sources in light of the “Five C’s of Historical Thinking”: change over time, context, causality, contingency, and complexity. When you abandon these critical thinking skills in the study of history you get the David Bartons of the world who pretend they are doing history but are actually hard at work in producing religious propaganda. People of faith distrust secular scholars and “experts” as being a part of the evil secular atheist conspiracy against their supernatural belief system… that is until they find a so-called expert who agrees with them. When they do they lionize that alleged expert, like a David Barton, who is then deemed to be able to do no wrong. All of the education, evidence and critical thinking we can provide will never dent that armor of willful ignorance. Sigh.

  27. 27
    carolineborduin

    I really enjoyed Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind and Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain. They explained the why behind the stuff that @26 spoke of.

    “John Hancock’s John Hancock” Coming from the banana guy, this is priceless.

    I also marvel at Barton’s odd fashion choices – what’s with the leather suit jacket?

  28. 28
    yahyaheee

    Is there any way you could send me some of your sources for this video. I need hard evidence for the folks I am debating this issue on.

  29. 29
    Chris Rodda

    Hey yahyaheee …

    I assume you’re talking about the part where Barton claims that Congress printed a Bible. All the sources for that are on my liarsforjesus.com website.

    The chapter from my book that covers that Bible – the 1782 Aitken Bible – is available as a PDF here:

    http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_chap_1.pdf

    And everything I cite in my footnotes in the chapter can be found in my footnote archive, where I have images of all the documents and book pages I cited so that people can look at the original documents for themselves:

    http://www.liarsforjesus.com/footnotes.htm

  30. 30
    Mike Morrison

    Sorry, Ms. Rodda, for constantly posting in the comment sections of your older articles.

    I, too, cringed when I saw how Barton manhandles that extremely rare (and no doubt, valuable), Bible. I only recently, in the last few years, have become aware about the importance of the preservation of history, and historical objects. The History blog: http://www.thehistoryblog.com“, has made me aware of the value of historical objects being in museums and handled by the experts, as opposed to being in private collections by laypersons with a lot of money and very little brains.

    ——————–

    mikeb@#20: Something I have been wondering about for a while now myself, that I have been questioning historical revisionist Christian evangelicals that I know: So what if the founders believed this is a Christian nation (which they were not.)? What difference does that make? We know that the founders knew full well that times would change, and so would the nation’s needs and wants. That’s why the entire government and the very Constitution was designed in the manner in which it was designed: It allows for our laws to change as the times and our culture changes. The founders are all dead. We are not. It is up to us to make our decisions in our modern world. Not them.

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