Sep 08 2013
Sep 01 2013
Aug 25 2013
Why “The Sunday Funny” instead of the usual “Sunday Funnies”? Two reasons — first, I’m really busy trying to get the last sections of my book to my proofreaders and didn’t have time to go through my “Funnies” folder to pick out five for this week, and, second, this one “funny” is just so damn funny that it deserves its own post!
A big thank you to Paul Day (a.k.a. Billy Bob Neck) for giving me permission to post his hilarious handling of an “old friend” who contacted him on Facebook to tell him he’d just won a whole lot of money.
Aug 18 2013
I hate when the front page of FTB shows two “Sunday Funnies” posts in a row under the banner for my blog because that means I haven’t posted anything else all week. There’s always a good reason that I haven’t had time to post — either something big is blowing up at MRFF or I’m so busy writing something else that I ignore my blog. In this case, it’s been the latter — I’ve been busy finishing up the next volume of my debunking of David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies, which I’ve had to put aside way too many times because of stuff blowing up at MRFF.
This next volume, which I’m now in the final stages of getting out there, debunks all the lies in the chapter of Barton’s book titled ” Lie #5: Thomas Jefferson Advocated a Secular Public Square through the Separation of Church and State.” As you can probably guess from that title, this chapter is jam packed with lies about Jefferson promoting religion throughout his four decade political career.
So, since my book is just about finished, and also because I really hate when the FTB front page shows two “Sunday Funnies” posts in a row from me, I’m posting a preview of my book. (I have not yet done the final edits or made the corrections to this section from my proofreaders, so ignore any typos or other flaws. They’ll all be fixed in the book.)
The One About
Jefferson’s 1774 Prayer Day Proclamation
BARTON’S LIE: It was Jefferson who introduced the measure in the Virginia legislature calling for a day of fasting and prayer in 1774.
THE TRUTH: Jefferson was just one of a number of the younger members of the Virginia legislature who formed an impromptu committee that, as he put it, “cooked up” a proclamation for a fast day. And, it wasn’t Jefferson who introduced the fast day in the legislature. Why? Because the committee members were concerned that the suggestion of a fast day might not pass if it came from them. They knew that nobody was going to buy that these young radicals, not even the quite religious Patrick Henry, were proposing this fast day out of genuine religious devotion. It would be obvious that they were merely using a fast day as a way of jolting the people of Virginia into an awareness of the seriousness of what was going on in Massachusetts. So, they got an older member of the legislature to introduce it, one who Jefferson described as having a “grave and religious character” that was “more in unison” with the tone of the proclamation that he and the younger members of the legislature had cooked up.
Referring to the Trade Act of 1774, also known as the Boston Port Act, under which the British were about to shut down the Port of Boston in response to the Boston Tea Party, Barton writes:
The blockade was to take effect on June 1, 1774. Upon hearing of this Jefferson introduced a measure in the Virginia legislature calling for a day of fasting and prayer to be observed on that same day “devoutly to implore the Divine interposition in behalf of an injured and oppressed people.” He also recommended that legislators “Proceed with the Speaker and the Mace to the Church … and that the Reverend Mr. Price be appointed to read prayers, and the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin to preach a sermon suitable to the occasion.” Additionally, Jefferson went home to his local church community in Monticello urging them also to arrange a special day of prayer and worship at “the new church on Hardware River” – a service which Jefferson attended.
Barton, of course, makes this all about Jefferson. In his version of the story, this fast day proclamation was solely Jefferson’s idea, with Jefferson writing it, and Jefferson introducing it in the Virginia legislature. He also has Jefferson urging “his local church community in Monticello” (whatever he means by that) to hold a fast day, as if this were something separate or in addition to the fast day proclaimed by the legislature.
Not surprisingly, Jefferson’s own account of how this fast day came about is quite a bit different from Barton’s version.
When the Boston Port Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1774, the Virginia legislature needed to make the people of Virginia understand that the actions of the British against the distant colony of Massachusetts affected all of the colonies, not just Massachusetts.
Jefferson and six or seven other members of the legislature got together and decided that proclaiming a fast day would be the best way to wake the people up and get their attention. The reason that proclaiming a fast day would be so effective was that it would be so unusual. There would be Virginians who were then adults who wouldn’t even have been born yet or would have been too young to remember the last time it was done. Jefferson himself had only been about twelve years old. While proclamations of fast days and thanksgiving days were a common tradition in New England, they were a rare occurrence in the south. The last time it had been done in Virginia was the French and Indian War, when the legislature needed to get the word out that the war had started even though it hadn’t officially been declared yet. Jefferson and his fellow committee members knew that if the Virginia legislature called for a fast day – something it hadn’t done in two decades – the people would know that something really big was happening.
As Jefferson described it in his autobiography:
The next event which excited our sympathies for Massachusetts, was the Boston port bill, by which that port was to be shut up on the 1st of June, 1774. This arrived while we were in session in the spring of that year. The lead in the House, on these subjects, being no longer left to the old members, Mr. Henry, R. H. Lee, Fr. L. Lee, three or four other members, whom I do not recollect, and myself, agreeing that we must boldly take an unequivocal stand in the line with Massachusetts, determined to meet and consult on the proper measures, in the council chamber, for the benefit of the library in that room. We were under conviction of the necessity of arousing our people from the lethargy into which they had fallen, as to passing events; and thought that the appointment of a day of general fasting and prayer would be most likely to call up and alarm their attention. No example of such a solemnity had existed since the days of our distresses in the war of ’55, since which a new generation had grown up. With the help, therefore, of Rushworth, whom we rummaged over for the revolutionary precedents and forms of the Puritans of that day, preserved by him, we cooked up a resolution, somewhat modernizing their phrases, for appointing the 1st day of June, on which the port-bill was to commence, for a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to implore heaven to avert from us the evils of civil war, to inspire us with firmness in support of our rights, and to turn the hearts of the King and Parliament to moderation and justice.(1)
Barton, in his attempt to make this entire fast day thing solely about Jefferson, claims that it was Jefferson who introduced the measure, but according to Jefferson it was introduced by Robert Carter Nicholas, for the reasons already explained:
To give greater emphasis to our proposition, we agreed to wait the next morning on Mr. Nicholas, whose grave and religious character was more in unison with the tone of our resolution, and to solicit him to move it. We accordingly went to him in the morning. He moved it the same day; the 1st of June was proposed; and it passed without opposition.(2)
The royal governor, Lord Dunmore, certainly saw this fast day proclamation for what it was, as is clear from his letters to the Earl of Dartmouth. The Earl of Dartmouth, William Legge, was Britain’s Secretary of State for the Colonies, a position created in 1768 specifically to deal with the increasingly problematic American colonists. As Dunmore wrote to Legge, the fast day proclamation was, more than anything, a declaration of support for the rebellious colonists of Massachusetts, and it being “intended by the solemnity of a public fasting and praying” was:
… to prepare the minds of the people to receive other resolutions of the house, the purport of which I am not informed of, but from such a beginning may be naturally concluded could tend only to inflame the whole country, and instigate the people to acts that might rouse the indignation of the mother country against them …(3)
Was Lord Dunmore right? Was the real purpose of this fast day to gain support for the more radical resolutions that Jefferson and the other young members of the House of Burgesses were trying to gain support for? Well, it certainly seems so from the actions of Jefferson and John Walker, the other member of the House of Burgesses from Albemarle County, once the fast day proclamation was issued. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, there is something else in Dunmore’s letter to Legge that supports what Jefferson wrote about getting an older, more conservative and religious member of the legislature to introduce the fast day idea out of concern that it would pass if it came from one of the younger radicals. Dunmore told Legge that many of the members of the legislature told him that “the hasty manner the measure was proposed and agreed to, did not advert to the whole force of the terms” of the proclamation, and “if it had, it is believed a strong opposition would have been made to it, and probably that it might have met a different fate.”(4)
Starting to get the picture? This fast day proclamation was not an act of religious devotion on the part of Jefferson or anyone else who was in on the scheme. It was a purely political move, and one that even required a bit of trickery to get it passed by the House of Burgesses. It was a strategy to get the people of Virginia riled up in order to gain support for the drastic measures that Jefferson and his fellow radicals wanted to take. In addition to getting an older, more conservative member of the House, who had a “grave and religious character,” to introduce it, it had to be done so fast that those who might vote against it didn’t really have time to think too much about what they were actually voting for.
Lord Dunmore was absolutely right when he speculated that the real goal of the fast day was “to prepare the minds of the people to receive other resolutions of the house.” So, in order to stop the kind of resolutions that he feared the fast day was designed to “prepare the minds of the people” for – such as revolutions to cut off trade with Britain in retaliation against the closing of the Port of Boston and the other Intolerable Acts – Lord Dunmore immediately dissolved the House of Burgesses. The House, however, had no intention of ceasing to meet, which brings us up to the part of Barton’s version of the story where Jefferson “went home to his local church community in Monticello urging them also to arrange a special day of prayer and worship at ‘the new church on Hardware River.’”
Barton’s version of the story makes it sound as if this day of prayer in Jefferson’s home county was something separate from and in addition to the fast day called for by the House of Burgesses. It wasn’t. What Barton is quoting is the notice that Jefferson and John Walker put out to their constituents telling them where and when the fast day called for by the House of Burgesses would be observed in their county, just as the representatives from all of the counties did in their home counties.
As Jefferson wrote in his autobiography:
We returned home, and in our several counties invited the clergy to meet assemblies of the people on the 1st of June, to perform the ceremonies of the day, and to address to them discourses suited to the occasion. The people met generally, with anxiety and alarm in their countenance, and the effect of the day thro’ the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man and placing him erect and solidly on his centre. They chose, universally, delegates for the convention. Being elected one for my county, I prepared a drought of instructions to be given to the delegates whom we should send to the Congress, which I meant to propose at our meeting.(5)
Although Jefferson gives the date of June 1 in his autobiography, the fast day was observed in the various counties on different days through June and July. Jefferson and John Walker chose Saturday, July 23 for their county. Why a date so long after June 1? Because the county election was July 26. That’s why, as you’ll notice in what he wrote, Jefferson jumps right from describing the effect of the fast day to his being elected as one of the delegates for the convention as if they were a cause and effect. They were. That was the plan.
When Lord Dunmore dissolved the House of Burgesses for declaring its support for the rebellious colonists of Massachusetts via its fast day proclamation, the members of the House decided to reconvene on August 1 at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg for the first of what would end up being five conventions that were held over the next two years. Jefferson and Walker not only had to be chosen to represent their county at this convention, but needed the county freeholders to agree to their radical agenda. Unlike today, representatives back then took the obligation to act according to the wishes of the people who elected them very seriously. The goal was to get the freeholders of their county to be all fired up by Charles Clay’s “sermon suited to the occasion” – “to prepare the minds of the people to receive other resolutions of the house,” as Lord Dunmore put it. The only thing that changed was that, with the House of Burgesses dissolved by Dunmore, these resolutions were going to come from the August 1 convention.
The plan worked like a charm. On July 26, three days after the observation of the fast day, the freeholders of Albemarle County passed their own resolutions (drafted by Jefferson), which included stopping imports from Great Britain until the act closing the port of Boston and all of the other objectionable acts of Parliament were repealed. In addition to the specific resolutions, the freeholders agreed to “concur in these or any other measures which such convention or such congress shall adopt as most expedient for the American good.”(6) And, naturally, Jefferson and Walker were chosen to represent their county at the convention.
Now, knowing the real story of this 1774 call for a day of fasting, let’s take another look at Barton’s version to see how many things he distorts in his one short paragraph about it.
He turns Jefferson into the sole person behind writing and introducing the fast day, although Jefferson clearly states in his autobiography that he was only one of a group of six or seven who “cooked up” the fast day resolution, and that it was Robert Carter Nicholas who introduced it. The only reason he gives for Jefferson wanting to hold the fast day was “devoutly to implore the Divine interposition in behalf of an injured and oppressed people,” although the writings of both Jefferson and Lord Dunmore make it quite clear that the real motivation behind the fast day was political and not religious. He implies that the observation of the fast day in Jefferson’s home county was an unrelated, additional fast day called for by Jefferson, although the notice put out by Jefferson and Walker makes it clear that this was just that county’s observance of the fast day called for by the House of Burgesses, with that notice beginning: “The members of the late house of Burgesses having taken into their consideration the dangers impending over British America from the hostile invasion of a sister colony, thought proper that it should be recommended to the several parishes in this colony …” He implies that Jefferson was a devout member of his local church by saying that Jefferson “went home to local church community in Monticello,” although there was no church community in Monticello. The “new church on Hardware River” was the Forge Church, about ten miles away from Monticello, and the reason stated by Jefferson and Walker for choosing this church was because it was “thought the most centrical to the parishioners in General.”(7) Barton doesn’t quote that part of the sentence, although it immediately follows the only words he does quote from that part of the notice – “the new church on Hardware River.” Now, why would Barton make a specific point of quoting only these completely insignificant words? Well, because putting this unnecessary fact in quotation marks lets him stick an endnote number next to it, which helps keep up the impression that everything he’s saying is coming from original sources. See how easily Barton changes an entire story in just a single paragraph?
Now, the two sources I’ve mentioned and cited that make it completely obvious that this 1774 fast day was a political strategy had nothing to do with religious devotion are the letters written by Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, when the House of Burgesses issued the fast day resolution, and Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography. Is it possible that Barton is just unaware of these sources and is just making an honest mistake? The answer to that question in an unequivocal no.
In his endnotes, Barton cites The Papers of Thomas Jefferson published by Princeton University Press as the edition of Jefferson’s writings that he used for the snippets he quotes from the notice about the fast day in Jefferson’s county – like “the new church on Hardware River” and “devoutly to implore the Divine interposition in behalf of an injured and oppressed people.” He also cites the same edition for what he quotes from the resolution of the House of Burgesses. This is the same edition of Jefferson’s writings as I’m using.
As anyone familiar with this edition of Jefferson’s writings knows, it is full of lengthy notes that not only cite but often quote the other documents related to the document you’re looking at. In other words, you can’t miss that these other documents explain in detail the document you’re looking at. For example, at the end of the notice that Jefferson and John Walker put out about the date and place of the fast day observation in their county contains the following:
TJ’s Autobiography gives this general account of the proceedings in the counties:
“We returned home, and in our several counties invited the clergy to meet assemblies of the people on the 1st of June [actually at various times in June and July], to perform the ceremonies of the day, and to address to them discourses suited to the occasion. The people met generally, with anxiety and alarm in their countenances, and the effect of the day thro’ the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man and placing him erect and solidly on his centre.”
Though the document is conjecturally dated in June by Ford, the Albemarle fast day was evidently fixed by TJ and Walker for 23 July, which was a Saturday. The delay was probably more expedient than necessary, for though TJ did not return to Albemarle very promptly after the Williamsburg proceedings, the fixing of the fast on 23 July was very likely owing to a desire to make a strong impression on the popular mind just before the county election on the 26th.(8)
So, as you can see, Barton was looking right at the quote from Jefferson’s autobiography that clearly says the fast day in his county was the same one called for by the House of Burgesses, and yet he words his version of the story to turn it into Jefferson calling for a separate, additional fast day. As you can also see, this note gives an explanation for Jefferson and Walker delaying their county’s observation of the fast day until July 23, which is also ignored by Barton because it doesn’t fit the story he wants to tell. So, Barton quotes only a completely insignificant phrase from the notice – “the new church on Hardware River” – and another snippet about devoutly imploring Divine interposition, inserting endnote numbers after each of these out of context quotes.
In addition to the two selectively quoted snippets from the notice about the fast day observation in Jefferson’s county, Barton includes a third quote, also accompanied by an endnote number. Here is that sentence from Barton’s paragraph so you don’t have to flip back and find it:
He also recommended that legislators “Proceed with the Speaker and the Mace to the Church … and that the Reverend Mr. Price be appointed to read prayers, and the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin to preach a sermon suitable to the occasion.”
What Barton is quoting from here is the resolution of the House of Burgesses calling for the fast day. Again, he cites The Papers of Thomas Jefferson as his source, and again there is a lengthy note on the page in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson following the document that he completely ignores because it doesn’t fit his version of the story. That note is where you’ll find the source for the letters written by Lord Dunmore that I’ve been quoting throughout this section. Those letters, as you have seen, concur with what Jefferson himself wrote, and provide even more information about the real motivation behind the fast day. Barton could not be unaware of this source because it’s right there on the same page of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson that he would have been looking at to quote the snippet from that page that he selectively quotes.
For anyone who tries to claim that Barton’s factual inaccuracies are not deliberate, intentional lies, but merely innocent mistakes, this is the kind of evidence that proves that they are absolutely not merely innocent mistakes. In writing just this one short paragraph of his book, he not once but twice ignored quotes and information that he had to have seen because they are right there on the very same pages of the book that he is quoting and citing as his source.
Now, getting back to the actual history of this fast day, the reason that The Papers of Thomas Jefferson quotes a letter written by Lord Dunmore in its notes on the House of Burgesses resolution for the fast day was to note that the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin, the minister whom the House of Burgesses said in its resolution was to preach a “sermon suitable to the occasion” on the fast day, refused to preach the sermon. Dunmore, of course, applauded Reverend Gwatkin for his refusal to support the rebellious colonists, writing to William Legge:
… I think it necessary to let your lordship know, that [Gwatkin’s] name was made use of entirely without his knowledge, and that he civilly but with firmness declined being employed for such a purpose, and which proved no little mortification to the party who dictated the measure.(9)
The reason I bring up Lord Dunmore’s letter about the refusal of Rev. Gwatkin to preach a sermon on the fast day is not only to point out that Barton ignores what Dunmore wrote about the fast day resolution, but because it’s important to note that Gwatkin wasn’t the only loyalist minister in Virginia who declined to preach on this fast day.
As we’ll get to in the section on the laws of Virginia, it was the problem of loyalist ministers like Rev. Gwatkin that, in 1777, led Jefferson to do something very un-Jefferson-like – drafting a bill requiring all ministers in Virginia to deliver a sermon suited to the occasion an any day of prayer proclaimed by the legislature or the governor. As you can imagine, Barton has a bit of a different take on Jefferson’s reason for drafting that bill than what was the reality.
1. H.A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853), 6-7.
2. Ibid., 7.
3. Lord Dunmore to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, May 29, 1774. The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, vol. 18, (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, et.al., 1813), 136.
4. Ibid., 136-137.
5. H.A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853), 7-8.
6. Julian P. Boyd, ed, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950), 177-118.
7. Ibid., 116.
8. Ibid., 117.
9. Lord Dunmore to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, June 6, 1774. The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, vol. 18, (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, et.al., 1813), 138.
Aug 18 2013
Aug 11 2013
Aug 09 2013
Where is that Simon & Schuster edition of “The Jefferson Lies” that David Barton has been promising?
Exactly one year ago today, on August 9, 2012, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson took the virtually unprecedented action of pulling one of its books from publication due to the book’s many inaccuracies. That book, of course, was David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies.
There were several factors that presumably contributed to Thomas Nelson’s decision to take the drastic action of pulling Barton’s book from the shelves. One of these factors was that the criticism of The Jefferson Lies was coming from a different source than the usual Barton critics. Shortly after the book was released, Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, both professors at a Christian college, published a rebuttal of Barton’s book titled Getting Jefferson Right. Throckmorton and Coulter’s book contained little new material, with most of the lies it debunked having previously been debunked by both myself and others, but there was one big difference. Throckmorton and Coulter are evangelical Christians. So is John Fea, an associate professor of history and department chair at Messiah College, who also heavily criticized Barton’s book. The criticism coming from Christian as well as secularist writers made it difficult for anyone to use the usual excuse that Barton’s critics are just a bunch of anti-Christian secularists trying to obliterate the “truth” about America’s Christian history.
Another contributing factor was likely the widely publicized reader poll conducted The History News Network in July 2012 to find the “least credible history book in print.” The winner of this dubious distinction was, of course, Barton’s The Jefferson Lies.
But, if the timing of events is any indicator, the straw that seems to have broken Thomas Nelson’s back seems to have been the threatened boycott of their company by a coalition of Christian ministers in Ohio. The criticism by Throckmorton, Coulter, and Fea had come in May, the month after The Jefferson Lies was published. The HNN poll had made news in July. But Thomas Nelson continued to sell Barton’s book. Then, on August 1, a group of Ohio pastors held a press conference at Cincinnati’s New Jerusalem Baptist Church threatening to boycott Thomas Nelson over the book’s whitewashing of the issue of Thomas Jefferson and slavery. (Among other things, Barton’s book glosses over Jefferson’s racism and ownership of slaves, claiming that although Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves, he was really an advocate for civil rights who was not a racist and considered blacks to be completely equal to whites.)
On August 1, these Ohio pastors, who had read an advance copy of the book and had unsuccessfully asked to meet with Thomas Nelson before it released, held a press conference announcing their boycott. Eight days later, on August 9, Thomas Nelson pulled The Jefferson Lies, having suddenly “lost confidence in the book’s details.”
In his scramble to save face with his followers, Barton quickly responded to his book being pulled with all sorts of excuses: It was because Thomas Nelson had succumbed to political pressure and abandoned its principles; it was because secular publisher HarperCollins had bought Thomas Nelson; it was because Thomas Nelson had edited 20,000 crucial words out of his original manuscript that would clear up everything. it was anything except the fact that his book full of inaccurate history and lies. And his followers bought it hook, line, and sinker. It’s now a year later, and Barton is just as popular, if not more popular, as he was before his book was pulled.
But the boldest claim by far that Barton made in the wake of Thomas Nelson pulling his book, which is the main thing I want to get to in this piece, was that the book had already been picked up by an even bigger publisher (Thomas Nelson is the one of the largest American trade publishers and the world’s largest Christian publisher), and that this even bigger publisher would be publishing a new edition in which the 20,000 words edited out by Thomas Nelson would be restored. And who did Barton reveal this alleged bigger publisher to be? Simon & Schuster!
In an article posted on his WallBuilders.com website in February of this year, Barton stated this in three places that Simon & Schuster had picked up the book, writing: “After Thomas Nelson dropped the book, The Jefferson Lies was subsequently reviewed and then picked up by Simon & Schuster,” “The Jefferson Lies will reach a far larger audience through Simon & Schuster than it would have with the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson,” and that the book “will be released by Simon & Schuster in 2013.”
Is this claim true? Is Simon & Schuster really going to republish a book that was dumped by another major publisher because of its inaccuracy? That doesn’t seem very likely, does it? So what would lead Barton to think he could get away with making such a claim?
Enter Glenn Beck.
As anyone who keeps up with Barton’s shenanigans knows, in 2010 Beck and Barton became joined at the hip, with Barton becoming Beck’s resident historian, making numerous appearances on Beck’s old Fox News show and becoming the history “professor” at the online pseudo-educational institution, Beck University. (For those who aren’t familiar with the Beck-Barton partnership, there is a series of videos and links to the pieces I wrote accompanying those videos on the homepage of my website.)
The Beck-Barton partnership didn’t end when Beck’s show on Fox was cancelled. Barton continued to appear regularly on Beck’s online GBTV show, which, by the way, has now been expanded into an entire TV channel called The Blaze, which is not only available online but recently became a regular cable TV channel. Yes, Beck not only has a TV show again; he has a whole TV channel.
But getting back to what all this Beck stuff has to do with Barton’s claim that Simon & Schuster has picked up The Jefferson Lies and is publishing a new edition, Glenn Beck did say on his August 16, 2012 GBTV show that his Mercury Ink publishing company intended to republish Barton’s book, and Beck’s Mercury Ink does have some sort of publishing partnership with Simon & Schuster. But does Beck’s company republishing Barton’s book mean the same thing as Simon & Schuster republishing it, or is this just one of those one-plus-one-equals-three stretches of the truth that Barton is so well known for?
So, I hereby challenge Mr. Barton to answer the question: Where is that Simon & Schuster edition of The Jefferson Lies that you’ve been promising?
Aug 04 2013
Late last night I was checking my MRFF email, as I do every night, even on the weekends, to see if anything important had come in. There was one email whose subject line said simply “Dear Mr. Weinstein,” so I opened it to see if it was a real email or just something from one of the crazies. It turned out to be just another of the many emails that come into MRFF on an almost daily basis from people who are trying to save Mikey’s soul, so I ignored it as usual.
It was late at night, but I wasn’t tired, so I decided to stay up and do a little more work before going to bed. I had a couple of Jefferson letters that I needed to look up for the writing I’m going to be doing today, so I figured I’d do that to get it out of the way. As I was looking for the letters I needed, I stumbled upon an anonymous letter that Jefferson, who kept track of all of his correspondence, from the important to the ridiculous, had put in the category of “anonymous religious letter.” Curious about what this letter was, I of course had to read it, even though it had nothing to do with what I was researching.
What immediately struck me about this anonymous letter to Jefferson was that it sounded uncannily similar to the ”Dear Mr. Weinstein” email I had just read a few minutes earlier.
I saw that Jefferson had received several other letters from this same anonymous Christian who was trying to save his soul, so I naturally had to go and read those, too.
So, for the “some things never change” file, here is the “Dear Mr. Weinstein” email, followed by four letters from the anonymous Christian who was quite similarly trying to save Thomas Jefferson’s soul two hundred years ago.
ETERNITY: Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth, is 5.5 miles high. If you could remove only one teaspoon of dirt from Mount Everest every 1,000 years until the entire mountain was gone, the 1st second of eternity would not have even started by the time you were finished.
Four out of five dentists recommend Trident, but ten out of every ten people die. We are all part of this ultimate statistic. Have you ever wondered what happens after someone dies? The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27 that we are all appointed to die and then face judgment. This judgment is for sin (disobedience to God’s laws). The Bible declares in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. Our sins separate us from God, who is holy and righteous. Through our God-given conscience, the 10 Commandments reveal sin to us. We know that it’s wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery, murder, and use God’s name in vain.
As a righteous judge, God cannot overlook disobedience to His laws. The judgment for anyone who dies in their sins will be eternal separation from God in a fiery place of torment called Hell. However, we can escape this judgment and inherit eternal life in Heaven because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, took the judgment for mankind’s sins upon Himself as He gave His life on the Cross at Calvary. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and is alive forevermore. Jesus Christ is the only one to walk this earth without breaking any commandments (Hebrews 4:15). The sinless blood that Jesus shed on the Cross washes away sin and is the only payment for our violation of God’s laws. We cannot earn our way to Heaven; good deeds do not outweigh bad deeds. We need the righteousness of Christ in order to be acceptable to God. John 3:16 says that God sacrificed His Son for the entire world. Regardless of things like wealth or status in life, everyone needs Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Eternal salvation is ONLY obtained by receiving Jesus Christ into your heart by faith. Call upon Him in prayer, believing that He is the Son of God who died and rose again for your sins. Confess to Jesus that you’re a sinner. Ask Him to come into your heart and forgive you, and repent (turn away) from all sin. Tell others about your trust in Jesus as your Savior, be baptized, and make Him the Lord of your life as you live by faith in Him and obedience to the Bible.
James 4:14 says that life is like a vapor; it exists for a short time and then vanishes. There is no promise of tomorrow. Receive Christ today and be prepared to meet Him when your appointed time with death comes.
June 20, 1809
After a long silence your unknown friend begs leave once more to address you, on a subject of the greatest importance. And can there be any subject, that is diserving of this name, but that one, which equally deserves & demands the attention of each & all the human family, viz. the care of the immortal part, to secure for it an inheritance in that blessed world, “where the moth nor rust cannot corrupt nor thieves break thro & steal”
Dear Sir, as you are now retired from the busy scenes in which you have long been occupied let me invite you, Sir, to take religion into your social circle, that she may animate your spirits & cheer you in the evening of your days. Respected friend, you must be sensible, that your continuance on earth will not be long, even at the longest period which is alotted to man. And doubtless, Sir, you have a something within, that tells you, that your better part will exist beyond the reach of death. The immortal mind of man can be satisfied with nothing short of God & the joys of heaven. All other contemplations are too low & groveling to occupy the attention of the soul.
The holy volume of revelation contains the most excellent and glorious promises. O that we may take hold of Christ by faith & rest entirely on him for our salvation. Then we shall not fear death but when we drop this body we shall enter with triumph into the joys of our Lord.
That this may be our happy case, is the earnest desire & sincere prayer of your friend, and humble servant
Philadelphia, April 28, 1811
Being now indulged with leisure to investigate any subject, a privilege which you did not once enjoy, permit a friend, who sincerely wishes your present peace & eternal happiness, to ask you to reexamine the evidences in favor of the christian religion. If, Sir, you will have the goodness to peruse with candor Bishop Porteus’ evidences in favor of the Christan religion, Leslies short method with the deist; Butlers Analogy & Dr. Paley’s Natural Theology. If, sir, you will peruse these books with candor I am certain you will find your reward,
I am your most devoted and very humble servant.
A friend to the Cn. Religion
District of Columbia, April 13. 1812
You will not doubt the sincerity of the writer when he assures you, that he has been upon his knees before God, during a large part of the night, beseeching the Almighty Soverign to have mercy upon our nation & save our devoted land from the horrors of war, with which we are threatned.
If God saved Nineveh when it was threatened, we know not but we may be saved by looking up to his throne of grace.
As we are assured, that all, who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, therefore, if we should not be instrumental in turning away the wrath of God from our land, yet by praying in sincerity we may save our own souls from death & hide a multitude of sins. O Sir, “prepare to meet thy God in peace.” Farewell.
August 24, 1812
Your friend, who has been long silent, desires once more to address you. And, as it may be the last time, permit him to do it with plainness & solemnity. Thousands of times your unknown friend, has addressed the Almighty Sovereign in your behalf; praying, thro Jesus Christ, our Divine Advocate, that you may be brought to embrace & enjoy, that holy religion, which is taught in the sacred volume.
Believing, that every prayer of faith is answered your unknown friend, hopes & believes, that you, Sir, will shortly embrace & openly espouse the Christian Religion. May God Almighty grant it, thro the merits and mediation of his beloved Son.
Remember, Dear Sir, that your time on earth is short. “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of Salvation.”
By embracing Religion you will give joy to angels & all good men on earth And by it you will obtain a peace in your own mind, which the world cannot give nor take away.
That you may read the sacred volume with reverence & pray devoutly for the teaching of the divine spirit is the sincere prayer of your unknown friend.
Apparently, Mikey is in very good company!
Jul 28 2013