Feb 10 2013
Feb 04 2013
Thanks to an astute commenter on my post from last week, “A Debunking of Pseudo-Historian David Barton’s Book on the Second Amendment” (which I posted on Huffington Post as well as here on FTB), we may now know the source of one of the tales that Barton has been telling to promote the idea that not just teachers — but students — should be armed in schools.
I began my post with a few quotes from Barton, one of which was a story he told on Glenn Beck’s web-based TV show about a classroom full of gun-toting elementary school children in the 1850s saving their teacher’s life by whipping out their guns to stop a gunman who came to their school.
This was the ‘historical’ account related by Barton told on Beck’s show on January 15:
“The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff. Saved the life of — there was no shooting because all the kids — we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out and says, ‘We like our teacher. You shoot our teacher, we’ll kill you.’”
I assumed that Barton was either exaggerating a real story or just making the whole thing up, but since he didn’t give any source for the story or enough specifics to fact check it, I thought it would be impossible to find out whether or not there was any truth to it. I didn’t even consider that it might have come from a novel, but when a commenter on my previous post noted the striking similarity between Barton’s story and a story from the Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter, I downloaded the Kindle version of the novel and checked it out.
Feb 03 2013
Jan 31 2013
Like many a good Christian, pseudo-historian David Barton likes guns and, of course, thinks that every person in America has an unlimited constitutional — and biblical — right to own and carry them.
Barton, not surprisingly, has been saying some pretty wild things on the subject recently, many of them on Glenn Beck’s web-based TV show, where he went beyond advocating that teachers be armed, saying that the students should be armed, telling this story about an attempted school shooting in the 1850s:
“The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff.”
On his own radio show as well as Beck’s show, Barton made the incredible claim that gun accidents were virtually unheard of in the founding era, saying:
“I have searched and in the founding era I think I’ve only ever found two gun accidents and everybody was hauling guns back then. You took your guns to church, you were required by state law in some states to take your guns to church. We didn’t have accidents because everyone was familiar with how to use them.”
Barton gives no source for his story about those gun-toting kids of the 1850s saving their teacher, making that story impossible to fact check, but many of the other things he’s been saying can be checked. This is because they’re based on quotes that can be found in his 2000 book, The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-Protection, which, of course, contains a plethora of those footnotes he’s famous for.
Barton begins his book with the typical arguments — the all-or-nothing argument that people who support gun control laws think that only the police and the military should be able to have guns, and the argument that any laws whatsoever regulating an individual’s right to own guns are unconstitutional.
Barton divides the historical quotes he uses in his book into four chapters — I. Early Legal Commentaries, II. Views of the Founding Fathers, III. Early Legislative Acts, and IV. State Constitutions — saying:
“These four categories of information will indisputably demonstrate that a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms is an individually guaranteed right and that efforts to restrict or regulate gun possession by ordinary law-abiding citizens — no matter what “humanitarian” or alleged “historical” arguments might undergird such efforts — are unequivocal violations of the explicit protections and original intentions of the Constitution.”
It would be impossible to cover in a blog post all of the quotes presented by Barton in his book, so I’ve chosen a handful from each chapter, paying particular attention the ones relevant to the big question today: Are laws regulating guns unconstitutional?
Even with limiting this post to only some of the quotes used by Barton, it is still unusually long for a blog post. This is unavoidable since, in order to put Barton’s out-of-context and butchered quotes back in context, it’s necessary to quote some fairly lengthy passages from the sources of these quotes. I realize that most people won’t have time to read the entire thing, but hope that they’ll at least look at enough of the examples to get an idea of how badly Barton distorts history to support his claim that his book will prove that the founders would have found any laws regulating guns to be “unequivocal violations” of the Constitution.
Jan 28 2013
On January 25, Stars and Stripes reported that Ashley Broadway, who had been denied membership in Fort Bragg’s officers’ spouse club because her spouse is a woman, has not only been accepted as a member of the spouse club, but has also been named as Fort Bragg’s 2013 spouse of the year in an online contest run by Military Spouse magazine. Winning this contest at the base level puts Broadway in the running for the magazine’s Army spouse of the year.
Needless to say, the extremely homophobic Air Force Major Jonathan C. Dowty, a.k.a. the Christian Fighter Pilot — whose number of blog posts about ‘homosexuals’ may soon rival the over 400 posts he’s written about Mikey Weinstein, his family, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) — has his panties in a wad over this recognition of a ‘homosexual’ as a spouse.
But, as he wrote in a blog post titled “Military Spouse of the Year: Devout Christian, Homosexual,” Maj. Dowty also has a problem with Broadway describing herself as “a very devout Christian,” writing:
“It is also true that some who might call themselves “devout Christians” may still sin — no one is perfect, after all (actually, there was that One Guy…). It is notable, though, that someone proudly proclaiming her faith in Jesus Christ is just as proudly proclaiming her unrepentant sin.”
Poor Maj. Dowty — not only does he have to share the military with the ‘homosexuals,’ he also has to share the same lord and savior with them. It’s enough to make a fundie’s head explode.
Jan 27 2013
Jan 23 2013
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) rocks!
Yesterday, January 22, Congressman Holt introduced H. Res. 41, a resolution to designate February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day, and recognize Charles Darwin “as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.”
Here’s the text of the resolution:
H. RES. 41
Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 22, 2013
Mr. HOLT submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.
Whereas Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection, together with the monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it, provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth;
Whereas the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics;
Whereas it has been the human curiosity and ingenuity exemplified by Darwin that has promoted new scientific discoveries that have helped humanity solve many problems and improve living conditions;
Whereas the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change;
Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems;
Whereas Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth’s peoples; and
Whereas February 12, 2013, is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and would be an appropriate date to designate as Darwin Day: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) supports the designation of Darwin Day; and
(2) recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.
Jan 20 2013
Jan 13 2013
Jan 10 2013
For many years, the “purpose” statement of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization of over 15,000 fundamentalist Christian officers operating throughout the military, was:
“A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
The OCF, whose membership is comprised of officers like “Christian Fighter Pilot” Major Jonathan C. Dowty, who joined the group while at the Air Force Academy and went on to be an OCF team leader at Edwards Air Force Base, stopped using its “ambassadors for Christ in uniform” purpose statement a few years ago after Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), began repeating it in all of his speeches and interviews where he talked about the OCF.
While the OCF said that they “will not allow the opposition, all of which is spearheaded by Satan, to thwart or prevent us from regaining territory for Jesus Christ and the U.S. military,” they did change their official purpose statement to the more innocuous:
“Our purpose is to glorify God by uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.”
One OCF chapter that did not change its purpose statement from “A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit,” however, was the chapter at the U.S. Naval Academy. The OCF page on the official Naval Academy website continued to proclaim that its goal was to turn midshipmen at the Academy into “ambassadors for Christ in uniform.” So, MRFF submitted a FOIA request to find out who was responsible for this blatant proclamation of a purpose so antithetical to the purpose of training future officers at the service academies — which is certainly not to be “ambassadors for Christ in uniform” whose goal is a “spiritually transformed military.”
In the wake of MRFF’s FOIA request, the OCF page on the Naval Academy’s website has been changed to:
“Our purpose is to glorify God by uniting Christian midshipmen for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.”
Does this mean that the OCF has actually changed its purpose and is no longer trying to turn the U.S. military into a force of “ambassadors for Christ in uniform?” Well, no. As they said, “We will not allow the opposition, all of which is spearheaded by Satan, to thwart or prevent us from regaining territory for Jesus Christ and the U.S. military.” They’re just publicly being less overt about their goals by changing their official purpose statement. Just look at some of the statements from OCF’s batch of nominees for the organization’s council positions in this piece I wrote in 2011 — several years after the group attempted to change its public face by changing its official purpose statement. Reading these statements should give everybody a pretty good idea of the OCF’s attitude towards the Constitution, and their desire to circumvent it to convert the military:
“The main challenge is to continuously strive to advance the kingdom of Christ to ensure a godly America in a hostile world that continues to reject and resist the truth of Jesus Christ and his Holy Word.”
“OCF faces a challenge that is critical to our nation’s military health–the “challenge of balance” — assisting chaplains and military personnel in keeping the First Amendment from becoming an idol of religious authority.”
“In a society and military community that increasingly leans towards secularism and political correctness, how does OCF aggressively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ so that everyone has a life changing experience with God?”
OCF “must permeate the ranks and enlarge our membership and presence in the military.”
And my favorite:
“I think the most important issue facing OCF is the growing fear and reticence among many Christian officers to live out their faith and present biblical truth to those they lead. Many officers are afraid to acknowledge their faith in Jesus in private and many more will never publicly stand up for their faith based upon a fear of offending or violating the uniform code of military justice, command policy or regulations.”
U.S. military officers who are afraid of “violating the uniform code of military justice, command policy or regulations” by publicly espousing their religious views is a problem? To the rest of us that’s a solution!
The statements from these prospective OCF council members also make it clear that the OCF has a firm idea of what the “right kind” of Christian is.
“Though I grew up attending church every week, by the time I was in college, I had developed post-modern views, believing there were many ways to heaven. God used the Air Force Academy OCF cadet ministry and leaders to lovingly confront my heresy and make me aware of my need for a Savior.”
“I was a practicing Catholic and changed to Anglicanism as an adult. I met all church rituals duties and obligations. While attending a chapel sponsored program hosted by COL King Coffman, I was questioned of my faith and challenged to make a non-ritual profession on the altar of the main Protestant chapel. I did, and it changed my life as I finally understood and met the living Lord — a step beyond obedience to a dead Lord.”
Yep … can’t have any of those “post-modern” Christians, or those Catholics with their “obedience to a dead Lord,” among their “ambassadors for Christ in uniform.”
The OCF is, of course, not the only parachurch organization operating within our military that thinks the primary duty of a military officer is not to uphold the constitution, but to use their positions in the military to evangelize not just the military, but the world. What the OCF refers to as “ambassadors for Christ in uniform,” Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry, which also operates throughout the military, calls “government-paid missionaries for Christ.”
As shown in the video below, a primary target of these groups is anywhere that young service members, both officers and enlisted, are being trained — the service academies, basic training installations, and other training situations. These are the places where the “low hanging fruit” is. These groups don’t even try to make it a secret that getting to service members at the times when they are tired, hungry, worn down from training and at their most vulnerable is one of their most effective proselytizing strategies.