Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Battle For the Ages

Chris Rodda v. David Barton

Chris Rodda, a well-known and passionate opponent of the work of David Barton, writes about her recent experience in which she met her arch-nemesis face-to-face. Rodda writes the following about the encounter:

When I found out that David Barton was going to be appearing at a church about ten miles from me, I just couldn't resist going to see him in person. So, tonight I went to the Calvary Chapel in Old Bridge, NJ. I had brought along a copy of my book, "Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History", hoping to get an opportunity to give it to Barton personally. I inscribed the copy of the book, much of which is devoted to debunking the lies in Barton's books and videos, "To the person who, more than anyone else, inspired me to write this book."

After Barton got done spewing his usual Christian nation crap, and telling the audience how important it is to vote "Christian," he took a seat near the side of the stage. As the band was playing a song to close the service, I figured it might be my only chance to approach Barton, so I did. One of my friends caught that with my video camera as she was walking out a door into the bookstore part of the church. I then went out to get my camera from my friend, and started to walk back in, but didn't get more than a foot or two past the door before being spotted by a formidable looking guy sitting behind Barton, who got up and came towards me, asking if there was anything he could help me with. I said no, to which he replied, "Anything I could pray for you about?" Looked like I wasn't getting back in, so I left.
And here is the video of the encounter:

Interesting how Barton just tosses the book aside.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

How come no one on this blog is writing an article about this election and the socialist - Obama - who has said in past interviews he views the constitution as full of negative liberties and that it should be changed to include redistributive qualities? This is in direct contradiction to what our Founding Father believed. Why aren't any of you "history buffs" writing about this? This is huge! The essential nature of our country may disappear if this guy is elected. I would love to hear what our Founding Fathers would have to say about that, and I don't think they would be good things. Any thoughts?

Phil Johnson said...

Fun in church with David Barton.
.
BTW, Barton is on tv this week as the guest on the Kenneth Copeland show.
.
Two things, anonymous. 1. When you are making a reference to our U.S. Constitution, you should always capitalize it. And, 2. who is it you mean to connote when you write, "Founding Father"?
.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Nice new pick, Phil! I like it a lot!

Anonymous:

This blog is not dedicated to a discussion on politics (though we tend to slide into those discussions more and more these days).

You also write:

This is in direct contradiction to what our Founding Father believed. Why aren't any of you "history buffs" writing about this? This is huge! The essential nature of our country may disappear if this guy is elected. I would love to hear what our Founding Fathers would have to say about that, and I don't think they would be good things.

None of our "history buffs" are writing about it probably because it has nothing to do with the role of religion and the founding (the main theme of this blog). As for the "essential nature" of this country disappearing, I have no idea what you are worried about. I promise you that America will still be here in the morning of November 5th if Obama wins.

As for the Founding Father's words on the economic plans of Obama, I bet they would have nothing to say. Most of them believed in an agrarian society in which neighborhood bartering was the main form of trade. There was little actual currency and credit was done on a very local level. The explosion of market capitalism (something Brad Hart has written a lot about in some older posts) did not emerge until the early parts of the 19th century. So, if you are looking for advise from the founders as to why Obama is "destroying" the fabric of America by "speading the wealth" you probably won't find much.

But to wet your appetite, let me quote to you the words of Adams Smith (thanks to the American Revolution Blog for pointing this out). Smith, the supposed "father" of capitalism, stated the following in his book, Wealth of Nations:

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor...The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess...It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Now, I have already strayed far enough from the blog's theme (my apologies to everyone). I'm just tired of "doomsday" politics.

Dan Atkinson said...

This is a good time for me to make my "comeback."

What in the world did Chris Rodda expect would happen? Did she think that somehow David Barton would open her pathetic book, read a few pages and then see the light? This is beyond ridiculous!

It would be the equivalent of Barton showing up at one of Rodda's dinner parties or something of the like and shove upon her one of his books. Barton wasn't at a book signing, this wasn't a forum on history, THIS WAS A CHURCH! Rodda was way out of line on this one and I would hope that all of the anti-Christian nation people would at least be able to admit that much.

Of course Barton discarded the book! He is at a church, minding his own business, when Rodda arrogantly shoves a book in his face that is entitled, Liars For Jesus. To be honest, from the video I think Barton handled the situation with incredible grace and civility. Did any of you catch how angry Rodda looked as she approached Barton? It was like a wolf on the hunt. My guess is that Barton could care less who Chris Rodda is. I doubt he cares even a bit or has read even a sentence of her books, blogs, etc. Barton is in a league that is WAY above Rodda.

So Lindsey, this "epic" battle that you are trying to create between Rodda and Barton doesn't work.

Finally, this is the kind of behavior that tells "Christian Nationalists" like myself that we are making a difference. If Rodda is 100% right as I am sure she thinks she is, then why even bother with Barton? Doesn't all truth prevail in the end?

Obviously the secular crowd is threatened here. Otherwise there would be no reaction. Oh, and just for the record, you'll never see Barton, Lillback or others acting like this. They are quite comfortable in their beliefs and don't need to go on the attack (literally) whenever someone of the opposite opinion shows up in their town.

Give it a rest, Rodda.

Stephanie said...

Mr. Atkinson;

I was caught by your question, "Doesn't all truth prevail in the end?" To which I must respond with a qualified "no."

In an open and honest marketplace of ideas where all theories are in equal competition, yes, the one that matches most closely with external reality will prevail. In more imperfect situations, where, for example, certain forms of falsehood have social benefits, falsehood is quite capable of winning out. The second chapter of Mill's On Liberty gives a good treatment of this problem.

Phil Johnson said...

.
Hey, Lindsey.
.
Remember? My original log-in was Pinky. The pick is of me and TVD.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Hehe, I like it, Phil.

Mr. Atkinson is correct in this case, for the reasons he gives. I don't know why folks like Ms. Rodda feel they are owed the time of day. They are not. She is entitled to her opinion, but she is not entitled to stalk Mr. Barton.

And for the record, I believe this little drama she created is of zero relevance to this blog, as is Barack Obama's tax plan.

Brad Hart said...

Yeah, I have to second Tom Van Dyke and Dan Atkinson on this one. What did she think she would accomplish by going there, other than having a video to post on Youtube? Clearly not the most tactful way of getting Mr. Barton's attention.

Jonathan Rowe said...

In Rodda's defense, as she wrote on the comment thread at Ed Brayton's blog:

I should also add that before I approached Barton, the pastor of the church had gone up on the stage and told the audience that there were people waiting in other rooms for anyone who wanted to pray with them. To me, this kind of signaled the end of the event, although the band did go back up to play some more.

I have to say, though, that I was tempted to get up and yell at Barton every time he told a lie about history, (which was many, many times), and it took great self-control to sit through his whole presentation and not to do that :-)

Jonathan Rowe said...

In Rodda's defense, as she wrote on the comment thread at Ed Brayton's blog:

I should also add that before I approached Barton, the pastor of the church had gone up on the stage and told the audience that there were people waiting in other rooms for anyone who wanted to pray with them. To me, this kind of signaled the end of the event, although the band did go back up to play some more.

I have to say, though, that I was tempted to get up and yell at Barton every time he told a lie about history, (which was many, many times), and it took great self-control to sit through his whole presentation and not to do that :-)

Dan Atkinson said...

What is your point, Mr. Rowe? That she sat through a Christian meeting in a Christian house of worship is not a sufficient line of defense. You are EXPECTED to sit quitetly at any venue (in or out of a church) when a person is talking, so she gets no extra points there.

The fact that she approached Barton is not the problem here. The problem is HOW she approached him. The arrogance of bringing a book entitled Liars for Jesus to a church is shocking. I can understand asking Barton a question or two, but to arrogantly shove a book in his face, when Rodda knew Barton wouldn't be receptive to it, is nothing more than complete arrogance mixed with rude manners.

Rodda has no defense on this matter. I don't care what blogs she leaves comments on. She is in the wrong on this one in a very big way.

Now for Stephanie's comment:

So should we simply roll over and play dead when lies are forced upon us?

Enough said there.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well Barton is the major "Liar For Jesus" in her book. I guess she couldn't resist temptation. This isn't something I would do; but I shed no tears for Barton. He brings this upon himself with his "hucksterish" antics.

Phil Johnson said...

.
Give me a break, Atkinson.
.
This is a FREE society and if the author of a book about people who stand in the pulpit and lie wants to express her feelings toward such a liar in a place where and at a time when he is lying to people that look to him for direction, who are you to put her down? Another liar?
.
Seems you end up being one by giving your tacit support to the Mullah Barton.
.

.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Here is another clarification by Rodda left on Brayton's website:

I just wanted to get a video of me handing Barton the book. The "cameraman" (actually a woman) was just one of my friends holding one of those little flip cameras the size of a pack of cigarettes. I would have liked to question Barton about a few things he had said in his presentation and get that on camera, but, clearly, there was no way that was going to happen.

Like I said in my earlier comment, this was one of Barton's "history" presentations. The singer in the band led a prayer at the beginning, and I think there was some sort of blessing by the pastor when he introduced Barton, but this was definitely more of a presentation than a religious service, and was no different than the many Barton presentations I've seen on video before political and other groups. It just happened to be at a church, which titled the event "Christianity's Role in the Public Square." I have video of the presentation itself, which I will be posting some of and writing about as soon as I get a chance, and I think that will clear things up as to the nature of the event.

Dan Atkinson said...

With all due respect, Mr. Johnson, you are revealing to everyone that you are NOT tolerant in any way of the beliefs of others. You and others may proclaim all you like the perceived mistakes in Barton's work. That is one thing. But to attack the man while he is delivering a sermon (a message to those that feel this wasn't a "church" activity) is bogus.

Who cares what the venue is. This could have been at a Barnes & Noble Book Review seminar and the man still deserves the same respect. Why can't you and others here understand that?

As for the quotations of Ms. Rodda that Mr. Rowe has put on this thread, in my opinion they are of no relevance. Ms. Rodda clearly has shown her true colors in this video, and I for one am disgusted. Mr. Barton, however, has even earned more of my respect for not succumbing to the ridiculous attacks. I applaud him for turning the other cheek.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I don't know; I have a hard time taking Barton seriously (as I do for instance with Lillback, Michael Novak, Daniel Dreisbach, Philip Hamburger and others). He's just an intellectual goof ball.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Perhaps, Jonathan, but truth claims aside, there are minimal standards for civility that aren't just aesthetic, they're necessary for the preservation of any pluralistic society.

In my view, Ms. Rodda is violating those standards, willfully and egregiously. She apparently feels the rules don't apply to her, because "truth" is on her side.

Mr. Atkinson makes the same points---politely---and I must note I find it disrespectful to address him as simply "Atkinson." Ms. Rodda's incivility is contagious, it seems, as incivility tends to be. [The Broken Window Theory, if you're familiar with James Wilson...]

And I haven't even broached my disaffection for calling those we disagree with "liars." Another poison for our polity, which is fragile enough already. Thems was fightin' words back in the day, and for good reason, as they delegitimize, demonize, and dehumanize, as they strip the other fellow of his dignity and good name.

I'm actually much angrier than I'm writing here. This is one of my hot buttons. There is no excusing the inexcusable, no defending the indefensible.

This isn't about David Barton. If the sides were reversed, my view would be the same.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I usually am not free [or inclined] to view the videos around here, but looked at this one.

What I saw was David Barton being accosted, and taking one look at the cover of LIARS FOR JESUS [yes, it's in CAPS].

Unless I miss my guess, I think this person is calling me a liar, thinks Barton. Still---and this is missing from the written accounts we've been offered---Barton offers the book back to Ms. Rodda. "No, thanks," seems to be the gist of Barton's reply, as if he were expected to accept such an insult gladly.

Ms. Rodda shtups it on Barton anyway, and turns tail. Barton simply places the book aside and returns his attention to the event to which he was invited.

I'm just not feeling this here.

In fact, I'm quite amazed that we can all look at the same video and all come away with something different. If, as Marvin Gaye wrote, people say believe half of what you see, some or none of what you hear, intelligent, principled discussion of the writings of the Founders apparently has no chance, here, there or anywhere. We cannot even agree on what we see.

I do worry about us sometimes.

Tom Van Dyke said...

...and had Barton reacted badly---which to his credit he didn't---and as the surreptitious cellphone video undoubtedly hoped to record---that wouldn't mean a damn thing.

Christians, or "Christians," even, are human beings, too, for better or worse, usually worse.

Phil Johnson said...

.
In regards to being respectful and or polite, it seems to me that our experience with each other demands a good measure of honesty.
.
When persons use their rhetorical skill and influence over others to twist the facts about any particular issue to present some view other than what intelligent investigation approves, I think they deserve to be put in their place as liars.
.
Tolerance, to me, has to do with an attitude of "putting up" with those others we normally find disreputable in some way or another. I don't think we should be put in the politically correct place of putting up with people that purposely misrepresent the truth for whatever purposes they support. The idea that the means justify the ends is lost on me and I don't buy it.
.
Better we show our true colors in a blog site such as this rather than put on a mask of nicety.
.
Lying has come to be the mark of those who believe they have a right to get whatever it is they can get. I see no ethical reason to tolerate such an attitude.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"I have been at a loss to imagine any [solutions] that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred liberty of the press. At length, however, I think I have found one that, instead of diminishing general liberty, shall augment it; which is, by restoring to the people a species of liberty, of which they have been deprived by our laws, I mean the liberty of the cudgel.

In the rude state of society prior to the existence of laws, if one man gave another ill language, the affronted person would return it by a box on the ear, and, if repeated, by a good drubbing; and this without offending against any law. But now the right of making such returns is denied, and they are punished as breaches of the peace; while the right of abusing seems to remain in full force, the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press.

My proposal then is, to leave the liberty of the press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigor; but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it pari passu.

Thus, my fellow-citizens, if an impudent writer attacks your reputation, dearer to you perhaps than your life, and puts his name to the charge, you may go to him as openly and break his head. If he conceals himself behind the printer, and you can nevertheless discover who he is, you may in like manner way-lay him in the night, attack him behind, and give him a good drubbing. Thus far goes my project as to private resentment and retribution. But if the public should ever happen to be affronted, as it ought to be, with the conduct of such writers, I would not advise proceeding immediately to these extremities; but that we should in moderation content ourselves with tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket..."


By Ben Franklin, on what should be done about such scurrilous attacks. The liberty of the cudgel. I found it in Chris Rodda's book. Word up.

Phil Johnson said...

.
Does anyone have any good evidence to show what the Founders meant when they made reference to the "liberty of the press"?
.
Surely, they were not talking about people who worked for the media.
.
Could they have meant to connote something about who had the right to access a printing press or that the printing press not having to be licensed by the government?
.

Brian Tubbs said...

This kind of obnoxious, "in-your-face" theater that Rodda's going for is typical with many left-wing activists. It's distasteful, especially in a church. Tom and Dan are 100% right on this one.

To Mr. Rowe: Barton is not a "goof ball." And, even if you want to categorize Barton as such, you're way over the top to do the same with Michael Novak and Peter Lillback. Good grief.

The ad hominem attacks on Barton, Lillback, and others are really getting old and tiresome here. And yet it just keeps on going and going and going.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Brian,

I think you need to write what I wrote more carefully (in fact, I'm going to double check what I wrote in my comment). I said (or try to say) that I thought Barton was a goof ball, NOT Lillback or Novak.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"as I do"

They may have been the words that confused you. Could be my fault for careless choice of wording. I was trying to say that I DO take the work of Lillback, Michael Novak, Daniel Dreisbach, Philip Hamburger and others seriously.

Brad Hart said...

Brian:

Haven't we already been over this? We've already proven that Barton does NOT come up on this blog as much as you think. And, I would have thought that you would approve of this thread, since it is obvious that most people are defending Barton.

Brad Hart said...

But let me also say that people are more than justified in their disapproval of Rodda's behavior. I for one have never been a Barton fan, but I also have no reason to confront him or to question his motives, character, etc. This MOST CERTAINLY was out of line in my opinion, and Brian, Tom, Dan, myself, and anyone else is more than justified to express their distaste for this type of behavior.

With that said, I hope that we won't consider Barton and his work a "taboo" topic on this blog. I think that we can and should (on occasion) point out, and yes, even disagree, with his views, SO LONG AS WE DO SO IN A TASTEFUL MANNER. On this Brian is 100% right.

Chris Rodda said...

Here's why I gave Barton my book. Part of Barton's presentation (the presentation given at this church) includes making fun of the book "The Godless Constitution" because it has no footnotes. Barton waves this book around and, to the "ooohs" and "aaahs" of the audience, reads part of the statement from the book explaining why it doesn't have footnotes. Barton acts as if this book -- which he can discredit in his follower's eyes because it doesn't have footnotes -- is the only thing ever written debunking the lies he tells. This has become a mantra of Barton's defenders -- that nobody on the "left" can document their claims against Barton. We all know this isn't true. Bloggers like Jonathan, myself, and many others do document our sources. Just look at any of my history posts on Talk2Action.org. They are all fully footnoted. My book, also, is not only fully footnoted, but I created an archive on my website of images of all the documents that I cite in my footnotes so that people reading the book can look at the actual documents as they're reading it.

And, for anyone who thinks I can't have an effect on stopping Barton's lies, look at what happened to H. Res. 888, the resolution introduced by Barton's buddy Randy Forbes for a religious heritage week. That resolution was packed with Barton's lies about history, had over ninety co-sponsors, and was heavily promoted by Barton. Well, H. Res. 888 never made it to the floor. Why? Because I exposed it and wrote a series of articles debunking its lies in detail, much of the content of which came straight out of my book. Several organizations then put alerts on their websites and thousands of people emailed their members of Congress. Then, a representative of one of these organizations in D.C. delivered what I wrote, as well as some additional information on Barton, to the staffers on the House Oversight Committee. Because of this, the resolution was flagged as "problematic" and did not get marked up by the committee. Get that? We STOPPED A CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION that Barton had actually admitted on his radio show was a foot in the door towards teaching religion in public schools.

So, if people don't like my tactics, I really don't care. They are only going to get more aggressive. Sitting around at our computers discussing and debating the "Christian nation" myth hasn't slowed the Barton's of the world down one iota. For me, it's time for real action, and if that means occasionally being a bit impolite or having a few people say I acted inappropriately, so be it.

Pinky said...

.
Nice to read your comments, Chris.
.
I, for ONE have not found fault with your efforts to confront Barton on his turf. But, I supported your efforts.
.
As far as I know, Barton doesn't put himself in places where he can be confronted for his re-presentation of dubious and outright misrepresentations of the truth. I watched him on the Kenneth Copeland show do his little authoritarian dance.
.
Here's enough David Barton to keep everyone busy for a while:
http://www.kcm.org.za/webcasts.php?type=
.

Chris Rodda said...

Has Barton actually resurrected the "more members of the military were killed under Clinton than under Bush" claim? That was debunked a couple of years ago when it was circulating by email. For those who don't know about this little deception, this is how it was concocted. In any given year, a certain number of military personnel will, of course, die due to accidents, illnesses, murders, suicides, and any other cause of death that occurs in any population. With a military population in the millions, a thousand or more deaths a year are statistically pretty typical. So, the number of military deaths during the eight years that Clinton was president was, in fact, in the thousands. But, only about 70 of these were combat related. The email was sent out back in 2005 or 2006, so the numbers being compared were from Clinton's entire eight years, but at least two years yet to go in the Bush administration. By the end of Bush's presidency, the total military deaths, both combat related and not, is clearly going to exceed the number under Clinton. I can't believe that Barton is using this claim again, and that anyone would actually believe it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Cheers, Brad. Well put. I'm down with all that, as long as our criticisms are specific and not ad hom. Me, I prefer to make my own case about this or that, based on my own research of the original sources.

The question in question---religion and the Founding---is and must be bigger than personalities and current politics. This blog, at its best, is a genuine meeting of the minds, not an exchange of fire. Not a small achievement atall atall. We're pretty good.