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God of Our Fathers
NY Time Sunday Book Review ^ | 10/22/2006 | George Will

Posted on 10/22/2006 4:28:56 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee

Not since the medieval church baptized, as it were, Aristotle as some sort of early — very early — church father has there been an intellectual hijacking as audacious as the attempt to present America’s principal founders as devout Christians. Such an attempt is now in high gear among people who argue that the founders were kindred spirits with today’s evangelicals, and that they founded a “Christian nation.”

This irritates Brooke Allen, an author and critic who has distilled her annoyance into “Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers.” It is a wonderfully high-spirited and informative polemic that, as polemics often do, occasionally goes too far. Her thesis is that the six most important founders — Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton — subscribed, in different ways, to the watery and undemanding Enlightenment faith called deism. That doctrine appealed to rationalists by being explanatory but not inciting: it made the universe intelligible without arousing dangerous zeal.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS:
And yet, ..

Allen succumbs to what her six heroes rightly feared — zeal — in her prosecution of today’s religious zealots. In a grating anachronism unworthy of her serious argument, she calls the founders “the very prototypes, in fact, of the East Coast intellectuals we are always being warned against by today’s religious right.” (Madison, an NPR listener? Maybe not.) When she says “Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, among other recent American statesmen,” have subscribed to the “philosophy” that there should be legal impediments to an atheist becoming president, she is simply daft. And when she says that Bible study sessions in the White House and Justice Department today are “a form of potential religious harassment that should be considered as unacceptable as the sexual variety,” she is exhibiting the sort of hostility to the free exercise of religion that has energized religious voters, to her sorrow.

1 posted on 10/22/2006 4:28:56 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

That first sentence proclaims, about five ways from Sunday, that George Will is a jerk.


2 posted on 10/22/2006 4:31:37 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero

I don't know anything about the medieval church's attempted hijacking of Aristotle, and I'm receptive to the idea that George Will doesn't either.


3 posted on 10/22/2006 4:36:33 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee (const Tag &referenceToConstTag)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

I don't know, George Will is a pretty smart guy. Even when I don't agree with him, I always give his pov a serious thought.
susie


4 posted on 10/22/2006 4:37:28 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

I don't know, George Will is a pretty smart guy. Even when I don't agree with him, I always give his pov a serious thought.
susie


5 posted on 10/22/2006 4:37:29 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

Franklin probably was a Deist. Jefferson and Washington were both Anglican. Both served on the vestry of their parish. Adams came close to a deist; he was a Unitarian. I have no clue about Madison.

Jefferson attended church services in the rotunda of the capital. He did have problems with his faith after he left office and the death of his daughters.


6 posted on 10/22/2006 4:43:14 PM PDT by Pete from Shawnee Mission
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

It seems to me that if you are going to compare the Founders to modern "east coast intellectuals" then you ought to not only compare their supposed kindred philosophy, but also compare their words and actions.

I'm sure many FReepers can give many examples, but there were certainly many references to "providence", and not in an abstract, euphemism for "luck" sort of way, but an active, participatory deity/spirit/whatever. That many of the founders eschewed or were suspicous of the organized religions of the time, doesn't necessarily put them into the same camp as atheists or anti-Christians, which IMHO is an apt generalization of most "east coast intellectuals".

I believe it is also well-known that the Founders had no problem utlizing public buildings for religious services. Somehow, I don't think the "east coast intellectuals" would let that slide.


7 posted on 10/22/2006 4:45:59 PM PDT by CertainInalienableRights
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
Allen neglects one argument for her thesis that the United States is a “secular project”: the Constitution mandates the establishment of a political truth by guaranteeing each state the same form of government (“republican”). It does so because the founders thought the most important political truths are knowable. But because they thought religious truths are unknowable, they proscribed the establishment of religion.

I missed this paragraph the first time through. It's intellectually dishonest not to point out that, while the Constitution forbids the establishment of a federal religion, it makes no such rule for the various States, most of which had established religions at the time.

8 posted on 10/22/2006 4:50:41 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee (const Tag &referenceToConstTag)
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To: brytlea
I don't know, George Will is a pretty smart guy. Even when I don't agree with him, I always give his pov a serious thought.

That is so hilarious!

9 posted on 10/22/2006 4:54:24 PM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: brytlea
I don't know, George Will is a pretty smart guy. Even when I don't agree with him, I always give his pov a serious thought.

Thanks for saying it twice.

10 posted on 10/22/2006 4:54:47 PM PDT by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan,)
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To: SittinYonder

Glad to make you laugh. It's good for what ails ya!
susie


11 posted on 10/22/2006 4:55:04 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: SittinYonder
Yeah, I don't have a clue how that happened. But then again, I never said I was smart! ;) susie
12 posted on 10/22/2006 4:55:54 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: CertainInalienableRights

It would seem to me that, regardless of their personal religious views, they had no problem with at least some intermingling of religion and the state.
I am sure I have read quotes from most of them tho, that would lead me to conclude that they were more or less Christian.
susie


13 posted on 10/22/2006 4:58:26 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: Cicero

George Will is no conservative.

He is though, quite a pussy in a roomful of sharp elbows called politics.

We need real men like Limbaugh to take back the media from the Socialist propagandists, and George Will is no friend in that fight.

Freepers on the other hand can take on enemy by any means necessary.

FREEPER WARRIORS RULE THE EARTH


14 posted on 10/22/2006 5:00:32 PM PDT by Stallone (It's the Economy - Stupendous!)
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To: brytlea

Well they used to have Sunday church services at the Capitol, the Treasury building, etc....Thomas Jefferson even recorded going in his diary...


15 posted on 10/22/2006 5:00:41 PM PDT by missanne (Go to work, write letters to the editor!)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

"Will's journalistic ethics, along with those of the newspaper that syndicates his column, The Washington Post, have also been questioned by conservative critics at Accuracy in Media (AIM). In their Media Monitor, AIM revealed that in December of 2004 The Post, in an article related to the Indian Ocean tsunami, claimed that, after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, Catholic priests "roamed the streets" hanging suspected heretics, whom they blamed for the quake. Such a charge appears nowhere in the historical record, and The Post was duly informed of that fact. Not only did The Post fail to retract the calumny, but its columnist, Will, quoted as fact the same charge as it appeared in the 2005 book A Crack in the Edge of the World, by the English author Simon Winchester. Though notified of the complete falsity of the charge, neither Will nor Winchester, unlike others who mistakenly made the claim, have taken any steps to correct his error."


16 posted on 10/22/2006 5:18:37 PM PDT by bahblahbah
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To: bahblahbah

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Will


17 posted on 10/22/2006 5:19:04 PM PDT by bahblahbah
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

I don't think we want a state religion. Why? Invariably, someone will get the idea to forcibly convert others. Then we will have a rebirth of the Inquisition (an American version, but an inquisition, nonetheless).


18 posted on 10/22/2006 5:19:12 PM PDT by punster
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
Washington mended his ways in his austere manner: he stayed away from
church on communion Sundays. He acknowledged Christianity’s “benign
influence” on society, but no ministers were present and no prayers were
uttered as he died a Stoic’s death.


I can't recall the title...but I think the writer of a recent Washington
biography basically confirmed this view.
AND, IIRC, said that this sort of lifestyle might also simply be considered
consistent with the actions of "a man of honor".
In other words, it didn't say anything one way (or the other) about
whether Washington was a devout Christian or not.

E.g., his "Stoic's death" would be seen simply as the way an honorable
man should face his end: no wimpering, no protestations, no angst over
not having gotten that will worked out.
And not taking communion was also possibly because he didn't want to
appear to endorse one denomination over the other.

Sure, this set of six weren't the conventional Christian of the era.

But just looking at this six leaves out all a whole corps of early
"founders" that were fairly (or very) devout Christians.
Especially many that signed the Declaration.
19 posted on 10/22/2006 5:19:46 PM PDT by VOA
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To: missanne
Well they used to have Sunday church services at the Capitol, the Treasury
building, etc....Thomas Jefferson even recorded going in his diary...


And when the music of the church services was deemed lacking,
Jefferson drafted the Marine Corps band, IIRC.

Is it any wonder academic "historians" too often are involved
in revisions?
Sometimes the thing they like least...is true history.
20 posted on 10/22/2006 5:23:34 PM PDT by VOA
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

I dont know what the Founding fathers thought about God, I do know they didnt try to stop others or interfere with others who believed like todays ACLU.


21 posted on 10/22/2006 5:31:55 PM PDT by sgtbono2002 (The fourth estate is a fifth column.)
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To: punster; KayEyeDoubleDee

"I don't think we want a state religion. Why? Invariably, someone will get the idea to forcibly convert others. Then we will have a rebirth of the Inquisition (an American version, but an inquisition, nonetheless)." ~ punster

Exactly.

It is for that very reason that our Founders, who held to a biblical worldview, placed the Constitution in the way of all tyrannical mentalities - and that includes *some* professing Christians. [Click my screen name and scroll 1/2 way down the page to the 1999 Emory Report, if you want to understand that premise to their thinking).

C.S. Lewis understood their reasoning perfectly:

C. S. Lewis addresses theocracy (the most potent form of Religious involvement in government) in an essay entitled, "A Reply to Professor Haldane" (Lewis, C.S. "A Reply to Professor Haldane." On Sotries. ed. Walter Hooper. Harcort & Brace Co. Orlando, Florida. 1996.):

If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme--whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence--the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication (75-76).


22 posted on 10/22/2006 5:38:27 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (To have no voice in the Party that always sides with America's enemies is a badge of honor.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
God of our fathers, known of old
Lord of our far-flung battle-line
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies
The captains and the kings depart
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

Far-call'd our navies melt away
On dune and headland sinks the fire
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

- Recessional, Rudyard Kipling

23 posted on 10/22/2006 5:38:58 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
The "hijacking" here is not the attempt to link Christianity with the Founders, but the attempt to DENY that link! Men in those days, especially men of the ruling and merchant classes, tended to incorporate a philosophy into the fabric of their lives. They could no more believe in a certain ethic and not be defined by it than they could earn a living at a trade and not know its practices.

The Christian conscience is evident througout the correspondence and papers of the Founders. Any attempt to deny it is pure revisionist claptrap.

24 posted on 10/22/2006 5:48:22 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: Pete from Shawnee Mission

In the late 1960's I was a minister at the Unitarian church in Quincy, Mass where Adams is buried. His faith was not Deist. He was a Christian who did not accept the 3 Gods interpretation of the Trinity. Unitarian thought in the late 18th and early 19th century was explicitly Christian. It has only been since the 60's of this century that the Unitarian Universalist Association began to define itself as other than Christian.


25 posted on 10/22/2006 5:57:59 PM PDT by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
"I don't know anything about the medieval church's attempted hijacking of Aristotle, and I'm receptive to the idea that George Will doesn't either."

Don't be too sure about that

26 posted on 10/22/2006 5:58:14 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (To have no voice in the Party that always sides with America's enemies is a badge of honor.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
G. Will wrote:

"Allen neglects one argument for her thesis that the United States is a 'secular project':
the Constitution mandates the establishment of a political truth by guaranteeing each state the same form of government ("republican"). It does so because the founders thought the most important political truths are knowable. But because they thought religious truths are unknowable, they proscribed the establishment of religion."

I missed this paragraph the first time through. It's intellectually dishonest not to point out that, while the Constitution forbids the establishment of a federal religion, it makes no such rule for the various States, most of which had established religions at the time.

A '"Republican Form of Government" for "Every State in this Union" effectively prevents an official state religion from being instituted in a new states proposed constitution. -- As Utah found out in its 40 year fight for statehood.

And the "religious Test" clause of Article VI stops a State from using an 'established religion' in any official capacity; "-- as a Qualification to any office or public Trust under the United States. --"

27 posted on 10/22/2006 6:14:57 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: Matchett-PI

That was interesting. Thanks.


28 posted on 10/22/2006 6:30:22 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee (const Tag &referenceToConstTag)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

You're welcome.


29 posted on 10/22/2006 6:47:11 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (To have no voice in the Party that always sides with America's enemies is a badge of honor.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
George Will, meet David Barton,

God: Missing in Action From American History

Was George Washington a Christian?

The Founders on Public Religious Expression

James Madison and Religion in Public

30 posted on 10/22/2006 6:47:17 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: Cicero

George Will went to the dark side a while ago.


31 posted on 10/22/2006 7:16:29 PM PDT by Eagles6 (Dig deeper, more ammo.)
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To: brytlea
George Will doesn't like the GOP, Bush, Iraq or virtually anything else anymore. Since Bush got into office, he appears to have decided that Democrats aren't so bad and since ABC has officially become a sunday morning DNC campaign hour that he will be treated better if he only criticizes the GOP.

I did used to regularly read George Will and respected his libertarian intellect. In the law few years, I have no idea what the f$#k he has up his butt but it isn't libertarianism. He has just become another pompous windbag bucking for Andy Rooney's chair what that fat turd croaks.

32 posted on 10/22/2006 7:44:28 PM PDT by bpjam (Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaida - The Religion of Peace)
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To: Amos the Prophet

Thank you. This was informative. I always wondered what the origin of the Unitarians that we see today was.


33 posted on 10/22/2006 8:08:43 PM PDT by sgtyork (Prove to us that you can enforce the borders first.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

George Will is a flaming Lib. How he ever became associated with the right I'll never know.


34 posted on 10/22/2006 8:10:19 PM PDT by balch3
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To: bpjam

I have to admit, I have not been reading him for several years, and I do catch his column sometimes and think...what's up with him? However, I don't think he quit being a smart guy (which he is). I just don't know what happened, because some of what I read him say now does not sound like the George Will I read for years. Wonder if something happened in his life?
susie


35 posted on 10/23/2006 10:35:52 AM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: brytlea

Its somewhat of a mystery to me as well. But it happened after W got into office. Something similar happened with Howard Fineman, Chrissy Matthews and Norah O'Donnell at NBC. They went from being somewhat detached democrats to just open antagonists to all things GOP. George Will isn't quite in their camp but he is a reliable ally for them since they rarely disagree anymore. Will is more of a Goldwater republican than a Reagan republican.


36 posted on 10/23/2006 11:24:50 AM PDT by bpjam (Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaida - The Religion of Peace)
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To: bpjam

Well, W makes me mad too, but he's better than the alternative.
susie


37 posted on 10/23/2006 11:48:06 AM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
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To: LiteKeeper

For some reason, you left out David Barton's (rather mealy-mouthed) retraction of the phony "founding fathers" quotes that he previously cited as factual.

http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=20


38 posted on 10/23/2006 1:43:48 PM PDT by atlaw
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To: atlaw

Your point? Feel better?


39 posted on 10/23/2006 3:11:47 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: LiteKeeper

My point? I don't know, maybe that David Barton is a less than reliable source? That the "Christian Nation" project is a bunch of hooey? That you presented as authoritative a collection of cites from David Barton without including David Barton's own retraction of the phony quotes he fobbed off in his prior claims? That not much is left of David Barton's credibility? You choose.


40 posted on 10/24/2006 6:53:35 AM PDT by atlaw
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To: atlaw
My point? I don't know, maybe that David Barton is a less than reliable source? That the "Christian Nation" project is a bunch of hooey? That you presented as authoritative a collection of cites from David Barton without including David Barton's own retraction of the phony quotes he fobbed off in his prior claims? That not much is left of David Barton's credibility? You choose.

None of this actually seems to be substantiated by the link. Were all (or most) of his original quotes unsupported?

41 posted on 10/24/2006 12:20:54 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee (const Tag &referenceToConstTag)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

Yes. Another interesting discussion of Mr. Barton's dubious historical revisionism can be found here:

http://www.bjcpa.org/resources/pubs/pub_walker_barton.htm

The list of quotes that Mr. Barton concedes to be either false or questionable is found at the bottom of the article, at sec. 11.


42 posted on 10/24/2006 1:17:26 PM PDT by atlaw
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To: atlaw
Can you send me a link to any article that covers the retraction of previous quotes. Perhaps it is a sign of integrity that retracts previous quotations when he discovered there were inaccurate.

You are seeking to besmirch the reputation of a man that I know to be of the highest integrity. And his work has been shown to be of the highest quality.

So as I asked above, please send me links to these alleged "refutation" articles, and I will consider them.

43 posted on 10/24/2006 3:32:37 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: atlaw
I have done research on the "Questionable Quotes" issue on Barton's web site. Have you seen it? He has a very reasoned response to the controversy. As, I mentioned before, his answer demonstrates the highest level of integrity.

In a nutshell, many of his quotes were from academics, PhD's, and historians. Discovering a weakness in some of their scholarship, he made the decision to withdraw quotes from any secondary sources, and use only primary, original sources. Having made that decision, previous quotes were withdrawn, not because they were false, necessarily, but because they couldn't be substantiated by the original, primary sources.

As I said, contra to your assertions, this seems to raise Barton's level of integrity, not lower it. My next entry will give you some links to his web site were he explains his rationale. [NB: good scholarship demands you check both sides of an issue, and not simply the side that substantiates your pre-judged position.]

44 posted on 10/24/2006 3:48:17 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee

See my post at #44


45 posted on 10/24/2006 3:50:25 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: atlaw

I have found your link, but I would not characterize it as "mealy-mouthed." And I don't understand how you can do so. Barton sought to raise the academic standard, not weasel out of a position previously held.


46 posted on 10/24/2006 3:56:34 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: LiteKeeper
I have done research on the "Questionable Quotes" issue on Barton's web site. Have you seen it?

I gave you a link to it.

My next entry will give you some links to his web site were he explains his rationale.

Thank-you, but I already have those links. Which explains why I was able to give them to you.

I have found your link, but I would not characterize it as "mealy-mouthed."

Again, I gave you a link to it. Point, click. Why is this so difficult?

Barton sought to raise the academic standard, not weasel out of a position previously held.

I don't know. I just don't view it as "raising the academic standard" when you concede that your prior "scholarship" was bogus, and do so only after others have pointed out its marked deficiencies.

You are seeking to besmirch the reputation of a man that I know to be of the highest integrity. And his work has been shown to be of the highest quality.

His work has been shown to be shoddy at best.

So as I asked above, please send me links to these alleged "refutation" articles, and I will consider them.

Right. Consider, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And please note that additional links are embedded within these links.

I'm sure you will find the critiques of Mr. Barton's scholarship unsatisfactory, but note that it was in direct response to these critiques that Mr. Barton belatedly decided that revision of his previous historical revisionism was necessary. And you will also note that Mr. Barton has only partially addressed the issues raised in these critiques.

47 posted on 10/25/2006 8:10:01 AM PDT by atlaw
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