Tomorrow morning a multi-ethnic group of evangelical pastors will take on one of their own when they ask Thomas Nelson to remove David Barton’s book, The Jefferson Lies, from publication. Barton was called one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals by Time Magazine in 2005 and has taught classes in the Constitution for the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. The Cincinnati coalition believe Barton’s far-reaching influence makes the book even more troubling, with historian and coalition member Troy Jackson, calling it “inaccurate,” “offensive” and “dangerous.”
The book at the center of the controversy, The Jefferson Lies, was recently voted “the least credible history book in print” by readers of the History News Network, a service of George Mason University. Author David Barton recently responded to his critics saying they were academic elitists who oppose his religious views. However, in this case, the opposition to his book comes from evangelical ministers.
One member, Bishop Dwight Wilkins, president of The Amos Project, said that the coalition had been in contact with the publisher. “We have privately approached Thomas Nelson about our concerns, with no resolution," said Wilkins.
Prominent among the reasons is concerns that the book glosses over Thomas Jefferson’s true views of race and his record as a slave owner. Rev. Damon Lynch, co-chair of the Underground Railway Freedom Center and pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, where the press event will be held, said: “David Barton falsely claims that Thomas Jefferson was unable to free his slaves. In fact, Jefferson was allowed to free his slave under Virginia law, but failed to do it.” According to Lynch, The Jefferson Lies obscures Jefferson’s real record on slaveholding, and minimizes Jefferson’s racist views.
Messianic Rabbi Michael Wolf charges that Barton also minimizes Jefferson’s unorthodox views of Christ, his negative views of the Jewish people, and his contempt for the God of Abraham.
Assemblies of God Presbyter Chris Beard said, “We are protesting as concerned believers in the evangelical Christian community who believe that many are being misled by David Barton’s teachings.” In The Jefferson Lies, Barton claims that Jefferson "consistently advocated for emancipation and civil rights." Citing the inaccurate and incomplete portrayal of Jefferson's record in The Jefferson Lies, the coalition members vigorously disagree with Barton's claim. Rev. Ray McMillian added, "You can't be serious about racial unity in the church, while holding up Jefferson as a civil rights hero and champion of freedom."
The press conference will be held at New Jerusalem Baptist Church (26 W. North Bend Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45216) Wednesday, August 1, 2012, at 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. For more information about the event or the coalition, contact Rev. Damon Lynch, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 513.821.0704, or Rev. Chris Beard, Peoples Church, 513.673.7405, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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