News of Thomas Nelson Publishing Company's decision to pull David Barton's best-selling but controversial book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, because it has “lost confidence in the book’s details" exploded throughout the Internet and national media last Thursday.
Someone has steadfastly been documenting Barton's inaccuracies for almost a decade: a woman named Chris Rodda. She's accepted a challenge by Barton's colleague, Rick Green, to prove that historical claims in The Jefferson Lies are distorted or flat out wrong.
Green, who co-hosts the WallBuilders radio show with Barton, says that "Barton has about 100,000 original documents and backs up everything he says with original sources" and that his The Jefferson Lies book contains 756 footnotes.
The problem with all those footnotes is that it takes a Herculean effort to track down the source documents and fact check — something that few people have the time or ambition to do.
But that's what Rodda, who is now the senior researcher at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has been doing for a long time. After three years of exhaustive study and fact checking of various written and oral presentations by Barton, she published her book, Liars For Jesus in 2006. She has been working on a rebuttal document to The Jefferson Lies for the past few months, again reviewing source documents and footnoted material.
Liars For Jesus includes an extensive forward from Rev. William N. Esborn, who had enjoyed conversing with Rodda over the years about things that Barton was saying.
"So why would any Christian pastor write a foreword to a book entitled 'Liars for Jesus?'" the pastor asks. "As I said … I debated the title with Chris and argued against it. Nonetheless, I understand and support her efforts to establish strong arguments from the historical record and primary source documents concerning the political and religious truths about the Founding Fathers. That some people have tried to obscure and manipulate these events and writings to their own end will I believe become clear as you read her work."
According to Green, Barton's critics are liberals and elitist professors who, "like Hitler and Alinsky," are masters of the tools of deception and hiding public access to the truth. "Hitler said: 'All propaganda has to … accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach,'" Green wrote on his blog today and issued a challenge:
I’m still waiting for someone to show me a specific inaccuracy or false claim by Barton. Every author, including these elitists, makes mistakes and we could do several more blogs about the hilarious publishing mistakes by some of the most respected authors in history […] That’s not what I’m talking about and that’s not what these critics are claiming. They are claiming that Barton is purposefully presenting a false picture of history and using inaccuracies and distortions to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is these critics who are using inaccuracies, innuendo, and distortions to attack Barton in the first place.
If you can show me specifics that back up the image created by the critics innuendo, I’ll post it right here for the world to see.
Rodda was quick to accept the challenge, writing in the comments to Green's article:
I can absolutely show you specifics that back up the 'image created by the critics.'
Many of the claims in Mr. Barton's book are debunked in a book I released in 2006. My book is not only thoroughly footnoted with original sources (many of them the exact same documents cited by Mr. Barton), but there is a footnote archive on my website containing images of all the documents cited in my footnotes so that anyone reading my book can instantly view the original sources for themselves to verify them.
My book debunks many of the lies found in Mr. Barton's "The Jefferson Lies," including, but not limited to, just about everything that Mr. Barton claims about religion at the University of Virginia and Jefferson's other educational endeavors (chapter 5 of my book) and Mr. Barton's claims in his chapter on the "Jefferson bible" about Jefferson promoting Christianity to the Indians (chapters 3 and 4 in my book). There are many more examples I could give, but I think these two should suffice as proof that Mr. Barton's critics are absolutely correct.
A free PDF version of my book can be found at: http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_FINAL.pdf
My footnotes archive where people can verify all of my footnotes for themselves can be found at: http://www.liarsforjesus.com/footnotes.htm
Using screenshots, Rodda explains at Freethought Blogs that her comment was held in moderation and that a comment submitted after hers has already been published. Rodda has stepped up to Green's challenge — but as of this writing, a review of Green's blog shows that it has not been accepted yet.
Will Rodda's challenge be accepted? Time will tell. In the meantime, check out Liars For Jesus.
A few hours have passed and a number of other comments have been approved at Mr. Green's website, but not Rodda's direct acceptance of the challenge. However, Green's Facebook page notes, "For all you Rodda "minions" (her words, not mine), I have been traveling all evening and will gladly respond to Ms. Rodda when I arrive at my destination!" The "minions" reference is an ongoing joke at Rodda's Facebook page.
Editorial Update – Here is Green's response – We will report more in the morning: