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Glenn Beck to bring back recalled Thomas Jefferson history

August 21, 2012|by Carolyn Kellogg
  • Cover of the original edition of "The Jefferson Lies" by David Barton.
Cover of the original edition of "The Jefferson Lies" by David… (Thomas Nelson )

Last week, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson pulled the book "The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson" by David Barton after it was shown to have included several inaccuracies. In recalling the book, which was published in April, Thomas Nelson noted that it had received complaints and concluded that "some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported.”

In July, the History News Network voted the book the "least credible history book in print."

Now conservative commentator Glenn Beck plans to put out a new edition of "The Jefferson Lies" on his publishing imprint, Mercury Ink. Beck wrote the introduction to the original edition of the book.

Author Barton says the new edition "will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion," Publishers Weekly reports. He added, "I have actually run across more supporting documents that strengthen my case, not weaken it."

Barton, a prominent evangelical, came into conflict with fellow evangelical thinkers and conservative historians over the book. Before its recall, the Christian magazine World reported, "Conservative Christian scholars are publicly questioning Barton's work." One found Barton's claims about Jefferson's religious beliefs to be "unsupportable." Jay W. Richards, a fellow at the conservative Discovery Institute, says Barton's videos and books contain "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims."

The press release for "The Jefferson Lies" proclaimed, "History books routinely teach that Jefferson was an anti-Christian secularist, rewriting the Bible to his liking, fathering a child with one of his slaves, and little more than another racist, bigoted colonist -- but none of those claims are actually true." 

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation issued a comprehensive report in 2000 about Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. DNA evidence has convinced most historians that Jefferson fathered six children with Hemings.

Additional inaccuracies included misunderstanding laws pertaining to slaves in Virginia in Jefferson's time, and a claim that he invested in printing America's first Bible -- in fact, Jefferson bought a single copy.

Glenn Moots, professor of political science at Northwood University in Michigan, told the Tennesseean that Barton was well-intentioned but that he should have been more careful to get the details right. “It doesn’t help any of us if the story isn’t told in an accurate manner,” he said.

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