Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Barton: To What End?

The other day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook about a group whose Bible study was shut down, and its leader arrested. The whole story was written to inspire upset about the injustice behind policing of religious expression:

Bible study leader Michael Salman is sitting in jail today after his home was raided earlier this week by more than a dozen Phoenix, Ariz. police officers and city officials. His offense? The city says people aren’t allowed to hold private Bible studies on their own property.

However, there's a lot to the story that didn't get told in that rendition. Huffington Post talks about a few of the other issues and the controversy surrounding Michael Salman's story:

The battle between Salman and his neighbors and the city of Phoenix has been years in the making, but his current jail term stems from how he used a 2,000 square-foot building on his property. According to the city, his church, the Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church, received a permit to build a "game room" there in 2008. The permit prohibited using the building as a church, business or assembly. Nevertheless, the city cited Salman for holding worship services there in 2009 and 2010.
  According to the city, Salman regularly had gatherings of as many as 80 people, and the noise and traffic from the gatherings prompted regular complaints from neighbors.

So, there's a lot more to the story than the original article led me to believe.

I'm sick of being handed half of a story in an attempt to circumvent all reason, rally me to your cause. Which is why I was excited to see that David Barton, author of "The Jefferson Lies" taken to task by honest evangelical scholars:

     Barton's book, The Jefferson Lies, was withdrawn Thursday by Thomas Nelson, the world's largest    
    Christian publisher. It's rare enough for a publisher to withdraw a book that has already been printed;
     rarer still if the book has been on The New York Times bestseller list. Thomas Nelson spokesman Casey 
    Francis Harrell announced that the publisher had received a number of complaints that the book is 
    inaccurate. "Because of these deficiencies, we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to 
    cease its publication and distribution," Harrell said.

At times, I have been frustrated by the Church's tendency to ignore actual scholarship, in favor of anecdotal evidence. So even if it's small, this is a nice move toward honesty and thought. Not by Barton, himself but, you get the idea.