Friday, June 25, 2010

School Prayer: David Barton is an idiot

Who is David Barton?

David Barton is…

  • an American evangelical minister
  • a Republican political activist
  • one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals
  • "a major voice in the debate over church-state separation."
  • the author of America: To Pray or Not to Pray
  • an idiot

In his book, America: To Pray or Not to Pray, Barton makes the claim that the removal of mandatory prayer from schools in 1962 has destroyed America. This is utter bullshit. The statistics and graphs he uses are deceptive and present only a narrow snapshot of the data. When we look at MORE of the data, it becomes clear that the real cause for spikes in the graph is not prayer, but WAR.  We will also have a look at Canada. You see, in 1982 Canada also stopped forcing children to pray in school. What happened? Stay tuned.

Why do I care about this?

Before I get into the data, I want to tell you why I’m writing this. It’s because I care about what’s true. David Barton is influencing people with his misinformation. Good people like Robin @ Heart of Wisdom Blog, Carol Brooks @ (follow these links to see Barton’s deceptive graphs and statistics), and many others believe this man’s twisted lies. And belief leads to action, so then we have people who are fighting to save the world by trying to forcing children to recite prayers again, and it’s all based on a lie.

On to the data…


First Question: Could you guess the year forced prayer was taken out of schools based only on this graph? Of course not.

There are 3 green spikes of war I’d like you to note:

  • WW1 1917-1919
  • WW2 1939-1945
  • Vietnam 1965-1975

Now see if you notice those dates below in the Divorce Rates Graph.

That’s right. They match up pretty much exactly. Eliminating forced prayer doesn’t increase divorce rates, WAR does. Furthermore, in most cases religion has been shown to actually INCREASE divorce rates.

Now we look at STDs. Specifically Gonorrhea, because that’s the only graph I could find with this many data points. Again notice the spikes surround the WARS.


Canada stopped forcing children to pray in schools in 1982. Why didn’t they receive a spike in Gonorrhea like the United States did?  Because WAR caused the spike, not lack of forced prayer.

There are more graphs and more data, but I think I’ve made my point.  David Barton, please stop spreading your lies.


Robin said...

What do think caused the war?

Mike said...

OK...your tie in to gonorrhea is a little off, I think. If you compare the Canadian and US trends, they have similar drops from 1980 to 2000. You are twisting statistics the same way the author you are attacking has, unless you include the previous 40 years for Canada.

Abemore said...


1. I'm didn't make the connection to gonorrhea. David Barton did.

2. I'm not twisting data at all. Try to understand the point of the Canada graph. The past is not relevant to the argument. The purpose is only to show what did NOT happen in 1982: STDs did NOT increase. Its as simple as that. David Barton is wrong. And it is plain to see.

Furthermore, Barton made his own graphs, so he chose exactly what data he wanted to include. I am just grabbing whatever I can find on google.

But if you don't believe me, by all means feel free to google more graphs. Nothing is stopping you from doing your own research.

Anonymous said...

You use the phrase "forced prayer" a few different times and I agree that no one should be forced to pray as that would defeat the whole purpose of approaching God willingly and voluntarily. I don't think that Barton is saying that forced prayer is the answer to our problems, and I think we would all agree that we have some real and major problems in our country. What Barton is pointing out is the relationship between removing God and His ways from our way of life and the negative results. The prayer that was removed has much to say about the heart of the issue - we as people rejecting God and seeking to live independently of Him, honestly because we don't trust Him and we think our ways are better. Whether it is war, std's, broken families, educational decline, violence or whatever other problem we would like to examine, they all share this common root of rebellion to God. Until this issue is addressed and resolved we will continue to have major problems in our society. Thank you for your thoughts on this issue and I would ask you to consider the heart of the issue.

Abemore said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, leading all school children in prayer is indeed "forced prayer". Kids do what their teachers tell them to do. Removing forced prayer still allows people to pray if they wish. Only the "forced" part has been stopped. Prayer itself is not prohibited. I'm glad we agree forced prayer is wrong.

Correlation is not causation. This means that just because 2 things happen, it does not mean they have anything to do with each other. If you have a heart attack while sitting in a car, it doesn't mean sitting in a car causes heart attacks. Barton attempted to fabricate a causal relationships where they don't exist. All I care about are the facts, and the fact is, Barton is misleading people with statistical nonsense. It doesn't matter if he (or you) think his intentions are good. He is still peddling lies.

Use Wikipedia. Do research. Societies with greater religiosity are often worse off (article). Sounds totally backwards from what we're told, right? All of the standard religious arguments tend to not be backed up by facts. Anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all.

Thanks for commenting. Happy truth seeking.

Anonymous said...

Is your research on the topic 60 years of studying statistics on the matter?