Part II of our special investigative report on the East County Mayors Prayer Breakfast speaker.
View Part I here.
By Miriam Raftery
May 4, 2017 (El Cajon) – On Monday, an East County Magazine special report revealed objections raised by some local residents to the controversial “Christian nation” advocate David Barton chosen to speak at the annual East County Mayors prayer luncheon this Thursday, May 4th at the Crystal Palace in El Cajon.
Now the controversy has intensified, with a First Amendment watchdog group sending a letter to mayors of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee objecting to their participation and asking them to disassociate themselves from the event. The letter was signed by Andrew Seidel , staff attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. At least two of those mayors have since cancelled their plans to attend the prayer luncheon.
In addition, local residents are asking why alternate versions of the flyer were circulated to religious and secular groups – the latter omitting all mention of Barton and presenting the event as "progressive" oriented.
Barton’s controversial views
Barton has openly advocated against separation of church and state, distorted founding father’s views and the Constitution, had his book on Thomas Jefferson pulled by its publisher for falsehoods, and advocated racist views including deleting Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez from textbooks. He has claimed AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality and criticized non-Christians for exercising constitutional rights. He is listed as an extremist on a Southern Poverty Law Center watch list and the accuracy of his works have been debunked by conservative Christian scholars. (Find links and details here.)
Freedom From Religion letter hints at legal action
Freedom From Religion’s letter notes that the officials lent their public titles as mayor to this “private religious event” that encourages participants to meet the mayors from four local cities.
“As mayors you represent a diverse population that consists of not only Christians but also atheists and agnostics,” the letter notes, adding that 23% of Americans identify as nonreligious. (Unstated but also true is that East County also includes many residents with religions that are not Christian, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and more.)
The letter claims that “federal and state constitutions dictate that you as mayor may not bless such events or allow your title as mayor to be used for any purely religious event such as this…It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that the government cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religions. It can neither promote one religion over another, nor religion over nonreligion.”
In 2002, a federal court in Georgia enjoined a city and mayor against organizing, advertising promoting or endorsing a prayer breakfast, the letter notes. (See Newman v. City of East Point) However that ruling also held that officials from the city could participate provided no city funds or employees were used to promote it and no appearance was presented that it was endorsed by the city, its mayor or other officials. However Seidel adds, “Even if no government resources have yet been involved in the planning and execution of this prayer lunch, simply appearing in your official capacity as Mayor presents constitutional problems. FFRP won an injunction against the mayor of Denver, Colorado, over his promotion, endorsement, and sponsorship of a `Day of Prayer...’” Officials can participate personally in prayer or religions events, Seidel added, but he contends it is illegal “to lend the event the prestige of a mayoral title..”
He further objects specifically to Barton because of facts listed above and because “Barton regularly impugns religious minorities, including Muslims and nonbelievers.” The letter further notes that Barton is not a historian, does not have a “real PhD”, nor any training in history or the law, two of his favorite topics, and has been accused of “academic fraud” by historians. Even the pro-creationism Discovery Institute has noted Barton’s work is filled with “embarrassing factual errors” and “misleading claims.”
The letter concludes, “The Mayor’s Office cannot allow a secular, public title to be used as part of this event, nor can it organize or promote the event. Moreover, no leader interested in serving all his or her citizens should lend their presence and legitimacy to Barton. Please inform us in writing of the steps your office will take to rectify this situation.”
Deceptive flyers with alternate facts
Local residents are also raising questions, asking why were two different flyers on tomorrow’s East County Mayors’ prayer luncheon circulated to religious and non-religious groups?
A flyer disseminated by the Interfaith Council matches what’s on the event webpage, listing David Barton prominently at the top center as speaker, also proclaiming the phrases Government, business, church” “Meeting needs together” and United we stand.” (Photo, right)
But an alternate flyer disseminated at Communities Against Substance Abuse (CASA), which has some progressive activists as members, by contrast, makes no mention of Barton and instead shows photos of the four East County mayors only. (photo, left) It’s message reads, “Partner with progressive leaders in grassroots efforts to elevate the culture of our communities. Mobilize your talents and passions into action.”
One such activist was appalled to learn that Barton was the featured speaker. He forwarded it to ECM with an email stating, “You'd never guess what awaits you from this flyer!” He called the alternate flyer “creepy and misleading.”
Lemon Grove and La Mesa Mayors cancel attendance
Mayor Racquel Vasquez of Lemon Grove has sent regrets and will now not be attending the luncheon, Councilmember Jennifer Mendoza informed ECM today. Mendoza has also cancelled her attendance at the lunch due to Barton's participation.
Mayor Mark Arapostathis of La Mesa has also reportedly cancelled his appearance but did not state a reason: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2017/05/03/mayor-of-la-m....
Organizers of event remain shrouded
Which organization or individual invited Barton, and where the money collected from attendees will go, remains shrouded in secrecy. There is no organizational name listed on either of the flyers circulated. The Chamber of Commerce, which listed the event on its website, has disavowed involvement. An RSVP number goes to an individual at a local car dealership.
Sources have told ECM that one or more local churches are involved in organizing the annual event, along with possibly a local mayor, however no evidence has been brought forward to confirm just who is backing the event that has now come under scrutiny both for its constitutionality and the choice of a speaker voicing support for a government with policies officially intolerant of anyone who is not an Evangelical Christian, as well as remarks offensive to African-Americans, gays, Latinos, atheists and religious minorities.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation? Are there that many people with nothing useful to do?
"Biblical Slavery" For Non-Christians? Yes, Suggests Website of
Some might suggest this line of thinking runs parallel with Sharia Law in many ways.
Wall Builders Official Response - 6
much ado about nothing, don't
much ado about nothing, don't like him, don't go, read his books, or go to his web site. he is NOT an elected or appointed official.
also it is NOT unconstitutional for elected officials to attend such an event. time for new tin foil for those who think it is
Wall Builders Official Response - 3 & 4
Dispatch from an ex-WallBuilder
And lastly an article that debunks all of Barton's "Jeffersons Lies" Chapter by Chapter for those that don't subscribe to revisionist Historians located at the bottom of article, with free Fifth chapter, in PDF format.
Wall Builders Official Response - 5
Wall Builders Official Response - 2
Wall Builders Official Response - 1
Comment by East County Mayor in Attendance
Interesting that Prayranger has read a point by point rebutall by David Burton to the accusations that have been made about him but Prayranger neither shares it nor tells us where to find it, take it on Faith? The poster also quotes Psalms with a scripture about living peacefully with your enimies yet one of the two Mayors said, while addressing those in attendance, about the concerns raised by a group of non-Christians that feel it important to maintain the separation of Church and State "Before I came here today there were about 28,000 people that tried to keep me from coming here and I'm not going to let the Antichrist get into my life."
I didn't find anything that Barton said offensive at the Prayer Luncheon I attended yesterday like I found on some of the YouTube video's of him I've seen. He stuck pretty much to the orgins of Presidents and Day's of Prayer and constantly telling and reminding us of old documents that WallBuilders has in their possession. To me it appears he and others are heavy on the Old Testament and light on the New or another way to put it, Hell, Damnation, and Fear vs Grace, love of your fellow man, and Peace. I certainly don't care much for a Mayor, at an event as a Mayor, that espouses people who don't believe as he does as the AntiChrist, especially when part of his duties are to represent all those in his City equally. Felt more like pandering to a particular portion of his base in attendance to me.
Should Faith Based Organization and Local Government civilly partner to help solve problems in communities? I absolutely believe that is a great and effective way to solve problems. Just keep the pulpit and the politicking and particularly polarizing figures with extreme views separate.
Can't wait to see those point by points Prayranger!
This chap has been selling this for quite a long time! Wondering what his Net Worth is.
East County Mayors Luncheon
Mayor's Prayer Luncheon
David Barton is a Christian
More Misinformation - and that's a shame
Thank You Mr. Mc Ivor
Alternate Event Flyer
Thank you, Dana, for clarifying that.
I would like to know who organized this and why it's so secretive. Shouldn't people know when they pay for tickets where the money goes, and who the organizer of the event is?
The reason it is so secretive