Phony Quotes Section Kudos
(Rob Boston Did The Work)
Michael D. Rivers

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Michael D Rivers"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: January 19, 2002 11:46 PM

I must admit that the work of compiling and all of the initial publicizing of David Barton's revisionism was done by Americans United, specifically, Rob Boston. Without his project, most of us would be in the dark and might even be parroting these things in our attempts to "seek balance." All I did was ask if we could run the article in the October, 1997, print edition and also if we could post it here. I have since found two instances where the Madison one was read into the Congressional Record (used to bolster various arguments). I've referred to it in beaucoup Letters, and I incorporated two or three of them into our Big List of Quotations (most notably, James Madison). I eventually even cleared up a mistake in Boston's initial work.

I also researched and did a write-up on one quote by Thomas Jefferson that, when taken out of context, makes him appear to have been a pious Christian moralist (yeah, right!). If I've done other work in this regard, I cannot bring it to mind right now.

I have also gathered several mistakes of "overzealotry" made by our side over the years; specifically, the wildly popular John Adams misquote, "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!!!" I sorely wish atheists would stop using this one, remove it from their web sites, and denounce the use of it to bolster atheism or attack religion. We ought, rather, to attack Adams himself for having said that "without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell." This is precisely what Adams was trying to say with his "best of all possible worlds" quip, which was more of an unthinking, reflexive ejaculation than anything else. It was not the reasoned opinion of President Adams.

Another one that's not so popular is the Caliph of Umar fabrication (listed under Kalif Omar) one about book-burning at the Library of Alexandria: he was a builder, not a destroyer.

Finally, one that comes to mind that I have gathered (from sources independent of Boston's piece) would be the popular lie about Jerry Falwell where he does not rant about pornographic science fiction novels. Whatever else one might think about the Rev. Falwell, he does not deserve to be lied about. Of all people, Falwell is the one we'd least need to lie about in order to portray in a bad light, as he has done a marvelous job of that without our help!

Unfortunately, to be able to do this project justice (the Big List of Quotations), I would need a whole team of researchers, say, a dozen each of historians, and librarians for at least a year. Then I could come up with a truly big list of quotations that would reflect all the subtleties of the rainbow of sentiments that I've wanted to express with this work. However, I think almost all the basic sentiments have been covered with what I have done already. But then, every time I think that way (every time I think I can relax), I bump into some new sentiment or angle or thought that I hadn't seen and then out comes the little jig that I wrote to help me put this thing together and keep it organized. Perhaps I can hope that this particular project eventually falls into the hands of a team at a university and gets done right.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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