Scott Lively: Moral Relativist

Rob Tisinai

August 13th, 2012

Purported historian David Barton has not had a good week.  His NYT bestseller, The Jefferson Lies (which presents Jefferson as more of an orthodox Christian than evil secular historians would have you believe), has been pulled by its publisher, which “lost confidence” in the book after a host of historians — including many conservative Christians — pointed out its abundant flaws.

Barton has a few champions left. One of them — Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika — may be familiar to you, and he offers the most hilarious defense of all:

The whole thing is a gay conspiracy. And you (yes, you) are involved.

Lively points out that Warren Throckmorton is one of Barton’s harshest critics. Throckmorton is a professor at a Christian university who has made a fascinating journey when it comes to his views on homosexuality. I doubt he would describe himself as pro-gay, but his steady and determined search for what is true has led him to speak out for the dignity and humanity of LGBT folk.

That’s enough for Lively:  Throckmorton is a villain. And if you don’t think so…

just do a search of his name on the websites of the nastiest of these anti-Christ blogs such as Box Turtle Bulletin [!], Truth Wins Out and Joe My God. You will find that Throckmorton is a hero to these people and apparently a willing collaborator with some of them.

See, if gays admire Throckmorton, then Throckmorton must be bad — and therefore, David Barton must be good. Seriously, that’s the crux of Lively’s 1500-word analysis. And nowhere in those 1500 words does he actually debunk a single criticism against the Barton. In fact, Lively suggests that minor issues like accuracy and truth are of secondary importance:

To put all of this in a proper perspective, lets assume for the sake of argument that every criticism of every critic is accurate and not merely a question of different takes on the underlying facts and context (as I believe). Lets even go further and allow solely for argument’s sake that David Barton exaggerated some of the facts. [Note Lively’s distortion:  to say that Barton “exaggerated some of the facts” is not to “go further” than Barton’s critics, who actually went quite further than that — but Lively is quite deft at sneaking in this lie.] Is the attack on the man in proportion to his perceived fault? For the sake of preventing further damage to our already fractured Christian unity in this dominant humanist culture couldn’t this have been handled more prudently? Or is David Barton’s entire career being destroyed and all of his years of working tirelessly to advance the cause of Christ in American society being retroactively invalidated on purpose by a puppet-master with a hidden motive?

Who exactly benefits from this? If you listen hard you can hear their gleeful cackles as they pat Warren Throckmorton on the back.

Scott Lively provides us with some insight here — not into the working of the vast gay conspiracy, but into his own head. Lots of people are delighted by this setback to Barton and his alternative reality; gays are just a small subset of that population, and a minor one at that. But if you’re as obsessed with homosexuality as Lively is, then anything with a remote and tenuous connection to the gays must be all about the gays. Poor guy.

Really, though, I adore this piece by Lively. Rarely have I seen such a direct and blatant statement that something so trivial as the truth must never get in the way of what is, um, right. It’s nice to have stuff like that from our opponents out in the open, stuff we later outrage them with by quoting it verbatim. Nicely done, Scott.

Now excuse me while I go practice my cackle.

Gene in L.A.

August 13th, 2012

I have to say I don’t understand the title of your article. I don’t see anything quoted in it that seems to suggest moral relativism; nor do I see moral relativism as in any way bad. In fact, I believe all morals are relative. We create them. About some many of us agree and about others we disagree; but there is no morality inherent in nature. Without the human mind there are no morals at all.


August 14th, 2012

Gene in LA must be anti-Christ…LOL


August 14th, 2012

Scott Lively has described himself as knowing probably more than anyone else in the world about homosexuality. In fact he is pig ignorant. Being now in his mid-fifties, he said that when he was born, homosexual behaviour was illegal in every country in the world except perhaps Sweden.


August 14th, 2012

Actually, the most telling comment in Lively’s screed is this one:

“Or is David Barton’s entire career being destroyed and all of his years of working tirelessly to advance the cause of Christ in American society being retroactively invalidated….”

Is the role of an historian to “advance the cause of Christ in America?” Is that really what historians are supposed to do?


August 14th, 2012

One faux historian standing up for another’s “different takes on the underlying facts and context” of history. They must constantly be left in wonderment as to why people spend years getting advanced degrees in history.

Priya Lynn

August 14th, 2012

Keppler and Blake, Barton has at one time said “I’m no historian” and then later referred to himself as a historian. Whether or not he considers himself a historian is apparently determined by whichever stance is most useful to him at the time in advancing his lies.


August 14th, 2012

Piffle, Scott. Since when is criticism of one’s work equated with personal attack? Shoddy scholarship is shoddy scholarship, revisionism is revisionism and lies are lies.


August 14th, 2012

In contrast to Mr. Lively I would like to say that BTB has been one of the kindest gay news sources I have come across when it comes to religion. The blog has consistently highlighted pro-gay religious people and taken an even-handed approach to discussing difficult issues like whether it is sensible for pro-gay people to give to organisations like the Salvation Army. I just wanted to take a moment to thank the writer’s for their kindness; obviously mainstream religion has done little to endear itself to the glbt community.


August 14th, 2012

So Scott Lively believes that when he was born Homosexual behavior was illegal everywhere except perhaps Sweden. To mention one huge exception France under the code Napoleon had de- criminalized same sex behavior more than a century before he was born. In Brazil homosexual behavior has ben legal sincec 1830, when they adopted a version of the Code Napoleon. homosexual conduct has never been criminalized in China. Denmark decriminalized Homosexual conduct in 1933. Homosexual conduct has been legal in Iceland since 1940.

In Italy Homosexual conduct has been legal since 1870. Aside from a brief period in the late 19th century, (1870-1880) when Japan adopted some European laws. Homosexual conduct has never been illegal in Japan.

Poland has not had anti-homosexual conduct laws since 1932.

I could go on.

Lively is ignorant.

Gene in L.A.

August 14th, 2012

No, Gus, I’m not anti-Christ, nor am I the Antichrist. Jesus had some wonderful teachings. I’m anti-church, but that has nothing to do with my post. All I said was that morals are man-made. They are.


August 14th, 2012

This Lively piece was awesomely entertaining, but not nearly as much as the one he posted a few years ago warning about the consequences of repealing DADT.

He carefully analyzed the risks and concluded that gays would form secret cabals within the military, that the presence of gays would drive out normal, patriotic soldiers leaving a gay-dominated force, and that the gay cabals would then seize control of the Pentagon. At this point, he implies that the gay-controlled military would be in a position to dominate or overthrow the US government and use the US arsenal to threaten the world, presumably to force the planet to accept sodomy.

It really has to be read to be believed. A year and half since the repeal vote, he has not posted any updates on how the gay coup d’etat is shaping up.


August 15th, 2012

Gene, the term “moral relativism” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Sure, I agree morals are a man made concept and that they fluctuate by society. But that’s not what this post is referring to. This post is accusing Lively (who presumably thinks lying is morally wrong and a sin) of temporarily suspending the moral wrong of lying if it helps combat the greater “moral wrong” of homosexuality. Meaning, his own morals are relative to themselves, not to others.


August 15th, 2012

Actually I think Gene is quite correct about the meaning of “moral relativism.” Lively might more accurately be accused of inconsistency or hypocrisy, if we had any reason to think he places any value on being truthful in the first place.

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