Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quote mines and making shit up

Bus campaigns, billboard campaigns - atheist organizations put up "there might not be a god, don't worry about it" and similar sentiments, and theists respond with a campaign of their own with religious quotes. Fine - I doubt the issue is going to be decided based on what is on the bus in front of you in traffic, but hey, no complaints here.

Well, no, that's not true. I will complain -- because the theists are putting up quotes that are entirely made up, and attributing them to famous, recognizeable people (notably the founding fathers). The group admits to ust making them up out of whole cloth because apparently it's ok to lie for Jesus.

From Tampa Bay:
The billboards showcase quotes from early American leaders like John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Most of the quotes portray a national need for Christian governance.

Others carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

“I don’t believe there’s a document in Washington’s handwriting that has those words in that specific form,” Kemple said. “However, if you look at Washington’s quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there’s no question he could have said those exact words.”
I could even forgive the quote mining (taking short quotes entirely out of context to try to prove a point). Misuse of quotes is pretty common in apologetics. Of course, in this case, the founding fathers being "quoted" are being portrayed as Christian when all available historical fact points to them being, at best, deists. But that, too, is not something that is going to be resolved by billboard. The strong anti-separation sentiments by this group, though, cross the line.

I object to the blatant lying. If you want to put up quotes by theists that support your position, then do the legwork and go out and find some actual quotes. Don't lie and then blush charmingly and argue that "he could have said it", as if that excuses the made-up quotes. If you can't show that he DID say it, don't attribute your own personal belief to George Washington, mmmkay? Otherwise, just present the quotes as your own opinion. That would be, at least, honest.

Great way to sway people to your side, theists. Everyone likes to be lied to, don't they?

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