Ersatz historian and “Christian nation” booster David Barton is at it again. This time he’s claiming that the city of Las Vegas cut violent crime by 75 percent after the police department adopted “biblical principles” and began working with conservative churches.
There are a couple of problems with Barton’s claim. First off, any assertion that a violent crime rate anywhere dropped so dramatically should be met with great skepticism. Crime rates fluctuate depending on several factors (the state of the economy being a big one), but a 75 percent plunge over a short period of time would be pretty remarkable. It’s not impossible, but some evidence would be nice.
So where’s the proof? There isn’t any. The indefatigable Barton critic Warren Throckmorton decided to do something radical: contact the Las Vegas Police Department and ask if there was any truth to Barton’s contention.
An officer with the last name of Rodriguez told Throckmorton, “That is not true.” Rodriguez added, “Sadly, we’re seeing an increase in violent crime year to date as compared to the same period last year.”
Throckmorton noted that Rodriguez told him that violent crime overall is up nearly 25 percent in Las Vegas as compared to the same period in 2015.
Furthermore, there is no police program in Las Vegas that implements “biblical principles.” Rodriguez told Throckmorton that the police department there works with many faith-based groups, Christian and non-Christian, but that “officers are not preaching and teaching the Bible.”
One has to wonder if Barton has any simple common sense. Las Vegas is a city that trades on its reputation for vice. They don’t call the place “sin city” for nothing. While some of the activities people engage in there are legal (gambling), others are not (prostitution) but seem to be more or less tolerated. It would take a lot of “biblical principles” to transform the place that boasts, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Is there even a kernel of truth in what Barton is saying? Well, a commenter on Throckmorton’s blog pointed out that the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a story in 2014 about a crime-ridden Vegas neighborhood called Sierra Oeste that did experience a huge drop in crime after police made some changes. The problem is, those changes had nothing to do with “biblical principles.”
The neighborhood got better street lighting, and police reached out to community groups to create stronger relationships. They launched anti-gang initiatives. Faith groups are mentioned in passing, but the story says nothing about biblical principles. In fact, it’s clear that most of the changes made were secular in nature. For example, there were two roads leading into this community. One was closed entirely, and the other is now heavily lined with security cameras.
If this story is the source of Barton’s claim, it in no way backs him up.
As Throckmorton points out, all of this would be just another whopper uttered by an infamous “liar for Jesus” (as Chris Rodda puts it), but Barton aspires to be more than that. He’s advising U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a man who wants to be president and who might get the party nod if the GOP Powers That Be decide to use procedural moves to knock out Donald Trump at a contested convention.
Is Barton eyeing a slot in Washington? Would he perhaps like to head up the U.S. Department of Education or create a new enforcement agency for “biblical principles”?
Heaven forbid! Barton is a notorious stretcher of the truth and unrepentant theocrat. I can’t imagine a poorer role model for America’s children.