A kind journalist friend who had been sent "Builders of Our Land," CD7 Republican candidate Lee Byberg's slender volume about how to spawn "a Movement to Restore America's Land of Opportunity" passed it along to Bluestem Prairie.
It's everything one might expect from Byberg: a restoration to a mythic American Christian patriarchy, big agriculture and biotech, local control of education and private charity taking over public assistance.
It's probably not going to help sweep the pragmatic Peterson out of office. It's a bit silly.
LOVE INC: Heckova model
That Byberg is a man of good intentions seems clear; he simply falters on the details of translating those intentions into sound policy. Take the faith-based charity and mentoring for the needy and disabled in Douglas County that Byberg touts: Love INC.
His glowing prose about the group's work--and his conclusion:
That organization helps hundreds of people, right there locally. And it does a better job than the federal government. How much government bloat could we remove if we let local communities meet the needs of their residents? (p. 57)
persuaded me to look more closely at Love INC. Reading the national office's 2011 annual report, Bluestem concluded that perhaps Byberg might continue to look for another example of model to replace "government bloat":
That opening line from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, is a very appropriate way to summarize 2011 for the Love In the Name of Christ Movement. Love INC affiliates around the country experienced the affects of the national economic downturn as requests for help increased. But with the increase in need an increase in min-istry also occurred as more people got to experience the Love of Christ through church volunteers than ever before, and more lives were transformed.
One of the great mysteries of the Christian life is that it is the hardships and sufferings we experience that draw us closer to Christ, and it is the hardships and sufferings we go through that make us stronger and better than we were before. At the beginning of 2011 Love INC National experienced the worst of times. Due to a lack of funds, and not wishing to incur any debt, the Board of Directors made the very hard decision to close down the national office and begin a strategic restructuring process that looked at every aspect of the Love INC Movement. Between February and June, the board interviewed and surveyed affiliates to get their input and developed a re-structuring plan for moving forward.
Perhaps there's something more robust that Byberg might recommend. However, the example is one of the more concrete suggestions Byberg makes in his book.
LOVE INC also insists that all staff and volunteers be Christians professing the Apostle's Creed, so it's not likely to catch on in communities that aren't served by churches.
Mistaking the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for Jefferson
The Willmar businessman also seems to suffer from the David Barton syndrome of mis-attributing quotes to founding fathers that they never said. At the close of Builders Of Our Land, Byberg offers a "Prayer for America by President Thomas Jefferson" offered on March 4, 1805 and reprinted in "America's God and Country" by former congressional candidate and pseudohistorian William Federer:
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
It's a lovely prayer, and it looked familiar. Indeed: a little bit of research led to Monticello's Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, which attributed it to a volume dear to many Episcopalians: the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
Jefferson didn't write it:
This prayer was not written or delivered by Thomas Jefferson. It is in fact from the 1928 United States Book of Common Prayer. Explanations of the 1928 revision of the Book of Common Prayer make no mention of an earlier source for the prayer, which is identified simply as "For Our Country."
Interestingly, although we can find no evidence that this prayer has a presidential source, it was used by a subsequent president in a public speech. Several months after his 1930 Thanksgiving Day Address as Governor of New York, it was pointed out that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech bore a striking resemblance to the very same prayer discussed above.
Ultimately, it seems unlikely that Jefferson would have composed or delivered a public prayer of this sort. He considered religion a private matter, and when asked to recommend a national day of fasting and prayer, replied "I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from inter meddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises..."
Byberg mentions that America's morals been going to hell in a handbasket for generations, so Jefferson's administration might have gotten the ball rolling.
Perhaps Byberg might look to more reliable sources than Federer, who has something of a rep for the cray. In 2009, Federer pushed the notion that President Obama is a Muslim; this summer, he compared the Supreme Court's decision on health care reform with the Dred Scott decision, and in September, while most conservatives were yelling at Obama for "coddling" Iran, claimed that Obama would invade Iran as a pretext to take control of television, radio and the innertubes.
Fortunately, there's not much else to be sourced in the volume. It's unllikely that the book will do much more than sing to the choir.