There is perhaps no better example of Christian Reconstructionist influence on the broader culture than the work of Tea Party “historian” David Barton. Barton does not explicitly identify as a Christian Reconstructionist, and Christian Reconstructionists would not claim him as one of their own.Barton does have ties to several Reconstructionist groups, including the Providence Foundation; he occasionally cites the work of Rousas Rushdoony and promotes views on race and slavery that are rooted in Rushdoony. While Barton doesn’t use the language of theonomy or postmillennialism, as we will see, he speaks of dominion, biblical law, the necessity of bringing every area of life under the lordship of Christ, and sphere sovereignty of biblically ordained institutions. He embraces the whole range of political views advocated by Reconstructionists from the right-to-life and creationism to more narrowly held positions on issues such as the history of slavery and opposition to the Federal Reserve System. As we shall see, the approach to history that has made Barton famous is rooted in Rushdoony’s biblical philosophy of history.Meet David Barton — the Evangelical Quack “Historian” Exposed as the Fake He Is
Barton’s work has been the subject of extensive critique by bloggers, reporters, and other critics, some of whom are scholars publishing peer-reviewed critiques, but, for the most part, scholars have not devoted a lot of attention to debunking his claims. Beginning in about 2011, two conservative Christian professors from Grove City College, Warren Throckmorton, professor of psychology, and Michael Coulter, professor of humanities and political science, published a critique of Barton’s The Jefferson Lies entitled Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President. The book was received well by scholars, and the authors’ credentials as conservative Christians undermined Barton’s defense that criticism of his work was ideological rather than factual. The Jefferson Lies was withdrawn by its publisher. One might expect under the weight of such resounding rejection, Barton would disappear into obscurity. Yet Barton’s supporters remain as devoted as before. Criticism from scholars (whether Christian or not) is dismissed as liberal, socialist, and even pagan. Discredited in the larger culture, Barton remains influential in the conservative Christian subculture.
Many look at the US Constitution and see little mention of religion and wonder how conservative Christians can insist that it is a template for a Christian nation. But Barton is careful to speak, instead, of our “original national founding documents.” For Barton and his followers, the Declaration of Independence, though never ratified and carrying no legal authority, has the same status as the Constitution. [<--a point I have a tendency to harp on]
For him the Constitution represents a consensus—as though there is a singular view that can be attributed to “the founders.” Barton’s style of reading the Constitution is modeled on his style of reading the Bible, which he also treats as a coherent document that can be read from start to finish to yield a clear, undisputed, objective meaning, instead of a collection of fragmented texts written over a very long period of time in different cultures, assembled into larger texts, then chosen from an even larger collection of texts in a political process, translated from ancient languages, and finally interpreted in different ways by different communities. Every stage of that process continues to be profoundly disputed by scholars, and there is always an interpretative framework (albeit all too often an unrecognized one) underlying any reading of it. While the US Constitution is a newer document, and it is therefore somewhat less difficult to discern its meaning(s), the fact remains that it is the product of hard-fought compromise among leaders, bound in time and culture, who profoundly disagreed with each other. There is no reason to believe they thought they were writing a sacred text to which all subsequent generations of Americans were bound by a process that amounts to divining a singular “intent.”
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Meet David Barton — the Evangelical Quack “Historian” Exposed as the Fake He Is
Although I have previously posted concerning Julie Ingersoll's book “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction”this excerpt provided by Frank Schaeffer is an eye opener. Delving into the mind of Barton can be a dangerous thing, but Ingersoll does a wonderful job of explaining how and why Barton thinks the way he does.
My only caveat, while I appreciate the work of Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, they are not the first, nor the only individuals responsible for exposing Barton for the liar he is. In 2006 Chris Rodda published Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, Vol. 1 followed by Debunking David Barton's Jefferson Lies: #2 - Jefferson Founded a Secular University in 2012 and Debunking David Barton's Jefferson Lies: #5 - Jefferson Advocated a Secular Public Square. During that time period, beginning in 2010, Chris also produced a series of videos that countered the crap Barton was spewing on Glen Beck. Though a bit dated, the information is still relevant as Barton as still regurgitating the same lies. Chris is currently working on a fourth book addressing more of Barton's bullshit