David Barton

Barton Now Complains When Government Bureaucrats Stop Illegal Activity

As we noted in our earlier post about David Barton today, he has a rather serious problem with accurately presenting information, especially in situations where misrepresenting that information better suits his religious/political agenda.

Case in point, during last Friday's program, Barton went off on his new favorite topic about the ways in which know-nothing government bureaucrats are interfering with the lives and work of average Americans in cumbersome and absurd ways.  To prove his point, Barton cited a supposed situation in which the Department of Agriculture shut down shows featuring Tennessee Walking Horses solely because these government bureaucrats thought "it looks strange to us" and must be damaging the horses, even though they had no idea how to actually check a horse's hoof in the first place:

That is Barton's version of the story, which you can compare to the real version of the story involving undercover video filmed by the Humane Society showing trainers routinely beating and torturing horses in order train them to walk in this distinctive manner: 

The Humane Society of the United States released undercover video Thursday of a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer abusing the animals in order to accentuate their well-known high leg kick.

The practice, known as “soring,” involves using chemicals on the horses ankles as a way to force them, because of pain, to lift their legs higher when they walk ... Soring has been illegal under the federal Horse Protection Act since 1970. But Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society, said it has “continued unabated for the past 42 years.”

The video, shot over seven weeks last year by an undercover humane society investigator, shows trainers at a Collierville, Tenn., farm applying the chemicals to the horses, whipping them, shocking them in the head and hitting their legs with wooden sticks. At points, horses in the video struggle to stand up.

The USDA responded by mandating that inspecting organizations levy fines on those who violate this law; a move that prompted a lawsuit from the industry.

So it was not just a bunch of DC bureaucrats shutting down a legitimate business operation because they just thought the whole thing was kind of weird but rather an order to impose fines in response to leading trainers being caught engaging in illegal practices that injured horses.

As we have said several times before, if Barton cannot be relied upon to accurately relate information pertaining to situations that anyone with access to Google can easily check and verify,  how can anyone trust the arcane claims he makes about early American history?

Even While Giving Us a Mocking Shout-Out, Barton Cannot Stop Lying

It is no secret that we regularly listen to "WallBuilders Live" as part of our monitoring, and we do so because that is where we learn interesting things from David Barton like how people are on welfare because they are not reading the Bible, how prayer stopped the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and that there are no grocery stores in the city of Detroit.

But not every episode contains these sort of informative nuggets because sometimes Barton and co-host Rick Green dedicate the program to talking with our nation's veterans about their harrowing experiences fighting in past conflicts.  Today was one of those days, and though the program was actually rather interesting, these types of episodes generally don't produce much that is of use to us in terms of blog content  - except in this case Barton and Green gave us a nice shout-out at the end while bizarrely taking delight in the fantasy that we would be extremely uncomfortable listening to this show about "a guy who loves God and country":

Barton: We got to do a little shout-out to our listeners that nobody knows about: Right Wing Watch. I mean, these are the radical left social guys and they listen to every program and these are the kind of programs that drive them crazy. I mean, what do you do with a guy who loves God and country, etc ... 'cause they're always beating on us - and by the way, in addition to them doing all their little releases, they always find a little clip here and there out of our program they can release to the Huffington Post. I also, and you may not know this, I made the top 25 this year - I think it's the top 25 for the Southern Poverty Law Center and I'm apparently one of the 25 greatest terrorist, domestic terrorists in America 'cause just way too much of this God/country kind of stuff, you know patriotism now makes you a terrorist.

Green: Well congratulations.

Barton: So I'm curious to see how Right Wing Watch is going to handle a program like this where you've got such patriotism because now patriotism makes you a domestic terrorist.

Green: Yeah, because we're loving our country more than some other country, we're honoring the sacrifices ...

Barton: Yeah, we're not trying to be like France or Europe or those guys, yeah, you're right. What can we say?

Green: Well, sometimes I like to irritate people, so let's irritate Right Wing Watch a little bit with honoring these guys!

For what it is worth, it is not episodes such as this in which WWII vets recount their experiences serving in combat that irritate us - both of my grandfathers served in WWII, after all - it is Barton's flagrant misrepresentations that irritate us; misrepresentations like claiming that he was listed among "the 25 greatest domestic terrorists" when, in reality, he was merely included in a SPLC report highlighting "30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right."

Only in Barton's warped view is a SPLC article proof that "patriotism makes you a domestic terrorist" while our efforts to point out his incessant lies means that we harbor some sort of absurd hatred for our nation's veterans.

Barton Strikes Back, Now Considers Himself to be a Historian

As we have noted several dozen times before, David Barton has something of a problem with telling the truth.  And we have not been the only ones making note of it, especially since the release of his "The Jefferson Lies" book has prompted Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter to write an entire book questioning his claims while other Jefferson scholars have criticized Barton's shoddy scholarship.

Now it appears that Barton has gotten fed up, as he posted a response to his critics on the WallBuilders website in which he basically says that all his snooty academic critics are just jealous that he has written a bunch of best-selling books while nobody reads their boring works:

I have penned numerous best-selling history works, and characteristic of each is a heavy reliance on primary-source documentation ... Not many individuals in America have read more original works (or fewer modern ones) than I have; and the general public has responded enthusiastically to this history based on original documentation... [T]ypical history works by modern elitist professors generally sell very poorly; and seeing their own influence wane, they often lash out and condescendingly criticize the more popular documentary works.

...

A common mantra for today’s academics is “Publish or die.” Believing that if they are not publishing something new that their academic career is regressing, they therefore regularly “discover” something they believe to be a new revelation on some obscure micropoint of history, and then, as if having received an earth-shattering revelation, write an article or book giving their personal opinions about it. Significantly, however, the public does not respond well to these works, for publishers claim that with few exceptions most academic scholars’ books sell only two hundred or so copies a year.

Barton is particularly angry with those smug "academic elitists" who dare to suggest that he is not an actual historian: 

After The Jefferson Lies, rose to a New York Times best-seller, similar attacks were launched against it from academic elitists. I will address three of these attacks below, but first, I must tackle their oft-repeated talking-point that I am not a qualified historian – a claim they make to cast a shadow of doubt over all the facts I present. However, this charge, like their others, is completely false. After all, I am:

  • Recognized as an historical expert by both state and federal courts;
  • Called to testify as an historical expert by both the federal and state legislatures;
  • Selected as an historical expert by State Boards of Education across the nation to assist in writing history and social studies standards for those states;
  • Consulted as an historical expert by public school textbook publishers, helping write best-selling history texts used in public schools and universities across the nation.

The funny thing is that it is not only actual historians who don't consider Barton to be a historian, but Barton himself who just last year blatantly stated - and we quote - "I don't consider myself a historian; I just happen to know some things about it.":

David Barton says Gov. Perry is Raising Millions to Promote Anti-Obama Film

The guest on today's edition of "WallBuilders Live" was Gerald Molen, the producer of the new anti-Obama film "2016: Obama's America," which is based on the book "The Roots of Obama's Rage" by Dinesh D'Souza.

Molen was on the program to discuss a recent incident in which a scheduled speech he was to deliver to some high school students was supposedly canceled because of his conservative views, but after the interview, David Barton and Rick Green talked about how excited they were about his forthcoming film, with Barton revealing that Texas Governor Rick Perry was so enamored with it that he has "agreed to raise millions to put this thing in theaters":

Green: Well this new project he's doing - you know we had Dinesh on when he wrote the book "The Roots of Obama's Rage." I love Dinesh D'Souza, I think he's the C.S. Lewis of our day, just a great guy. But to make this a movie now that's going to reach far more people that's actually going to be in theaters even.

Barton: Well, I was just with Governor Perry and Governor Perry has agreed to raise millions to put this thing in theaters. He is committed to this thing in a big way ...

Green: To getting the truth out there for people to really know ...

Barton: He said it's phenomenal ... because they called him and asked him to help and he said "is it okay if I see the movie first before I agree to raise [money]?" And so he saw it and, man he is all over this thing.

Glenn Beck Calls in the Religious Right Calvary for Pre-Restoring Love Meeting

One of the most telling features of Glenn Beck’s 2010 Restoring Honor rally were the overtly religious themes of the rally, along with the launching of a Black Robe Regiment filled with right-wing leaders. The day before Beck’s latest really, Restoring Love, Beck and David Barton are hosting a who’s who of Religious Right activists for a “Christian Leadership Conference” called Under God: Indivisible, including some of the most prominent anti-gay preachers, activists and televangelists in the country:

David Barton

Tony Perkins

Ralph Reed

  • Led the Christian Coalition alongside Pat Robertson but left following reports of financial misconduct, now heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
  • Alleges that America “lost its way” by helping the poor, putting liberty in “danger.”

John Hagee

James Robison

Rick Scarborough

Harry Jackson

  • Alleges that gay rights supporters are recreating the “times of Hitler” and are leading a “Satanic plot” against the black family.
  • Asserts that gay rights will “bring us under” just like the iceberg that hit the Titanic.

Jim Garlow

Richard Land

Ken Hutcherson

  • Hoped to lead an anti-gay marriage rally that would be a “spiritual bomb” comparable to the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain.
  • Wants the “promotion” of homosexuality banned just like “sugar and fatty foods in schools” since it is “dangerous and unnatural.”

Kenneth Copeland

  • Contends God didn’t create gay people just like “He didn’t create anybody to be a murderer, He condemned murder; he didn’t create anybody a homosexual, ’cause He condemned homosexuality.”

Aryeh Spero

Barton: Government Regulation is the 'Most Dangerous Attack ... on our Liberties Since the British'

On yesterday's installment of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green complained that government regulation was destroying the free market system ... not too much government regulation, mind you, but any government regulation.

In fact, Barton declared that the mere existence of federal regulatory agencies represent "the most dangerous attack on our liberties since the British" while Green explained that there was no need for federal agencies to prevent companies from dumping toxic waste because the truly free market will hold them accountable when they get sued:

Barton: What's going on right now in DC is government at the regulatory level, particularly at the cabinet level, whether it's the Department of Agriculture or Health and Human Services or whatever, those are now pretty much unaccountable agencies. And what they're starting to do to the country, they have no sense of accountability, they fear no one - they don't fear the President, they don't fear Congress, they sure as heck don't fear the people because we don't elect them. the stuff that's now going on with those agencies is, I think, unprecedented and the most dangerous attack we've had on our liberties since the British, quite frankly.

By definition, a free market means there is no government intervention or regulation. So the more these agencies get involved, the less you have the free market and the less prosperity you will have and the less freedom you will have.

Green: You know, people say if you don't have [regulatory agencies] you're gonna have some company that dumps toxic waste or whatever; well then you the company and you go through the civil courts and there's accountability there.

Yes, I am sure that if some company recklessly dumped toxic waste that ended up making one of Green's children seriously ill, he's response would be "thank goodness our truly free maket has no agencies in existence that can prevent things like this from happening so that now I have the opportunity to sue this company and hold them accountable for gravely injuring my child."

David Barton Needs to Hire a Fact-Checker

It is no exaggeration to say that we have watched or listened to several dozen of the pseudo-historical presentations that David Barton delivers to church groups and political gatherings alike.  And we continue to watch them because Barton is constantly adding new unverifiable and downright false claims to his speeches.

But it turns out that even some of the claims that have long served as the foundation for his presentations are also problematic.  Over the last week, we have watched two recent presentations that Barton delivered in which made a point that, while today we may only know a bit about a handful of our nation's Founding Fathers, the Founding Fathers themselves regularly pointed to preachers as having played an extremely important role in the founding of this nation.

And to "prove" this, Barton routinely cites a letter that John Adams wrote to a man named Hezekiah Niles in 1818 responding to a question from Niles about which people were most responsible for the ideas and principles upon which the nation was founded. In Barton's telling, Adams' reply was that it was preachers like Samuel Cooper, Jonathan Mayhew, George Whitefield, and Charles Chauncy who must be placed at the top of any such list:

Of course, if you actually bother to take a look at the letter Barton cites, here is what you find:

This produced, in 1760 and 1761, an awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings, with an enthusiasm which went on increasing till in 1775 it burst out in open violence, hostility, and fury.

The characters the most conspicuous, the most ardent and influential in this revival, from 1760 to 1766, were first and foremost, before all and above all, James Otis; next to him was Oxenbridge Thatcher; next to him Samuel Adams; next to him John Hancock; then Dr. Mayhew; then Dr. Cooper and his brother.

That's it.  So not only are the individuals Barton's cites not listed "right up front," but two of the people (Whitefield and Chauncy) are not even mentioned in Adams' list, or anywhere in the letter, at all! 

We have heard Barton make this claim regarding this Adams letter several dozen time only to discover today that, like so much else that he says, it is fundamentally untrue; thereby proving once again that just about every factual assertion Barton makes needs to be checked simply because so many of them turn out to be undeniably false.

Barton Falsely Claims 'There is not a Single Grocery Store in the City Limits of Detroit'

On today's edition of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green were discussing what they considered several positive changes that were taking place in the state of Michigan thanks to the election of lots of Tea Party candidates to the state legislature.  In making the point that things were really bad in the state, Barton claimed that he was recently there and was shocked to learn that there is "not a single grocery store in the city limits of Detroit": 

Detroit has a population of over 700,000 and Barton is claiming that there is not one grocery store within a city this size?  How exactly does he think these people are getting food? 

Now I haven't been to Detroit in person, but I do have access Google Street View which allows me to find various of grocery stores located within the city in about two minutes, like University Foods located at 1131 Warren Ave W, Detroit, MI 48208:

And an Aldi grocery store located at 15415 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48205:

And Parkway Foods located at 13210 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48215:

In fact, a simple Google Maps search for "supermarket" in Detroit returns dozens and dozens of results:

As we have said several times before, if Barton cannot be trusted to accurately report on contemporary issues that are easily verifiable to anyone with internet access, how can anyone trust anything that he says?

Barton: Activists Hijacked 'Gay' and the Rainbow to Distort God's Blessing on Mankind

Ken Hutcherson in on a mission to take back both the word "gay" and the symbol of the rainbow in his fight against gay rights and made his case on "WallBuilders Live" today with David Barton and Rick Green.

Following the interview with Hutcherson, Barton and Green speculated that the gay rights movement has sought to co-opt these things in order to distort God's blessing upon mankind: 

Barton: We don't even think about "gay" in the term it was, we only think it in the way of the new definition ... You know, I hadn't even thought about why they chose that word or how they came to use that word or how that became the denotation for homosexuals. I don't know.

Green: Well, when you take that or the rainbow, as Hutch was saying [is] a promise from God, isn't that part of the goal? To distort what God gave us and to distort what would normally be a blessing and be something that you enjoy and honor and worship God because of?

Barton: Well, it goes back to the Garden [of Eden.] The Serpent said "oh yeah, if you'll eat this you will have the knowledge." Eh, it wasn't the right knowledge; you got knowledge but it was a distorted form. And that's why the Bible also says that Satan appears as an angel of light - he looks like the real thing, but it's a distortion. He doesn't come to give you the good things, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy, not give you life and not give you all the good things Jesus wants to give you in John 10:10, but he looks the same when he comes. You know, he makes the same offer, it just doesn't ever work out that way. And so it's the same thing, you take something good like "gay" and you distort it into something else.

AFA Promotes Barton's Christian-Persecution Bunk

The American Family Association describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with emphasis on moral issues that impact families.”  We know from AFA’s primary spokesperson Bryan Fischer that rank bigotry doesn’t seem to run afoul of AFA’s definition of decency.  So where does honesty figure in?

The July-August 2012 issue of the group’s magazine, AFA Journal, includes a two-page spread from David Barton, the “historian” whose lies and misrepresentations have earned him condemnation from actual scholars – including evangelical Christians. The article, “Evidence of executive enmity” supposedly summarizes the evidence that the “anti-biblical” President Obama “has an ax to grind with people of biblical faith.”  Barton complains about a range of Obama administration policies and recycles false and misleading claims that have been repeatedly debunked, as RWW’s Kyle Mantyla has noted repeatedly. Barton also claims that Obama demonstrated “preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions.”

Among Barton's Christian-persecution claims is that retired Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin was disinvited from speaking at West Point “because he is an outspoken Christian.”  (In reality Boykin was disinvited after many faculty and cadets – most of them Christian – opposed Boykin as an inappropriate speaker given his inflammatory statements describing US foreign policy as a spiritual war against Islam.)

Also featured in the AFA Journal is a quote from “Catholic sociologist” David R. Carlin, Jr, asserting in Crisis magazine that “[T]he drive for same sex marriage is not simply about same sex marriage or the moral legitimization of homosexual behavior; it is also about the de-legitimizing of Christian morality” and that “those who are pushing for the institution of same sex marriage are ipso facto pushing for the elimination of the Christian religion.”  But what about all those Christians who support marriage equality? Carlin dismisses them: "The trouble with 'liberal Christianity' is that it isn’t Christianity."

Barton: Christians who Criticize Me are Just Parroting their Secular Professor

It is no secret that we have been vocal critics of David Barton and his brand of pseudo-historical Religious Right activism, but we have not been going it alone as there a variety of individuals who have criticized Barton, ranging from Chris Rodda and Warren Throckmorton who have thoroughly debunked much of Barton's false history to Christian conservatives like Chris Pinto and Brannon Howse who have criticized him from the right.

Today on his radio program, Barton said he expects to be attacked by groups like us and Americans United and Media Matters because we all "hate God" but said he was surprised to get criticism from Christians and attributed that criticism to the fact that these Christians must have gotten their information from secular professors and are now just "parroting what they heard": 

Barton: Well one of the things I found really interesting is, certainly with what we do at WallBuilders, we got a lot of opponents, we got a lot of people who hate us. I was telling a group of law students the other day that I know of four law schools who have entire websites going after me. The book we recently did on the Jefferson Lies, there's two professors who came out with a book rebutting it before I'd even released the book! We don't have to read this stuff, we just know it's all false.

Rick Green: Hey, but if you're not taking flak you know you're not over the target, right?

Barton: Exactly. And what we have is a number of Christian colleges now teaching entire courses on how bad I am and so I'm one of these targets out there. And I expect that from the secular guys. I expect that from the the Freedom From Religion Society [sic], I expect that from Americans United, I expect that from People for the American Way and Media Matters ...

Green: ... the people that have worked so hard to move us away from our foundation.

Barton: The guys that hate God. What's been surprising is how many Christians have jumped on board - no, no God had nothing to do with the American founding; America was founded as a wicked nation; all the Founding Fathers were atheists and agnostics ...

Green: From the Christian community?

Barton: From the Christian community! Now I expect that from the secular guys but the reason it's coming from the Christian community is it goes back to something Jesus said in Luke 6:40 where he said "every student, when he's fully trained, will be like his teacher." now what's happened is all these secular guys have been training students that were Christians, but now these Christian kids have been trained with a secular philosophy, they've become our professors and they're just parroting what they heard. It's not that they went back and check for themselves, they just assumed that their professors were right- they really like their professors, they were nice guys and they were really educated and had three Ph.Ds and they told me all the Founders were atheists. And so now you've to Christians repeating exactly what they've been taught rather than what truth and what history actually is.

You will undoubtly shocked to learn that Barton's claim that the book refuting his "Jefferson Lies" book came out before his book was even released is entirely false.  His book was released on April 10 whereas "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President" was released on May 3.

Also, we hereby challenge Barton to name any of the "four law schools who have entire websites" dedicated to attacking him as well as to name even one of the "number of Christian colleges now teaching entire courses on how bad" he is because, frankly, we have no idea what he is talking about.

An Insight in David Barton's View of History

One of the central components of David Barton's entire brand of pseudo-history is the way in which he holds up obscure documents, sermons, and individuals from the Founding Era and presents them as representative of the entire generation. 

Barton will cite some textbook with references to God, or some sermon discussing the rights of conscience, or some Founding Father who delivered an impassioned defense of Christianity and declare that at the founding of this nation, everyone knew these things and held these views.

Barton is constantly citing unfamiliar individuals from the Founding Era, discussing how religious they were and then asserting that they were extremely influential in drafting the Constitution and shaping the nation.  The fact that nobody today has ever heard of any of them is, for Barton, proof that secularists have been succeeding in erasing our Christian history.

Today, Barton provided some insight into just how his mind works when making these sorts of claims when he hosted Rep. Todd Akin on his "WallBuilders Live" radio program.  Barton and co-host Rick Green were discussing how people today might be aware of maybe 20-25 high-profile members of Congress despite the fact that there are more than 500 hundred serving in office.  Lots of the lesser known members, Barton said, are dedicated Christians while the better-known members frequently are not, giving the American public a skewed view of just how truly Christian our Congress really is.  

Barton and Green held up Akin as proof, explaining that when he speaks to the Pastor's Briefings they regularly host on Washington, DC, the pastors are always blown away by just how deeply religious and biblically knowledgeable he is, prompting Barton and Green to compare Akin to John Witherspoon during the Founding Era:

Green: It's probably like with the Founding Fathers when you start pointing out all these guys that went to a seminary and were pastors and did all that, it changes people's perception of the Founders. I figure Todd Akin, he's like the John Witherspoon, you know Witherspoon was probably quoting a lot of the same stuff that Todd Akin is out there quoting to fellow members of Congress and to these pastors.

Barton: But the problem is, it's like today, you know I show that slide of the 56 signers of the [Declaration of Independence] and I get kids at really sharp schools, I mean Ivy League schools, and the most they can give me is two of the 56. And I start going through like John Witherspoon ... John Who? Never heard of John Witherspoon. Well, her served on a hundred committees in Congress, he was George Washington's boss, he was on the Board of War during the Revolution to direct the Revolution, he was the President of Princeton. You've never heard of him but he's a really significant Founding Father and, by the way, he is a preacher and a minister and wrote a dozen books of sermons and did two bibles - it's kind of like Todd Akin. If you throw Todd Akin out there, people go "Todd Who? Haven't heard of him." He's like that Witherspoon guy. We know the 20-25 out of Congress, not the 535 so the perception is bad.

This is rather telling because is reveals a bit about how Barton operate because, while Akin is certainly an influential member of Congress, he is probably not a "really significant" figure that future historians will be writing about two hundred years from now ... except, of course, for future Barton-like psuedo-historians who will probably look back on this current generation and hold up somewhat obscure elected officials like Akin as representative not only of the views of this Congress, but of this entire generation.

Barton: 'Many of the Clauses we Find in the Constitution are Literal, Direct Quotations out of the Bible'

We have been noticing in recent months that David Barton has developed a new series of talking points claiming not merely that various governmental and social institution were inspired by the Bible, but that specific provisions of the Constitution were taken verbatim from the Bible.

This entire idea hinges on Barton's assertion that the Founding Fathers and their entire generation were so well-versed in the Bible that their writings and speeches were filled with language and imagery that didn't even have to be attributed to the Bible because it was already obvious to everyone what they were quoting.

And this has become a central part of Barton's presentation, as he is going around the country declaring that because the Founding Fathers were so knowledgeable about the Bible, "it is absolutely no surprise that so many of the clauses we find in the Constitution are literal, direct quotations out of the Bible" ... even if they never "put a chapter and verse by it." 

Barton claims that if you "check that language of the Constitution against the Bible, you will go 'that is an exact quote!'" and then declares that Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, which guarantees to every state a Republican form of government, "came directly out of Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 1: 13-16, and Deuteronomy 16:18":

We have heard Barton make the bogus claim about Exodus 18:21 before but the Deuteronomy citations are new so, for the record, here are the passages that Barton claims were directly quoted in our Constitution:

Deuteronomy 1:13-16

Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”

So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.  And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you.

Deuteronomy 16:18

Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.

We challenge anyone to find these "literal, direct quotations out of the Bible" printed anywhere in the US Constitution.

Apparently, Criticizing David Barton is now Proof that he Speaks the Truth

Historians across the board, including evangelicals, have roundly criticized and debunked the work of Religious Right pseudo-historian and WallBuilders president David Barton, whose shoddy history has been repeatedly documented on this blog. However, Barton’s influence among social conservatives and leading Republicans, including presidential candidates, continues to grow.

As exhibited today in a WallBuilders Live interview with David French of the American Center for Law and Justice, it appears that Barton’s clout has increased not despite the overwhelming criticism he has received for his faux-history and extremist views but because of it. French told Barton’s deputy Rick Green that disapproval of Barton’s work is proof that he is speaking the truth!

Green: We’re worried about cratering because someone might say, ‘that’s mean-spirited’!

French: Exactly, or, ‘you’re a bigot,’ and then all of a sudden you are immediately backpedalling. It shows the power that we have allowed peer and cultural regard to have over our lives and heart. One of the best things that any Christian can do is to begin to just break away from that, to become indifferent to that.

You guys, you and David, get such hate all the time from folks who are just appalled that you are bringing truth about America’s heritage into the public square, a truth they have been spending generations trying to squelch. I’m sure it hurts on some occasion when you see it but it’s also a sign that you guys are making incredible progress and incredible headway and you’ve gotten a message out that I can just tell in the Christian community in the past five to ten years, there’s a difference in knowledge about America because of the work that you guys have done.

Green: Hey man, if you’re not taking flak you’re not over the target right?

French: Exactly.

Green: It could be a good thing. I think you’re dead-on, if you are speaking truth, if you are doing something that’s going to make a difference, you’re going to take some criticism. We need to challenge this generation to actually be excited about the opportunity to stand for truth.

Barton certainly has made a “difference in knowledge about America”…by consistently fabricating and disseminating false claims about American history.

Questions arise in Alabama after Public TV Employees were Fired after Rebuffing David Barton Programming

In no uncertain terms, David Barton is not a historian, but a hyper-partisan political activist whose writings have been so repeatedly and thoroughly debunked that he is not taken seriously outside of certain conservative circles. Indeed, right-wing figures regularly hail Barton, whose only degree is a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, as not just a historian but perhaps even the greatest historian.

Since Barton’s discredited claims about American history have such a following it was no surprise to see that a member of the Alabama Educational Television Commission pressured the state’s educational public television outlet to air one of Barton’s “history” series. And yesterday, the Current Public Media blog reported that Alabama Public Television managers Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland were fired possibly after refusing a request from commissioner Rodney Herring, a Republican Party official and donor, to broadcast Barton’s program:

The Alabama Educational Television Commission came out of an executive session Tuesday afternoon and ordered veteran pubcaster Allan Pizzato and his deputy Pauline Howland to clean out their desks and leave APT’s headquarters in Birmingham.

Pizzato had served 12 years as executive director of APT, a statewide network governed by a board of seven political appointees.

Howland, deputy director and chief financial officer, described the firings in an interview with Current and said she was "baffled" by the dismissals. But she also recalled how Pizzato had asked staff in April for advice about a series of videos that AETC commissioners wanted APT to air.

The videos featured David Barton, an evangelical minister and conservative activist whose publications and media appearances promote his theories about the religious intentions of America’s founders. He frequently appears on political commentary programs hosted by conservative Glenn Beck.



AETC Commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika-based chiropractor, had provided the series to APT for broadcast consideration. Herring joined the commission last year and was elected board secretary in January. As of late Wednesday evening, Herring did not return a voice message from Current.

Kyle Whitmire of the weekly newspaper Weld for Birmingham also reported on the firings and pressure from “members of the commission to air programing produced by David Barton”:

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Weld on Tuesday that APTV executive director Allan Pizzato and chief financial officer Pauline Howland were ordered to clean out their desks and escorted from the building on Tuesday, and the two executives were not allowed to speak to staff or explain the change on the premises. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to make public statements about APTV’s internal affairs.



In recent months, APTV has been pressured by members of the commission to air programing produced by David Barton, a Texas evangelist. Barton’s organization, Wall Builders, has produced a series of videos promoting a religious conservative view of American History. The Wall Builders website explains its purpose is to promote Christian religious values.

As Kyle has noted, Barton’s new “Building on the American Heritage Series” features not only the same faux-history but also Creationist and anti-choice claims, demands for greater intolerance of gays and lesbians and an appeal for the criminalization of homosexuality:

But this kind of rhetoric may find its way onto Alabama’s public television soon, all under the guise of “history.”

Why is David Barton Ducking Debates About his Work?

Last year, Warren Throckmorton began writing a series of blog posts about the false claims made by David Barton about Thomas Jefferson, which eventually culminated in a new book he co-authored called "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President."

At the time when Throckmorton was just beginning this undertaking, he was invited to appear on a radio program hosted by Paul Edwards to discuss his work alongside Barton himself, who had initially agreed to appear on the program but then reneged once he learned that he'd actually have to defend his work against someone who could challenge his false claims and set the record straight. Barton eventually agreed to appear on the program but refused to debate Throckmorton directly, insisting that he would only speak with Edwards.

Throckmorton has not been the only one working to debunk Barton's brand of right-wing pseudo-history, as history professor John Fea has also taken on Barton's work in both his book "Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?" as well as on his blog.

Today, Fea reported that he and Barton were invited to appear on a radio program hosted by Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries last night to discuss Barton's work ... and once again, when faced with the prospect of having to defend his work against someone capable of setting the record straight, Barton backed out

Newcombe didn't waste any time bringing up David Barton's new book on Thomas Jefferson. He thought that Barton's argument in the book was on the mark and he questioned why I had called him a "pseudo-historian." He reminded me that "pseudo" was a derivative of the Greek word for "liar."

I responded to Newcombe by saying some of the same things I have written about numerous times here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. I think Barton's work is problematic for two reasons.

First, he often gets his facts wrong. (On this point I gave a plug for Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter's e-book, Getting Jefferson Right). Newcombe defended Barton by pointing to the numerous "unconfirmed quotations" that Barton put on his website after he was called out by historians. He saw this as a mark of Barton's integrity. I wonder if Barton will do the same thing about some of his factual inaccuracies and misleading interpretations in The Jefferson Lies.

Second, Barton misrepresents the past by manipulating it for his own partisan political views. Historians need to be somewhat removed from the political process so that they can interpret the past in a disinterested and nonpartisan way. If they get too broiled in promoting causes they lose some of their integrity as historians.

...

I was originally supposed to appear on the show with David Barton, but Barton backed out.

UPDATE: Fea clarifies that Barton was not necessarily scheduled to be on at the same time as him, but rather later in the program:

I think I should clarify. I was never scheduled to be on the Newcombe show AT THE SAME TIME as Barton. He was going to follow me. In other words, we were never scheduled to be on the air together. All I know is that I was contacted by a publicist (who was contacted by Newcombe) who asked me to appear on the show. I was told that Barton would be on the air following my interview with Newcombe. Then a day or two later I was told that Barton would not be on the show. I should say that this has happened more than once. Draw your own conclusions.

Barton: 'It Makes Perfect Sense' that People are on Welfare Because they are not Reading the Bible

As we have noted several times in recent months, David Barton has a bit of a habit of saying things that are fundamentally and demonstrably untrue ....a tendency he continued today on "WallBuilders Live" when he praised Liberty University by claiming that the LU Law School was one of the top schools in the nation:

Every year, US News and World Report produces a list of the best law schools in America that ranks the top 150 schools and Liberty University Law School was ranked number "Rank Not Published," meaning it didn't even qualify among the top 150.  Thus, it is a little hard to understand how it could be considered one of the top law schools in the nation when it doesn't even make the list of top law schools in the nation.

Later, Barton began musing about some supposed connection linking welfare to failure to read the Bible enough, saying he'd love to see some study done that examines the correlation because "it makes perfect sense":

Wouldn't it be interesting to do a study between those that are on welfare and see how much and how often they read the Bible. You know, if Booker T. Washington is right that Christianity and reading the Bible increases your desires and therefore your ability for hard work; if we take that as an axiom, does that mean that the people who are getting government assistance spend nearly no time in the Bible, therefore have no desire, and therefore no ability for hard work? I could go a lot of places with this. I would love to see this proven out in some kind of sociological study, but it makes perfect sense.

David Barton's Relentless Dishonesty Knows No Bounds

The other day I mentioned that I had begun working my way through "The One Year Chronological Bible" which I am reading in conjunction with The ESV Study Bible. Last night I made it to Exodus 18 and came across this passage:

But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

That passage seemed familiar, mainly because it is what David Barton cites when he claims that God created the concept of elections and that our Founding Fathers explicitly cited that passage as the basis for Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution:

Notice how Barton says "God says choose out from among you leaders of tens, fiftys, hundreds, and thousands"? What I realized last night is that in Exodus 18, it is not God speaking, but rather Moses' father-in-law Jethro. 

After having led the Israelites out of Egypt, "Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God." While Jethro was visiting, Moses went out to serve as judge for the Israelites and settle their disputes, but there were so many that the task lasted all day.  Jethro, seeing that the workload was too great, suggested that Moses should "select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." Then these judges would hear the simple cases while reserving for Moses the difficult ones and easing his burden. And that is exactly what Moses did:

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

It is flagrantly false for Barton to claim that it was God speaking in this passage and utterly misleading for him to claim that it has anything to do with establishing elections. In fact, it was Moses alone who picked which judges to place in charge, which is pretty much the exact opposite of an election.

As we have said before, it is getting to the point where we now have to check nearly every assertion that Barton makes because so many of them turn out to be fundamentally false.  And if Barton is willing to lie about what the Bible says, it raises the question of whether there anything that he won't he lie about? 

Barton: 'I Don't Care What the Supreme Court Says,' Homosexuality Should be Illegal

Earlier this year, we stumbled upon a few episodes of David Barton's "Building on the American Heritage Series" that had been posted on the TBN website. Today, while searching form something else, we noticed that several other episodes from that same series had also been posted and so we are working our way through them.

Near the end of the episode entitled "Politics In The Pulpit," Barton made a point that the purpose of the church is not to create harmony or unity among the congregants but to preach the word of God's and support God's laws.  As such, Barton cited 1 Timothy 1:8-10 in order to declare that the purpose of the law is to punish ungodly and sinful (like gays) regardless of what the Supreme Court rules:

Once Again, Barton Falsely Claims the Constitution Reflects the Bible 'Verbatim'

Last week we wrote another post in our on-going series highlighting social and governmental institutional that David Barton claims came directly out of the Bible.  And today we found a presentation that Barton delivered last month where he once again made all of these now standard claims, but this time with the additional claim that the Constitution's provision regarding treason "is a verbatim quote out of Ezekiel 18:20":

Here is Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution: 

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

And here is Ezekiel 18:20:

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

This is the second time that Barton has falsely claimed that a specific provision in the Constitution reflects Biblical language verbatim, leading us to suspect that he does not actually know what the word "verbatim" means.

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David Barton Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/20/2013, 11:09am
As a general rule, the candidate who receives the most votes in an election is declared the winner.  But that would all change if the Family Research Council's Ken Blackwell gets his way and states start adopting a vote-rigging scheme that he is recommending whereby, in a presidential election, electoral votes would switch from winner-take-all allocations to a system where they were awarded according to congressional districts. As a result of such a switch, candidates who lose the overall popular vote in a state could still end up receiving a majority of that state's electoral... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/12/2013, 9:20am
One of the great things about David Barton is that once he has adopted a talking point, he continues to repeat it regardless of how absurd or out of date it has become. For example, earlier this week Barton appeared on "Praise the Lord" where he told hosts Matt and Laurie Crouch that legal abortion will not be an issue in twenty years because God has sent a new generation of teenagers who are overwhelmingly pro-life. Claiming that polls show that 72% of teens oppose abortion, Barton said they were "an answer that God has sent with a new generation; we just gotta train these... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/09/2013, 4:33pm
Don Byrd @  Baptist Joint Committee: Scalia: Church-State Standing is the “Greatest Miscarriage of Constitutional Justice.” Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk To Action: Significance of Sept. 11 Date of Ron Paul's Speech and the Russia-Centric Vision of the Fatima Center. Jeremy Hooper: Peter LaBarbera's useful role: Pulling mask off his movement's 'nice' talk. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: Far-right lawmakers freelance in Egypt. Ben Dimiero & Coleman Lowndes: Newt Gingrich's CNN Pitch Reel. Washington Blade: Stolen document... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/09/2013, 12:08pm
Despite the fact that the Religious Right still loves him, there can be no doubt that David Barton's reputation has suffered in recent years due, in large part, to the efforts of many Christian historians and professors who have worked diligently to debunk his pseudo-history. Barton, of course, doesn't see it that way, as he explained to a conference last year when he declared that the real reason all these professors were attacking him is because they are hostile to any teaching about God. Asserting that the true purpose of history is to chronicle the way in which God has carried out... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/09/2013, 10:15am
While David Barton’s egregiously bad and outright dishonest scholarship makes him a laughable figure among historians, as Politico’s Stephanie Simon points out, his work continues to be popular among conservative activists and GOP politicians. Barton, himself a leader of the Texas Republican Party, pushes an avowedly partisan take on history while at the same time claiming that any criticism of his work is politically-motivated. Although Barton’s biggest critics include scholars from conservative and evangelical institutions, Republican leaders don’t... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/09/2013, 8:46am
Over the weekend, Politico ran a profile of David Barton which pointed out that he remains extremely popular with the Religious Right and members of Congress, despite the fact that he is the author of the "least credible history book in print" and his "scholarship" is laughable. The piece noted that even his supporters have been forced to secretly edit videos and programs posted on their websites in order to remove some of Barton's more egregious falsehoods, yet they continue to stand by him, as Barton brags that the mounting evidence of his fundamentally inaccurate... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/06/2013, 1:26pm
Today on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton returned to one of his favorite themes: that all true science and knowledge must correspond to the Bible. As Barton has said before, all science that contradicts the Bible is false science. As such, it will eventually be realized that things like salt are good for you because that is what the Bible says; in fact, you can basically just take all of your healthcare recommendations straight from Bible. Today, Barton added that everything the Bible says on every issue will eventually be confirmed by science:  Barton: If God tells you to... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/05/2013, 4:30pm
The American Family Association is ending its three-year long boycott against Home Depot, claiming that the company has stopped making contributions to pro-gay causes.  We look forward to Home Depot responding by pointing out that the AFA is lying. Focus on the Family's Kim Trobee says gay activists are eager to "force an entire nation into submission." David Barton has endorsed Georgia State Senator Barry Loudermilk, which makes sense given that Loudermilk mindlessly repeats Barton's nonsense. Rush Limbaugh literally has a new book coming out entitled... MORE >