Among The Religious Right, David Barton's Reputation Remains Untarnished

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 history has not damaged his reputation one iota:

During their campaign to point out the errors in Barton’s work, his Christian critics asked two of the nation’s biggest evangelical advocacy groups, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, to stop promoting his faulty scholarship.

The FRC responded by quietly pulling from its website a popular video showcasing clips of Barton leading one of his Capitol tours. FRC Vice President Kenyn Cureton said the video was removed because of “a few historical inaccuracies.”

But the group continues to promote Barton elsewhere on its website as a “good friend” and “close ally.”

Focus on the Family, meanwhile, edited two videos on its website featuring a lengthy interview Barton gave to Focus radio. The editing deleted a segment in which Barton declares that Congress printed the first English-language Bible in America — and intended it to be used in schools. That’s one of Barton’s signature stories — it’s a highlight in his Capitol tour — but historians who have reviewed the documentation say it’s simply not true. Focus also cut an inaccurate anecdote about a contemporary legal case, which Barton cited to make the point that society today punishes people of faith.

Asked why the videos were edited, Carrie Gordon Earll, a senior director of public policy at Focus on the Family, at first said they had not been, though before-and-after footage can be publicly viewed on websites archiving Focus broadcasts. Earll then said she could not comment beyond a statement noting that Focus “has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with David Barton” and respects his “broad base of knowledge” about early American history.

In an interview with POLITICO, Barton said his remarks were sometimes taken out of context but defended his scholarship as impeccable.

And he said the controversy last summer did no damage to his standing, “not at all.”

If anyone knows anything about taking things out of context, it would be Barton, since that is a central feature of his "scholarship."

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Organizations:

Focus on the Family