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.