In a lengthy interview with the authors of the “Article VI Blog” (Article VI refers to the section in the US Constitution states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”) pseudo-historian David Barton reports that, just as he has in the past, he’ll be working for the Republican National Committee during this election cycle
John: … So, David, my next question would be, you worked for the RNC in ’04, is that correct?
David Barton: That’s correct – in 2004 as well as in earlier cycles; and they have approached me to help in this cycle as well. So I guess that makes four cycles that I have worked with them.
John: Could you describe your activities.
David Barton: The activities I do for the RNC are not a lot different from what I do in any other setting. The audience is slightly different, but the message I deliver remains largely the same. What I did for the RNC was particularly talk to the constituency that included people of faith and social conservatives (there’s a lot of overlap between the two). I would essentially show the historical and Biblical reasons for people of faith to be involved politically. We also did a number of pastors’ conferences giving that same information but also distributing a four page letter from the IRS laying out exactly what churches can and cannot do as 501(c)(3) organizations. I try to clarify a lot of the confusion in this area, because there are several groups on the left that aggressively attempt to intimidate and silence pastors.
That’s what I do for RNC with pastors. With general citizen rallies arranged by the RNC, I cover much of the same material but without the IRS aspect since that is not germane to the actions of individual citizens. These rallies are frequently packed out (as we recently saw in Iowa, Ohio, and other states) with grass roots conservative activists who want more historical information and also specific information about what they can do in a campaign. So, although I switch hats back and forth between political and non-profit groups, probably 90% of the message will stay the same.
As we noted in our recent report on Barton, he is not a historian – his educational credentials consists of a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola Christian College – but rather a propagandist intent on convincing his audience that America was designed to be a Christian nation and that all good Christians must vote Republican.
Not surprisingly, the Right has embraced Barton’s work, with senators like Sam Brownback hailing his research as providing “the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today — bringing God back into the public square.”
Of course, actual academics have a different interpretation of Barton’s credibility
Derek Davis, the director of the JM Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, said of Barton: “He’s not a trained historian. He can be very convincing to an uninitiated audience. He’s intelligent. He’s well-spoken. But a lot of what he presents is a distortion of the truth … [H]e assumes that because [the Founding Fathers] were religious, our government should be, too.”
A decade ago, Republican Senator Arlen Specter took to the pages of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and dismissed many of Barton’s arguments as “[ranging] from the technical to the absurd,” noting that they “proceed from flawed and highly selective readings of both text and history.” Specter went on to state that Barton’s “pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.”
Apparently the RNC is among those who continue to take Barton’s work “pseudoscholarship … so very seriously,” enough so that it is willing to secure his services once again in its effort to mobilize pastors and activists for electoral gain.