In November, President Donald Trump issued an executive order creating a “1776 Commission” for the purpose of “promoting patriotic education.” Alleging that liberals have hijacked the teaching of history by presenting “one-sided and divisive accounts [that] too often ignore or fail to properly honor and recollect the great legacy of the American national experience,” Trump’s commission aims to “provide America’s young people access to what is genuinely inspiring and unifying in our history, as well as to the lessons imparted by the American experience of overcoming great national challenges.”
This is exactly the sort of nonsense argument long made by prominent right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton of WallBuilders, whose entire enterprise is built on the false notion that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation. As such, it was no surprise to learn that Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia is circulating a letter to his fellow members of Congress urging Trump to name Barton as the chairman of the 1776 Commission.
“I have put a letter together trying to get as many members of Congress to sign on to this recommending David Barton to chair that national commission,” Loudermilk said. “So, I hope you join with me in praying that we can get that done because I think that would be huge.”
Barton is a right-wing activist and Christian nationalist who masquerades as a historian despite possessing no academic credentials, exaggerates about his past, and whose work is so unreliable that his own publisher was forced to pull one of his books off the market.
Among the outlandish claims Barton has made is his repeated assertion that God is preventing researchers from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS because it is a divine “penalty” for gay people’s “shameful sexual acts.”
Barton has called homosexuality “absolutely reprehensible and disgusting” and proposed that it be regulated. He has blamed gay people for high health care costs and said that marriage equality means we “are going down as a nation.”
He has insisted that America can never enact laws that legalize things like abortion or gay marriage because they contradict the moral law established by God, claimed that the demons control parts of Capitol Hill, and asserted that the Founding Fathers, Pilgrims, Puritans and the Bible all opposed Net Neutrality.
He falsely claims that multiple clauses in Constitution were based “almost verbatim” on passages from the Bible and asserted that the absence of any mention of God in the Constitution is proof that it is not a secular document. He also insists that as a Christian, he is entitled to “more protection” under the Constitution than others and he thinks that Christians should not have to pay taxes.
Barton routinely misrepresents the Bible in order to promote his right-wing political agenda by claiming, among other things, the Jesus opposes the minimum wage, government bailouts, and income tax. He also incessantly promotes false and misleading claims about American history as well as current events.
Barton is little more than a right-wing operative who intentionally spreads disinformation about the Bible, the Constitution, the nation’s history, and contemporary news in order to promote his radical political agenda. As such, he has no business serving on the 1776 Commission, much less chairing it.