David Barton: The Revisionist "Historian" for the "Religious Right"
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The Right-Wing Watch at the People for the American Way has concluded that: “David Barton is in many ways emblematic of politics in Fox News - Tea Party America, in which facts are distorted in service of a right-wing ideological agenda, and in which political opponents are denigrated as enemies of faith and freedom. Barton’s work has repeatedly been debunked by historians and scholars, yet conservative political leaders and pundits continue to promote his manipulations in order to help Republicans get elected and in order to advance the Religious Right’s – and now the Tea Party’s – political agenda. It is urgently important for scholars, public officials, and responsible media outlets to vigorously challenge efforts by Barton, his supporters, and the movements they represent to mis-educate current and future generations of Americans on the Constitution and the abiding American values of religious liberty, equal opportunity, and equality under the law.”
I got that quote from an article about Why the "Religious Right" Is Wrong, which is a comprehensive critique covering the history from the days when Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" rose to political power with Ronald Reagan, to the present day when Glenn Beck praises David Barton and calls him "the greatest man in America," despite the fact that Barton simply lies about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution AND divine intent in order to further the right-wing theocratic agenda.
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Most Americans don't know much about Barton, but gradually during the last five years, especially since the "religious right" and the Reaganites have had to become more defensive (and therefore more offensive), Barton has provided the "Tea Party," Libertarians and right-wing Republicans a lot of phony revisionist history to "justify" their right-wing activism.
Let me quote a relevant excerpt from Why the "Religious Right" Is Wrong:
The "religious right" in America has even been pushing the idea that the Founding Fathers wanted the United States of America to be a Christian nation, and even a Christian Theocracy. In recent years they have even concocted a revisionist history justify themselves. That is perhaps demonstrated most in the words and actions of self-proclaimed "historians" such as Texan evangelist David Barton. And to further their right-wing theocratic agenda they have sold the so-called "Tea Party" and others on the "religious right" their revisionist "history."
Fortunately, they are proven wrong by the Founding Fathers themselves (see Quotes From the Founding Fathers Regarding Religion). But people like Barton ignore the facts of the matter and he instead makes up his own story. For example, he refers to the Aitken Bible and claims that "Congress approved it in 1782 for use in the public schools," and further claims it proves that the Founding Fathers wanted America to be a Christian nation exclusively.
However, Barton's claims are terribly misleading for many reasons. For example, it was the short-lived Continental Congress that approved the 1782 Aitken Bible, and it was only to assist the publishing industry. The Aitken Bible was produced before the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787, and the Constitution of course established freedom of religion, prohibited any law regarding the establishment of religion, and prevented any religious requirement for political office.
In spite of the facts, Barton simply fabricates stories. Another example of that is his version about what the Northwest Ordinance was about, which is why many real historians and scholars have been debunking Barton's claims (as has been explained by Chris Rodda at Reclaiming Citizenship, History and Faith here, and by People for the American Way's Right-Wing Watch here).
Now Barton, of course, is but one of many Theocrats who masquerade as Christians. But the truth about him is important, because even though the divisive, partisan ideology of the "Religious Right" in America is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended, and even opposite of what Jesus of Nazareth taught, they think they are justified by "The Word of God."
The reality, however, is that pick and choose words and they focus on isolated sentences from the Christian Bible, and they misinterpret what Jesus taught (see Poverty: America's Greatest Shame). Even worse, they simply ignore the preponderance of scriptural evidence that proves them wrong and hypocritical.
I highly recommend the article, because only truth like that will turn the tables on dishonest, deceptive hypocrites like Barton.