http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:David_Barton_close-up.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:David_Barton_close-up.jpg

Texas tea partiers have launched a movement to draft David Barton to mount a primary challenge to Texas Sen. John Cornyn next year, reports Politico. If they succeed, it will mark the “constitutional conservative” era of the religious right.

Barton is best known as the author of The Jefferson Lies and other works that portray even the most deistic Founding Fathers as good Christians. While the historical record does not sustain his claims (The Jefferson Lies was withdrawn by Thomas Nelson after its misrepresentations were pointed out), Barton has made a successful career as the country’s leading promoter of the U.S.A. as a Christian enterprise.

He has ties to reconstructionism, the neo-Calvinist movement dedicated to making contemporary societies adhere to Biblical law, especially the moral regime of Leviticus. But he’s better seen as the avatar of what I call Primitive Americanity — the idea that America must be restored to a state of original purity (along the lines of the Primitive Christianity that various American restorationist groups have sought to institute over the years).

Barton’s restorationism is embodied in the organization he heads, which takes its name, WallBuilders, from the Book of Nehemiah’s account of how (in Bartonian lingo) ”the nation of Israel rallied together in a grassroots movement to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and thus restore stability, safety, and a promising future to that great city.” Mutatis mutandis:

Combining both the educational and the public policy information, WallBuilders offers public presentations on a variety of topics ranging from our Godly heritage to what can be done to restore Biblical principles in our nation.

It’s not far-fetched to imagine Barton mounting a challenge to Country Clubby Cornyn. He served as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party from 1997 to 2006 and is close to Gov. Rick Perry. He appeals to the same anti-GOP-establishment constituency in the Lone Star State as T.P. wunderkind Ted Cruz. As the face of the religious right today, David Barton would, if elected, be a shot heard round the world.

Update: And he’s not running…for now.

Categories: Politics

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.

17 Comments

  1. Wow, what a smear job. I know the 10 commandments have always been controversial but they are the basis of common law. Professor, your screed against Barton is unfair, unbalanced, dis-honest and reads like a 30 second political attack ad, the kind of hit ads with unflattering black and white photos. I would have thought someone with your learning and intelligence would be more kind and committed to the whole truth in public expression. (Eph 4:32)

      • First of all, as a professor you know how cranky the doctors at the history department behave, protecting turf and pedigree. Do they still wear those padded elbow jackets? The “professional historians” kvetching over O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln was a case in point, those professionals would have burned the book over minuscule errors, subsequently corrected. The bulk of Barton’s career has been about examining the state of the culture at the founding and pointing out how religion has been systematically removed from public discourse. I challenge you study the curriculum, lesson plans and textbooks of say, the 6th grade, in 1800 verses the 6th grade today. (“But teacher, their is so much more history, today.”) Barton’s earlier material actually contains reprints of this material.
        Frankly, professor, you would be embarrassed at how far we’ve fallen in elementary education. If someone makes a mistake in a book, the author should be allowed to correct the errors or to explain the controversial passages publicly. It is outrageous to attempt to boycott the publisher, ban/burn the book, or demand someones head on a pike. I have not read Barton’s, The Jefferson Lies, and I surmise neither have you. But because you mentioned it so derogatorily, I feel my Amazon Prime one click calling. I would be willing to buy and send you a copy as a gift, if you would be willing to discuss it further with a humble plebeian sans PhD from Albuquerque. Best regards.

        • Lets make one thing clear, David Barton is a liar. An unabashed, very financially successful, famous liar.

          One who has been successful in disseminating his lies among theocratically minded people. So much so that many quote his nonsense without realizing they are doing so.

          The bulk of David Barton’s work has been to quote-mine, fabricate or make complete misrepresentations of what the Founders said and meant. None of his work has held up to the slightest bit of scrutiny either by professionals or amateurs finding primary sources for the quotes he uses.

          David Barton deserves all of the scorn and social sanction he gets, more than he usually gets. The man has become rich and politically influential by pure unadulterated dishonesty. His work lowers the intelligence of national discourse. It attacks our cherished notions of religious freedom.

          • Larry, please provide me the three biggest “lies” Barton has written that you are aware of, so that I may research your assertion.

    • Often repeated bullcrap by people who don’t want to think very hard. Only 3 of the commandments are taken seriously under our laws and government (No stealing, murder or perjury). The same 3 which are universal to all cultures.

      The first 4 (1 God, no graven images, keep the sabbath holy, no blashpemy speech) are purely sectarian in nature, enforcing monotheism and completely ignored by our 1st Amendment religious freedoms. 3 other commandments (No adultery, no coveting people or property) are completely untouched by our laws and government because it would attack personal liberties.

      Barton is an unabashed liar. There is no way to sugarcoat this. His supporters are either OK with that or too ignorant and lazy to care. He fabricates and manipulates quotes from the founders to pretend they would have been on board for his theocratic position. The man deserves smearing as much as possible. Liars who profit from their efforts don’t deserve an ounce of respect.

      Anyone committed to the truth would not touch Barton with a 10′ pole.

      • Larry, you are incorrect. All ten of the commandments, in one form or another have been basis of our laws. Our motto is(at least for now), In God We Trust. Laws regulating commercial activity on Sunday used to be very common. Adultery is still a grounds for divorce, etc. It is true Christian’s tend not to throw rocks at blasphemers, allowing for Divine retribution, but College speech codes have even banned that.

        • As for the 10 Commandments, I already showed your argument was full of crap. All you did is say, “nuh-huh” and repeated the same lies as if my previous comment never happened. You are proof that David Barton’s followers are ignorant or dishonest.

          “Larry, please provide me the three biggest “lies” Barton has written that you are aware of, so that I may research your assertion.”

          David Barton’s lies are so well documented any google search will turn up a dozen+ pages of it. If the man says anything factual, it would be the exception, not the rule.
          https://www.google.com/search?q=david+barton+lies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

          https://www.google.com/search?q=david+barton+lies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=david+barton+misrepresentation&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial

          https://www.google.com/search?q=david+barton+lies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=david+barton+fake+quotes&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial

          Stop feigning ignorance of this well worn criticism of him. You do not live in a bubble.

          ” It is true Christian’s tend not to throw rocks at blasphemers”

          No True Scotsman argument? Give me a break.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.