A spirited discussion has broken out in more than one post between Chris Rodda and Tom Van Dyke below about her treatment of David Barton. I do not want to put words in Tom's mouth but I have surmised that while he agrees with much of what she has written, he feels that she focuses too much on the chaff of Barton's thesis and ignores the wheat.
Put another way, I asked her to think about whether she is straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel? This is because I have been on record for years now agreeing with the Secular Left that David Barton gets it wrong at times. I personally think that he overplays his hand and sees Christianity where it is not quite often. It is public knowledge that many of the facts he uses to prove his case have some serious errors. Nonetheless, despite all this, his overall thesis is more or less correct:
The American Founding was influenced by Christianity a whole lot more than is commonly taught
With that said, I understand where Rodda and others are coming from in their arguments about History with the Religious Right. I find myself in discussions with the Religious Right quite often and in some ways might even be part of it in regards to some of my stances on various issues. As someone that can relate with this group I find it aggravating that so many dismiss other influences besides Christianity in regards to our Founding. I get it believe me.
What I cannot fathom is why Barton gets the microscope and Secularists on the Left get a free pass from Ms. Rodda and others? Yes, "Christian Nation" meant something different to most of our Founders than it would to some Evangelicals today. But why point that out and ignore that "Secular Nation" meant something different to most of our founders than it does to most strict Secularists today?
If you look closely I call out "some" Evangelicals and "most" strict Secularists above. That is because as someone that has these discussions with both groups quite frequently, I see more "Revisionists" in the latter group than the former by far.
I have always tried to be fair with Ms. Rodda over the years because I respect her love of History. She really does a great job at hunting down facts to prove her case. What troubles me is her narrow focus in regards to this topic and the fact that even David Barton gets a lot of things right. It also troubles me that she seems to want to take on the low hanging fruit like Barton who is not even a Historian and totally ignore other more prominent voices on the Right that are Historians. This results in glaring holes in her overall thesis.
Long story short, if you are going to call your opponents a bunch of "liars" and focus on a lot of minute points you better make sure that your side has its story straight. I assure you that the Secular Left does not have its story straight in regards to its understanding of the history of religion and the Founding.
With that stated I would like to ask Ms. Rodda a question:
Do you really believe that even the most secularist of our founders like Jefferson looked at America as a "Secular Nation" the same way that you do? That is the real question in regards to the religion in the public square debate and history.