Monday, September 9, 2013

Politico: David Barton’s Political Usefulness Trumps Scholarship For Evangelical Groups

That's the title to Warren Throckmorton's story here. And here is the Politico article. A taste from Politico:
Led by Warren Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College, the Christian scholars tore apart the new book, pointing out a bevy of errors and distortion. Several pastors picked up the thread, organizing a boycott of Barton’s publisher, the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson. The critiques gained so much steam that Barton’s book was voted “the least credible history book in print” in an online poll by the History News Network. 
Barton rejected the barrage of criticism as mean-spirited, politically motivated and just plain wrong. But in August, his publisher withdrew “The Jefferson Lies.” A senior executive explained to NPR that Thomas Nelson couldn’t stand by the book because “basic truths just were not there.” 
It was a stunning repudiation of Barton’s credibility. 
But to his critics’ astonishment, Barton has bounced back. He has retained his popular following and his political appeal — in large part, analysts say, because he brings an air of sober-minded scholarship to the culture wars, framing the modern-day agenda of the religious right as a return to the Founding Fathers’ vision for America. 
“It has been shocking how much resistance there is to critically examining what Barton says,” said Scott Culpepper, an associate professor of history at Dordt College who has critiqued Barton’s scholarship. “I really underestimated the power of the political element in evangelicalism.”


Anonymous said...

“I really underestimated the power of the political element in evangelicalism.”

Well, someone has been paying attention, have they?

polymathis said...

I am glad his work was repudiated. And I am not surprised his reputation is still strong in some circles. I used to be part of that unthinking, or rather, emoting and dogmatist group. I do not think less of them but pray and try to teach them proper critical thinking as part of the Christian heritage.

Tom Van Dyke said...

After the "Jefferson Lies" debacle, it's questionable David Barton will ever have the influence he once did.

The irony was that the "several pastors picked up the thread" were well-known left-wing activists, and Barton was nailed not for his main thesis of religion and the Founding, but for downplaying Jefferson's slaveholding.

He touched the third rail.