Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Danger of David Barton

I realize that I already made this post over at the American Revolution Blog, but I was hoping that it might instigate a discussion over here. And besides, I need to catch up to Brad and Jon who have already made a bunch of posts!

Over the past few years, I have developed a serious problem with the "history" of David Barton. Barton's blatant bias, combined with his lack of historical integrity shocks me. Don't get me wrong, I believe that there are some GREAT historians out there who embrace evangelical teachings, but Barton's agenda is so transparent that I cannot see how people take him seriously. I realize that my saying this might be construed as insensitive or insulting. By no means am I trying to be this way. In fact, I think it is important for you all to know that I embrace evangelical teachings myself. With that said, however, I cannot believe a word that comes out of David Barton's mouth, when he talks about history. Where is his training? Certainly it is not in history.

Arguably the most ridiculous claims made by Barton come from his book, America's Godly Heritage, where he states that 52 of the 55 signers to the Declaration of Independence were "orthodox" or "evangelical Christians." Are you kidding me??? In a wonderful critique of this ridiculous book, one writer states, "Barton does not cite any authority to support this assertion. Indeed, the weight of scholarly opinion is to the contrary." In another critique of Barton's assertions (done by the Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Liberty) Barton is severely chastised for his lack of historical integrity and for his more-than-ridiculous claims. And here is yet another brilliant rebuttal of Barton's falsehoods, which was written in Church and State Magazine in August of 1996.

As an Evangelical Christian, what aggravates me about the religious right (and Barton in particular) is the fact that SERIOUS scholarly inquiry and discovery are completely rejected in the name of "Christian" values. Facts are often distorted, ignored or even altered simply to "fit" a particular agenda or belief. This sentiment of theological arrogance, which is used to trump sincere intellectual inquiry is one of the main reasons why so many in the mainstream community have a problem with the religious right today. If Barton would cease to publish such rubbish, which is blatantly false and biased, perhaps people would feel differently.

This video is a perfect example of Barton's ridiculous "historical" claims:

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