This new blog feature harnesses the expertise of American religious historians who care about the cities of God and the cities of humans. It’s a space where scholarly expertise collides with the faith, hope and love of those of us who seek thoughtful reflection about our pasts to bear upon the confusing issues of our presents.
David Barton is what I call a “faux historian.” With only a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, Barton has written widely on American history, remaking it into his own image. He’s been called upon as an “expert” by the Texas Board of Education, the Republican Party and the likes of right-wing talking head Glenn Beck.
Many conservatives love Barton’s historical revisionism, particularly his arguments that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the founders did not share our notions about the separation between church and state. Mike Huckabee said he wished every American had to listen to a simultaneous telecast of David Barton lecturing—even if at gunpoint.
Barton’s latest book, The Jefferson Lies, has drawn criticism from a wider group than the usual liberals and professional historians.
There are probably few reference books that vacationers will drag down to the beach this summer. And though I make a living in academia, there aren’t many works of reference that I want to read from cover to cover. I love history because I love stories, storytelling and engrossing narratives—not because I’m taken with the facts, figures and dates that populate reference books.
The 20th century has ended much as it began, with ethnic hostilities in the Balkans, sectarian violence in China, a change of power in South Africa, "reform" in Russia and economic power in the hands of the U.S.