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.
In high school I was taught that the Earth is about 10,000 years old. But I also learned the basics of evolution from my evangelical teachers. School administrators knew that students taking Advanced Placement biology exams and heading off to state universities needed to understand secular scientific reasoning, if only to combat it properly.
David Barton, a chief advocate for a Christian America, is a bad historian. When he thunders, "We have lost our understanding of the Founders' intent and teachings. . . . We have been robbed," he is partially right: the founders were at least loosely Christian. But it is historically absurd to dismiss the separation of church and state as a myth.
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