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.
Satellite images show that Islamic State militants have completely destroyed a 1,400-year-old monastery, St. Elijah’s—the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. The jihadist group has destroyed other ancient sites in their attempt to establish a caliphate in Iraqi and Syrian territory. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” said Paul Thabit Habib, an Iraq-based Catholic priest. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.” The monastery was taken over by U.S. troops during the Iraq War. It had been partially restored before the ISIS demolition (Newsweek, January 20).