David Barton is coming under fire from the Southern Baptist Convention, with a spokesman for the conservative denomination’s political arm condemning the pseudo-historian’s recent remarks on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The right-wing activist recently spoke to televangelist Kenneth Copeland about PTSD, suggesting that soldiers are warriors for God and therefore should never suffer from such a condition. They advised against psychological help and said that simply reading the Bible will “get rid of PTSD.”
Joe Carter of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said their remarks demonstrate how Barton and Copeland are “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” arguing that by “downplaying the pain of PTSD” they have “denigrate[d] the suffering of men and women traumatized by war.”
Carter, who also writes for The Gospel Coalition and The Acton Institute, added: “[F]or them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable.”
Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, whose book Getting Jefferson Right helped convince Thomas Nelson to pull Barton’s book on Jefferson from publication, noted that Barton and Copeland’s “naïve and potentially offensive” comments show “they do not have knowledge of the condition.”
PTSD has been a recurring issue among military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs classifies PTSD as a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster. In 2011, 476,515 veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD received treatment VA medical centers and clinics.
“Just telling someone to get rid of it is naive and potentially offensive to someone who is suffering with PTSD. It is obvious that they do not have knowledge of the condition,” said Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has written on Barton. “Copeland and Barton err theologically as well by taking specific Scriptures written in relationship to Israel and apply them to American armies.”
This isn’t the first time Copeland and Barton have been “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” said Joe Carter, an editor and communications director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable,” Carter said. “Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.”