Mike Huckabee calls David Barton the “single best historian in America today” and says that Americans should be “forced at gunpoint” to listen to his history lessons. Michelle Bachmann, who calls Barton “a treasure for our nation,” invited him to teach a class on the Constitution to members of Congress. Newt Gingrich promises to seek his advice and counsel for the 2012 presidential campaign. State legislators from around the country invite him to share his “wisdom” with them. Glenn Beck calls him “the most important man in America.”
Who is David Barton?
A new report from People For the American Way explores the growing influence of the fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.
“David Barton’s brand of ill-informed good-vs.-evil politics, buttressed by an increasing volume of discredited ‘research,’ has taken a dangerous hold on right-wing political discourse,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Barton uses sham historical and biblical scholarship to assert that his political opponents aren’t just people with different views, but that they are anti-American, opponents of religious liberty, and enemies of God himself. This kind of pinched and distorted view of history, religion, and what it means to be American makes respectful discourse impossible, and ultimately harms our democracy.”
Barton uses his stature as a self-proclaimed historian and academic to provide Biblical and historical justification for right-wing policy initiatives, including:
- The Myth of the Christian Nation: Barton cherry-picks historical documents in an attempt to prove that the Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation where all laws conform to biblical teachings. He has also joined the “Seven Mountains” dominionist movement, which seeks to have Christians take control of all parts of government, business and society.
- Opposition to Unions, Workers’ Rights, and Progressive Taxation: Barton’s “biblical capitalism” has helped form the basis for the Religious Right’s embrace of pro-corporate fiscal policy and opposition to workers’ rights. He makes sweeping claims about the Bible’s teachings on American tax code issues, citing barely related Bible passages to allege Jesus’ opposition to minimum wage laws, progressive income tax, the estate tax, and the capital gains tax.
- Anti-Environmentalism: Barton has been active in the Religious Right’s campaign against environmentalism. He is actively involved in the “Resisting the Green Dragon” project, which attacks efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, and which portrays environmentalism as “deadly to human prosperity, deadly to human life, deadly to human freedom, and deadly to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- Opposition to Immigration Reform: Barton asserts, “National boundaries are set by God…God’s the one who drew up the lines for the nations, so to say open borders is to say ‘God, you goofed it all up and when you had borders, you shouldn’t have done it.’”
- Opposition to Gay Rights: Barton has suggested that the government should regulate gay sex, and has maintained that countries which “rejected sexual regulation” inevitably collapse. He has worked to oppose marriage equality on the federal level and in the states.
- Revising Racial History: Barton picks and chooses from American history to attempt to portray white Republicans as the real heroes of the anti-slavery and civil rights movements. He has argued that the Founding Fathers were in fact anti-slavery and downplayed the role of African American leaders in the civil rights struggle, saying, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.” In 2006, he traveled the country peddling a one-sided “documentary” he made blaming the Democratic Party for slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow…and ignoring more recent history.
The full Right Wing Watch: In Focus report, Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America, can be found online at http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/barton-s-bunk-religious-right-historian-hits-the-big-time-tea-party-america