“One of the nation’s most distinguished scholars” – Pastor Jeff Redlin in his opening introduction to David Barton at the “Founding Fathers, Faith, and Limited Government” event Friday the 25th in Ft. Collins, CO. Umm, according to whom????
So that’s how it began, in a packed gym, filled to the rafter with people sporting American flag ties and red, white, and blue apparel. Any suspicions I had as to what the event would be were confirmed when I walked in the door and saw a book for sale with President Obama on a black cover and the book title in red letters with Glenn Beck as a contributor. It was very unsettling, it had the feel of a cult gathering, with a huge flag hanging from the center, participants raising their hands in worship during The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and prayer interspersed throughout. I had to wonder, who or what are we really worshipping here?
The main event was of course the presentation of David Barton, known as “America’s historian” (when did America give him that title??). Barton began rattling off different quotes of early Americans and how many biblical idioms they referenced in such sayings, for example noting that Benjamin Franklin referenced 13 verses in just a few sentences; it reminded me of the “Bible Code” mumbo jumbo.
For being a “noted historian,” he seemed to be fast and loose with a lot of “facts.” He strictly asserted that the Indiana “Hoosier” came from an African-American Evangelist with the last name of Hoosier; the Indiana Historical Bureau doesn’t agree. Then he spoke of how Declaration signer Benjamin Rush helped start the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church’s website lists no such thing; neither does Fortress Introduction of Black Church History by Anne H. Pinn and Anthony B. Pinn. He then declared that those at or below the poverty line in the U.S. were more likely to have a car, phone, TV, and AC then middle-class Europeans. Even a perfunctory understanding of European culture notes how flawed such logic is; public transportation is widely accessible and there is not nearly as much urban sprawl, limiting greatly the need for a car. Does free health care and post-secondary education not count for anything? I found it comical when Barton disparaged scholars he didn’t agree with that “credentials don’t mean anything unless they line up with the truth.” That’s very convenient for Barton to say, since he doesn’t have any credentials himself.
If that had been the whole presentation, I wouldn’t have cared so much; it was when he “applied” the principles of these Founding Fathers to the role of government, specifically limited government that his real agenda came out. I think many make the mistake of writing off Barton and others like him as non-intellectuals; Barton may be narrow minded or perhaps blinded by his own ideology, but he ain’t stupid. He made three brilliant points in his speech, and I mean brilliant as in evil mastermind brilliant.
1. He referenced an alleged quote from George Washington which basically said that one is not a patriot if they subvert the great pillars of Christianity. What’s the big deal? He’s not-so-subtly implying that one is not a “real” American or “true patriot” if one doesn’t hold to the tenets of Christianity (as he interprets them mind you).
2. He stressed that if someone votes “wrong” on life issues, there are going to be wrong on every other issue; “If they won’t protect your life, they won’t protect your money” he said. It’s a brilliant strategical move by Barton, for it would be easy to suggest that even if one is pro-life, Roe v. Wade is very unlikely to be overturned and one should not attempt to legislate morality; therefore one should base their political decisions on other issues. Yet by assuring people that basing voting decisions on a politician’s pro-life stance promises correct decisions in other policy issues, Barton ideologically mandates a pro-life vote and correspondingly a Republican vote.
3. He asserted that a secular government can’t be limited because it doesn’t rely on God for rules and laws. Translation, if you want a limited government, you have to vote Republican because Democrats are such a godless, secular bunch who must over-regulate by their very definition.
It’s time to start paying attention to folks like David Barton and others like him. Whether it be his proof-texing and ignoring of context, his poor biblical exegesis, or even his obvious blind loyalty to conservative ideology, the influence he holds over conservatives in this country is nothing to shake a stick at. Anyone interested in the future of America, and not wanting to see this country be taken backwards into a revisionist historical view of America needs to be aware of what’s going on and be educated enough to point out the many flaws in such logic and “history.”