David Barton’s Revisionist History May 5, 2011

David Barton’s Revisionist History

David Barton, the Christian conman who’s revising history to have a far more Christian slant to it than it deserves — and influencing several state history curriculums in the process — was on The Daily Show last night. The extended interview is now on their website.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – David Barton Extended Interview Pt. 1
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The whole thing is just infuriating. Barton goes on and on (and on), talking over Stewart, saying that Christianity is under attack. Stewart calls him out on it. Barton changes the subject, cherrypicks court cases to prove some obscure point, and acts like he’s victorious. (Both Barton and Stewart also misstate a lawsuit brought about by the Freedom From Religion Foundation — FFRF has no desire to force people to stop praying, but they don’t believe the government should be promoting a National Day of Prayer. And they’re right.) Stewart never really nails him, though, and I was unsatisfied after watching the entire interview.

Chris Rodda wasn’t happy, either. She had written a book debunking the lies of the Christian Right’s retelling of our nation’s founding called Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History Vol. 1.

But after hearing the interview, she can’t take it anymore. She’s going to give away her book for free in the hope that the truth can spread:

Sure, I could write about the particular snippets of disinformation and dishonesty that spewed forth from Barton during this particular interview, but what good would that do? Been there; done that. Then, staring up at the face of Ben Franklin, it was his words, “Do well by doing good,” that suddenly popped into my head…

… [Those words] have now been stuck in my head for hours, and aren’t going to leave until I do what I’m about to do: give my book away for free.

Can I afford to do this? No. Do I need to do this? Yes! Will lots of people download it and read it? I have no freakin’ idea. It’s just what I need to do to be able to look Ben Franklin in the eye on that poster on my wall.

So download it, read it, spread it, and help put a dent into Barton’s influence. Better yet, buy it if you can so future volumes can be published.

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  • Pam Ellis

    Thank you for that link. I will encourage as many people as possible to download it and spread the info. Paine would be proud.

  • sware

    ****wretching**** How completely disturbing. I will BUY the book REGARDLESS of it being free. Thank you, Chris Rodda!

  • Thanks for posting this. I came here by way of Rechelle at My Sister’s Farmhouse. What a great place you’ve made here! I am also infuriated by Barton’s crap, and also watched the Daily Show. I guess he failed to take Logic while he was enrolled as an undergrad at ORU. His line of reason, well, isn’t. Best to you. EFH

  • JW

    Thanks for posting the link to Rodda’s book, I’ll make sure to read it as soon as I can. As it turns out I’m actually in the middle of writing a paper on Engel v. Vitale and how public schools in America have been used for the function that an established church would have filled (largely so that I can point out how grossly unconstitutional school prayer was, despite its long history). I’ve been following Barton and his historical nonsense for a while (I’m a history grad student), and I’ll concede that he has a point about the ingrained protestantism in American government, but what he fails to point out are the constant abuses religious dissenters and minorities faced under this religious ascendancy, which made it a bad idea to let it continue. One abuse that comes to mind is the half hour beating with a three-foot rattan stick that a Catholic boy received from an assistant principal for being one of hundreds of Catholic students in the school who refused to take part in bible readings (there was later a mass expulsion I believe). When his father sued for abuse, he lost, as the judge was swayed by the assistant principal’s attorney that the Vatican was behind the suit, and trying to take the bible out of public schools. There was another case in the 1948 which eventually made it to the Supreme Court concerning the child of an atheist who was constantly harassed and often physically abused for not going to the released-time program at his school to receive “religious education.” But you’ll never see Barton calling for inserting those stories into high school history books. Something I’ve noticed as I’ve been studying the issue of religion in public schools is that Barton isn’t just making up this revisionism on his own. He’s using the exact same arguments and language that supporters of religious education were using to justify continuing blatantly sectarian religious practices in public schools. The really scary thing is this revisionist story isn’t entirely (or probably even mostly) his making, but something that’s been growing among the religious right since very early in the 20th century.

  • I have had this book at the top of my Kindle wishlist for a few days now. Going to buy the download immediately now.

    Chris Rodda should be happy to know it comes up on my Amazon Recommended For You list all the time.

  • Janice

    I watched the interview today and wanted to throw something at my TV.
    I have purchased the book on Amazon Kindle and will start reading it tonight.

  • Phillip

    I just bought this book two or three weeks ago – word to the wary, it’s 500 pages and it’s detailed. But it’s also incredibly revealing how much they deliberately lie for this story of Christian America..

  • *shares link*

  • Yui

    I bought and read Chris Rodda’s book some time ago. It’s a damn interesting book – and even more interesting if you go hunting down many of the lies to confirm.

    I may buy it again to donate a fresh copy to a local library. Others should consider this also, in my humble (phfft) opinion.

  • cat

    I know, that interview was so frustrating. I mean, shit, reading the constitution is enough to debunk some of the shit he said (nope, the Constitution does not mention the declaration of independence-the declaration was never a legal document, prior to the Constitution, the articles of Confederation were the legal charter for the US). Even the most basic understanding of US Constitutional history is enough to know he is so very wrong, but, of course, people like Barton try their damned hardest to make sure most people never develop such and understanding (also, they love to forget that pesky little fourteenth amendment).

    Still, though, I think this is representative of a lot of how Stewart has been behaving lately. He lets libertarian and conservative guests sit there and take softball questions, and his lack of preparedness shows a laziness all the more egregious because a single intern doing some research on guests ahead of time would fix plenty of these problems.

    Thanks, Chris Rodda, for your excellent work. If only more people would take after your example…

  • What I find very disturbing about how the mass media treats Barton is that they continually repeat the refrain that he’s a “historian.”

    Problem is, he isn’t one. He has zero … and I do mean ZERO … credentials as a historian. His one and only true degree is a BA in religious education from ORU. He’s no more a “historian” than anyone else with a high school diploma.

    There’s nothing stopping the media from discovering his total lack of credentials in the field of history, but to date, they’ve refused to look into it. They’ve basically bent over for the Right and are implicitly promoting what Barton says, by not revealing that he has no expertise to back up any of his claims.

    I suspect they do this because they can’t be bothered looking into the guy, and possibly because he intimidates them. Stewart sure looked a bit intimidated by him, to me — which is why he didn’t “nail” him (as you put it, Hemant). I don’t see how other journalists and broadcasters can’t be affected the same way.

    The Right’s secret is their incessant bullying, and interminable repetition of the same talking points. Everyone else has basically capitulated to them because they just can’t put up any resistance any longer. That’s no excuse, of course … but it does explain Barton’s success in the media.

  • jose

    Stewart doesn’t nail him because he’s the ultimate accomodationist, and not only about religion (I’m looking at you, Rally To Restore Sanity).

  • Jessica

    I watched this earlier today and got the “angry shakes” that I usually get when watching Bill O’Reilly. You’re right, Stewart never nails him, but I think he calls him out appropriately. I think he calls him out on cherry-picking, and I like what he says about the founding fathers being pretty specific when it came down to it.

    Ugh I’m re-watching it right now and Barton’s stupid quick-talking accent is just annoying.

    Ok that was petty. He’s just an idiot who is doing a world of bad in this country.

  • Jessica

    OH and him comparing not praying to not doing drugs is INFURIATING.

  • Rich Wilson

    There were a few face palms there, on both sides. That bit about the FFRF wanting to stop people from being able to pray was just ludicrous. I’m sure if Jon had listened to what he was saying he would have called it, but he didn’t. And his reply was just more face palm, bringing up the Stella Liebeck ‘Hot Coffee’ case.

  • Lol

    I have reviewed David Barton’s work and find it to be authentic. He really does use the original text and really does talk about influential blacks and hispanics that really were there during the revolution. History that you otherwise would find omitted out of history classes. Ad then leftist like to portray America as inherently white and racist.

    If that is “historic revisionism” to you then i would rather listen to Barton over you anyday.

    Your one lying sack of $h!t Mehta LOL!!!

  • Johann

    Ad then leftist like to portray America as inherently white and racist.

    Well done! That was almost English, and within a stone’s throw of being intelligible. Don’t give up, you’ll get there eventually. 🙂

  • Motcon

    Book purchased! This kind of idiocy cannot be tolerated!

    Purchase this book! Support reason and democracy…

  • JW

    Of course no one will be surprised but just for the sake of information, at around 3:42 on this video Barton was about to make a bold-faced lie about the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses being protected by the courts “from the beginning” in 1947. That case was not the beginning at all, in fact it reversed the decision of the Gobitis case in 1940 which upheld a law requiring students to say the pledge or face expulsion. The case he was about to reference was the Barnette case which apologized for the former ruling which led to the mistreatment and assaults of JW’s across the country (including castration of some). The case had nothing to do with “freedom of conscience” but just addressed how far the coercive power of the government could go when it had no real reason or no real threat to justify its use. The real question was “could the government make saluting the flag a legal duty?” The fact that it was JW’s mostly dissenting was just incidental. You can read the opinion of the court for Barnette here: http://supreme.justia.com/us/319/624/case.html

  • smittypap

    Ewwww!!!! You made me go to PuffPo. I need to go wash up now.

  • The PDF is useful in addition to the printed (and paid for) book. I wish that more authors would give PDF versions of their books with the printed version. People like me could then search the book for phrases and quotes that we remember but can’t find easily.

  • AT

    Your one lying sack of $h!t Mehta LOL!!!

    Citation needed.

  • 1. once Stewart pointed out that he wasn’t a historian (and Barton confirmed), i was done.

    2. its sad that it takes a non historian to point out and ask to place in school curriculum that there were non white founders of this country.

    3. wait did Stewart say he loves having Huckabee on?

    4. Stewart is a comedian, i don’t expect him to “get” Barton. the so called journalists who had Barton on their shows should have.

  • Slider33

    Just bought the Kindle version on Amazon. I have no problem paying for this book!

  • frizzlefrazzle

    Just bought the Kindle version on Amazon. I have no problem paying for this book!

    Well, well, Mr. Moneybags. Just going to throw that in our face, eh? Just kidding, but you guys (and/or gals) are making me feel guilty about getting books from the library.

  • Karen

    The New York Times this week had a front-page story on Barton.

    It clearly states that he has no education as a historian and quotes some actual historians criticizing him.

    It does not come down very hard on him. The article concentrates mostly on his (frightening) influence with conservative politicians.

  • JustSayin’

    Your one lying sack of $h!t Mehta LOL!!!

    Citation needed.

    Judging from his grammar, AT, he’s speaking of the “one lying sack of $h!t” that’s apparently in Hemant’s possession. Since he didn’t finish the statement, though, I guess we’ll never know.

    What, Lol, what? What about Hemant’s one lying sack of $h!t? Tell us!

  • cat wrote: “reading the constitution is enough to debunk some of the shit he said (nope, the Constitution does not mention the declaration of independence-the declaration was never a legal document, prior to the Constitution, the articles of Confederation were the legal charter for the US).”

    What you say is *almost* entirely correct, but you missed the grain of truth in Barton’s comment about how the Constitution *makes reference to* the Declaration of Independence, which it does in VII, the ratification clause, in the form of the date. It says: “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.” It’s that last phrase, “of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth”–1787 was the twelfth year from the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Quick correction, that should have said “in article VII, after the ratification clause.”

  • Thank you for the heads up on the free book. I’m not in a position to buy the book right now, but I’m absolutely passing the link on to others.

  • John made a very serious mistake by saying “we are not a secular country, there are churches everywhere”. Secular does not mean communist, it does not mean destroying churches and forbidding them, it only means the government is neutral and separate from religion and does not promote it. In a truly secular society religious people are free to practice their religion as they like and we are free to be normal. Its the only win-win possible…

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