In a column posted yesterday on Patheos and then today on the website of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, IRD President Mark Tooley laments David Barton’s “unfortunate, unnecessary exaggerations.”
In this measured piece, Tooley runs through some of the usual suspects – Barton’s exaggerations of Jefferson’s involvement in the church at the Capitol, his misstep on Jefferson and slavery and Jefferson’s heterodox religious faith. I take Tooley’s point to be that these and other embellishments and exaggerations are unnecessary to make the points Barton would like to make. Furthermore, Christian theology would not expect perfect consistency from mortals.
While this analysis is brief and treads on these topics more gingerly than I have, I think it is significant that the IRD posted this on their website. Barton still today is casting his critics as liberals who are threatened by The Jefferson Lies. However, with critiques from no fewer than 15 conservative Christian scholars (including John Fea – Messiah College, Jay Richards – Discovery Institute and Chuck Dunn – Regent University) and now these concerns from the conservative IRD, it is just impossible to make that charge stick.