No, David Barton, I Did Not Recruit Jay Richards

Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission
Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission

Although World Net Daily lists January 12 as the release date for the second edition of David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies, it is now available on Amazon. I ordered the Kindle version and found a serious flaw within minutes of reading Barton’s response to our book Getting Jefferson Right.

Barton claims that I recruited Jay Richards to in turn recruit Christian historians to begin a campaign against Barton. That claim is not true. After reading Getting Jefferson Right, Richards approached me via Facebook message on May 14, 2012. Before that message, I did not know Richards. Here is what Barton says in The Jefferson Lies:

Throckmorton admitted that he had recruited scholars for this purpose, led by Jay Richards, a philosopher/theologian with the Discovery Institute, who, according to media outlets had asked “10 conservative Christian professors to assess Barton’s work.” Although he reported that their responses were “negative,” several of them actually refused to participate in his quest.
Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 133-137). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Later in the book’s preface, Barton claims:

In fact, when Jay Richards (the speaker from the Discovery Institute who was enlisted by Throckmorton to find and recruit critics to attack my works) confronted me about what he claimed were errors in The Jefferson Lies, I repeatedly asked him if he had read the book. He refused to answer. But it was clear from his mischaracterization of my arguments that he had not read it (or at least all of it). For instance, he repeatedly asserted that I said that Jefferson was an evangelical, but as is clear in the chapter on Jefferson’s faith, I do not make that claim.

Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 613-617). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

In fact, Richards wrote to Michael Coulter and me on May 14, 2012 via the Getting Jefferson Right Facebook page. He thanked us for the book and offered to contact Christian journalists on our behalf. Then, on May 23, Richards wrote to say that he had spoken to two of Barton’s supporters about the historical problems in Barton’s book (see below for the identity of one of them which was revealed by Barton). The next day, Richards alerted me that he had been “commissioned” (it was unclear who did the commissioning, but it wasn’t me) to find six Christian historians to read Barton’s book, our book, and Barton’s DVD lecture America’s Godly Heritage. Richards then approached six scholars who then agreed to provide feedback. Richards did not tell me the identity of the scholars and I still don’t know all of them. The number providing some level of feedback eventually grew to ten.

According to Richards, Barton was also going to be informed that this process was happening.

Barton’s attempt to make me the one pulling all the strings is false and I think he knows it. I say this because on his Wallbuilders’ website, he tells the story differently. About one of the scholars recruited by Richards — The Masters’ College history professor Gregg Frazer — Barton says (see footnote 2):

From a hostile written review of David Barton and WallBuilders written by Gregg Frazer at the request of Jay Richards. That written critique was subsequently passed on to David Barton on August 13, 2012, by the Rev. James Robison, to whom Jay Richards had distributed it.

From Barton, we learn that Gregg Frazer was one of the historians recruited by Richards. Richards then gave the critique to Robison (co-author with Richards of the book Indivisible). Then, if Barton’s timing is correct, Robison gave Frazer’s critique to Barton on August 13, 2012, a few days after Thomas Nelson’s move to pull The Jefferson Lies from the shelves became public.

Not only is Barton’s claim about me false, the narrative he constructs appears to be designed to obscure what really happened. The Jefferson Lies was not doomed by political correctness, but rather by the deficiencies identified by conservative critics and reviewers. Conservative scholar Jay Richards came to us due to the merits of our work, not because we recruited him. In turn, Richards did not act alone in the effort to bring peer review to The Jefferson Lies. 

For some reason, those who commissioned Richards apparently did not follow through in a vigorous manner on the information they received. This is a part of the story as yet untold although the removal of The Jefferson Lies from publication was influenced by Richards’ efforts.

This misrepresentation of recent history is just the first of many issues from the second edition of The Jefferson Lies I will explore in the coming months.

New Endorsement of Getting Jefferson Right – John D. Wilsey

In his second edition of The Jefferson Lies, David Barton provides a lengthy critique of our work in Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third PresidentWe intend to use that material in our own second edition which I hope to publish sometime in 2016. In response to Barton’s new edition, I am going to publish some additional endorsements for Getting Jefferson Right by historians and other scholars.  Today, historian and theologian Dr. John D. Wilsey weighs in:

In Getting Jefferson Right, professors Throckmorton and Coulter offer a thoroughgoing effort to understand our third president in all of his human complexity. In their avoidance of special pleading and their pursuit of scholarly integrity, Throckmorton and Coulter serve both the living and the dead. For the living, they advance the field of early US history and help clarify the lines of Christian orthodoxy. For the dead, they honor Jefferson’s humanity by dealing with him honestly. Honor and soundness are the results of their labors.
John D. Wilsey, assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.

Additional endorsements can be found at GettingJeffersonRight.com.

WND Markets The Jefferson Lies

Some readers will see what I did there with the title of this post.
WND is rolling out pre-launch publicity for David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies, including a new website and a trailer. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2pUBopUnGQ[/youtube]
The new website features endorsements for the new book. I wonder if they have any idea what they are endorsing. Only one teaches history (John Swails, Oral Roberts University). I wonder if Swails was a professor at ORU when Barton played D-1 basketball there (I mean, didn’t play basketball there).
This should be fun.
jeffersonbookcoverIf you want to get a head start on the facts regarding Barton’s claims, a great Christmas gift for yourself or that history lover on your list is Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President by yours truly and Michael Coulter.
Also see Thomas Kidd’s articles in World on the Barton controversy from 2012.
Earlier today, I responded to World Net Daily’s absurd contention that The Jefferson Lies fell victim to political correctness.
 

World Net Daily and David Barton Claim Political Correctness Doomed The Jefferson Lies

On Friday of last week, World Net Daily published something called “Anatomy Of An American Book Banning.” Believe it or not, World Net Daily and David Barton are hoping to convince readers that Barton’s book was pulled from publication due to political correctness. The subtitle of the article is:

How New York Times bestseller was resurrected after falling casualty to political correctness.

Joseph Farah and Barton deserve each other; both engage in historical revisionism. Farah says at the end of the WND article.

Farah added: “Think about all the books that are published every year in America – many tens of thousands. Only one book that I know of in my lifetime has been censored by its own publisher after becoming a bestseller. Only one history book was so banned in the United States, to my knowledge – pulled from the shelves to ensure Americans couldn’t read it and make up their own minds about it. Many books published in America as non-fiction are made up out of whole cloth – and that includes history books with the most preposterous speculation and fantasies. In a free society, that is to be expected. What should never be expected is that controversial books with premises some might disagree with should be banned, spiked, burned or shredded. That’s exactly what happened to this book. And that’s why WND Books is bringing it back into the marketplace.

Is it possible that Farah thinks he is telling the truth? I can’t see how. The book was never “censored,” nor was it “banned in the United States.” The book was not destroyed. WND is not bringing it back into the marketplace. The Jefferson Lies has been available from Wallbuilders since the rights reverted back to Barton after Thomas Nelson stopped publishing it (see this Wayback Machine link for February 2013). It is available now on Amazon and has been for years.  In fact, it has been available since at least June 15, 2013 from World Net Daily’s Superstore (see this Wayback Machine link). Let that sink in. Farah said the book was banned and implied it was somehow not in the marketplace. He has been selling it since early 2013.
There is two critical problems for WND’s theory about political correctness and Thomas Nelson: Thomas Nelson publishes many other conservatives and no other books have been pulled from publication during the same time period.
I left a comment after the article and in it named several conservative authors which Thomas Nelson publishes, including a couple published by WND.

Regarding WND’s accusation that Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s book due to political correctness, please consider that Thomas Nelson currently publishes books by Jerome Corsi and Ben Shapiro. Thomas Nelson publishes Eric Metaxas’ highly regarded book on Bonhoeffer. Other conservatives published by Thomas Nelson include Richard Land, Judge Napolitano, Tom Coburn, William Bennett, Kevin McCullough, Star Parker, Sam Brownback and others. It makes no sense that Thomas Nelson publishes these authors but removed David Barton’s book due to Barton’s conservative ideas.

The politically correct theory fails when one considers there is no pattern, no other book which was removed. Thomas Nelson conducted an internal review and came to the same conclusion as many external critics. No amount historical revisionism by Barton and WND will change what happened.

Happily, there is an antidote to this revisionism.

David Barton and World Net Daily Begin the Spin Recycle

Yesterday, World Net Daily posted David Barton’s defense of his discredited book The Jefferson Lies. This is in preparation for a January release of the WND edition. The WND posting appears to be the same 40 page response he wrote in early 2013 in reaction to publisher Thomas Nelson’s decision to pull the book from publication due to historical errors.
The promotional material for the book promises a rebuttal to critics. If this 2013 document is that answer, WND might want to correct the errors in it. A good place to start would be with the story that Simon & Schuster plans to publish the book. In 2013, Barton claimed that Simon & Schuster planned to publish The Jefferson Lies. Yesterday, Barton and WND claimed the same thing:
BartonWNDSS
 
I asked Simon & Schuster earlier this year if there was any truth to this claim and the publisher’s representatives said the book would not be published by them.
I wonder if WND will correct this error.
The recycled spin continues on the WND book description. The original promotional material referred to Barton’s critics as “ a few dedicated liberal individuals and academics.” Now the WND book description calls usbloggers and a handful of non-historian academics.”
This effort to obscure the response of historians, Christian and otherwise, to Barton’s work is a farce. The Jefferson Lies was voted “least credible history book in print’ by readers of the History News Network. Dozens of Christian historians wrote both Family Research Council and Focus on the Family in 2013 urging them to remove Barton’s work from their web pages. If WND editors cared about accuracy, they could just read their own website. In the article WND published yesterday, there is a reference by Barton to his Christian historian critics.

Only four of the ten scholars contacted by Richards actually provided any critiques of my work: Glenn Moots, Glenn Sunshine, Greg Forester (sic), and Gregg Frazer. Of these four, only Frazer specializes in religion and the American founding, but his critique did not even address The Jefferson Lies, and it is not clear that he even bothered to read itInstead, he watched and criticized a twenty year old video entitled America’s Godly Heritage.

Moots, Sunshine, Forster and Frazer are all historians and they are all Christian (Frazer’s critique of America’s Godly Heritage — which is still commercially available — can be read in an earlier blog post). As I have demonstrated previously, there are more than a handful. Obviously, WND is hoping to cover up the facts. 
A large part of Barton’s response in his WND article is to bash me, as if what team he thinks I am on matters. It is a sign of a weak argument when you spend little time on the facts and a lot of time on the personality of the person bringing the facts. The effort also appears to be designed to distract readers from the fact that I have a co-author — political science scholar Michael Coulter — and have published the work of numerous Christian historians on this blog (e.g., here).
The new narrative being promoted by WND is that Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s book because of “political correctness.”
bartonWNDPC
Yes, it was shocking that Thomas Nelson did the right thing. And it is shocking that some Christians try to create an alternative reality in order to sell books and gain political power.
 
 

World Net Daily to Publish New Edition of David Barton's The Jefferson Lies

wndb-Barton-Jefferson-Lies-COVERFirst, he said Simon & Schuster was going to publish it. They declined.
Today, World Net Daily announced plans to publish a new edition in 2016.
I am looking forward to learning the identity of the “academic endorsements.” Why not just post them now on the WND page promoting the book?
Michael and I are up for another round. We have a few academic endorsements of our own.
 

Setting the Record Straight
on Thomas Jefferson
Historian David Barton responds to his critics head-on
in this new edition of 
The Jefferson Lies

WASHINGTON — America, in so many ways, has forgotten its past. Its roots, its purpose, its identity all have become shrouded behind a veil of political correctness bent on twisting the nation’s founding, and its Founders, to fit within a misshapen modern world.

The time has come to remember again. 


In 2012 prominent historian David Barton set out to correct the distorted image of the once-beloved Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in the best-selling book 
The Jefferson Lies. Despite the wildly popular success of the original hardcover edition, a few dedicated liberal individuals and academics campaigned to discredit Barton’s scholarship and credibility, but to no avail.
Barton responds to his critics in a lengthy preface to this new paperback edition in which he takes to task his former publisher and directly answers with thorough documentation the main issues his detractors registered, while also providing numerous academic endorsements of his work. This paperback version, to be released by WND Books on January 12, 2016, certifies that Barton’s research is sound and his premises are true as he tackles seven myths about Thomas Jefferson head-on and answers pressing questions about this incredible statesman including:
•   Did Thomas Jefferson really have a child by his young slave girl, Sally Hemings?

•   Did he write his own Bible, excluding the parts of Christianity with which he disagreed?


•   Was he a racist who opposed civil rights and equality for black Americans?


•   Did he, in his pursuit of separation of church and state, advocate the secularizing of public life?

Through Jefferson’s own words and the eyewitness testimony of contemporaries, Barton repaints a portrait of the man from Monticello as a visionary, an innovator, a man who revered Jesus, a classical Renaissance man, and a man whose pioneering stand for liberty and God-given inalienable rights fostered a better world for this nation and its posterity. For America, the time to remember these truths again is now. 


David Barton is the founder and president of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage. He is the author of many best-selling books, including Original Intent, The Bulletproof George Washington, American History in Black and White, and The Question of Freemasonry and the Founding Fathers. He addresses more than four hundred groups each year. Barton was named by Timemagazine as one of America’s twenty-five most influential evangelicals, and he has received numerous national and international awards, including Who’s Who in Education and Daughters of the American Revolution’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. David and his wife, Cheryl, have three grown children. 

The Jefferson Lies will be in bookstores nationwide on January 12, 2016. 

Simon & Schuster Has No Plans to Publish David Barton's The Jefferson Lies

Yesterday, I wrote about how Thomas Nelson removed David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies from publication in late July, 2012. According to philosopher Jay Richards, Barton’s book was investigated by Thomas Nelson and then removed from their catalog several days before anyone reported it publicly. Richards led an effort to gather information to inform Glenn Beck about the historical problems in Barton’s work. Beck, along with other religious conservatives, eventually chose to ignore the evaluations of academic historians in order to preserve Barton’s reputation and influence.
For his part, Barton minimized the devastating critique from various historians. He also said publisher Simon and Schuster was prepared to publish The Jefferson Lies.

After Thomas Nelson dropped the book, The Jefferson Lies was subsequently reviewed and then picked up by Simon & Schuster.
Clearly, Thomas Nelson’s public statements about the reason for pulling the book are incongruous with the above facts, so was there perhaps some other reason behind their announcement? Quite possibly, for only two weeks prior to suddenly dropping The Jefferson Lies, Thomas Nelson had been taken over in an acquisition by Rupert Murdoch and HarperCollins Publishers.6
Thanks to Throckmorton and other critics, The Jefferson Lies will reach a far larger audience through Simon & Schuster than it would have with the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson.

To my knowledge, this claim has never been withdrawn. The rumor that Simon and Schuster was about to publish Barton’s book has been going around since The Jefferson Lies was pulled. Today, I can announce that Simon and Schuster has no plans to publish the book. According to Jennifer Robinson, Vice President and Director of Publicity with Threshold Editions at Simon and Schuster:

There are no plans for Threshold to publish The Jefferson Lies.

Threshold is an imprint of Simon and Schuster which has published books jointly with Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing imprint. I wrote Ms. Robinson again to ask if Mercury Ink was going to publish the book and she referred me to Kevin Balfe at Mercury Ink. Balfe has not responded as yet. According to Mercury Ink’s website, Simon and Schuster is a partner in some manner (probably distribution) which led me to ask Ms. Robinson if publication by Mercury Ink could be construed as publication by Simon and Schuster. In her reply, Robinson said I needed to hear from Mercury Ink and added:

S&S is not publishing the book.

If Mercury Ink provides an update, I will add it to this post. For now, according to Simon and Schuster’s representative, there are no plans for them to publish The Jefferson Lies.
 

More of the Story Behind the Demise of David Barton's The Jefferson Lies

On his Wallbuilders show last Friday, David Barton belittled the number of Facebook followers Getting Jefferson Right has. I replied:

At the end of the broadcast, the gang makes light of the number of Facebook likes the Getting Jefferson Right page has. How about another comparison with the now pulled from print The Jefferson Lies? How about comparing the number of favorable reviews from actual historians each book has?
I know our book has several quality reviews posted on our book website, but I am not aware of any for The Jefferson Lies. Looking for one, I went to Barton’s book website for The Jefferson Lies. On the front page, there is a link that appears to be a review page but it goes nowhere but back to the home page. I know of several critical reviews for The Jefferson Lies but no positive ones from historians.
In my search, I clicked through to Barton’s effort to answer his critics. The following paragraph caught my eye:

In August 2012, several media outlets reported that Jay Richards, a philosopher and theologian with the Discovery Institute who was also a public endorser of Throckmorton’s book, had asked “10 conservative Christian professors to assess my work.” It was reported that their responses were “negative.” However, some of the ten listed by him had flatly refused to participate in his quest but yet were still listed as providing “negative” responses against me. And in direct conversations I had with Richards after he coordinated these attacks, he openly confessed to me that he knew very little about history. Only four of the ten scholars contacted by Richards actually provided any critiques of my work: Glenn Moots, Glenn Sunshine, Greg Forester, and Gregg Frazer. Of these four, only Frazer specializes in religion and the American founding, but his critique did not even address The Jefferson Lies, and it is not clear that he even bothered to read it. Instead, he watched and criticized a twenty year old video entitled America’s Godly Heritage.

I asked Jay Richards if the claims in this paragraph are accurate. Richards said that he recalled about six written responses from historians with others saying they didn’t have time to do a written review. In other words, they provided reactions but not all were written. None were favorable to The Jefferson Lies. Some who lacked time later commented publicly about Barton’s vision of Jefferson. In an August 2012 World article by Thomas Kidd, Daniel Dreisbach, Kevin Gutzman and James Stoner all disputed Barton’s characterization of Jefferson as being orthodox before 1813. In the paragraph above, Barton minimized the critical reaction to The Jefferson Lies.
Richards agreed that Gregg Frazer’s written submission was about America’s Godly Heritage (I published Frazer’s devastating critique here) but reminded me that Frazer also critiqued an aspect of The Jefferson Lies in World. It also should be noted that America’s Godly Heritage is still for sale on Wallbuilders’ website so Barton’s qualification that the DVD is twenty years old is irrelevant.
Then Richards added something that I don’t think has been reported before. He said:

The entire context is missing from the statement: I contacted a diverse group of scholars with related expertise and clear conservative credentials to ask them their opinion of Barton’s work and The Jefferson Lies in particular. I also asked for written evaluations if possible. The purpose was to compile these and give them to Glenn Beck so he could evaluate them for himself. In the meantime, Thomas Nelson got word of genuine controversy over the book, conducted their own evaluation and pulled the book. This happened before the World article ever came out, and so was not in response to negative media criticism.

Fewer than ten written evaluations from the scholars does not mean the other scholars refused to critique Barton. They did offer Richards feedback and, as noted above, some of them were interviewed by Thomas Kidd for World. Barton’s answer to critics omits this context. Furthermore, Glenn Beck had this feedback and chose to disregard it. He continues to do so, as do other religious right leaders who know about the false historical claims but continue to tout Barton as a respected historian.
Another little known detail about the incident is that Thomas Nelson had pulled the book from publication before World reported on the story. I have learned that the book had been pulled from the publisher’s website at least several days before it was reported in World.
Barton also claims in his response to critics that Simon & Schuster picked up The Jefferson Lies. To date, that publisher has not issued another edition.
From the vantage point of the present, it seems more remarkable than ever that Thomas Nelson pulled The Jefferson Lies from print. Over the last year and a half, we have witnessed publishers stick with authors who have plagiarized material and books with dubious content.  For instance, Tyndale House stuck with Kevin Malarkey’s The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven long after the publisher was aware that there were credibility problems with the story. The publisher only pulled the book when the boy who was the subject of the book publicly recanted his story. The Jefferson Lies publisher, Thomas Nelson (now part of HarperCollins Christian), is sticking with similar book  Heaven Is for Real and quietly fixed multiple plagiarism problems in Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage. Even in this publishing environment, Thomas Nelson pulled a best selling book because of their investigation of the facts.
Barton appears to want to change the subject in his reaction to critics by invoking the sale of Thomas Nelson to Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins publishing company:

Clearly, Thomas Nelson’s public statements about the reason for pulling the book are incongruous with the above facts, so was there perhaps some other reason behind their announcement? Quite possibly, for only two weeks prior to suddenly dropping The Jefferson Lies, Thomas Nelson had been taken over in an acquisition by Rupert Murdoch and HarperCollins Publishers.

It is hard to know what Barton is implying here. Murdoch is a conservative who founded Fox News, a network which has been generally friendly to Barton’s brand. Given other books HarperCollins Christian offers and has preserved (e.g., Driscoll’s book), it is hard to make a case that the change of ownership had an any effect on the decision to pull the book.
 
 
 

The Great Confrontation of 2012: David Barton and the Evangelical Historians

In August 2012, Thomas Nelson (now part of Harper Collins Christian) pulled David Barton‘s book The Jefferson Lies from publication. This rare move by Thomas Nelson took place in the midst of efforts by several people to confront Barton with his errors. While I cannot tell the whole story (in part because I don’t know it and in part because the main players are not willing to discuss it completely), I can provide a little more insight into the situation. The door was opened to this by a footnote on David Barton’s website and other vague references to a series of meetings that took place in 2012. The footnote is on the page where Barton claims to explain false quotes from his first book. Barton says this:

Although many people, including several respected academics, have told David that they admire his honesty and transparency, others have attempted to use this practice against him. For instance, in a recent critique of David’s work, Professor Gregg Frazer of The Master’s College writes:

“Having been confronted over the use of false quotes, Barton was forced to acknowledge their illegitimacy in some way on his website. There, he describes them as “unconfirmed” – as if there is some doubt about their legitimacy. In a computer age with search capabilities, we know that these quotes are false – the fact that they are listed as “unconfirmed” reflects a stubborn attempt to hold onto them and to suggest to followers that they might be true. That is made worse by the fact that under these “unconfirmed” quotes are paragraphs maintaining that the bogus quote is something that the person might have said.” 2

What an interesting reward for trying to be honest and transparent.

Barton’s claim to be “honest and transparent” requires much more attention, but for the purpose of this post, let me move on to Barton’s description of the source of Gregg Frazer’s words. In the footnote, Barton explains the source of Frazer’s quote:

From a hostile written review of David Barton and WallBuilders written by Gregg Frazer at the request of Jay Richards. That written critique was subsequently passed on to David Barton on August 13, 2012, by the Rev. James Robison, to whom Jay Richards had distributed it. 

After Jay Richards read my book with Michael Coulter, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third Presidenthe asked ten Christian historians to read both The Jefferson Lies, and then our book. Richards wanted to get expert opinions on the facts in each book. He also asked Gregg Frazer to review Barton’s DVD, America’s Godly Heritage (which is still for sale on Barton’s website).

With Frazer’s permission, the complete review of America’s Godly Heritage is now available here.

As is clear from an examination of the paper, Frazer did not look at each one of the quotes in Barton’s first book. He specifically examined the DVD series America’s Godly Heritage. Even though the DVD is still for sale, Frazer found faulty quotes in it.

As Barton says in his footnote, this paper was presented to Barton by James Robison surrounding the time when his book was pulled by Thomas Nelson (August 2012). Robison is an apostolic elder at Gateway Church and host of the television show Life Today. As this footnote reveals, Robison was in on the confrontation as was Richards and the Christian historians. While I don’t know specifics, some met with Barton at his ranch where he rejected their advice and counsel. Furthermore, Barton met with at least one leader at the Family Research Council in August 2o12. In that meeting, Barton’s errors were confronted with promises from Barton to provide corrected material. However, nothing happened on Barton’s end until the Family Research Council was confronted by numerous Christian historians in the Spring of 2013.

Despite numerous clear factual errors, FRC continues to have Barton involved in their presentations to pastors. As Politico documented in 2013 (Sen. Ted Cruz defends Barton in this article), Barton has been accepted back into the good graces of the political arm of the Christian right (e.g., this apologetics conference).

The awareness of Barton’s systematic distortion of the nation’s founding is well known at the highest levels of the Christian political right and yet many such groups continue to promote Barton as an exemplary historian.  Because the Christian right is aware of the problems but continues to feature Barton as an historian, the “great confrontation of 2012” has turned into the “great cover-up of the present.”

Gregg Frazer’s review of America’s Godly Heritage is a devastating critique of this popular DVD program. It has been read by high level decision makers on the Christian right and ignored. I urge readers to read it and pass it around. I intend to give it more attention by focusing on various highlights in upcoming posts. Here is a follow up post on Frazer’s review.

Barton and Barna: If We Don't Do Something We Didn't Do Before, We're Doomed

And so it begins. The hype for George Barna and David Barton’s new book, U-Turn will be familiar to anyone who is aware of the Christian nationalist pitch. Charisma “News” has the story, which is really an ad for the book:

The United States became a unique, prosperous and admired nation because of its faith in God and the willingness of the people to abide by God’s standards and principles. Over time, however, the urge to glorify oneself rather than God has seriously eroded the strength and potential of the nation.
Based on shocking new research and compelling interviews, FrontLine’s newly released book, U-Turn, combines George Barna’s and David Barton’s unique insights and cultural analysis to demonstrate the moral and spiritual underpinnings that made the United States great, its decline over the past forty years and a detailed road map for the future.

How can America right the ship?

“Unless we invite God to be at the center of our process and operate in strict accordance with His principles, we are doomed to continue our downward slide,” Barna and Barton write. “Because He has proven Himself to be a merciful ruler, though, if we will humble ourselves before Him, there is hope. U-Turn will describe the radical action Americans must take in partnership with God to restore the nation.”

There is nothing new about this. This is the same Christian nationalist doctrine Barton has pushed for decades. Unless we do something we didn’t do before — make Christian doctrine the “center of our process” — then we are doomed as a nation. This simplistic prescription is based on a tendentious reading of history which is nothing new for Barton. For instance, Barton says the Constitution quotes the Bible verbatim. This, of course, is not true but is consistent with the faulty reading of history Barton wants us to believe. If he can get us to believe we once had the evangelical God at the “center of our process” and once self-consciously operated “in strict accordance with His principles,” then Barton has leverage to press these concepts today as political objectives.
When it comes to Barton’s status as an historian, Charisma probably hopes that the public has a short memory. The Charisma News piece neglects to mention The Jefferson Lies which was pulled from publication by Thomas Nelson in 2012.