Once upon a time, Family Research Council promoted a video which featured a tour of the U.S. Capitol led by self-styled historian David Barton (see the original here). This Capitol tour video was filled with historical errors. Four years ago, 33 Christian historians and social scientists detailed those errors to FRC in a letter:
April 23, 2013
Dear Tony Perkins, Kenyn Cureton, & J.P. Duffy:
Knowing of your desire to offer truthful and accurate information to the public, we the undersigned Christian historians and social scientists request that you remove the video titled “U.S. Capitol Tour with David Barton” at this URL (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfEdJNn15E) from YouTube.
There are many factual errors on this video which we detail in the attached summary. Given that the video has been viewed over 4 million times, it seems that the errors have been compounded among Christians who trust FRC for accurate information. Furthermore, it is apparent that pastors who go on the tour are learning false and misleading information.
We can provide complete documentation for everything we present here. Given that these claims are highlighted in the video but easily disproved, we believe these errors are enough to warrant the removal of the video with appropriate explanation.
We would be happy to discuss this matter further and hope that we can count on you to represent historical facts accurately.
Since the video was actually posted to the account of FRC VP Kenyn Cureton, he replied by saying Barton had agreed to correct the errors with new content. While this was not ideal, we waited to see what would happen.
In May 2013, after a follow up request from the historians to remove the video, Rev. Cureton made the video private thus removing it from public view. He told our spokesman Michael Coulter that FRC decided to make the video private so that no one could see “the erroneous material.” However, FRC declined to inform the public or provide an explanation for the removal. Eventually, Barton posted an altered version on his YouTube account without comment. I say altered and not corrected because the video was only a partial correction, the video still contains factual errors. The alteration was done in such a way as to make it seem like the video was never changed.
In summary, FRC acknowledged that David Barton was aware of his historical fiction and tried to alter the video without public acknowledgement of the errors and effort at correction. FRC leaders were aware of the many errors and did not alert their constituents to the false information.
Family Research Council Has Invited David Barton to Do It Again
Despite this history, FRC will again feature Barton as a Capitol tour leader and speaker at their Watchmen on the Wall event in May.
If anything, the situation has worsened since 2013. Since then, David Barton has falsely claimed to have an earned PhD, only to go silent about the claim when it was revealed that the degree in question came from diploma mill Life Christian University. Barton never attended the school and was simply given the degree in the way an honorary degree is given. In academia, falsely claiming an earned doctorate is considered fraud. When I asked FRC’s Cureton if he was aware of this fraudulent claim, he referred me to media relations. I have heard nothing back from that department.
In the Capitol tour video, pastors who attended the event commented on what they had heard. I will never forget a pastor who looked into the camera and said he was angry because: “We’ve been lied to.” Watch:
Sadly, that pastor was right. He had been lied to. What he didn’t know is that the falsehoods were coming from his hosts and their featured speaker. That pastor might still think Congress printed the first English Bible in America for the use of schools. He might still think 29 out of 56 signers of the Declaration had Bible school degrees or that Thomas Jefferson ordered the marine band to play for worship services in the Capitol. If ever he learns the truth, I wonder if he will be even more angry at those who misled him. FRC should think about this before they host more historical fiction for a new group of pastors.