I am glad people like Ward are still reading my criticism of Barton. Thanks.
Here is a taste:
Last Saturday night in northeastern Iowa, moments before Glenn Beck delivered a 56-minute speech in which he eventually got around to endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz for president, a willowy man with powder puff white hair strolled to the lectern and said a few words.
Not once did the man — who spoke of Beck as “a visionary” and who laid his hands on Beck in prayer beforehand — mention Cruz’s name.
David Barton also never told the crowd inside the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center his name, even though he introduced other speakers and served as the event’s de facto master of ceremonies.
Barton’s anonymity was fitting. It was something of a metaphor for the relationship between Cruz and Barton, both of whom hail from Texas. Cruz has maintained a delicate balance in his association with Barton, a figure who is a hero to some evangelical Christians, and a fraud to others.
Few figures represent the split running down the middle of American evangelicalism better than Barton, a 62-year-old self-taught historian (critics call him a pseudo-historian) who has for more than two decades stumped across the country telling conservative Christians that their nation’s religious heritage has been covered up and stolen from them by godless secular progressives.
Many in the crowd doubtless knew who Barton was even without an introduction. He is something of a celebrity to those who have viewed his videos at church events or online, or who saw him on Fox News when he regularly appeared on Beck’s show. But Barton’s reputation has taken some big hits in the last few years, and the integrity of his articles, videos and books has been widely called into question, most aggressively by some conservative evangelical scholars and writers. One history professor at a Christian university said Barton was the conservative version of left-wing academic Howard Zinn.
Yet Barton is helpful to Cruz because the presidential candidate has built his strategy for winning the Republican nomination around winning in Iowa, the first state to vote in the primary process, and a place where 60 percent of the GOP electorate identifies as evangelical. Too close an association with Barton, however, would open Cruz up to questions about the influence on his thinking of a man whose views about faith and politics can often sound like Christian reconstructionism — the belief that government laws and policies should be drawn explicitly from the Bible.