Earlier today someone sent me a link to a “Periscope” video of David and Tim Barton talking about the work of Wallbuilders, an organization, founded by David Barton, “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.”
Ever since evangelical historians debunked Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies for its historical inaccuracies he has been suggesting that these historians have been nothing short of brainwashed by their secular teachers at the universities where they did their graduate degrees. He has even published a list of acceptable schools–places where students will receive a Bartonesque view of American history. There are not very many schools on the list.
I am not technically savvy enough to embed this video, but we have provided a transcript of a portion of the presentation that starts around the 21-minute mark.
Tim Barton: We will be very specific not to bring something up or expound on something that we do not have original sources…there has been such an indoctrination for so long of the wrong stories, of the wrong ideologies and so the question we always ask is “what is the source of the information, what is the original document you can link that to…?” Most professors, they don’t have original sources, they have ideas, they have their stories but it’s not rooted in truth. So we always want to go back and say “here’s the original document, here’s what George Washington actually said, here’s what Thomas Jefferson actually said.” And so our stories are based on the actual document…and if we can’t find an original source then we usually don’t use it…because we want to make sure whatever we’re saying we can bring it back to truth with original sources.
David Barton: Right now, actually, we’re calling out a number of Christian college professors who are very, very bad at what they’re teaching…we are doing a serious of articles…John Fea, who is at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, just did a piece talking about how the founding fathers did not want ministers involved in politics or holding office. I’ll take that picture over there [pointing to a picture off-camera] and show you how many of the signers of the Declaration were ministers. He [Fea] said the founding fathers didn’t want ministers–the founding fathers were ministers in office. So they’re doing this to keep secularizing history and to keep Christians from being involved. So we will call out Fea, we will call out all these other profs who are doing the same thing….
People say “why do Christian profs do that?” Well, Luke 6:40 [says] “Every student when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” These guys were all taught by Ph.Ds from Harvard and Yale and all these other secular schools, so they’re just like ’em now. They may be Christian. They may have their fire insurance. But they don’t think right. So that’s what we try to do.
- My name is pronounced Fee-ah (rhymes with female name Tia or Mia).
- Any historian-Christian or otherwise–would say that Tim Barton’s comments about original documents are absurd. First, all historians work with original sources and try to draw conclusions based on those sources. Second, one does not have to physically own a copy of the document in order to read and interpret what it is saying. This is why historians visit archives, publish edited collections of primary sources, and place primary sources online at respectable sites. I hear David Barton talk about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution all the time. Perhaps he can produce his original copies of these documents. He also talks a lot about the Bible. Does he have a copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls in his Aledo, Texas office? If he does, I am impressed.
- The piece that Barton refers to in this video can be read here. Barton does not respond to my evidence from the state Constitutions. I apparently have little credibility because I don’t actually own a copy of these state Constitutions. How dare I cite them. 🙂
- Let’s set the record straight for the hundredth time. Only one member of the clergy–John Witherspoon of New Jersey–signed the Declaration of Independence. Barton’s assertion that the signers were ministers is blatantly false. Witherspoon was the only one. Barton has been peddling this lie for a long time.
- I have never heard the Christian doctrine of “assurance of salvation” described as “fire insurance.” Barton seems to be implying that as a person of faith I have done the bare minimum to escape the fires of hell. Well, at least he thinks I am a saved.
Any attempt to respond to David Barton is an exercise in futility. We have fundamental differences about how one interprets the past. I want to make those differences known and challenge my fellow Christians to think in a more historically responsible way.
By the way, have I mentioned that the Second Edition of my Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction will be released next month? I would love to come to your church and talk about this stuff, especially if your church has some David Barton fans.