This weekend David Barton is hosting state legislators from around the nation at in a conference headlined by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Barton has come under fire in recent weeks due to endorsement of claims that climate change is related to legal abortion, that Christian professors are responsible for half of Christian students leaving their faith, that the U.S. military is God’s arm of judgment and that post-traumatic stress disorder can be discarded because of an Old Testament Bible verse.
The conference began last night and will run through Sunday and features Cruz, George Barna, John Fund, Glenn Beck, Terrance Moore and others. Given what he says when the camera and mic are on, I can only imagine what Barton will tell his audiences in private sessions.
(I just want to ask, parenthetically, why God needs an “arm of judgment.” Isn’t his own arm enough?)
I hope this helps explain why David Barton is relevant. Many times people will suggest that if we just ignore what many see as “fringe” players, they will just go away. But that will not happen. Sure, they are extremists but Barton, for example, influences the thinking of many. He is telling them that what they want to believe is true; he is validating their bigoted, twisted, preconceptions not only about history but about science and about religion. He threatens what our children our taught and he threatens what our leaders do.
David Barton is not a scientist. He is not a historian. He pretends to be a constitutional scholar but has no law degree. In fact, he has no relevant degrees. His academic credentials amount to a degree in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University. In the vernacular, he’s a bullshitter, making it up as he goes. But he found a niche for fake history and he filled it like gangbusters. The rest, as they say, is history.
It is just a shame that what Barton is selling is not history.
The good news is that not everyone – not even on the right – rolls over and plays dead for David Barton. Throckmorton also had some good news to dish out the other day. Communications Director of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and editor of the Gospel Coalition blog, Joe Carter, was not impressed by David Barton’s and Kenneth Copeland’s reading of Numbers 32 on Veteran’s Day:
How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.
Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.
To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton’s application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.
And the best part? Savor it:
For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this “blame the victim” trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.
Barton’s message is Satanic, demonic, gospel destroying. My God man, even the Southern Baptists aren’t fooled by David Barton! Why is Ted Cruz?
Ted Cruz has been called another Sarah Palin. Jonathan Capehart wrote last month at the Washington Post that Ted Cruz is Sarah Palin (2013 edition):
Both of them crave media attention. Both of them blame the media for their travails. And they wallow in a feeling of unfounded aggrievement. No wonder Palin endorsed Cruz during his 2012 Senate primary race. Thankfully, Palin has not been in a position to exercise hypocrisy on a grand scale like Cruz has.
I think Cruz is also a bit smarter – and therefore more dangerous – than Sarah Palin, but you have to wonder about his turn to David Barton. As Warren Throckmorton said, “At some point, I suspect reporters will start asking GOP presidential front-runner Cruz if he agrees with Barton about climate change, the U.S. military and PTSD, as well as many other of Barton’s claims.”
You have to wonder how big a seller “abortion causes climate change” will be to voters. Sure, there are a lot of anti-abortion conservatives out there, but not all of them are stupid enough to believe something so absurd. Certainly the all-important independents won’t buy it and even liberals stupid enough to oppose Obamacare aren’t going to accept that correlation. This decision of Ted Cruz may loom large as 2016 approaches. We liberals will make certain it is an issue when the time comes.
So you see, I hope, those of you who wondered, why David Barton matters. why I write about him so often. Because even if he doesn’t scare you he should make you wary. Ignorance is dangerous and that danger multiplies exponentially when it is embraced by people in power, as in representatives, senators, and most of all, presidents.
If we want to preserve our country and our constitutional rights, we need to be aware of who is crawling into bed with people like David Barton, and keep them away from the halls of power.
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