It turns out David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies (2012) is back, courtesy of World Net Daily. Historian John Fea of Messiah College in Grantham, PA, got the word from Warren Throckmorton, who led the charge against the original book, and with Michael Coulter, demolished it with a book of his own. Both books were reviewed here, Barton here and Throckmorton and Coulter here.
Watch what Fea calls “over-the-top promotional video for the book with very dramatic music”:
Advertising that the book is by “historian” David Barton is bad enough. David Barton is not a historian by any stretch of the imagination. He is an apologist and propagandist, a fraud who has a BA in religious education from ORU. So, lacking even an undergraduate degree in American history, let alone a Masters or a PhD, he makes a living selling lies to repurpose America’s history for the conservative agenda.
Fea writes that,
The website for the book at WND describes The Jefferson Lies as “The New York Times bestseller pulled from the shelves because of political correctness.” (Why do conservatives and members of the Christian Right suddenly love The New York Times whenever it is used to modify “bestseller.”).
I have not read the new edition. I hear that Barton made some changes in response to the criticisms. But I think it is safe to say that the original version of the book was not pulled from print because of “political correctness.” It was pulled from print because it was bad history.
In fact, it was not “political correctness” (Throckmorton demolishes that claim here) but the fact that so many egregious errors of fact were pointed out to the publisher that they were forced to recall the book as “deficient.” (The same should be done to all Bill O’Reilly’s historical fiction).
You can be sure Barton has not changed much. For one thing, Barton is too full of himself and too dishonest to admit he made any mistakes, intentional or otherwise, in the original book. He thinks he is “very scary for people who have a secular worldview” (ironically, that would include Thomas Jefferson).
Barton’s reaction to criticism of his book (by Throckmorton and others) was not the scholar’s careful, point-by-point refutation of such criticism, which you will regularly find in peer-reviewed journals, but rather childish and scathing attacks. And his supporters claimed that even the fact of such criticism of his book was proof that the book was accurate!
There is very little you can say about such thinking.
Barton himself is so dishonest he has claimed that a defamation lawsuit which did not take place proves he did not lie. Warren Throckmorton, again, demolished that lie. As Kyle Mantyla noted at Right Wing Watch, “But in typical Barton fashion, he was unable to even tell the truth about the results of his own defamation lawsuit.”
So David Barton is a liar who lies about even his own lies. He literally cannot open his mouth without lying, which offers very poor prospects indeed for any “revision” of his book.
As final damning evidence of the worthlessness of Barton’s book, Fea offers us a list of those who endorse this waste of ink:
Matt Brock, a professor of paralegal studies at Liberty University
Dr. White McKenzie Wellborn from the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, an organization known for opposing much of the current scholarship on Jefferson, especially related to his relationship with Sally Hemings.
Barbara Morris, a professor of English at St. John’s University in New York.
Dr. John Swails, a professor of Middle East Studies and History at Oral Roberts University
Douglas Wingate, the president of Life Christian University. This appears to be an online Bible college. Its most famous graduates are televangelists Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyers. They all have a “Ph.D in Theology” from this university.
But, and this is a huge “but,” Fea points out, “What is most striking about this list of endorsers is that Barton could not find one American historian to endorse the book.”
Well, yeah…an actual American historian couldn’t actually endorse a book of lies about American history. Not and ever expect to work in the field again.
Why did Barton turn to the department of paralegal studies at Liberty University for an endorsement instead of the history department? What about American historians teaching at Colorado Christian University, Southwest Assembly of God University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and Life Christian University? The fact is, as I have noted before, there are no reputable American historians willing to endorse the book.
So stay tuned for the story of a Thomas Jefferson who never lived. Yes, Jefferson revered Jesus. He said his teachings were sublime. But Jefferson discounted the miracles (hardly a strong enough word for how he felt) that are so essential to core Christian teachings about Jesus. There is a reason Jefferson cut all the miracles out of the Bible in piecing together his own copy of the Bible.
Barton’s book ought to be called “Lies About Jefferson” rather than “The Jefferson Lies.” It would be the only honest thing about it.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.