The Idiocy of Texas and the Threat of David Barton
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 03:49:30 AM EST
Ever since Governor Rick Perry's (R-TX) appointment of Gail Lowe as chair of the the worst and most dangerous state Board of Education ever, and the almost inevitable choice of Christian nationalist history revisionist David Barton as an "expert" to review the state's social studies curriculum, I've been getting a stream of emails from people who know me as the arch-rival of Barton, wondering why I haven't written anything on the subject.

Well, I've desperately been trying to find the time to get something out on this, but have just been up to my eyeballs in work for my job with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a job that, ironically, I ended up in two years ago because of the discovery of a David Barton essay on the "myth" of separation between church and state in the Junior ROTC core curriculum American history textbook. Then, Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, deluged with media requests since the Ensign and Sanford sex scandals exposed the Family's "C Street" cabal to a wider audience, asked MRFF president Mikey Weinstein if he could borrow me to help with some further research on certain members of the Family, the full results of which will be breaking soon. So, I've just been busy as hell, and hearing and reading about the Texas BOE lunacy and the appointment of Barton, but not being able to find any time to write about it, has put me at serious risk of my head exploding.

I still don't have much time to spend on this, but I do want to make a few things clear about David Barton.

First of all, very little of what I've been reading about the Texas BOE seems to convey just how dangerous Barton really is. His agenda for the teaching of American history is not merely a somewhat more religious "interpretation" of history, as some are describing it -- it's an all out, lie packed, completely revised, Christian nationalist version of history, designed to muster support for a very clear political agenda.

Second, I've read much about Barton's utter lack of credentials to be in any way involved in the development of new textbooks -- textbooks that, as Barton has been gloating about on his radio show for months now, will not only be used in Texas, but, because of the economic realities of the textbook publishing business, will find their way into the public schools of all the states. (California, with the largest state population, has always been the other state, along with Texas, the second most populous state, to steer the content of new textbooks, but, because of its current economic crisis, California is out of the picture this time around, leaving the Texas board of wackaloons as the only voice in what will and won't appear in the next wave of textbooks.)

Now, getting back to Barton's credentials, or lack thereof, many people have been pointing out that he has no degree in history. His educational credentials consist of a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, and an honorary doctorate from Pensacola Christian College. But, what bothers me far more than his lack of a history degree is his pumped-up bio, in which he claims to have been been involved in the development of the history/social studies standards not just for Texas, but also for California and other states. Well, like most of his historical claims, this claim isn't quite true. In reality, Barton's "involvement" in developing curriculum standards for any other state besides Texas has consisted of nothing more than being enlisted by some conservative member of that state's standards commission or legislature -- someone who shares Barton's agenda -- as an "expert" for their side. It does not mean that he was appointed by that state, and, thankfully, he hasn't actually been able to succeed in screwing up any textbooks -- at least not yet.

In the latest issue of Church & State, the magazine of Americans United (AU), Rob Boston explained Barton's California claim:

"In 1998, a conservative member of the California Academic Standards Commission appointed Barton to an advisory position, asking the Texan to critique proposed social studies/history standards. From that perch, Barton attacked the portion of the standards that discussed the development of religious freedom, trying to remove every reference to separation of church and state.

"He almost pulled it off. Commission members, unfamiliar with Barton's agenda, seemed open to adopting his suggestions. They changed course only after intervention by Americans United's Sacramento Chapter, AU's national office and others."


Another example of Barton's grossly exaggerated role in a state's curriculum development involves everyone's favorite nut of a congresswoman, Michele Bachmann. Back in September, when Barton had Bachmann on his radio show -- introducing her as "a rock solid lady," and a "real class act" -- he brought up his previous encounters with her, including this:

"As a matter of fact, I worked with her on history standards up in Minnesota -- doing some history legislation, and making sure that they could not censor religious references from history books."


So, what was Barton referring to here? Well, back in 2005, when Bachmann was still a senator in the Minnesota legislature, she and some of her fellow legislative wingnuts had bought -- hook, line, and sinker -- the wildly distorted story and propaganda about California banning the Declaration of Independence in public schools because it mentioned a creator. So, although existing Minnesota history standards already contained the use of the Declaration and other historical documents with religious content, Bachmann co-sponsored a completely unnecessary piece of legislation to "permit" these same documents that were already being used in the state's schools to be used in the state's schools, actually citing the bogus story about California banning the Declaration of Independence as a reason her unnecessary legislation was of the utmost importance. Barton's big role in all this? Well, he appeared before the Minnesota Senate Education Committee in support of Bachmann's legislation. Similar legislation had already been introduced by Minnesota state representative Mark Olson in 2001, and Olson, during a House Education Policy Committee hearing on his bill, had also brought in David Barton.

Of course, without the real explanations of the circumstances surrounding Barton's role in these state history education related proceedings, and relying only on the deceptive way in which Barton describes his involvement, anyone unfamiliar with him would think he sounds like somebody who has lots of legitimate experience in developing history curriculums and is sought out by other states for this expertise.

But, the biggest problem with Barton meddling with our country's textbooks is not his lack of qualifications. It's the fact that he's a big fat liar who will distort, misrepresent, and even fabricate historical events to further his Christian nationalist agenda and political ideology.

I've written so much on the subject of Barton's historical revisionism, and debunked so many of his lies, that there's no need for me to get into any particular lies here. If anyone wants to see just how bad this guy really is, and why those of us who already know how bad he is are so concerned about his appointment, I urge you to read a few of the things I've written and get a little taste of just what our country's history textbooks may end up looking like.

One is the series I wrote last year when Rep. Randy Forbes introduced H. Res. 888, a resolution for an annual religious heritage week. This resolution, reintroduced in the current congress as H. Res. 397, is packed with a seventy-five "Whereas" clause litany of Christian nationalist historical revisionism. This is what David Barton would like to see taught in our public schools. In fact, Forbes got much of the material for this resolution straight from his pal Barton.

The other is a series I wrote a few years ago about the history revisionism in the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBCPS) curriculum. This curriculum, already being taught in thousands of our public schools, has David Barton on its Advisory Board, and contains many of the lies from his books. Unbelievably, it even contains fabricated quotes that Barton himself, after being busted on them, started advising his minions not to use. But this didn't stop him from knowingly reviving these fabricated quotes in this public school curriculum.

For those who don't have the time or inclination to do a lot of reading, I also made a little video about Barton and his lies after he trashed me on his radio show earlier this year.

For those who do have the time and inclination to do a lot of reading, there are links to a bunch of other articles about Barton, as well as several free chapters of my book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, on my website.





Display:
[...pulls on boots, kicks inflatable George W. Bush doll, dons ten-gallon hat, thumbs through Molly Ivins &  Jim Hightower books.]

...anyway, glad you got this out. This is a story that's gotten way too little attention.

My suspicion is that non-theocratically inclined Americans have much to learn about parapolitics. They who control the past... well, you know the punchline.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 03:56:36 AM EST


The worst thing about this is that much of this is being caused merely because of Rick Perry's pandering to the religious wingnut base of the Texas GOP (i.e. most of them) ahead of next year's gubernatorial primary fight with Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

And, sad to say, along with his secessionist talk (which is even more disingenuous), it's been working, allowing him to turn a 5 point deficit into a 10 point lead.

The only good news is that by running so hard to the right he may paint himself into a corner should he actually with the Republican nomination.  He's not a terribly popular governor to start with, and shoring up his right flank might cause the left and center to fall away.

by tacitus on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:44:47 PM EST


is elected, by districts, so actually the voters of Texas are to blame for not paying attention to down-ballot races like this one. The Governor is allowed to designate the chair of the board only.

by nogodsnomasters on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 04:11:01 PM EST
You are right, but he is enabling and emboldening their activism by insisting on nominating one of them to chair the education committee.

If he would nominate a sane Republican (and there are some) then these wingnut activities would have less significance.

by tacitus on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 04:34:15 PM EST
Parent

Perry is doing this to help shore himself up with the Republican hateful Jeebusite primary voters  as he prepares to take on Kay Bailey Hutchison.

by nogodsnomasters on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 05:09:03 PM EST
Parent



I have been 'enlightened' by my Father about the wonderful mission of the wallbuilders and have been reading all I can about the truth.
Thank you for this additional info, I have already watch the video and found it illuminating.
My Father's arrogance is blinding him that I would never be able to change him, but I want to be prepared with crap emails he or mom may send my way.
Thanks again.

by FFL on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 06:56:22 PM EST

I wanted to post this letter to the editor I wrote to our local paper, the Starkville (MS) Daily News. They feature a local right wing christian "columnist" who, every sunday, gives his 'biblical worldview', which is basically a regurgitation of whatever Fox News has on the day before. He wrote a column pushing revisionist Christian history and was called on it by a reader in an excellent letter to the editor. My response to his letter is here.  I got in a plug for Liars for Jesus.
--------------------------------

Dear Editor,

I commend the SDN editorial staff for running the letter to the editor entitled 'A Call for Truth in the News Media'. In it, Mr. Lowery makes several excellent points in regards to the 'revisionist history' of David Barton, which is promoted by the Christian Right. In the book 'Liars For Jesus' author Chris Rodda examines every claim made by Mr. Barton and documents in detail how he deliberately plays fast and loose with the facts. Barton quotes extensively from Thomas Jefferson, never mentioning that he was a staunch anti-Trinitarian. To try and make Thomas Jefferson into an ideological bedfellow of modern day fundamentalists is laughable.
Printing letters of this kind reinforces the perception that Starkville is a progressive Mississippi community that has a diverse population which includes people of many faith traditions and political views.

Sincerely,
Hal Tribble

by COinMS on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 07:36:02 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


The Theocrats' New Clothes: A Naked Call for Political Dominion
Like the monarch in Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, the theocratic ambitions of the organizers of the big Christian Right......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
The Washington Post recently underscored the larger point in this post, which goes far beyond the issues of the GOP diversity program. So I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Unholy Alliance for Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety
When I obtained a post from a private email listserv of gun control advocates, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Then I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bobby Jindal's Big Rally for Christian Right Dominion
There is a big Christian Right rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, January 24th. The event, called The Response, is intended to, among......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Dominionism, Gov. Rick Perry and The Response Rally of 2011
The David Pakman Show recently rebroadcast this "Classic Interview"  with Rachel Tabachnick in which they discuss her groundbreaking work on the New Apostolic Reformation,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Freedom as Revolution
In which I discuss Religious Freedom Day on the David Pakman Show. I said, among other things, "The idea of religious freedom was one......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama's Religious Freedom Day Proclamation
As is the annual custom, Mr. Obama issued the the Presidential Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, 2015. I have republished the whole thing after......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize the Day (Religious Freedom Day) on Social Media
Today is Religious Freedom Day! And there are ways to participate on social media on this, the most important national Day that most of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel
"Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel" is a new article in Tikkun Magazine, (January 2015) by Chip Berlet and......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses
Here are the Recommendations from the Report "Constructing Campus Conflict: Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses, 2007-2011: published by Political Research Associates, 2014......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)
What Did Jefferson & 18th Century Evangelicals Have in Common?
What did Jefferson and 18th century evangelicals have in common?  If you guessed separation of church and state, you can go to the head......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Waking the Sleeping Beast of Religious Liberty
This piece originally appeared as an op-ed at LGBTQ Nation. Something remarkable happened in the run up to the decision of the U.S. Supreme......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rousing Remarks: Remembering Mario Cuomo's Powerful Speech On Religion And Politics
Two memorable speeches were delivered in the early 1980s on separation of church and state. The first was by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Huckabee Dumps Fox News -- Might Jump in to the Race for 2016
According to a statement on his web site, tonight will be Mike Huckabee's last show on Fox where he has held forth on Saturday......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize The Day!: Upcoming Religious Freedom Event Provides An Opportunity For Separation Advocates
Note: Like all of my posts, this one is a cross-post from Americans United's "Wall of Separation" blog. Two weeks from today, the nation......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (0 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (0 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.