Christian Recons

Why Do GOP Presidential Candidates Love A Discredited Christian Historian Who Advocates Theocracy in America?

David Barton, Christian "Historian" and spiffy dresser

Who the hell is David Barton?

You may not know him, but he promises to be a big behind-the-scenes influence in the 2012 Republican presidential race. David Barton is an ordained minister and self-taught Christian historian, whose ambition, according to a remarkably soft profile in The New York Times, “is to use America’s past to remake its future.”

From his headquarters in Aledo, TX, Barton is on a campaign to prove that the Founding Fathers set out to create a Christian nation, one which amazingly looks a lot like the religious’ rights idea of Heavenly Paradise. Barton claims the Bible opposes the minimum wage law and the estate tax, but (you know it) supports DOMA.

Among those who say they value his advice (which includes claiming a 1792 debate about codfish proves James Madison opposed a federal stimulus) are Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachman—or about half of the Murderers’ Row of Tea Party presidential wannabes. The Times quotes Huckabee as calling Barton “maybe the greatest living historian on the spiritual nature of America’s early days,” which will probably come as a surprise to anyone with a graduate degree in history.

“We present American history, and we do so with a Providential perspective,” says Barton. “In short, history not only shows God’s workings and plans but it also demonstrates the effectiveness of biblical principles when applied to church, education, government, economics, family, entertainment, military or any other aspect of life.” According to Barton, the Founding Fathers had a direct pipeline to the Almighty, which is pretty amazing because many of them were Deists who wouldn’t cut the mustard with the religious right if they were walking around today.

No dicredited right-wing historian would be complete without a big antigay component. According to a recent report from People for the American Way, Barton believes the government needs to get into gay bedrooms because the government should regulate what’s bad for your health and (you can see this one coming) “homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals,” a canard based on a thoroughly discredit study of 20 years ago by anti-gay activist Paul Cameron. And Barton also trots out the old chestnut that civilizations that “rejected sexual regulation” collapsed. Sure it was too much sex that brought down empires–certainly not horrible combinations of war, famine, corruption and evil regimes.

Can you imagine the right-wing fury if a prominent Democrat paid homage to a socialist historian? Think about what this means for a second: The GOP has moved so far to the right that few even bother to bat an eye when the party’s leading presidential candidates quote a man who would literally replace the U.S. Constitution with biblical law, a man who does not believe in democracy as it is practiced in open societies. If George W. Bush was the first religious conservative president, will Gingrich, et al be the first openly theocratic candidates?

One thing you can count on with someone like Barton: much as he likes to dish out vile lies, he can’t take any criticism. “If there’s a group in America that is hypersensitive, it is homosexuals,” Barton whined last fall. “I mean, they got a short fuse on everything. You’re a homophobe, you’re a whatever and anything you say or do, they interpret as coming after them.”

How did we ever got that idea?

Photo credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

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  • AxelDC

    People who write history with an agenda are propagandists, not historians.

  • Tallskin

    “Barton claims the Bible opposes the minimum wage law and the estate tax”

    LOL sometimes religion reveals itself with crystal clarity as nakedly serving the interests of the ruling class!

  • gregger

    The idiots that follow Barton and his “historical facts” are the same idiots that take Fux News as scientific fact. There is no discussing matters that any reasonable person would debate with them but they will gladly call you a godless heathen and condemn you to the fires of Hell. Maybe the rapture will happen and all those nutjobs will leave us in peace.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @AxelDC: While I understand the point you are making, however, in reality, ALL writers of history have an agenda.

    The difference with Barton vs, lets say, Winston Churchill’s histories, for which Churchill received the Nobel Prize in Literature, is that Barton relies on false logic and out-of-context references. Barton uses the weakest form of rhetorical argumentation, “a posteriori”, where one takes results and then asserts only the self-promoting agenda means as the causes.

    Barton is a fake/fraud; and this is the man that Mike Huckabee states in all due sincerity, that ALL Americans should be required to learn Barton’s lessons, at the end of a gun pointed at them if necessary.

  • ChiGuy76

    Mr. Barton is also responsible for writing history books that are recommended to Christian homeschoolers. That is truly scary, because no matter how much he is disproven among legitimate historians, there will be a segment of the population that will always believe him because Barton provided their grammar school texts. To them, anything that contradicts their worldview will always be part of the “Liberal-Socialist-Homosexual-Atheist-Jewish-Masonic-Islamophascist” conspiracy.

    There is a good book out there that I highly recommend, although a bit dry. It’s called “Liars for Jesus.” This book consistently debunks every argument made by Mr. Barton with, you know, actual facts and citations to original documents. Before any homeschooler who uses his history books is admitted to an acredited university or college, they should be made to read it to undo any damage done by Mr. Barton’s texts.

  • MikeE

    I’m curious whether the United States will one day join the other “great” theocracies, like Iran?

    And I’ll bet if you asked these people how they see themselves compared to countries such as Iran, they would have absolutely no idea of the shocking similarities and would consider themselves diametrically opposed to them.

  • plaintom

    This man is simply one more reason we cannot allow the Republicans to win the White House. Any gay person who votes for the Republicans in 2012 is deranged.

  • Cam

    He makes up stories, that back up the opinions of the right wing. Of COURSE they like him. Everybody likes the person who tells you exactly what you want to hear.

  • Chris

    This is why I read Queerty.

  • greenmanTN

    He was on The Daily Show this week, so if you want to see Barton interviewed by someone who isn’t one of his fans, it’s on TDS’s site. I saw the broadcast part of the interview and Barton, much like Huckabee, is a slippery character. Who, ME a Theocrat?! The interview went on longer than the show had time for and I haven’t seen that part but it’s at TDS too.

  • LarryLinn

    So David Barton claims that he was the ghost writer for the Texas School Board requirements for text books? I am sure that the Afro-Americans in the United States will have trouble accepting that there conclusion that there was no slavery, but “Atlantic triangular trade”, and the whites were innocent.

  • wtf6969696969

    I guess the repubes want america to turn into Iran

  • John

    Here’s a more important question than the one posed in the title of this article:

    Why do queers who blindly support the Democrats over gay rights pluck out obscure unknowns to paint the Republicans as “evil incarnate” while remaining silent on their own party’s homophobia, sexism, transphobia, racism, and support for environmental destruction?

    We live in a capitalist society. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are capitalist parties. A party that seeks to oversee the world’s largest economy will never allow itself to be dominated by folks who believe the Earth was created in 7 days. Republicans manipulate fundamentalists in ways similar to the way Democrats manipulate queers: give a lot of lip service, occasionally even toss a few crumbs, but never fundamentally change anything.

    Republicans manipulate fundies into thinking that every who comes to this website is evil incarnate and the Democrats are their party. The Democrats do the same to us. It’s a great system. It’s worked quite well for them for the last 150 years or so. Did you get your bank bailout?

  • Riker

    I’m one of the most outspoken gay republicans on this website, but I’ll come right out and say that actually believing what this guy says is completely indefensible.

    That said, though, this doesn’t mean i’ll vote Democrat across the board. Whether or not a given candidate promotes this guy’s views is certain to be a factor, but I’m still going to consider the entire candidate and weigh them against their opponent.

  • AxelDC

    @John: Don’t give me this more equivalency nonsense. Democrats have been pushing gay rights across the country against Republican objection. No, Democrats are not 100% supportive, but every Democratic Senator voted to repeal DADT, while 31 Republicans voted for antigay discrmination to 6.

    How many Republicans advocate for gay marriage? How many would like to restore sodomy laws? Texas Republicans refuse to remove Sodomy laws from their books 8 years after Lawrence v. Texas told them that their laws against gays were unconstitutional. Republicans would prefer to symbolically send us to jail rather than acquiesce to the US Supreme Court.

    In the 1990s, I was a Republican and could hold up William Weld and Christine Whitman as evidence of GOP enlightenment. Today, I can think of no prominent Republican who supports gay rights, but the roll of Democrats is long and distinguished. Democrats could be more supportive, but Republicans could only be considered gay-friendly in comparison to the Taliban.

  • the crustybastard

    Barton’s correct that the Bible doesn’t endorse a minimum wage. He neglects to mention that it does endorse slavery. Over and over and over.

    That’s one sacred message our corporate overlords can embrace without reservation.

  • the crustybastard


    We can agree that Republican support of gay rights is nonexistent. However, Democratic support for gay rights is, at best, half-hearted, but more typically they’re just…indifferent.

    It’s absurd to pretend otherwise.

    If, as you insist, Democrats had genuinely “been pushing gay rights across the country,” we would not find ourselves in 2011 socially behind not just the UK, Canada and Mexico, but even behind Paraguay. All of those places have well-organized conservative opposition, and yet…

    If your argument is that Democrats have never found a way to overcome Republican resistance even when Democrats held all the cards, you are then making a case to rally around a well-intentioned party that’s almost utterly ineffectual.

    Your case may be reasonably characterized as one intended to rally political support for the party that’s willing to abuse gays marginally less than another.

    Why not apply your efforts to rally support for a party that doesn’t want to abuse gays at all?

  • AxelDC

    @the crustybastard:
    I never said it was perfect, but in this country you have two choices when vote: the party who supports us with less enthusiasm than we would like, or the one who wants us to go to prison. I know which one I’d prefer leading my country.

    Nancy Pelosi pushed through the end of DADT, while Boehner is pushing it’s restoration. The reason the US Supreme Court hasn’t supported our rights is because it’s packed with Republicans. Imagine how different it would be if Roberts and Alito had been appointed by Al Gore instead. Canadians got gay rights through their Supreme Court before Parliament. If Republicans had their way, we would still have sodomy laws on the books and enforced.

  • greenmanTN

    There’s a term for gay Republicans who continue to insist, in the face of ALL evidence, that the Republican party is really “inclusive” of gays and the higher ups in the party don’t really care about the issue. That term is “fucking fools.” “Flat-out liars” also applies.

    All you have to do is look at the states which gained Republican majorities in the mid-term elections, running on issues such as jobs, the economy, and spending. What have they been spending a lot of their time on instead of those issues? Rolling back gay rights advances and dismantling consumer protection agencies.

  • robert in NYC

    If the republicans, more inmportantly the Log Cabiners consider their party to be inclusive, then why isn’t the GOP addressing equality issues as part of its platform? Listening in to their last convention, there was not one word spoken about gays or their equality because the simple fact of the matter is, they don’t believe we should have equality in any way shape or form in keeping with their right wing religious fundamentalist supporters and now the the tea party ignoramuses.

    No. 17….”Democrats had genuinely “been pushing gay rights across the country,” we would not find ourselves in 2011 socially behind not just the UK, Canada and Mexico, but even behind Paraguay. All of those places have well-organized conservative opposition, and yet…”

    You’re exactly right about that. The UK currently under a conservative coalition government will begin a consultation in July 2011 in making making marriage equality legal for both straights, some of whom would rather opt for a civil partnership and gays who would choose to marry instead. Unheard of under any conservative government anywhere in the world. The Tory (conservative) party in the UK has more out gay politicians than the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties combined, more than in the U.S.

  • Queer Supremacist - KKKristianity Kills Kweers

    The Tory (conservative) party in the UK has more out gay politicians than the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties combined, more than in the U.S.

    Then the problem is not the GOP. It’s Christianity.

  • robert in NYC

    “Then the problem is not the GOP. It’s Christianity.”

    Well, look who the overwhelming majority of these right wing religious nutjobs are…..REPUBLICANS and their party gives tacit support to them by saying NOTHING to discredit them. So in fact, the GOP IS the problem and so is their distorted view of christianity. Don’t you remember when George Bush stated that “God” told him to go to war with Iraq, the President of the U.S. and the leader of the GOP. Nothing has changed.

  • Kevin

    Hey how about the Tom Coburn and John Ensign presidential ticket, it represents what the GOP is, rather than what they profess to be. But I guess it would be like the Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump presidential ticket, right?

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