"Faux-historian David Barton’s shocking new influence"Historians in the News
tags: David Barton, Glenn Beck
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Back when Glenn Beck was one of the most admired men in America and Fox News’ No. 1 celebrity, he introduced to the nation at large a “historian,” well known among the Christian right, by the name of David Barton, who claims to have documentary evidence that the founders based the Constitution explicitly on the Bible. Beck often referred to a group known as the “black-robed regiment,” which was composed of priests and clergy who were revolutionary sympathizers, comparing today’s conservative preachers to what he implied were clergymen-soldiers in the secular liberal war on the Constitution.
Beck called upon David Barton to head what he called Beck University, an online course for those who wanted to educate themselves in the Beck school of thought. Let’s just say it wasn’t the curriculum you’d find at most schools of higher learning. (You can hear one of David Barton’s “lectures” here, where he tells the Beck U students that American exceptionalism springs from its Christian theocratic principles.)
Barton quickly became the toast of Wingnuttia. He was invited to participate in Tea Party events all over the country and even held a constitutional seminar for the 2010 incoming freshman class at the invitation of congresswoman Michele Bachmann. The New York Times featured him in a glowing profile that only mentioned in passing that his alleged scholarship was, shall we say, controversial:
[M]any professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.
“The problem with David Barton is that there’s a lot of truth in what he says,” said Derek H. Davis, director of church-state studies at Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Waco, Tex. “But the end product is a lot of distortions, half-truths and twisted history.”
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