The national media seems to be ignoring the outcry by civil liberties groups and Democrats about Christian Right author David Barton’s religious history of the U.S. tour sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. They are also ignoring Barton’s role in formulating the current strategy of “intimidation” of judges by the Christian Right and their allies in Congress. The notable exception so far, is a fine article in The Nation magazine, by Max Blumenthal.
Meanwhile when I posted my diary on the several Barton-related flaps yesterday, I completely forgot that I had detailed some of his background in Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy when trying to explain the depth and breadth of Barton’s influence in national life.
“Barton… frequently appears at official functions as an expert on the Constitution and American history. In 1994, he spoke at an inaugural function for [then] Virginia Governor George Allen and was the featured speaker at the ‘Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast’ sponsored by Pennsylvania state legislators. In 1995, he gave a series of lectures on American history to conservative freshmen Congressional Republicans and was featured at a Christian Coalition forum in Tennessee along with [then]Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist. Barton is also a popular speaker at both state and national Christian Coalition events, and his books and videos are in wide circulation. Christian Coalition leader Bob McClellan of El Cajon, California says ‘David Barton’s products have been invaluable in furthering the principles of the Christian Coalition strategy in San Diego. Emblematic of his growing role in political life, Barton was a Texas delegate to the 1996 presidential nominating convention in San Diego, and served on the platform committee.” (pgs 17-18)
But as long as we are putting together a Barton file, probably no one has done more to research and debunk Barton’ distorted and often false version of American history than Robert Boston. His 1993 article in Church and State magazine, (published by Americans United for Separation of Church and State), Sects, Lies and Videotape: David Barton’s Distorted History is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why Barton is better understood as a snake-oil salesman than, as he was described by Senator Frist, as a “historian.”
The false narrative that the U.S. was founded as a “Christian Nation,” and must be “restored” is intergral to political success of the Christian Right. However, the national media and most politically interested groups and individuals, continue to ignore the centrality of Christian nationalism to the ideology of the Christian Right, and Barton’s role as its leading proponent.
The media and the political community also seems to be ignoring the fact that Barton wrote a book on the strategy of judicial intimidation that we now see in operation in Washington.
Here is an excerpt from my diary of yesterday.
Ralph Neas, president of People for the American way also urged Frist, to disassociate himself from Barton, citing one of Barton’s books. From Neas’ description, the book sounds like a field manual for the current attacks on the state and federal judiciary by Christian Right leaders and their allies in Congress.
“Mr. Barton’s 1996 book Impeachment!: Restraining an Over Active Judiciary,” writes Neas, [is] “a 50 page handbook on how and why the right should push for impeachment of judges whose decisions they disagree with on abortion, school desegregation, homosexuality, and other subjects.”
“Clearly stated,” Neas concluded, “is Barton’s agenda to intimidate federal judges, noting that even if impeachment does not succeed, the threat ‘serves as a deterrent’ and would cause judges to ‘become more restrained.'”
If the media and the political community cannot focus thier concern on the author of a field manual for indimidation of state and federal judges, whose ideas are now being put into play by conservative and Congressional leaders… well lets just say I don’t get it.