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|Born||1954 (age 59–60)|
|Alma mater||B.A., Oral Roberts University|
|Born||1954 (age 59–60)|
|Alma mater||B.A., Oral Roberts University|
David Barton (born January 28, 1954) is an American evangelical Christian minister, conservative activist, and author. He founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based organization which promotes the view that it is a myth that the US Constitution insists on separation of church and state. Barton is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas. He has been described as a Christian nationalist and "one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians"; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed, that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.
Barton collects early American documents, and his official biography describes him as "an expert in historical and constitutional issues". Barton holds no formal credentials in history or law, and scholars dispute the accuracy and integrity of his assertions about history, accusing him of practicing misleading historical revisionism, "pseudoscholarship" and spreading "outright falsehoods". According to the New York Times, "many 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." Barton's 2012 book The Jefferson Lies was voted "the least credible history book in print" by the users of the History News Network website. The book's publisher, the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, disavowed the book and withdrew it from sale. A senior executive said that Thomas Nelson could not stand by the book because "basic truths just were not there."
A 2005 Time magazine article entitled "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals" called Barton "a major voice in the debate over church–state separation" who, despite the fact that "many historians dismiss his thinking... [is] a hero to millions—including some powerful politicians." Barton has appeared on television and radio programs, including those of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. Beck has praised Barton as "the Library of Congress in shoes". In September 2013, POLITICO reported that he has returned to the political arena and is advising state legislators on how to fight the Common Core academic standards promoted by the Obama administration.
Barton is a lifelong resident of Aledo, Texas, about 16 statute miles (26 km) west of Fort Worth. He graduated from Aledo High School in 1972. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University in 1976.
After graduating, Barton served as a church youth director. He taught math and science and eventually became principal at Aledo Christian School, a ministry of the charismatic church started by Barton's parents.
In 1987 Barton formed Specialty Research Associates, Inc., a company which states that it "focuses on the historical research of issues relating to America's constitutional, moral, and religious heritage." Specialty Research Associates has submitted amicus curiae briefs in court cases.
Barton is the founder and president of the Aledo-based group WallBuilders. WallBuilders publishes and sells most of Barton's books and videos, some of which present Barton's position that the modern view of separation of church and state is not consistent with the views of the Founders. Among other beliefs about the religion clauses of the First Amendment, they argue that its religion clauses were not intended to include such faiths as Paganism and Witchcraft, but only monotheistic religions, and perhaps solely Christianity.
There was a Tea Party movement to get him to run against Senator John Cornyn in the 2014 Senate election from Texas. However, Barton announced on November 6, 2013, that he would not run for the seat.
He serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. This curriculum contains direct quotations from Barton's books, recommends the resources published by WallBuilders, and advocates showing that group's video, Foundations of American Government, at the beginning of the course.
Barton serves on the Board of Advisors of the Providence Foundation. In an article discussing Barton, The Nation described the Providence Foundation as "a Christian Reconstructionist group that promotes the idea that biblical law should be instituted in America."
Barton, in his book The Myth of Separation, argues that Christians were the ones who were intended to hold public office and that Jews and members of other sects were not. According to Skipp Porteous of the Massachusetts-based Institute for First Amendment Studies, Barton was listed in promotional literature as a "new and special speaker" at a 1991 summer retreat in Colorado sponsored by Scriptures for America, a far-right Christian Identity ministry headed by Pastor Pete Peters, which has been linked to neo-Nazi groups. Barton's assistant Kit Marshall said in 1993 that Barton was previously unaware of the anti-Semitic and racist views of these groups. In September 2011, Barton sued two former Texas State Board of Education candidates for posting a video on YouTube that stated that he was "known for speaking at white supremacist rallies".
Barton received two Angel Awards, from the group Excellence in Media. Time magazine included him in its list of "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America". Barton has been a frequent guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network, including the "American Heritage Series" in 2007 and the "Building on the American Heritage Series" in 2011. Barton has also appeared on the The 700 Club, and The Daily Show.
He has received criticism from the following:
Jay W. Richards, senior fellow at the Christian conservative Discovery Institute, stated in 2012 that Barton's books and videos are full of "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims." The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Barton's work as "anti-gay" "historical revisionism", noting that Barton has no formal training in history.
In 2012, Barton's New York Times best-seller The Jefferson Lies was voted "the least credible history book in print" by the users of the History News Network website. A group of ten conservative Christian professors reviewed the work and formed a negative view of its claims, reporting that Barton has misstated facts about Jefferson. In August 2012, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson withdrew the book from publication and stopped production, announcing that they had "lost confidence in the book's details" and "learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported." Glenn Beck announced that his Mercury Ink imprint would issue a new edition of the book, for issuing once the 17,000 remaining copies that Barton bought of the Thomas Nelson edition had been sold.
In an article titled "Unconfirmed Quotations", Barton conceded that he has not located primary sources for eleven alleged quotes from James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions (hence, the title of the article), but maintained that the quotes were "completely consistent" with the views of the Founders. This drew criticism from Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who in 1996 accused Barton of "shoddy workmanship", and said that despite these and other corrections, Barton's work "remains rife with distortions of history and court rulings". WallBuilders responded to its critics by saying that Barton followed "common practice in the academic community" in citing secondary sources, and that in publishing "Unconfirmed Quotations", Barton's intent was to raise the academic bar in historical debates pertinent to public policy.
The Texas Monthly noted in 2006 that Barton has denied saying that in his famous letter to Danbury Baptists "Jefferson referred to the wall of separation between church and state as 'one-directional'—that is, it was meant to restrain government from infringing on the church's domain but not the other way around. There is no such language in the letter." The article goes on to say that this denial is contradicted by a 1990 version of Barton's video America's Godly Heritage in which Barton states:
On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote to that group of Danbury Baptists, and in this letter, he assured them—he said the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, he said, but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.
Barton's legitimacy was reported to be growing in 2006, due largely to his first non-self-published work, a 2003 article in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, (Volume XVII Issue No. 2, 2003, p. 399), a "rather tame survey" on Jefferson's writings about the First Amendment.
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