David Barton is now complaining that folks who oppose his appointment by the Texas State Board of Education to a panel of social studies “experts” are doing so simply because he’s a Christian and a conservative. We’re not going to let him get away with that blatant mistruth. (Some might rightly call it a “lie.”)
We oppose Barton’s appointment to the panel because he lacks the academic credentials to qualify by any stretch of the imagination as a social studies “expert.” His personal religious beliefs are irrelevant, as is the faith of each individual appointed to the social studies panel.
Barton’s college degree is in religious education, not history or another field in the social sciences. He works for no institution of higher education. He’s simply a smooth-talking political hack who distorts history in the service of an ideological agenda.
As we detailed in a 2006 report (pages 17-21 of The Anatomy of Power), Barton’s career is one long exercise in political propaganda, not truly academic historical research. Barton’s organization, WallBuilders, is dedicated to undermining constitutional protections for separation of church and state. Having served for a decade as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, he also distorts history in an effort to promote the GOP. (For example, he claims the Republican Party is a champion of civil rights for African Americans. There is no question, of course, that the Republican Party led political opposition to slavery in this country and for many decades really did support civil rights. Some Republicans still do. But Barton conveniently ignores strong Republican opposition to civil rights laws since the 1960s, when white southerners and segregationists began their migration from the Democratic Party to the GOP. That kind of historical revisionism is dishonest and sleazy.)
Moreover, Barton’s arguments about church-state separation have been challenged by academics and even by religious organizations. Those organizations realize that separation of church and state is a critical protection for religious freedom. But Barton calls church-state separation a myth and even argues that U.S. laws and public policies should be based on the Bible. He is a clear example of someone who wants to use government to promote his own religious views over those of everybody else.
No, Mr. Barton, we don’t oppose your appointment because you’re a “Christian and a conservative.” TFN includes many Christians and other people of faith, including Democrats and Republicans. We oppose your appointment because the schoolchildren of Texas deserve far better. Shame on you, and shame on the State Board of Education for appointing you.