David Barton is the unofficial historian of American right-wing Christianity. Through his organization, WallBuilders, he regularly hosts groups of pastors in Washington, DC for briefings with Christian congressman and “spiritual heritage tours.” He also travels across the country speaking at local churches about the Christian heritage of the United States. He is the author of numerous books and video resources which purport to teach American history. Here are three things Christians should know about him.
- David Barton has no formal training or earned academic credentials as a historian. Barton’s undergraduate degree is in religious education. Furthermore, his alma mater, Oral Roberts University (ORU), was founded by the infamous prosperity gospel televangelist Oral Roberts. Barton has claimed an “earned” Ph.D. from the same diploma mill as Joyce Meyer. The veracity of his historical claims and teaching have been widely panned by leftist and Christian historians alike. His most notable publication, The Jefferson Lies, was roundly condemned by historians and was removed from circulation by Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson
- David Barton’s Christian orthodoxy is highly questionable and is compromised by his political associations and false teachings. He has endorsed popular conservative pundit, Glenn Beck, as a fellow Christian. Beck, who wrote the foreword to The Jefferson Lies is a Mormon. Barton also regularly partners with prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland, who has gotten rich teaching seed faith theology and claiming that humans are “little gods” who can speak reality into existence. Barton’s grasp on biblical theology is feeble and twisted. His teaching is full of wild claims; Barton has argued that Jesus taught about capital gains taxes and minimum wage and that retirement is an unbiblical pagan concept.
- David Barton’s personal integrity is dubious. Aside from making historical claims which are regularly contested by professional historians, his own personal backstory is suspect. In a 2015 speech at Charis Bible College, Barton implied that he played Basketball at ORU by telling the audience, “I remember when I was playing basketball, the college stuff that we did. We started every day with a five mile run, then we lifted weights, then we had an hour of racquetball, then we had two hours of full-court basketball, then we came back for another run. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but in those years, our college team set the NCAA record for two years in a row for most points scored. We averaged 105, 104, 103 points a game, I forget what it was. But you had to run a lot, it wasn’t a lot of fun, but you get the results.” According to the Public Relations office of ORU, “there is no record of a David Barton ever playing basketball for ORU.”
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