Politico: David Barton’s Political Usefulness Trumps Scholarship For Evangelical Groups
Politico’s Stephanie Simon has an eye-opening article out today regarding David Barton and his evangelical supporters. Although I don’t agree that Barton’s reputation has fully bounced back, the article correctly reveals the disappointing pragmatism that plagues some Christian organizations. I will have more on this article in a separate post.
This section is especially disturbing:
Focus on the Family, meanwhile, edited two videos on its website featuring a lengthy interview Barton gave to Focus radio. The editing deleted a segment in which Barton declares that Congress printed the first English-language Bible in America — and intended it to be used in schools. That’s one of Barton’s signature stories — it’s a highlight in his Capitol tour — but historians who have reviewed the documentation say it’s simply not true. Focus also cut an inaccurate anecdote about a contemporary legal case, which Barton cited to make the point that society today punishes people of faith.
Asked why the videos were edited, Carrie Gordon Earll, a senior director of public policy at Focus on the Family, at first said they had not been, though before-and-after footage can be publicly viewed on websites archiving Focus broadcasts. Earll then said she could not comment beyond a statement noting that Focus “has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with David Barton” and respects his “broad base of knowledge” about early American history.
In an interview with POLITICO, Barton said his remarks were sometimes taken out of context but defended his scholarship as impeccable.
A subset of the evangelical historians who raised issues with Family Research Council brought these problems to Focus on the Family’s attention this summer. In a post on my personal blog, I point out which sections were removed without notice. According to Politico, Focus on the Family denied they had edited the material. If true, that is shocking. Why is David Barton’s reputation so important that a Christian group would resort to subterfuge to cover up his errors?