Controversial author and history-twister David Barton is back in the news, now that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has suggested that as part of the new Congress, she would like to offer members “Constitution classes,” reminding them of their legal obligations. Barton would be one of her instructors, presumably in the area of religious freedom and the separation of church and state (a doctrine he has repeatedly dismissed as myth).
Having Barton lecture the House of Representatives on religious liberty issues and the Constitution is a bit like having the fox lecture the hens on proper coop construction. Back in 2005, Baptist Joint Committee Director Brent Walker offered a strong detailed critique of Barton’s work, concluding:
Barton peddles the proposition that America is a Christian nation, legally and historically. He asserts that the principle of church-state separation, while not in the Constitution, has systematically been used to rule religion out of the public arena, particularly the public school system. His presentation has just enough ring of truth to make him credible to many people. His work, however, is laced with exaggerations, half-truths and misstatements of fact.
As more individuals, congregations and elected officials are influenced by Barton’s claims, the threat of his campaign becomes more real.