Steve's Soapbox

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Brownwood: Who is David Barton ? Depends on who you ask !

Protesters' presence shows not all are on evangelical's bandwagon
By Staci Semrad / Reporter-News Staff Writer
February 22, 2005

The Paramount Theatre entrance became a sparring ground over the separation of church and state Monday as author David Barton prepared to speak inside.
Barton, an Aledo man recently named by Time magazine as one of the country's top 25 evangelicals, was invited to Abilene by The Discovery Center, a local Christian education center.
As more than 700 people arrived for the event, many were puzzled to find more than a dozen people marching with signs bearing messages such as, ''Mind your own marriage,'' and ''The Founders presupposed God transcended the state. Right wing extremists want the state to make tokens of God.''
Most picketers were with the Taylor County Democratic Party.
Dave Haigler, chairman of the Taylor County Democrats, told a passer-by, ''We're protesting for religious freedom.''
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    David Barton
    Master of myth and misinformation

    By Rob Boston

    The constitutional principle of separation of church and state has given Americans more religious freedom than any people in world history. Around the globe, those suffering under the heavy heel of government-sponsored religious oppression look to America's church-state model with longing. The "wall of separation between church and state" is America's bulwark of true religious liberty.
    Despite its proven track record of success, separation of church and state is increasingly becoming just another target for the Religious Right's smear campaign strategists. In the past few years, an entire cottage industry has sprung up in Religious Right circles that seeks to "prove" that mainstream history is all wrong. The United States was really founded to be a fundamentalist Christian nation. Separation of church and state was never intended; it was, these far-right activists allege, foisted on the country by the Supreme Court in recent times.
    The Religious Right's leading practitioner of this type of historical revisionism is David Barton, who runs an outfit called WallBuilders out of Aledo, Texas.1 Barton makes a lucrative living traveling the right wing's lecture circuit where he offers up a cut-and-paste version of U.S. history liberally sprinkled with gross distortions and, in some cases, outright factual errors. Crowds of fundamentalist Christians from coast to coast can't get enough of it.
    Barton's propaganda frequently leaches into the secular media. Fundamentalist activists who have read his self-published books or watched his videotape "America's Godly Heritage" use the material to attack separation of church and state in local newspapers through letters to the editor and opinion columns. Religious Right-backed candidates spout Barton's history as they seek public office.
    In addition, Barton has been eagerly embraced by TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. For three years running Barton has been a featured speaker at Christian Coalition meetings, where his presentation on America's "Christian" roots and salvos against church-state separation draw huge crowds.2 Local units of the Christian Coalition have hosted Barton as well, and some sell his books and videos.
    Other major Religious Right luminaries have lauded Barton's "research." Jerry Falwell has praised Barton's anti-separation of church and state screed The Myth of Separation (1989) from his television pulpit and sells it through Liberty University's bookstore. Barton has been interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, the radio psychologist who heads the wealthy and powerful Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. During a flap over religion in public schools in Utah four years ago, Barton materials surfaced through the local branch of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. The Rev. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries is also an enthusiastic Barton booster.3
    Robertson, Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, and other Religious Right bigwigs have hooked up with Barton despite his links to the most extreme elements of the radical right wing. On two occasions Barton has delivered his presentation before white supremacist organizations with ties to neo-Nazis.
    In 1991 Barton addressed the Rocky Mountain Bible Retreat of Pastor Pete Peters' Scriptures for America, a group that espouses the racist "Christian Identity" theology. Advocates of this bizarre dogma insist that white Anglo-Saxons are the "true" chosen people of the Bible and charge that today's Jews are usurpers. Aside from being a virulent anti-Semite, Peters has advocated the death penalty for homosexuals. According to the Anti-Defamation League, other speakers at the event included white supremacist leader and 1992 presidential candidate James "Bo" Gritz, a leader of the radical and increasingly violent militia movement, and Malcolm Ross, a Holocaust denier from Canada. In November of that same year, Barton spoke at Kingdom Covenant College in Grants Pass, Oregon, another "Christian Identity" front group with ties to Peters.4
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    Abilene Reporter News
     We need balance
    March 5, 2005
    In the article about the demonstration in front of the Paramount recently, Dave Barton, one of the primary proponents of constitutionalism, was quoted as saying that, ''Some people are against everything.'' This remark was a blatant attempt to discredit anyone who disagrees with him.
    Neo-cons are against separation of church and state, and against the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution. The demonstration was for separation of church and state, democracy, and the balance of power that protects it.
    The Neo-cons will tell you that they represent what the founding fathers stand for, but the right of the Supreme Court to interpret the constitution was handed down by James Madison, who was not only one of the founding fathers, but the Father of the Constitution.
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    David Barton is not a historian
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    GOP thanks Dems
    March 12, 2005
    This is a short and sincere note of thanks to Democrat Party Chairman Dave Haigler for clearly defining the basic differences between the major parties in Taylor County and the nation. Dave's picket line protest recently at the Paramount Theatre calling attention to his party's stance on social issues was dramatic and extremely welcome. The protesting young lady pictured on the Abilene Reporter-News AA cover said it all. Her shirt proclaimed that, ''Life begins at birth.''
    This is why Democrats support partial-birth abortion. Republicans do not. We have noticed that sonograms are moving pictures!
    Our thanks are extended to the Discovery Center for bringing David Barton to town. Our thanks go also to Dave Haigler for putting Barton on the front page of section AA.
    Paul Washburn, Chairman Taylor County Republican Party
    URL:,1874,ABIL_7984_3627887,00.htmlProtesting speaker
    Letter to the editor-March 17, 2005
    Last month members of the Taylor County Democratic Club, joined by libertarians picketed the appearance of David Barton at the Para-mount Theater. Mr. Barton is the vice Chairman of the state Republican Party and has been named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals. He is the founder and leader of Wall Builders, an organization dedicated to a narrow interpretation of the Constitution. They contend the fathers never intended to separate church and state but rather recognized Christianity and Judeo-Christian values as the basis of our national establishment.
    Most were Christians, some were mechanists and deists. As a result of this diversity, they were purposely vague regarding the role of religion in the federal arena. Twelve of the original colonies had established denominations. Following reconstruction the Court applied the 14th amendment to state sectarianism, prohibiting government sanctioned religion. The Courts have affirmed and reaffirmed the applicability of the 14th amendment to the issues of religion and The State. This increasingly diverse country has been well served by this legal evolution. For a national religious identity to be visited upon us would rip the fabric of our country asunder as would the re-establishment of slavery or the revocation of the right of women to vote. Thus, David Barton and his wall builders are both dangerous and anachronistic. The Democratic Party will continue to oppose any infringement on the principle of the separation of church and state and our picketing is our affirmation of our party's just stance.
    Dave Haigler
    Taylor County Democratic Chair