And Now a Look at a Former Board of Ed "Expert's" Revisionist History Textbook

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David Barton -- founder of Wallbuilders, former State Board of Education "social studies expert" and member of the Religious Right coalition that prodded Gov. Rick Perry to join the insufficiently Christian Republican field -- isn't exactly what you'd call a rigorous academic. What you might call him, though, is hellbent on foisting his religion on public-school kids with a vision of our founding seen through a rose-tinted, evangelical-funhouse mirror.

Maybe, as we've mentioned before, those fever-dream culture wars at the SBOE are over. Maybe Barton's history text, Drive Thru History America: Foundations of Character, won't reach a classroom near you, leaving impressionable youth with the impression that the whole separation of church and state thing is liberal nonsense cooked up in an Occupy Dallas tent. It's tough to tell at the moment, though, what public schools looking to spend the discretionary cash they get through Senate Bill 6 will buy. This book? It's possible. We won't know until they start reporting their purchases to the state.

In the meantime, a little context about this textbook. It was produced by the National Day of Prayer Task Force and Focus on the Family. But go easy on Barton. Named one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time, he's the former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, has a BA in religious education from Oral Roberts University and has no clue what he's talking about.

Fortunately a real historian thumbed through Drive Thru, then systematically laid to waste doctrinaire propaganda masquerading as history.

The highlights from Dr. Steven K. Green, author and professor of law and history at Willamette University, courtesy of the Texas Freedom Network:

Thomas Jefferson's party were not known as the Anti-Federalists. They were Republicans. Benjamin Franklin was raised a Presbyterian, not a Quaker. Also, things you can't say in the classroom of a public school: "God directs the course of history through the lives of individual men and women," or "The biblical worldview upon which this nation was founded led Americans to see that no separation existed between the sacred and the secular. Every area of life was sacred and was to be lived as 'working for the Lord," or asking students, "Do you think God is real? And if so, does he have a role in your day-to-day life?"

Things that may lead you to believe this textbook encroaches (read: leapfrogs) the separation of church and state: In promotional materials for the textbook, Del Tackett, president of the Focus on the Family Institute exhorts you to "repent" and "listen to God."

Things the Founding Fathers weren't:

Ben Franklin was not a monolithically religious guy: He rejected his Calvinist upbringing. When the delegates at the Constitutional Convention deadlocked and Franklin said they should appeal "to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings," he said it to embarrass the delegates. Politics, same as it ever was. However, Drive Thru asserts the proclamation "seemed to change the tone of the convention" and that a "three-day recess was called, during which time many of the delegates attended church together." Nope. Citing Madison's Notes, Green says they met the next day. And the day after that. In fact, they refused to pray together.

"Washington was known as a man of prayer," Drive Thru claims, "and he believed that God answered his prayers." Actually, no. Most historians believe George Washington was a deist, and probably wouldn't be considered Christian by today's standards because most likely he didn't buy into the divinity of Jesus.

Basically, Barton's text, rife with errors, is guilty of doing a lot of what thorough history books shouldn't -- making unsupported assumptions and imputing qualities on historical figures for which no proof exists. Good to know in case it, you know, just shows up in your kid's backpack.


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12 comments
Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

Looking at that logo, all I can think is:

"Welcome to Race Week"

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

The book won't be anywhere near classrooms, because the GOP led State Leg cut education funding to the bone.

Ironic, eh?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Maybe the reason history always repeats itself is that we refuse to learn from it. 12th century, worldwide religious organization wants to consolidate power, initiates torture and execution as punishments for heresy (first inquisition).  13th century, dominant religious order in Europe, under Papal authority establishes Inquisitions throughout Europe to stamp out heresy, inquisitions last into the 19th century.  16th century, you get the idea, more Inquisition stuff. 17th century, Massachusetts Colony, a mix of religious extremism and government interference in personal liberty leads to Witch Trials, eventually killing 150 people for little or no reason.Point is, sure, religion is a good thing.  Something to believe in, established set of morals, love your brother stuff.  When religion becomes government, not so good.  The church has a history of violating everything Jesus stood for in the name of furthering the power and treasure of the church.Aside from that, most 'religious scholars' have no idea, or are obfuscating, their own history.  The bible wasn't put together until around 300AD, at the urging of Emperor Constantine (a pagan).  He did so to keep the many churches from bickering with each other and destroying the empire.  One of the biggest arguments at the council of Nicea, the divinity of Christ.  Up to that point, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that Christ was divine.  If this guy wants to 'fix' a history book, I know one he can start with.

Edgar
Edgar

Before dismissing this as right-wing nutbag revisionist propaganda, I'd like to know more about what purpose it was intended to serve.  Yes, if served to public-school students, it probably "leapfrogs" the separation of church and state.  But was it intended to serve masses of public-school kids?  Probably not.  Is it intended to be a serious historical reference, vetted by a panel of editors?  Probably not.  It sounds as though it's something closer to what you might see on the history channel - intended as an aid, not as a substitute for a core textbook.  Brantley, maybe you could ask the author...he's a local...seems like that should have been part of your due diligence, especially since you wouldn't even be charged long distance.

Two additional comments.  Jefferson's party was NOT called the "Republicans."  They were referred to as both anti-federalists and as republicans (with a small "r").  Political parties didn't even exist until Jefferson became the figurehead for the opposition to the Hamiltonians entrenched within the Washington and Adams administrations.  Also, to say a professor from Willamette "laid waste" to the content of a text is like a Pop Warner quarterback taking issue with the performance of a quarterback he sees on TV.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

This is not Barton's first venture into long-form historical fraud.  He sells this crap at churches around the country fleecing my grandmother, for example, out of her money and making her dangerously misinformed on how the Constitution works.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

This subordination of faith in Christ to right-wing politics -- or to any politics, for that matter -- is a deep perversion. What at one time would have been called blasphemy. Christ was very clear where His Kingdom was to be found, and it wasn't in the ballot box or the party caucus, not in administrations or regimes or empires. He was also very clear to his disciples about their behavior when they encountered unbelievers. They were to move on, not waste their time blasting those unbelievers from the pulpit. Preachers who fritter away their responsibility playing politics -- and especially those who try to pretend that is not what they're doing -- are not leading their flocks, not proclaiming the Good News. They are scandalizing believers and unbelievers alike, who come to see Christianity as mostly an effort to monopolize and enforce worldly power.    

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

"Washington was known as a man of prayer," Drive Thru claims, "and he believed that God answered his prayers." Actually, no. Most historians believe George Washington was a deist, and probably wouldn't be considered Christian by today's standards because most likely he didn't buy into the divinity of Jesus."

What does Jefress say about this?

TimCov
TimCov

Another reason I believe in home schooling. At least if you home school your kid, you know they won't be exposed to BS like this book.

JimS
JimS

More libtard bullshit! George Washington was an angel sent here by Jesus to kill the Indians. Benjamin Franklin was a woman, back before women started dressing like sluts. Everybody back then knew her as Benjamina. She was changed into a man by homosexual professors. The truth is too important to be left to liberals.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Seeing the crap evangelicals are trying to brainwash kids with you almost feel grateful that they are simultaneously doing their best to defund public education. 

dt&ot
dt&ot

"Is it intended to be a serious historical reference, vetted by a panel of editors?"  How about text books being subject to peer review?  But, I do not read in this article that it is a required text in any school district so......whatever. If some school district want to get their kids to read this fairy tale, then, as always, it is the responsibility of the rest of us and their parents to make sure they know whatever it is we pass for the historical truth. 

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Jefress would say Washington was the Founding Father of the Homosexual Agenda

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