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David Barton (author)

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David Barton (born January 28, 1954 in Aledo in Parker County, Texas), is an evangelical Christian political activist and author. He is the founder of WallBuilders, LLC, a Texas-based organization that promotes unorthodox views about the religious basis of the United States.

David Barton
Born (1954-01-28) January 28, 1954 (age 63)
Aledo, Parker County
Texas, USA
Nationality American
Alma mater Aledo High School
Oral Roberts University
Occupation Author, political activist, founder of WallBuilders, LLC

He has been described as a Christian nationalist and "one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians"; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation and rejecting the consensus view that the United States Constitution calls for separation of church and state.[1][2][3][4] Scholars of history and law have described his research as highly flawed, "pseudoscholarship" and spreading "outright falsehoods".[5][6][7][8][9]

Barton is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas and served as director of Keep the Promise PAC, a political action committee that supported the unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. [10]


Early lifeEdit

Barton is a lifelong resident of his native Aledo, a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He graduated from Aledo High School in 1972.[1] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University in 1976.[11]


After graduation from college, Barton served as a church youth director.[12] He taught math and science and eventually became principal at Aledo Christian School, a ministry of the charismatic church begun by Barton's parents.[1][13][14]

In 1987, Barton formed Specialty Research Associates, Inc., a company which states that it "focuses on the historical research of issues relating to America's constitutional, moral, and religious heritage." Specialty Research Associates has submitted amicus curiae briefs in court cases.[15][16][17]

By 1988, Specialty Research Associates had changed its name to WallBuilders, and began to promote the view that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and should be ruled by biblical principles.[18] WallBuilders publishes and sells most of Barton's books and videos, some of which present Barton's position that the modern interpretation of separation of church and state is not consistent with the views of the Founding Fathers.[19] Barton has argued that the religion clauses of the First Amendment were not intended to include such faiths as paganism and witchcraft, but only monotheistic religions, and perhaps solely Christianity.[20] A 2005 Time magazine article entitled "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals" called Barton "a major voice in the debate over church–state separation" who, despite the fact that "many historians dismiss his thinking ... [is] a hero to millions, including some powerful politicians."[21] Barton has appeared on television and radio programs, including those of Republican former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and talk show host Glenn Beck. Beck has praised Barton as "the Library of Congress in shoes".[22] In September 2013, Barton returned to the political arena and advised state legislators on how to fight the Common Core Standards promoted by the Obama administration.[23]

Barton was vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party from 1997 to 2006 under state chairman Susan Weddington. He has also acted as a political consultant to the Republican National Committee on outreach to evangelicals.[21][24][25] The Tea Party movement sought to convince Barton to run against Senator John Cornyn of Texas in the 2014 Senate primary election.[26] However, Barton announced on November 6, 2013, that he would not run for the seat.[27] Barton headed the Keep the Promise PAC, a political action committee supporting Ted Cruz's presidential campaign.[10]

Barton's first non-self-published work was a 2003 article in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, (Volume XVII Issue No. 2, 2003, p.n399), a survey of Thomas Jefferson's writings about the First Amendment.[1]

Fringe viewsEdit

Barton's official biography describes him as "an expert in historical and constitutional issues".[28] Barton holds no formal credentials in history or law, and scholars dispute the accuracy and integrity of his assertions about history, accusing him of practicing misleading historical revisionism, "pseudoscholarship" and spreading "outright falsehoods".[6][7][8][9] According to the New York Times, "Many professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible."[5] Barton's 2012 book, The Jefferson Lies, was voted "the least credible history book in print" by the users of the History News Network website.[29] The book's publisher, Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing house, disavowed the book and withdrew it from sale. A senior executive said that Thomas Nelson could not stand by the book because "basic truths just were not there."[23]

Barton is a defender of maintaining Confederate historical monuments, which opponents claim extols slavery prior to 1865. Barton, conversely, questions why leftist opponents of the statues never mention slavery that still exists in Islamic nations. The opponents of the statues, Barton added, also ignore the vision of the founders, particularly Jefferson, to bring about the abolition of slavery.[30]


Barton serves on the board of advisors of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.[31] This curriculum contains direct quotations from Barton's books, recommends the resources published by WallBuilders, and advocates showing that group's video, Foundations of American Government, at the beginning of the course.[32]

Barton serves on the board of advisors of the Providence Foundation.[33] In an article discussing Barton, The Nation described the Providence Foundation as "a Christian Reconstructionist group that promotes the idea that biblical law should be instituted in America."[34]

In his book The Myth of Separation, Barton argues that Christians were the ones who were intended to hold public office and that Jews and members of other sects were not.[35] According to Skipp Porteous of the Massachusetts-based Institute for First Amendment Studies, Barton was listed in promotional literature as a "new and special speaker" at a 1991 summer retreat in Colorado sponsored by Scriptures for America, a far-right Christian Identity ministry headed by Pastor Pete Peters, which has been linked to neo-Nazi groups.[36] Barton's assistant, Kit Marshall, said in 1993 that Barton was previously unaware of the anti-Semitic and racist views of these groups.[37][38] In September 2011, Barton sued two former Texas State Board of Education candidates for posting a video on YouTube that stated that he was "known for speaking at white supremacist rallies".[39]

Barton is a lecturer for Glenn Beck's online Beck University.[40]

Barton has appeared on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club,[41] and The Daily Show.[42] In 2013, he appeared on Kenneth Copeland's Believer's Voice of Victory. He made statements linking abortion and climate change.[43][44][45]

Reception of Barton's workEdit

Barton has been praised by U.S. conservatives Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann[5] and Sam Brownback.[46]

Barton was recognized by Time as one of "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America".[47]

He has received criticism from others, including J. Brent Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty,[48] Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State,[49] Gordon College History professor Stephen Phillips,[50] U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania,[6] the Anti-Defamation League,[51] Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Chris Rodda,[52] Messiah College history professor John Fea[53][54] Baylor University historian Barry Hankins,[55] and Grove City College professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter.[56]

Jay W. Richards, senior fellow at the Christian conservative Discovery Institute, said in 2012 that Barton's books and videos are full of "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims."[57] The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Barton's work as "anti-gay" "historical revisionism", noting that Barton has no formal training in history.[58] A number of writers have called Barton's work "pseudohistory",[59][60][61] though this designation has been disputed by Robert Knight of the evangelical Coral Ridge Ministries.[62]

"Unconfirmed Quotations"Edit

In 1995, in response to criticism by historian Robert Alley, Barton conceded, in an online article titled "Unconfirmed Quotations",[1] that he had not located primary sources for eleven alleged quotes from James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and United States Supreme Court decisions (hence, the title of the article), but maintained that the quotes were "completely consistent" with the views of the Founders. (By 2007, the article listed 14 unconfirmed quotations.)[63] In 1996, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Barton of "shoddy workmanship", and said that despite these and other corrections, Barton's work "remains rife with distortions of history and court rulings".[64] WallBuilders responded to its critics by saying that Barton followed "common practice in the academic community" in citing secondary sources, and that in publishing "Unconfirmed Quotations", Barton's intent was to raise the academic bar in historical debates pertinent to public policy.[63]

In 2006, Barton told the Texas Monthly, with regard to Jefferson's famous letter to the Danbury Baptists, that he had never misquoted the letter in any of his publications. The magazine noted that this denial was contradicted by a 1990 version of Barton's video America's Godly Heritage, in which Barton said:[1]

On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote to that group of Danbury Baptists, and in this letter, he assured them — he said the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, he said, but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.

The Jefferson Lies withdrawn from publicationEdit

In 2012, Barton's New York Times bestseller[65] The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (published April 10, 2012)[66] was voted "the least credible history book in print" by the users of the History News Network website.[29] A group of 10 conservative Christian professors reviewed the work and reported negatively on its claims, saying that Barton has misstated facts about Jefferson.[57][67]

In August 2012, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson withdrew the book from publication and stopped production, announcing that they had "lost confidence in the book's details" and "learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported."[68][69] Glenn Beck, who wrote the foreword, promptly announced that his Mercury Ink imprint would issue a new edition of the book[70] once the 17,000 remaining copies that Barton bought of the Thomas Nelson edition had been sold.[71]

A revised edition of The Jefferson Lies was published by Joseph Farah's World Net Daily Books in January 2016.[72]


Barton is married and has three grown children, including a daughter who has performed minority outreach for the Texas Republican Party.[1] He is a lifelong resident of Aledo,[73] which is also the site of the WallBuilders Library.[74]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blakeslee, Nate (September 2006). "King Of the Christocrats". Texas Monthly. 34 (9): 1. ISSN 0148-7736. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  2. ^ Billy Bruce (1992-02-18). "First Amendment specialist views church/state separation as "myth"". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  3. ^ "NOW: God's Country". PBS. 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  4. ^ What is Christian Nationalism?, Michelle Goldberg,, May 14, 2006
  5. ^ a b c Eckholm, Erik (May 4, 2011). "Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Specter, Arlen (Spring 1995). "Defending the wall: Maintaining church/state separation in America". Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. 18 (2): 575–590. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "David Barton - Propaganda Masquerading as History", People for the American Way, Retrieved on April 9, 2013
  8. ^ a b Boston, Rob (2007). "Dissecting the religious right's favorite Bible Curriculum", Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Humanist Association. Retrieved on April 9, 2013
  9. ^ a b Harvey, Paul (10 May 2011). "Selling the Idea of a Christian Nation: David Barton's Alternate Intellectual Universe". Religion Dispatches. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "PAC Built by Ted Cruz Mega-Donors Gets Evangelical Leader". 9 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "The Foundations of American Freedom". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  12. ^ The Turnaround in Education Archived 2009-05-22 at the Wayback Machine., David Barton, Oral Roberts University
  13. ^ "Aledo Christian School". 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  14. ^ "Aledo Christian School history" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  15. ^ The Turnaround in Education Archived 2009-05-22 at the Wayback Machine., David Barton
  16. ^ "Brief Amicus Curiae of Specialty Research Associates, Inc" (PDF). 2002-05-03. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  17. ^ "Westside Community Bd. of Ed. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990)". Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  18. ^ "SPLC David Barton". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2017-06-08. 
  19. ^ Barton, David. "The Separation of Church and State". Wall Builders. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Patel, Eboo. "The Faith Divide: Christian Right's attack on rights - On Faith at". The Washington Post. 
  21. ^ a b "David Barton - The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America - TIME". 7 February 2005. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  22. ^ Kayla Webley (2010-07-07). "Perusing the Glenn Beck University Curriculum Guide". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  23. ^ a b Stephanie Simon, "Evangelical historian remains key ally of right, POLITICO Sept 8, 2013
  24. ^ "History of the Republican Party of Texas". Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  25. ^ The Dobson way, Dan Gilgoff, U.S. News & World Report, 1/9/05
  26. ^ "Texas tea party seeks Cruz 2.0". POLITICO. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  27. ^ Kopan, Tal. "David Barton won't run against John Cornyn". Politico. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  28. ^ "David Barton Bio". Wallbuilders. 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  29. ^ a b Schuessler, Jennifer (2012-07-16). "And the Worst Book of History Is .." New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  30. ^ "Historian Crushes the Anti-American Left's War on History". August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  31. ^ "NCBCPS Board of Directors and Advisors". National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schoolz. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  32. ^ The Revised Curriculum of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools Archived 2007-04-08 at the Wayback Machine., Mark A. Chancey, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University, October 2005
  33. ^ "Providence Foundation Mission statement". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  34. ^ In Contempt of Courts, Max Blumenthal, The Nation, April 11, 2005
  35. ^ Don S. Wilkey, Jr. (April 2002). "A Christian Looks at the Religious Right: Responding to David Barton". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  36. ^ Luckett, Bill (1997-06-20). "Speaker Accused of Racist Ties: Christian Coalition denies Barton's links to white supremacists" (PDF). Casper Star-Tribune. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2012.  Also Archived 2013-07-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  37. ^ "David Barton – Extremist 'Historian' for the Christian Right". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  38. ^ Boston, Rob (June 1996). "David Barton – Master of myth and misinformation". Public Eye. Institute for First Amendment Studies. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  39. ^ Christin Coyne (2011-09-14). "WallBuilders files libel suit against three". Weatherford Democrat. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  40. ^ "Beck University". Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  41. ^ "David Barton on the 700 Club". Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  42. ^ "David Barton". The Daily Show. 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  43. ^ Lindsay Abrams. "Potential Senate candidate David Barton explains how abortion caused climate change". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  44. ^ "Possible Senate candidate David Barton: Climate change is God's 'judgement' for abortion". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  45. ^ Steve Benen. "Barton explains global warming". MSNBC. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  46. ^ Vaughn, Chris (May 22, 2005). "A man with a message; Self-taught historian's work on church-state issues rouses GOP". Baylor University. Archived from the original on September 20, 2006. Retrieved April 13, 2013.  Originally published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, page 1A.
  47. ^,28804,1993235_1993243_1993261,00.html
  48. ^ [1] A Critique of David Barton's Views on Church and State by J. Brent Walker, April 1, 2005
  49. ^ Texas Textbook Massacre Architect Backing Grayson Opponent by Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post, August 26, 2010
  50. ^ Boston Theological Institute Newsletter Volume XXXIV, No. 17[permanent dead link], January 25, 2005
  51. ^ Cantor, David (1994). Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America. Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. ISBN 978-99946-746-9-5. 
  52. ^ Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical professor of psychology at Grove City College, a conservative Christian school in Pennsylvania. "If that's what people are passing off as Christian scholarship, there are claims in there that are easily proved false." Rodda, Chris (2011-05-05). "Do Well By Doing Good". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  53. ^ Fea, John (2011). Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. p. xxvi. ISBN 0-664-23504-2. 
  54. ^ "Blogging David Barton's Appearance on Jon Stewart". The Way of Improvement Leads Home. 2001-05-20. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  55. ^ Hankins, Barry (2002). Uneasy in Babylon. University: University of Alabama Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-8173-1142-4. 
  56. ^ Throckmorton, Warren; Coulter, Michael. Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President [Kindle Edition]. Amazon Digital Services, 2012. 
  57. ^ a b Kidd, Thomas (August 7, 2012). "The David Barton controversy". World. God's World Publications, World News Group. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  58. ^ David Barton, Southern Poverty Law Center
  59. ^ Leopold, Jason (14 January 2008). "House Passes, Considers Evangelical Resolutions". Baltimore Chronicle. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  60. ^ Bunch, Will (26 August 2010). "Glenn Beck rewrites civil rights history". CNN. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  61. ^ Stephens, Randall J.; Giberson, Karl (2011). The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age. Harvard University Press. p. 91. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  62. ^ Knight, Robert. "U.S. was born a Christian nation". CNN. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  63. ^ a b Barton, David. "Unconfirmed Quotations". WallBuilders website. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. 
  64. ^ Boston, Rob (July–August 1996). "Consumer Alert: Wallbuilders Shoddy Workmanship". Church & State. Americans United for Separation of Church and State. 49 (7): 11–13. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  65. ^ Epps, Garrett (August 10, 2012). "Genuine Christian Scholars Smack Down an Unruly Colleague: The phony evangelical 'historian' David Barton meets his match at last.". The Atlantic magazine.
  66. ^ " The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (9781595554598): David Barton, Glenn Beck: Books". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  67. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (August 8, 2012). "The Most Influential Evangelist You've Never Heard Of". NPR.
  68. ^ Kidd, Thomas (August 9, 2012). "Lost confidence", World, web extra.
  69. ^ Bob Smietana (August 10, 2012). "Thomas Nelson drops 'Jefferson Lies' book over historical errors". The Tennessean. 
  70. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (2012-08-21). "Glenn Beck to bring back recalled Thomas Jefferson history". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  71. ^ Garrett, Lynn (2012-08-17). "Jefferson Lies Author Negotiating New Edition with Glenn Beck's Mercury Ink". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  72. ^ "Ted Cruz: Evangelical darling or 'pagan brutalist'? Why he exposes a Christian divide". Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  73. ^ [2]
  74. ^

External linksEdit