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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

David Barton Lies About George Washington

Pseudo-historian and Christian Nation Advocate Extraordinaire, David Barton, has been caught in a lie. A bold faced lie to be exact. As a man who prides himself on knowing the "true" history of the American founding, Barton's latest historical faux pas is so blatantly false that it either reveals Barton's woeful ignorance of how to conduct basic historical research, or that he is a flat-out liar.  The following is Barton's latest offense:

I know that many of us have seen the "Prayer at Valley Forge" painting and probably find it very inspiring.  And to the citizen who may not be as familiar with American history, I don't blame them for accepting the painting at face value as historical fact.  But for David Barton to do so is unacceptable, and even worse, to preach it as fact is downright shameful.  I have actually blogged about the history of the "Prayer at Valley Forge" in the past, so I won't rehearse the history here.  The bottom line is this: the story of the "Prayer at Valley Forge" is a myth that anyone with half a brain could recognize.  For a "historian" like David Barton to not recognize this reality (or to simply not give a damn about the truth since he knows his audience won't investigate the matter) is reprehensible. 

I have tried to be patient with David Barton.  I have even given him the benefit of the doubt on many occasions.  He has ZERO training as a historian and it shows.  I have justified his ilk by pointing to his desire to link his Christian faith with American history.  It's a flawed but honest endeavor.  But this recent lie (and yes, I am accusing David Barton of lying) is so in-your-face that I think it has become obvious that Barton no longer cares about finding the truth.  Barton is hell-bent on proving his agenda, and he won't allow TRUE history to get in his way.  As a result, I believe it is now time to declare an intellectual jihad on David Barton.  To borrow from the words of historian John Fea (one of my favorite bloggers), "Is it time to gather Christian historians together to sign some kind of formal statement condemning Barton's brand of propaganda and hagiography?"  Hell yes it is time, Dr. Fea.  I hope the historical community will brand this man as the fraud he is...the sooner the better!!!   


bpabbott said...

What ... no post to AC ?

Am I a bad person if I enjoy reading TVD's fits over DB posts ;-)

Brad Hart said...

To be honest, I have grown sick and tired of the comments section at AC. I think it was killed off several months ago. I will still post there, but have zero desire to hear what the peanut gallery is saying.

WKen said...

Barton relies heavily on the fact that his audience just wants their prejudices reinforced and won't fact-check.

Call me crazy, but I seem to think that dishonesty is inherently contrary to Christian thinking.

Brad Hart said...

Well said, WKen.

jimmiraybob said...

Brad, I've always enjoyed your contribution to AC and come here as often as I can to catch the posts that don't make it there. I especially like the focus on medieval development - believe it or not, KOI got me interested in the period wrt the founding.

So, I ask this sincerely, do you feel that my commenting is contributing to a "peanut gallery" atmosphere? If so I'll back off. I don't want to contribute to chasing off the talent.

Brad Hart said...

Jimmyray --

I love your comments over at AC. Keep them coming!

jimmiraybob said...

Thanks Brad, will do.

Brian Tubbs said...


I am admittedly troubled by Barton's use of the Isaac Potts story. Like Fea, I think Barton would've been on much stronger ground to simply claim Washington prayed at Valley Forge (leaving the whole Potts thing out of it). Such a claim would've been very defensible, and while it might not have had the storytelling effect he wanted to achieve, it would've been the honest way to go.

As for calling for an "intellectual jihad," I think you might be heading toward the same kind of sensationalism that you criticize Barton for bringing to the table.

I think a modified form of Fea's suggestion is most appropriate here. A letter to Barton, signed by Christian historians (people who are generally sympathetic to his worldview, but who believe in honest, sound scholarship), calling him to account for his use of the Potts story, asking that he explain himself or apologize with a retraction. I would support that.

Pastor Ken said...

So what are we going to do the accounts from several different sources that substantiate that that this was actually quite likely a true story. Are we able to easily discount them?