Posts Tagged “wallbuilders”

One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian NationDavid Barton is popular among the Religious Right, at the moment. He’s a Christofascist’s Christofascist, happy to tell Chrisitianists around the country that the US was originally founded as the Christocracy they think it should be … even though it absolutely and demonstrably was not. He’s a pet historian for militant Christians of all stripes, from Glenn Beck to Newt Gingrich to Mike Huckabee. The mass media are even enamored of him, because he’s always good for a sound bite or two. Mother Jones offers this story about Barton and the hard-on the Right has for him (WebCite cached article):

Newt Gingrich is a fan. So’s Michele Bachmann. Mike Huckabee’s such a booster that he recently said that all Americans should be “forced at gunpoint” to listen to this guy.

The object of this high praise from Huckabee — and recent shout-outs from other potential GOP presidential contenders — is David Barton, a Republican activist and minister who founded WallBuilders, a for-profit evangelical outfit that works to inject religion into politics. Barton holds some pretty unconventional views, and in the past he has spoken alongside fringe figures like Holocaust deniers and white supremacists. Among other things, he claims that Jesus would oppose the capital gains tax and the minimum wage; that global warming is “self-correcting”; and that the nation’s homeland security apparatus has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also contends that the separation of church and state is a perversion of the Founding Fathers’ intention to create a Christian nation.

Pretty much every reference to Barton that I’ve seen in the mass media — whether it’s a quote from some angry theocrat, or if it’s the reporter him/herself — calls Barton a “historian.”

The trouble is, he isn’t one.

That’s right, folks. The Religious Right’s favorite historian, is not a historian at all! He’s not even close to being a historian.

Barton’s only bona fide academic degree is a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University (class of ’76). Barton has absolutely no credentials in the field of history. Not one. Not even so much as a vague whiff of one.

I expect Rightists to make a big deal out of Barton and to mispresent him. Of course they’re going to call him a “historian,” if the “history” he spews is a steaming load of fierce militant Christianism and he’s no historian at all. I understand Rightists lying about him. But folks in the mass media have no reasonable excuse for misstating Barton’s credentials. They probably refer to Barton as a “historian” simply because the Right calls him one and they cannot be bothered looking at his C.V. to see if he truly is one. But as someone who did earn a B.A. in history, I am incensed that this lie continues to be propagated.

Barton, and all of his sanctimonious fans who call him a “historian,” are now members of my “lying liars for Jesus” club. (If they weren’t members already … a lot of them are.)

Oh, and Mr Barton — and any other like-minded Christianists: If you think that, as an American, I am required to become the kind of Christian you are, then I invite you to use whatever means you wish to make me convert. Go ahead. I dare you! Do you have the courage to give it your best shot? If you truly think I’m required to worship your Jesus, why would you not do everything in your power to make me do so?

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: University of Georgia.

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Since I started this blog, I’ve mentioned the amorphous Christian movement known as “dominionism” many times, and have suggested that it’s much more of a motive force for the Religious Right than even they might let on. I’ve been asked if my assertion might not be more paranoia than insightful conclusion.

Let’s face it, not many people really know what dominionism is or what it’s trying to do; and I fully admit that at least some Religious Right leaders sincerely do not view themselves as dominionists. Not only that, the scenario does carry of whiff of “conspiracy theory” and I’m far too skeptical to be susceptible to that. So it’s rare that anyone ever says anything that offers any similar thinking. But I recently came across something that speaks to this movement and the tentacular entanglements it has throughout the Right in the US. That comes from Sarah Posner over at Religion Dispatches:

Despite all the attention paid to the religious right’s declining interest in gay marriage as a key issue, it’s clear homosexuality is still a vibrant bogeyman—but the tea party bandwagon is simply more enticing at the moment. [Chaplain Viviana] Hernandez’s activist roots, for example, are with the National Organization for Marriage, though she is now affiliated with a group called the City Action Coalition International which, she says, trains pastors to be political activists. It is led by Bishop Joseph Mattera, whose son, Jason, is a well-known conservative activist and blogger who led another Values Voter workshop, “Turning the Tide in Your Generation.” …

The continuing influence of “Christian nation” mythology and dominionism is evident in Hernandez’s activist trajectory. She told me that before running (unsuccessfully) for state senate and city council in New York, she attended classes at the Providence Foundation, a small group based in Charlottesville, Virginia that has been described as Christian Reconstructionist. …

Religion Dispatches goes on to describe this group and its relationships to other arms of the Right:

Stephen McDowell, Providence’s co-founder, said in a telephone interview that he would not consider himself a Christian Reconstructionist, “but I do believe that the Bible is the template that we ought to look to to build our life upon and our family and our business and our civil society. That’s where the people who founded America looked.” According to its Web site, “The Scriptures contain a theology of the family, the church, and the state. Principles in God’s written Word that relate to civil government, politics, economics, and education are timeless and universally useful for the benefit of any culture on Earth today.” …

Although it’s a small operation, Providence has the blessing of David Barton, the religious right propagandist and Republican activist who claims the separation of church and state is a myth, and who serves on its board. Barton’s attempts to influence both politics and public education with his “Christian nation” mythology are legion; most recently, right-wing members of the Texas State Board of Education appointed Barton to serve as an “expert” on its social studies curriculum. McDowell serves on the board of Barton’s organization, WallBuilders. …

Whatever the tea party movement is—Dick Armey’s astroturf to kill health care reform, Rupert Murdoch’s marketing plan to boost Glenn Beck’s ratings, a grassroots outlet for right-wing rage and paranoia—the Values Voter Summit made clear the religious right is hitching its wagon to that horse. Sharing a common enemy (Obama, the Democratic Party, liberalism writ large), different participants wrap their rhetoric in red, white, and blue, whether the endgame is a romanticized rebellion of “authentic” patriots, uber-libertarianism—or Biblical law.

The notion of a “Christian nation” is one that the country’s Christian majority finds attractive. Rightist Christians definitely would love to see the US government overtly “Christianized,” even if they do not count themselves among dominionists. The truth is, though, that this sentiment makes them tacit dominionists. And even some Christians who are not committed Rightists, may find some appeal in it.

The dominionism movement is very dangerous, because its appeal is pervasive and because it’s often very hard to discern deep under the Religious Right’s machinations. Be afraid … be very, very afraid!

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