Behind The Tea Party: Christianism

Michelle Goldberg has a sobering piece on Glenn Beck's go-to "historian," David Barton:

In fact, Barton doesn’t have any historical training all. His sole academic degree is a bachelor’s in religious education from Oral Roberts Universitythough given the right’s rampant populism, his fans are unlikely to care about his lack of credentials. Barton’s past association with white supremacists and Holocaust deniers might be more damaging, if anyone paid attention. Still, he’s gotten much more sophisticated about race over the last two decades. These days, he’s more likely to be hurling accusations of racism than fending them off.

Barton built his career by arguing, via a selective reading of documents from the Founding Fathers, that the Constitution is rooted in biblical values and that the founders never intended to separate church and state. He claims, falsely, that 52 of the 55 founding fathers were “orthodox, evangelical Christians,” and that they always intended for Christianity to shape American government. Public secularism, in his view, constitutes an unconstitutional tyranny that is systematically robbing the country of its religious heritage. ...

Barton has given American history an immaculate conception, one that turns slaveholders into civil-rights heroes.

He’s helped recreate a myth of a golden age of unimpeachable American righteousness. “[T]he national motto is e pluribus unum, out of many we became one,” said Barton during one of his appearances on Beck. “And we have tried for 20 years to make it e unum pluribus, out of one we’re going to be all these groups.” In some ways Barton hasn’t changed much at all. He’s still making the case against diversity, and coating it in divinity.