David Barton, recently given a national forum by Fox News host Glenn Beck to promote his revisionist version of American history, has donned his “biblical scholar” hat yet again. This time Barton has declared that “it’s God, not man, who establishes the borders of nations,” a writer for Religion Dispatches reports. Barton’s statement came on his July 26 radio program about illegal immigration, during which he referred to Scripture and said:
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he’s the one who set up boundaries for the nations. National boundaries are set by God; he is the one who drew up the lines for the nations. If you have open borders you say, ‘God you goofed it all up.'”
Barton, of course, created plenty of havoc with his historical revisionism as a member of a s0-called “expert” panel advising the State Board of Education, teachers and (real) scholars working to revise social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools last year. That revisionism is doubtless quite comforting to right-wing supporters of the Texas-based WallBuilders organization Barton founded. He uses WallBuilders to promote his argument that the Founders really didn’t want to keep government and religion separate. They wanted, he insists, our laws and society to be based on a narrow, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.
More objective observers — including real religious scholars and real historians — can be excused for rolling their eyes when reading such claims. They know the reverence the Founders expressed for religious freedom and to the importance of protecting that freedom by keeping church and state separate.
Unhappily, however, far-right state board members embraced Barton’s misguided notions when they vandalized the proposed social studies curriculum standards. That harsh reality should be discomforting to Texans who believe that what schoolchildren are taught should be based on sound scholarship, not personal and political agendas and certainly not on the arguments of propaganda artists posing as “scholars.”