David Barton might be a popular speaker in conservative circles and considered a “historian” and “constitutional expert” by politico-entertainers like Glenn Beck and politicians like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But a scholar’s new review of Barton’s American history textbook (yes, he has one) exposes the Texan’s simplistic, selective and ideologically distorted accounts of the nation’s early history. The review by Prof. Steven K. Green for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is available here.
Unlike Barton, Prof. Green really is an expert in constitutional law and history. He currently is a constitutional scholar, historian and law professor at Willamette University in Oregon. He also serves as director of the Willamette Center for Religion, Law and Democracy.
Prof. Green explains how Barton’s Drive Thru History America is peppered with factual inaccuracies, offers a simplistic and glorified view of the nation’s early history and promotes a sectarian perspective clearly intended to proselytize students. Prof. Green writes:
“[The textbook] displays a clear devotional tone and contains a number of religious truth-claims that cross the line into promotion of a particular religion. Beyond this, the curriculum presents a problematic historical account of the founding period that falls well outside mainstream scholarly understanding, providing inaccurate, incomplete and biased profiles of various leading figures from that era.”
Barton and co-author Nita Thomason developed the textbook and accompanying materials for students in Grades 6-12. A promotional website markets the textbook for use in both private and public schools. Those materials focus on the nation’s founding period and on selected historical figures, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Abigail Adams. And their profound disrespect for the religious freedom of parents is as objectionable as their distortions of history. Prof. Green writes:
“Inculcating a ‘Christian worldview’ or persuading students to ‘repent’ and ‘listen to God’ is a responsibility that belongs solely with a parent or religious congregation. For a public school to utilize curricular materials toward this end is not only a clear Constitutional violation, it is a betrayal of the trust parents place in public schools.”
The Texas Freedom Network has posted Prof. Green’s review and other information about Barton and his political work in a new David Barton Watch section of our website.