The Marriage of Ted Cruz and David Barton

by Dan Quinn

It’s a political marriage, at any rate.

David Barton, the religious right’s favorite phony historian and political propagandist, is taking over leadership of the super-PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz. According to the Bloomberg news service, Keep the Promise PAC is the umbrella organization for a group of related pro-Cruz political committees that raised $38 million in the first half of the year.

Barton is one of the most politically influential far-right, Christian evangelicals in America. He served for a decade as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party and in 2004 helped the Republican National Committee recruit conservative evangelicals to support President George W. Bush’s re-election.

Barton and his WallBuilders’ organization, which is based in Aledo near Fort Worth, argue that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its government and laws based on the Bible (or at least a fundamentalist Christian reading of the Bible).

Barton also is a self-styled historian, but his undergraduate work was in religious education. His collection of historical documents impresses some folks, his ability to critically analyze and accurately interpret such documents much less so. Three years ago, for example, Thomas Nelson Publishing ceased publication and distribution of Barton’s The Jefferson Lies after historians criticized the book’s distortions and inaccuracies. (A scholar noted many problems in a report for the TFN Education Fund.)

Barton’s appointment to head the pro-Cruz super-PAC isn’t a big surprise — Cruz clearly is pushing hard to win the support of the conservative evangelicals who are so influential in the Republican Party. Cruz’s appeals to religious-righters have always been over-the-top, but — especially since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage in June — that rhetoric has become almost incendiary.

Barton’s rhetoric is also similarly divisive and inflammatory. (Earlier this year, for example, Barton suggested that AIDS is a punishment from God.)

Cruz and Barton appear to be a well-matched couple. They surely are hoping their political marriage is a match made in heaven and confirmed on election day.

(H/T to John Fea’s great blog about religion, history and politics)

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