I’ve been expressing my pessimism about the state of contemporary intellectual discourse, but it’s time to spotlight something which should make us optimistic. For years David Barton has been promulgating the falsehood that the Founding Fathers were nearly all evangelical Protestant Christians, and therefore this nation was founded as a Christian nation as understood by modern evangelical Protestants. Barton’s influence through the network of conservative evangelical churches is powerful. I’ve encountered people who repeat Barton-lite “facts” who no longer have any connection to conservative evangelical culture simply because that’s all they’ve ever been made aware of.
But it seems that Barton has finally gone a step too far. Conservative Christian historians have started to counter his fabulism, to the point where his publisher is now withdrawing his ironically titled book The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. Such revisionism is just too bald for even the most sympathetic to Barton’s worldview. Jefferson was famously the Founder who produced a bowdlerized Bible, and presumed that the future of Christianity would be in a heretical Unitarian direction in his personal correspondence.