Earlier this month, publisher Thomas Nelson ceased publication and distribution of David Barton’s controversial book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, claiming that it had “lost confidence” in the details of the book.
Thomas Nelson’s decision was met with both praise and criticism. Those who felt the book was filled with errors and inaccuracies were pleased to know that it was no longer being sold, while supporters of the book and its author jumped to its defense. Among the defenders was television and radio host Glenn Beck.
Appearing last week (16 August) on Beck’s show, David Barton came to his own defense. Among several claims, he maintained that much of the disputed material within his book could easily be clarified if not for the editing performed by publisher Thomas Nelson. Much of the removed material, Barton argued, contained supporting information for those facts which have been questioned.
It seems rather unsurprising, then, that Barton currently is in negotiations with Mercury Ink, the publishing arm of Glenn Beck’s media corporation, to publish a new, less edited version of the book. Publisher’s Weekly reports:
Barton said the new edition “will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion.” He also plans to add back some of the content Nelson cut in their editing process, and that in the process of reviewing the accusations made by his critics, “I have actually run across more supporting documents that strengthen my case, not weaken it.” Source
Among the critics of Barton and his book is Warren Throckmorton, Professor of Psychology at Grove City College and co-author of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President. This book was written as a response to Barton’s error-filled work. Throckmorton currently is in the process of responding on his website to Barton’s latest appearance with Glenn Beck. Thus far, Part 1 and Part 2 of his response can be viewed. Also among Barton’s critics is Dr. Gregg Frazer, Professor of History and Political Studies at The Master’s College in California. Frazer is the author of the book, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution. Frazer has
evaluated Barton’s video America’s Godly Heritage and found many of its factual claims dubious, such as a statement that “52 of the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention were ‘orthodox, evangelical Christians.’” Source
For further insight into the faith of America’s founders, the reader may find it beneficial to listen to Frazer’s 2003 lecture entitled, “America’s Religious, but not Christian, Founders.” As he discusses the political theology of America’s founding, Frazer bases the content of this lecture on his doctoral dissertation and contends that the founders of America may best be described as “theistic rationalists.”
It seems certain that what has come to be known as the “David Barton Controversy” is far from over. At a time when the religious right in America appears to be growing in its tendency and desire to see America “turn back to God,” confusion and inaccurate details surrounding the faith of the founders of this country will only aid in nurturing this patriotic idolatry.