David Barton Says 4 Professors Criticized The Jefferson Lies; He Forgot Some

Facts are pesky.

On July 19, Steve Deace interviewed David Barton (at 24:12 in hour 3) in Iowa after the big political confab there with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Deace asked Barton to describe the controversy over The Jefferson Lies (now approaching a year ago). He also asked if there was any substance to the criticism.

Barton said a bunch of stuff he usually says about it (e.g., publisher Thomas Nelson got scared of the scary professors, etc.). Then he said:

You’ve got about 6,000 universities in America and they found four professors who criticized what I did. Well, 6,000 universities, you probably have 60,000 professors and they found four who didn’t like it.

Well, we all know who two of them are. But just four? I think he forgot some. Last August, World Magazine reported that Jay Richards assembled 10 Christian professors who expressed a negative response to the book.  Then there was Clay Jenkinson, and Martin Marty, and John Fea, and Paul Harvey, and Regent University’s Chuck Dunn, and Greg Forster, and Gregg Frazer and Steven Green. And then there were the 650 voters in the History News Network poll who helped Barton squeak out the Least Credible History Book in Print designation, just beating out Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” Then more recently, 34 Christian history and social science professors approached Family Research Council about the Capitol Tour video (which FRC removed from view due to the errors).

Please note that most of the people referred to in this post are evangelical Christians.

Christian publisher Thomas Nelson’s reasons for pulling the book were expressed in World’s report:

The publisher “was contacted by a number of people expressing concerns about [The Jefferson Lies].” The company began to evaluate the criticisms, Harrell said, and “in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported. Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”

Need to refresh your memory? See the World coverage here and here

UPDATE: Readers have reminded me of some additional historian/professors who have had negative things to say about The Jefferson Lies. Let’s add Daniel Dreisbach, Kevin Gutzman, and James Stoner, and Miles Mullin and John David Wilsey and Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson

P.S. He still is completely botching the Jefferson Bible…

P.P.S. Are you a professor? Email or tweet to add your name, or leave your name in the comments.

English prof Jeff Sharlet and Religious Studies prof Julie Ingersoll have added their names to the “four.”

Add History professors Jared Burkholder, Jay Case, Brenda Schoolfield, Keith Beutler, Joseph Moore, Scott Culpepper, Bobby Griffith, Paul Fessler, Jason Dikes, Chris Gehrz, Chris Cantwell, Jonathan Wilson, Alan Snyder, Glenn Sunshine, Philip Perdue, and Rachel Larson, and also Religious Studies profs Michael J. Altman and P.C. Kemeny to the list of profs. Independent historian Michael Miles concurs.

Glad to add Yoni Appelbaum, GCC colleague Dan Brown (the entire GCC history dept is included in the 34 profs who wrote to FRC), math prof Sharon McCathern, Environmental Ethics prof Bron Taylor and English prof Steve Roberts.

UPDATE: Steve Deace posted my rebuttal to Barton.

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  • William Birch

    “You’ve got about 6,000 universities in America and they found four professors who criticized what I did.”

    Are we not amazed at his presumption and arrogance here? Does he assume that 6,000 universities in America actually read his book? Or approved of his book?

    “Well, 6,000 universities, you’ve probably have 60,000 professors and they found four who didn’t like it.”

    Again, is he not assuming that 60,000 professors actually read his book, and then gave their approval of it, with the exception of four?

    Seriously, unbelievable! Is there a “least credible source” award granted by any organization? If so, I nominate Barton for first place this year (and perhaps many previous years).

    • ken

      I was going to say something similar.

      Also, given his previous stance about how Ph.ds are atheist, liberal elitists, seems odd how is (incorrectly) trying to imply the majority of them aren’t opposed to his claims.

  • William Birch

    “You’ve got about 6,000 universities in America and they found four professors who criticized what I did.”

    Are we not amazed at his presumption and arrogance here? Does he assume that 6,000 universities in America actually read his book? Or approved of his book?

    “Well, 6,000 universities, you’ve probably have 60,000 professors and they found four who didn’t like it.”

    Again, is he not assuming that 60,000 professors actually read his book, and then gave their approval of it, with the exception of four?

    Seriously, unbelievable! Is there a “least credible source” award granted by any organization? If so, I nominate Barton for first place this year (and perhaps many previous years).

  • Bernie Keefe

    David Barton [dave'-id bart'-un], noun

    1. Prevaricator extraordinaire

    2. A mountebank

    3. A grifter from Texas who uses misinformation and untruths to solicit monies

    from an uneducated, and impressionable listening audience in order to further

    his brainwashing of the populace into believing that the United States was

    intended to be a Christian Theocracy.

  • Jared S. Burkholder

    Glad to be one of the “34″ mentioned above!

  • Brenda Schoolfield

    Yes, please add my name. His problems are not only with that book on Jefferson but in many other places and venues. I was one of the “34 Christian history and social science professors [who] approached Family Research Council about the Capitol Tour video.”

  • Yoni Appelbaum

    Next time I attack David Barton’s scholarship, I’ll have to be sure to send him a copy, so he can complain about me, too. Please add my name to the list.

  • Daniel S Brown, Jr., Ph.D.

    I must be one of the four. At least that’s my guess. How many professors does it take to make up four in David Barton’s world? Why is anyone still interviewing this man?

  • Steve Roberts

    I would love to be on this list. Though I am an English professor, I care about historical accuracy. And as a Texan, I take David Barton’s con game very personally.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Steve and all – Thanks for joining the #Barton4. Feel free to bring a friend…

  • Lynn David

    Like a true ‘entertainer’ Barton quit reading his bad ‘reviews’ after the first few and left that to his publicist/publisher. Which is why Barton, the entertainer, was so surprised when his publisher dropped the book. And another reason that Barton is no true researcher.

  • Camille Lewis

    I’m an independent scholar, and you can add me. I thought I was reading my Klan documents when I heard Barton’s interview on the Daily Show.

  • Rachel C. Larson, Ph.D.

    Wishful thinking about the framing fathers does not constitute valid scholarship. I’m not surprised the book has been withdrawn. And there have been problems with his work — or lack of it —

    before this.

  • Sharon

    I’m a math professor — thus I care a great deal about expressing things clearly, precisely, and above all CORRECTLY. Add me to the list… :)

  • Jason Dikes

    He’s still at it? I’m a history professor, count me in as well.

  • Zoe Brain

    A mere adjunct Professor of Computer Science, and a durned furriner too. But apparently even I know far more about US history of the time than Mr Barton.

    Though that’s a pretty low standard to set. Few scholars, even amateurs, wouldn’t exceed it.

  • Patrocles

    Among those historians, is there anyone who wrote anything constructive, encouraging, positive about American Evangelicals (or Christians, at all)? Or who wrote something in favour of the Christian impact on the American Constitution?

    • ken

      Why is that relevant to the issue of whether Barton is accurately portraying US history?

      Are you trying to imply that only historians with a negative view of christianity would disagree with what Barton has done?

      • Richard Willmer

        Exactly, Ken.

        Some of those who oppose these ‘bartonics’ do so BECAUSE they are Christians, and believe that truth (rather than trying to spin some ‘party line’) is important. And in this regard, such people may well share important ‘common ground’ with many outside the Church. So be it – there’s nothing new, or wrong, with Christians working with others on matters of high principle or practical worth. (see, inter alia, Mark 9 : 38 – 40)

    • Patrocles

      Yes, but why is it so boring to do something encouraging, supportive etc. for Christian Americans? And why is it so much more fascinating (awarding? satisfying?) to find faults in another guy who tries to do something encouraging, supportive etc.?

      • Richard Willmer

        Christians, American or otherwise, should not expect to be ‘supported and encouraged’ by ‘the world’.

        Specifically on Barton: (1) in my view his theology is not Christian, and (2) I do not regard apparent historical revisionism as either ‘supportive’ or ‘encouraging’.

      • ken

        “why is it so boring to do something encouraging, supportive etc. for Christian Americans?”

        Who says it is boring? And if you think the US isn’t “encouraging, supportive, etc” of christian americans you haven’t been paying much attention.

        “why is it so much more fascinating (awarding? satisfying?) to find faults in another guy who tries to do something encouraging, supportive etc.?”

        No one is finding fault with Barton because he is trying to be “encouraging, supportive.” They are finding fault with him because he is spreading a false and misleading narrative to support is own personal prejudices.

  • dan

    David Barton maybe he great for American History but he has much confusion on biblical truth .As He has in past support Glenn Beck as a Biblical christian .Even know folks Glenn is a heart core Mormon .Mormonism is not anything near biblical .it’s false .

  • david blakeslee

    Beautimous…4 scholars. B*llsh*t.

  • Jim Stanley

    Have Hatch, Marsden or Noll weighed in on Barton? They really should.

    Jim

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Yes, in the 90s.

  • Nicholas
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Thanks, Nicholas!

  • Bill Fortenberry

    Warren, I have to point out that if we’re gonna nitpick Barton’s statement, then it’s important that we nitpick what he did not say just as much as what he did say. Here is what Barton said:

    You’ve got about 6,000 universities in America and they found four professors who criticized what I did. Well, 6,000 universities, you probably have 60,000 professors and they found four who didn’t like it.

    This is what Barton did not say:

    You’ve got about 6,000 universities in America and they found four professors who criticized what I did. Well, 6,000 universities, you probably have 60,000 professors and they only found four who didn’t like it.

    • Warren

      Bill – Really?

  • Bill Fortenberry

    Yes, really. As stated, Barton’s words leave room for two interpretations, and you are only focusing on one of them. He could have intended to imply that there were only four professors in all of America who disagreed with the conclusions of his book. Of course, if we applied this view to his later statement about Christian historians being taught by pagan professors, then we would have to conclude that Barton thinks all the Christians who disagree with him were taught by just four professors. This would be ludicrous to say the least.

    The other possibility is that he was implying that with 60,000 professors in America, it would be fairly easy to find four who disagreed with him. This view of Barton’s statement is consistent with his statement just prior to the above quote in which Barton said that he forewarned the publisher about the criticism that his book would receive. If Barton thought that there would only be four professors in all of America who disagreed with him, then such a warning would have been completely unnecessary.


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