Mike Johnson: Another David Barton Mouthpiece
Mike Johnson, U. S. representative from Louisiana, is the speaker of the House of Representatives. David Barton is a fake historian who makes up stories about the founding fathers and the founding of our nation is a political grunt for the Republican Party.
He often makes outlandish claims that are filled with falsehoods and misinformation. Listening to Barton claim that 52 of the original 55 signers of the U. S. Constitution were evangelical Christians is only one example. He claims that the First Amendment is a tool of the devil. He insists that America was founded as a Christian nation. And the biggest whopper of all: When the Supreme Court “outlawed prayer” (which it didn’t) American student SAT scores fell dramatically. Yet somehow Barton has weave his lies into a network that repeats them as the gospel truth.
A District Judge in Dayton, Ohio
When you have heard one David Barton disciple defend the false presumption that America was founded as a Christian nation, you have heard them all. In an opinion piece for the Dayton Daily News, I wrote about the dangers of Barton’s fake history of America. A few days later, a letter to the editor appeared in the DDN from a county judge. He offered a refutation of my opinion. As I scanned the arguments of the judge, I knew I was reading material gleaned from Barton. I emailed the judge and asked him how long he had been a disciple of Barton. The judge responded by asking me how I knew that he was using Barton material.
My answer: Barton material reads like a playbook, a manual for the attempt at overturning American history with a series of questionable quotes and lies. And the judge is only one of a large contingency of Barton followers who write editorials, give speeches, and teach Sunday School classes that repeat Barton’s lies.
No particular higher level of critical thinking was required to recognize Barton’s false tales of American history. He repeats them over and over and over again. Other people repeat his lies until they become the “truth” for an entire segment of our population.
Robert Jeffress, FBC Dallas
I read Robert Jeffress’ annual Fourth of July sermon, “America Is a Christian Nation.” Jeffress should have avoided plagiarism by citing Barton as the provider of nearly everything Jeffress says in the sermon. Historian John Fea says, “For the past thirty years, Barton, a GOP operative from Aledo, Texas, has provided pastors and conservative politicians with inaccurate or misinterpreted facts used to fuel the Christian Right’s politics of nostalgia. Barton’s understanding of the past has been debunked by nearly every serious American historian, including those who teach at the most conservative Christian colleges; but he continues to maintain a large following in the evangelical community.”
Mike Johnson, Speaker of the House
Two years before going from a relatively unknown congressman to speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana spoke at a national gathering of Christian lawmakers in North Texas and shared his deep admiration for the man behind the conference: the evangelical activist and self-styled historian David Barton.
“I was introduced to David and his ministry a quarter-century ago,” Johnson said at the ProFamily Legislators Conference, which was being hosted by Barton’s nonprofit WallBuilders, a Texas group dedicated to promoting the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation whose laws should be based on a conservative reading of the Bible.
Johnson told the audience at the December 2021 gathering that Barton’s teachings — which are disputed by many historians — have had “a profound influence on me, and my work, and my life and everything I do.”
This is a disheartening thought. An attorney with the intelligence and ability of Mike Johnson has publicly declared that he has been influenced by the biggest lies ever told about America’s history, our Constitution, the First Amendment, prayer in public schools, and a collection of right-wing fairy tales about our “Judeo-Christian worldview.”
After falling for Barton’s tales, Johnson then swallowed Trump’s tall tales about the 2020 election hook, line, and sinker. Maybe behind the smile, the tailored suit, and the niceness there is a vast ocean of gullibility.
Johnson, for his part, has denied being a Christian nationalist. That denial sticks out like white supremacists denying their racism. Here are Johnson’s stated beliefs – all of which align with Christian Nationalism’s primary tenets:
- America was founded as a Christian nation.
- The founders were born again “evangelical” Christians.
- The Constitution was founded on “biblical principles.”
- America is God’s new “people” entrusted with a divine mission.
- America exhibits a righteousness that other nations lack.
- God has blessed America with power, prosperity, and privilege.
- If liberals succeed in leading America away from the morality of Christianity, God will punish us.
If you promote Christian nationalism, if you espouse the beliefs of David Barton, of Pentecostal prophets aligned with Seven Mountains Dominionism, you are at least a Christian Nationalist.
If you hear someone promoting these views, you will know that you have uncovered another David Barton mouthpiece. Don’t believe a word he says about American history. He is no historian, he is a “hobbyist” who twists history into a evangelical fairy tale.