Hi and welcome back! This past week, we’ve been talking about toxic Christians’ efforts to regain dominance in America. Among other topics, we covered George Barna and his grand plans to forcibly indoctrinate babies and toddlers. Today, we’ll look at an interview he did with some other equally toxic Christians regarding how they plan to win back their lost dominance. Their ideas might be ineffective, but that doesn’t mean these Christians won’t cause harm as they flail around.
(Previous posts in this series: Christian Parents Did NOTHING Wrong; Watch Your Kids; Make America Good Again: Overview; Conviction; Biblical; A Biblical Worldview; also check out this post about Christians’ shoddy research. For an explanation of toxic Christians, see this post. For more info about the 4-14 Window, check here.)
(Note: A “fundagelical” is a fundamentalist evangelical. Way back when, evangelicals and fundamentalists didn’t like each other and considered themselves totally different. But they fused at some point after I deconverted. As a Pentecostal, I was considered a dangerous extremist by my evangelical friends. Nowadays, though, evangelicals have lapped anything I ever thought or did! “Fundagelicals” it is then.)
George Barna Does Wallbuilders.
On September 9th, 2020, George Barna showed up as a guest on pseudo-historian and propagandist David Barton’s radio show, Wallbuilders Live. You can find a transcript here. I’m glad I found it, because it contains a lot more than just George Barna talking like a Republic of Gilead schemer.
I want to show it to you.
First, Rick Green talks on the radio show. Oh boy, this guy. (One day, maybe we’ll talk more about him.) About 20 years ago, Dripping Springs, Texas elected him to the state’s House of Representatives. There, he served two terms. He dodged a few scandals: MLM scammery, accusations of misuse of his office, etc. These scandals highlight what I can only call a grotesquely self-serving interpretation of American civics.
After he lost his third election, Green started “Patriot Academy.” There, he begs fundagelicals to join his fake “academy” to become “Constitution Coaches.” This dubious opportunity ranges in cost from free (for filthy casuals) to an eye-watering $997USD (marked down from $1997). Once that’s paid, fundagelical culture warriors can download his lesson plans and whatnot. And then, they can shove the culture wars down the throats of innocent children.
On his website, Green describes Constitution Coaches as “a catalyst for restoring Biblical & Constitutional Principles” to America. He gives his website several times on the radio program to make sure listeners know where to purchase his magic beans to fix everything.
So y’all, we’re in for an absolute shitshow.
Defining The Big Problem Here.
In this show, David Barton and Rick Green harumph and tut-tut among themselves. OMG y’all, heathens are just keeeeeeeeerazy! They think there’s no absolute truth and more than two genders! Can you even imagine?!?
They are deeply offended about the gender thing.
(See endnote regarding why their bloomers are so a-flutter.)
Indeed, they think it’s a big huge problem that Americans no longer agree with fundagelical brutality in law enforcement. And I guess it is — for fundagelicals at least. Authoritarians need a nice powerful military and police force to flex properly.
Barton asserts that The Big Problem Here is the lack of “a biblical worldview” in Americans. When all Americans share “a biblical worldview,” then they’ll agree with each other about how to govern. But if Americans don’t agree about their worldview, then they’ll disagree about everything and it’ll get all higgledy-piggledy.
I don’t know where David Barton got the idea that Americans ever shared any religious viewpoint, let alone one matching his own. That said, it’s been a successful deception of his for years. His son Tim Barton shows up to fret about how only TRUE CHRISTIANS™ like them know what’s true and what’s false.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers.
Then, the hosts discuss the big fight they’re stirring up between “a biblical worldview versus everything else.” That dovetails nicely with their guest’s focus.
George Barna has been yammering about this fight since at least 2016, according to Raw Story. He called the election that year a fight between “Christians vs. non-Christians,” recasting Trump’s successful theft of the office as “a miracle.”
But then they start talking about how to get Americans unified with their wackadoodle take on truth:
Indoctrinate the children as early as possible.
Tim Barton informs the audience that “progressives” managed to indoctrinate children in secular values — somehow. (What happened to fundagelical dominance and lockstep in thinking? Wait, I thought Americans agreed once about “a biblical worldview” or summat?)
So now Americans are “filled with garbage.” You know, like objecting to the way that police forces treat the Black community, wanting equal rights for women and LGBT people, and respecting pronouns. That’s “garbage” to this snake-oil huckster, who thinks the Constitution disagrees with all of these progressive stances.
So now TRUE CHRISTIANS™ (like these pompous goose-steppers) must get to children earlier than progressives can. To do that, listeners should totally go to David Barton’s website and buy books from it.
Lots, and lots, and lots of books.
FINALLY, A Wild George Barna Appears.
Now, at last, George Barna shows up. Early on, he frightens the pants off the three hosts:
And we’ve been finding, for instance, that only 6% of adults in America have a biblical worldview. We’ve found that only 4 out of 10 Americans believe that the Bible is the true and reliable Word of God.
He’s just so sorrowful about this sad revelation. It just gets funnier when we remember that Barna specifically designed the definition of “biblical worldview” to be as self-serving as humanly possible. So yes, of course most Christians don’t even share it. They didn’t even when America began. Then, Rick Green’s pearl-clutching response made me burst out laughing:
Now, that was, you said 6%, not 60%? I want to make sure our listeners heard that, only 6% of Americans have biblical worldview, and then 4 out of 10, so 40% that believe in the Bible?
It reminds me of how infomercial hucksters act all excitable to push the sale: But wait, Dolores! Did you say this genuine imitation cubic zirconia Jesus costs only $19.99? Not $199.99? WOW! I just want to make sure the audience hears this!
Remember, these nuts were claiming earlier that Americans used to share a worldview, and that’s why America always ran so smoothly — to authoritarian white dudes who don’t know history, at least.
Get Those Kids Early.
Then, Rick Green reiterates the urgent need to indoctrinate children as early as possible:
So if we’re serious about this, if we’re not just going to complain and say, wow, how do we get here, if we’re serious about it, we’ve got to start taking the big steps to really invest in teaching the right worldview to our young people.
That’s where Barna launches into his whole when-is-worldview-set thing:
We know that a worldview, no matter which one it is, a person’s worldview is going to start developing at 15 to 18 months of age, and it will be almost fully formed by the time they reach the age of 13, might be reshaped and refined a little bit during the teens and 20s. By the time they hit 30 [??? — CC], and what we found is that most people will die believing what they believe at age 13.
And it’s so comical that he thinks this, because according to his testimony, he was a fervent Catholic in his youth. He converted to TRUE CHRISTIAN™ fundagelicalism after college. I square it by considering his ideology authoritarian more than anything else. He just needed a religious tribe that fit his authoritarian streak and would put up with his dishonesty. And after a long and protracted search, he found it.
Hm. I married a guy just like that, long ago.
But How Early?
The hosts natter among themselves about how young they need to begin indoctrination. George Barna one-ups them all:
So you’ve got to start developing it very young. Because even at 15 to 18 months of age, you’re starting to make decisions about your behavior, about your beliefs, about your values, obviously, at that age, you can’t articulate them.
Then, George Barna tries to make the show’s listeners think that the 2020 election means eternal stakes — not because of the President’s impact on the Supreme Court or whatever else, but because it will totally determine America’s prevailing worldview!
This is an election to determine the prevailing worldview, the dominant worldview in America for the foreseeable future. And so, everybody who has a biblical worldview, everybody who loves Christ needs to get out and vote in this election.
Because if they don’t, one of the things that might happen as a result of it is we may lose the freedom to worship God, we may lose the freedom to learn about God in the country in the future, because the other side wants so many limitations and such a different form of government and embraces such a different lifestyle and values and morals, that we’re not going to be happy. So we’ve got to get out and vote for the candidates that are going to give us the freedoms that we need to be who God made us to be.
At first, this screed confused me mightily. How did this tie in at all with toddler indoctrination?
But I figured it out.
That Moment of Realization.
The fundagelical hucksters on this radio show continue talking after George Barna leaves. They continue to hammer at the idea of early-childhood indoctrination.
And it suddenly came to me.
Every one of these nuts has a dog in this fight. And I don’t mean just because it’s their tribe ginning up these culture wars.
What I mean is that they’re all selling products meant to fix the big problem they’ve identified in this interview.
Follow the Money.
George Barna sells books and shoddy, self-serving research to panicky fundagelical leaders. Barna Group still does this.
David Barton, of course, has made a lucrative living by selling fundagelicals products meant to gain them dominance over America. I’m sure lil Timmy is just helping his daddy there.
Rick Green’s doing his bestest, bless his cotton socks, to cash in on the terrified-and-enraged-fundagelical-sheep market by selling similar materials. (“6%? Not 60?” Oh my LOL! This guy. His schtick will never get old.)
It’s extremely unlikely that anybody outside of the fundagelical tribe would ever purchase or use these materials. But I’m sure many of those in the tribe would — and do. However, George Barna and David Barton and Rick Green (LOL) want the flocks to buy their junk, not some other huckster’s junk.
These hucksters profit grandly if fundagelical parents decide to take their advice here and buy these guys’ fundagelical mis-education products to cram down their children’s throats.
But they won’t buy stuff unless they’re convinced there’s a big problem that these materials would fix for sure.
Stoking the Culture Wars.
And that observation leads us to the most unsavory aspect of this interview, of course. (There were a lot of ’em. But this one won.)
They need the flocks to feel that the 2020 election will have eternal consequences — for not only themselves and their kids, but also their entire country. And thus, they need the flocks to vote along the correct lines, and to buy their products to help ensure that America runs smoothly in the future.
So they spin this horrifying vision of a near-future America governed by savages who don’t understand what truth is, who don’t know how many genders there are, and who don’t even hold the correct views of right and wrong — and thus, who even knows what’ll happen to crime statistics in this world-gone-mad! OMG what’ll happen to your children in that world?
The only way to stop this horrific dystopia is to vote Republican! Also buy this junk or your kids won’t learn the correct worldview!
It’s so shameless.
These men stoked up the culture wars to make product sales.
The Damage Done.
Overall, the damage done here wasn’t super-consequential in the long scheme of things. George Barna and his pals revealed that the playbook looks about like we expected:
- Keep demanding that Republicans pander to them — and push the envelope of theocracy harder than ever
- Forcibly indoctrinate as many children as possible — just start focusing on younger kids than ever before
The radio show hosts and guest reinforced those principles, along with their steady drumbeat of insulting their tribal enemies and misrepresenting them to score points.
They all sounded just terrified of not being in total control of America. But by their own wackadoodle estimate, they aren’t and haven’t been for many years. They need a lot of people to join their tribe — or to stay in it once indoctrinated — to regain any kind of dominance. And I don’t see any of their products making that happen.
The election won’t bring them more cultural power either. People won’t clamor to join fundagelical churches if Trump manages to squeak into another term. The tribe’s been doing nothing but losing members and credibility for years.
That trend will only accelerate if their 2020 dreams come true.
The Green Zone of Gilead.
However, as I mentioned earlier: fundagelicals do enjoy a very outsized level of political power. What they lack utterly on the ground in terms of membership numbers and credibility, they more than make up for at all levels of government.
And with that governmental power, they can do a lot of damage by bending laws to give their evangelists access to more children, rewriting existing laws to serve the tribe’s interests, and getting their pals into judges’ seats.
And that’s what George Barna means by his tribe being “happy” once they get their way. His happiness depends on creating a sort of green zone run the way he likes best, with his tribemates (and himself) in power — and removing all those pesky “limitations” that slap his grabby little hands away from others’ rights.
To achieve that dream, fundagelicals need votes — a lot of them, consistently delivered — and money shorn from the flocks. So I suspect they’ll get even more grandiose in coming days — and more apocalyptic — and most of all, more dishonest and grasping.
The Crisis Continues.
Christian authoritarians in our country are fighting for something far more precious to them than their church sizes or their credibility: the potential of unlimited, absolute temporal power over their enemies.
For that goal, they will sacrifice both church size and credibility without a second thought.
George Barna has sounded a potent warning to us, and I hope nobody forgets it anytime soon. I don’t think things will work quite like he says they will, because I think most of his plans are designed with his own future in mind rather than as real plans devised to fix Christianity’s decline. But that doesn’t mean he won’t cause damage. Wingnuts can be incredibly destructive precisely because nothing they think or do tethers to reality.
All in all, I appreciate knowing just how bad George Barna really is. He’s one to watch, moving forward.
NEXT UP: Uh oh. You know the baptism formula? (Which one? THE one, silly.) Someone’s not saying the magic spell correctly. And it’s caused chaos! See you tomorrow. <3
Regarding Barton and Green’s pearl-clutching about gender: These culture warriors have a very good reason for not liking Americans’ evolving views on gender. We’ll talk about it in more detail some other time, but for now: Authoritarians can’t handle uncertainty and shifting opinions. And they really don’t like not being the final arbiters of all situations and the loudest voices in any discussion. What’s going on with gender in America is like a giant raised middle finger to fundagelical culture warriors: a visible sign that they’ve lost yet again. And this middle finger gets raised in the face of something they thought they had locked down. The gender identity question tramples their entire notion of what it is to be male or female, which of course has huge implications for gender roles. (Back to the post!)
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