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May 2nd, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Who is David Barton, #1 trending topic on Google?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

A longtime star on the conservative Christian circuit, controversial evangelical historian David Barton is today the No. 1 trending topic on Google.

The online surge comes on the heels of Barton’s appearance on The Daily Show on Tuesday night.

Barton argues that religion – and Christianity in particular – played a huge role in the founding and history of the United States, and that that role has been largely scrubbed from the history books by modern secular elites.

The Texas-based Barton runs a group called WallBuilders, which is "dedicated to presenting America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined," according to its website.

In his new book, “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” Barton attempts to dispel the popular notion that Thomas Jefferson was a secular politician who pioneered the idea of strict church-state separation.

Barton wears a variety of hats in Republican and conservative circles. He’s a former top official in the Texas GOP and a sometimes consultant with the Republican National Committee; a behind-the-scenes political operative who advises presidential candidates and coordinates trips to Israel for the likes of Glenn Beck; and a prolific author, speaker and Washington tour guide on the evangelical circuit.

Barton and his work are featured prominently in former "Growing Pains" star Kirk Cameron’s new movie “Monumental,” about the role of religion in American history.

Barton's work has drawn many critics, including Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College who has fact-checked some of Barton's work. “That’s just not what happened,” Throckmorton frequently says of Barton's version of historical events.

Do you have an opinion of David Barton? Ever read his work or see him speak? Share your views and stories in comments.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • History

soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. Josue Ritz

    I'm writing to let you understand of the fantastic discovery my cousin's daughter undergone reading through your blog. She noticed a lot of issues, not to mention what it's like to have an awesome giving nature to make the mediocre ones with no trouble learn about specified tricky issues. You really did more than people's expected results. Many thanks for giving those necessary, dependable, explanatory and even cool guidance on that topic to Ethel.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  2. dougindeap

    Barton again? This zealot's "work" has been so thoroughly, repeatedly, and authoritatively debunked by so many who have demonstrated it to be riddled with slipshod research, shoddy analysis, and downright dishonestly that I can but wonder how anyone can refer to him as an "authority" on this subject without turning red from embarrassment. Perhaps the handiest debunking is Chris Rodda's book, Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History (2006) (available free on line http://www.liarsforjesus.com/), where she conveniently collects and directly refutes his many mistakes and lies. The irony is that, by knowingly, repeatedly resorting to lies, this would-be champion of a religious right version of history reveals his fears that the real facts fall short of making his case. His own lying is perhaps the best evidence that his overall thesis is wrong.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  3. rizzo

    Who is David Barton? He's a liar and a fraud.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • preacherman

      And his teeth look like those of the alien in "Enemy Mine"

      May 5, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  4. Voice of Reason

    This should be against the law!

    May 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  5. rustywheeler

    If Jefferson was a Christian, then he was also a heretic.

    The brand of Christianity that contemporary Evangelicals practice did not exist in the colonial era. It is the aftermath and heir of 18th-century rural revival movements, The Great Awakenings/Disappointments, and the birth of Biblical Literalism in America.

    Jefferson was, arguably, a nominal "Christian", but only by equivocating on the word "Christian" are contemporary conservatives able to lay claim to the post-enlightenment champion of humanism named Thomas Jefferson.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • mandarax

      These jokers try to convince people that our Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians even though the evangelical "born again" movement didn't gain momentum until the 20th century. These charlatans are counting on their audience being too ignorant to know that ... and of course they are.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  6. David Nelson

    The founding fathers who were involved in Freemasonry are now emphasized and the ones who weren't are pretty much ignored. I suppose that is what to expect from the elite media.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  7. Ellie

    CNN's love affair with David Barton leads me to believe that I shouldn't take anything from CNN as factual without triple checking it for myself. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. If you pal around with liars, you should expect people to doubt your veracity. I am a Christian, but unlike Barton, I do not feel compelled to Lie For Jesus.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. Jason

    I'm a Christian. Barton should leave the Bible and history alone–he clearly knows too little of both.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  9. Josh

    David Barton trends # 1 on google? Yep, no surprises there.

    Truth wins!!!
    :) :) :)

    May 4, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • mandarax

      Does everyone who searches Barton's name believe him? Are google searches a valid measure of popular opinion? Does popular interest indicate "truth?" So many logical blunders, so little time.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • joe

      That's right, the truth comes out that this guy is full of lies.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      "Truth Wins!!!"

      Why.... did David Barton lose?

      May 4, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven !

    May 4, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Jesus

      You're a proven liar. Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!`~

      May 4, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  11. The Champ

    Has this ramrod been chewing on rocks? Look at his teeth for christ's sake!

    May 4, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  12. Reality

    In case you missed this:-------->>>>>>>>>>>

    “WallBuilders' founder and president, David Barton, resides in Aledo, Texas (just west of Fort Worth), with his wife, Cheryl, and their three children. David spent eight years as an educator and school administrator before founding WallBuilders. "

    So how did he become a scholar in US history and religion? Anybody know?

    And let us review MR. Barton's finances as per guidestar.org (See Wallbuilders).

    Salary: he pays himself = $108,049 (he, his wife and his mother make up 50% of the board of directors),

    Then there are those other unspecified salaries of $288,872 (his mother and wife?),

    He billed Wallbuilders travel expenses of $67,000 in 2009.

    And then there is the securities portfolio of $1,149,239 where he/Wallbuilder pays no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains because Wallbuiders is a "non-profit".

    Hmmmm???????

    May 4, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  13. Ronda

    I'd be very interested in seeing your references for the facts you portray in this video. I'd like to verify the information conveyed. Thanks.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • mandarax

      That's the convenience of faith-based thinking – facts are not a necessary part of any argument.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Feel free to contact LFJ yourself and look into the details. And when you are done, I am sure you will want to check Barton's sources as well. won't you.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  14. Really-O?

    Barton's credentials make it clear he is a hack.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      May 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  16. danielwalldammit

    Let's have another sound thrashing of this idiot.

    May 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  17. bob.macrae@cox.net

    Talk about a guy with an adgenda! A real historian's nightmare This guy is a liar first, Then a lawyer – Jesus help us...

    May 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      And he is most definitely NO historian.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • momoya

      It really settles things for me that christians won't turn this moron and his lies out on his azz.. I guess they prefer lies that match their bias rather than truths that don't.. Immoral christians.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  18. JonLynnHarvey

    Heck! Jefferson !*coined the expression*! "wall of separation between church and state"

    May 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • mandarax

      Nuh huh! Not in Christian Pretend World.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.