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. JmboK

    David Barton =/= The Truth


    May 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      There you go!

      May 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      David Barton != The Truth

      May 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  2. JmboK

    David Barton<<>>The Truth

    I give up.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  3. JmboK

    David Barton<>The Truth

    Stupid editor.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  4. danielwalldammit

    CNN, you really dropped the ball on this one. A responsible article would have outlined some of Barton's past misteps, like presenting a variety of quotes that don't exist, or cases of flagrant misrepresentation. This man is a hack, and the people who cite him ought to know better.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  5. JmboK

    David The Barton<>Truth

    May 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Barton wouldn't know the truth if it stepped on his toe and spit in his face.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  6. blessedgeek

    The favourite phrase of Evangelical Christians is "You are out of context". It is a very powerful one full sweep scaffolding phrase to prop up any of their deficient and crumbling arguments.

    Evangelical Christians love to tell you "lean not on human understanding and logic". But, their arguments on pre-dispensationalism, works vs faith, etc are riddled with complex networks of human logic.

    So they contrive extremely complicated human logic to tel themselves not to depend on human logic. They have mastered the art of blinding themselves.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Out of context what Barton does for a living.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • William Demuth

      They also have mastered the art of binding altar boys

      May 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Bullfeathers

      And the favorite phrase of (and I truly mean quote)'atheists' is its a myth. That simple phrase seems to settle in their (and I mean yours as well) minds as a logical rebuttal. Very sad really, the professing christian and the professing atheist seem to have the same intellectual capabilities.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Primewonk


      I think that you will agree that Zeus is a myth, right? Just like Thor, Ra, Amma, Bumba, and 10,000 others?

      There is every bit as much actual evidence for those gods as there is for yours.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. ElGiblet

    Lol... lots of posts from gays, atheists, and gay atheists in here. Of course, CNN is quickly becoming the, 'Gay Atheist Channel'.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Poor dear. It's a shame you have to share your world with such people, isn't it?

      May 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • William Demuth

      You worship a Palestinian gay superhero who wore sandals and thought his mom was a virgin, and then you see gays in a blog?

      I sugest you reread your pre-fabricated holy book!

      May 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tiempo

      @ EIGiblet – So is that why you hang out here?

      May 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      I'm here because I am a closet gay atheist. Don't tell anyone.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • D

      Matthew 7:1 Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

      Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

      It amazes me how unchristian most christians are these days!

      May 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  8. Sherry Fast

    I like to use his teachings because I was there when all this happened had just graduated from high school and saw it in person and he tells it right and like it is...many who are "politically correct"....are not even old enough to recall their childhood at times they usuallly get it right after they mature...Americas' Godly Heritage is a great teaching tool to have...

    May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Barton is a lousy scholar. It's not a question of political correctness. he is neither honest nor competent as a scholar.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Primewonk

      You were there when "what" happened? When Barton started lying? When he started making up quotes?

      By the way – the US is not a christian nation. Or is the Consti.tution lying? Or maybe the Treaty of Tripoli was lying?

      May 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Rev. Rick

    Quoting from the article, "...Barton attempts to dispel the popular notion that Thomas Jefferson was a secular politician who pioneered the idea of strict church-state separation."

    It's interesting the Barton chose Jefferson as a example for conservative Christian politics. Jefferson wrote "The Jefferson Bible" which did emphasize the life of Jesus, but from his Bible, Jefferson also removed all references miracles, angels and other supernatural events, which he felt were distortions of Jesus' original teachings. How would Barton reconcile that with his own conservative Christian views?

    May 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Jared

      Actually, if you read his stuff you'll see that Jefferson put together that Bible you're mentioning with just the teachings of morals. In antoher Jefferson Bible he abridged the life of Christ with all of those miracles and such for teaching Native Americans about Christianity. Look it up. Jefferson believed in Jesus Christ.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jared

      Actually, if you read his stuff you'll see that Jefferson put together that Bible you're mentioning with just the teachings of morals. In another Jefferson Bible he abridged the life of Christ with all of those miracles and such for teaching Native Americans about Christianity. Look it up. Jefferson believed in Jesus Christ.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Jared – Reread my post. I never said Jefferson didn't believe in Jesus Christ.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Fred Stoneflint

      Jefferson believed that Jesus was a human philoshopher whose story and teachings got perverted by the looneys who wrote the Bible. He felt Jesus' divinity was a lie told by others, and that Paul was the "first corrupter" of Jesus' teachings.

      That is whay Jefferson cut out everything that had to do with the supernatular, and that which was obviously added later.

      This Barton guy is just lying for his own greed.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Jared

      Rev.- He believed in Jesus' divinity and his miracles.

      Fred- There was another Jefferson Bible with the miralces and the "hocus pocus" left in by Jefferson. Look it up.

      May 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Jared – there is no need to "look it up". Following is a quote by Jefferson on what he thought of Jesus' divine virgin birth. You can look it up because I provided the attribution of Jefferson's published papers.

      "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" (Works, Vol. iv, p. 365).

      May 3, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  10. GunnerGA

    You cannot scrub the fact that Jefferson and most of our most prominent Founding Fathers eventually became Deists and NOT Christians. They rejected organized Christianity and accepted only the belief in G-d but not in the rest. Deal with it. American was NOT founded by Christians. They were Deists.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • GunnerGA

      In fact, the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli which was submitted to John Adams, president of the Senate, by President George Washington, specifically states the following: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion...". It was then signed by then-President John Adams. It was UNANIMOUSLY approved with that language. By law, America is not a Christian nation. Deal with it.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • SpeakingThe Truth

      "Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation." – John Jay, First Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court
      "The United States of America were no longer Colonies. They were an independent nation of Christians." – John Qunicy Adams
      "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." – Thomas Jefferson
      "The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of men.' And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" – Benjamin Franklin
      "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." – Benjamin Franklin, from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728
      "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity religion and morality are indispensable supports." George Washington
      “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” John Quincy Adams 6th US President and son of John Adams
      "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.” The US Congress 1782

      56 men signed the Declaration of Independence – 54 of them went to Christian worship services three times weekly for their entire lives. So did George Washington.

      Seems to disprove your claims rather thoroughly, doesn't it? Best to check the facts first (and be diligent in your checking).

      May 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • SpeakingThe Truth

      The assurances in Article 11 were "intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers".

      May 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Huebert


      Quote the founding fathers all you like; it doesn't make a bit of difference. This is a secular nation.

      May 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Fred

      Don't let the facts get in the way of your argument. John Adams was the President when the Treaty of Tripoli was presented to the Senate in June of 1797. Vice President Jefferson was the President of the Senate when it was presented. And you supposedly know history better than Barton?

      May 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  11. ModernMan

    He's right. Much of the real history HAS been scrubbed from our current history books. Much of the corruption, murderous rampages, raping and enslavement of blacks and native Americans. All conveniently whitewashed by... wait for it... people just like him.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Bloke D.

      Well said.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • danielwalldammit


      May 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • GodPot

      You mean the "backpacking trip of somewhat moist eyes" was not part of Native American history?

      May 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  12. sancho

    I'm gonna have a hard time taking someone named Warren Throckmorton seriously.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • momoya

      Try biblegod, then.. It's a whole different type of "reasoning."

      May 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Yeah

      If you are a Christian, you probably have a lot of trouble taking any legitimate scholar seriously. Let's face it, religious people hate anything that contradicts their ideology, no matter how truthful it is. They don't want truth; they want their ideology unchallenged.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  13. just sayin

    I heard him and Cameron were getting married

    May 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Prayer Changes No Things

      Nah. That's just an atheist lie. He's been going out with Joel Osteen. They met at the hairdresser.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  14. Denise

    Christian wingnut trying to re-write history again and whining about some plot/persecution to hide their wacky agenda, no surprise. But it should upset smart conservatives (there are some) that Christian loons have hijacked and co-opted their category. Come on, secular fiscal conservatives, take your territory back!

    May 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • closet atheist

      We need a new party. I'm a fiscally conservative atheist. Clearly, I'm a lost soul.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Wrenn

      @ closet atheist.

      Hear Hear!

      I tend to state that I'm fiscally conservative but socially liberal.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ron Paul

      Well my bus has a few extra seats, hop on!!

      May 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    I have always felt freedom of speech was supposed to be tempered with the obligation to tell the truth.

    This man is a liar with an agenda, and media has a moral responsibility to challenge his rhetoric.

    We seem to always lament "disinformation" in Muslim societies, claiming it keeps them from their best possible destiny, yet we seem so afraid to challenge it in ours.

    The second most tragic aspect of it is that so many will follow him, because he understands how to exploit evangelicals.

    The first tragedy is the belief that American society should be static and based on obsolete viewpoints from the distant past.

    Isn't that the Talibans position?

    May 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Denise

      William, you nailed it. Thanks.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • momoya

      I wish we could get a list of his main points or his outline.. We could debunk his claims right here.. That'd be a cool deal for everybody (except Barton, obviously).

      May 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Bloke D.

      Well I don't want to go slogging through the filthy swamp of his religious madness just to counter every lie.
      But you go ahead if you want. I think I saw some links up there....

      May 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Absolutely Nothing Sacred

      You are a genius. This guy is so full of crap I can smell him.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Woody

      Great post, as usual, WD. This clown in just one more in a long line of sheeple ropers. We may be faced with energy shortages, this shortage and that shortage, but we'll never see a gullibility or an ignorance shortage. The dummies get what they deserve.

      May 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  16. EnjaySea

    Of course there were Christians among the founders. So what?

    I was in Washington DC a few weeks ago, and had a chance to go into the National Archives rotunda and read the constitution in person. And right there, on paper, is the establishment clause in the bill of rights, unambiguosly stating that we are a secular country.

    The only fact that matters is that our government is secular. Every politiican from the first to the last can be as Christian as they like, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest, as long as they aren't allowed to impose their religion on me.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • just sayin


      May 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Denise

    He's just nother televangelist/fraudster. Note the plastic hair and the shiny, impossibly uniformly tanned face. Just like Joel Osteen, he's a con artist selling a god fraud. It's like they pop them out of a mold.

    A god wouldn't need your money. Stop supporting these greasy, sleazy con artists who don't even qualify to be selling bad used cars.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  18. Qwerty Elemeno

    Revisionist historian. I would expect no less from a Christian.

    If they revise prehistory to start 6000 years ago, with humans and dinosaurs coexisting, then this lame self-serving perversion of American history is no surprise.

    Christian revisionist history is just another form of the many lies they tell. It's okay, because "Thou Shalt Not Lie" is not one of the Ten Commandments.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • momoya

      It's really fantastic, though, if somehow the fact of his revisionist tactics could be completely exposed.. Lies never help your cause, so all that needs to happen is somebody with the right material expose his lies.. The more this sort of thing occurs, the less seriously ANYONE can take the fundie position without a huge amount of ignorance..

      May 2, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      You know how religious people are: you can provide enormous piles airtight evidence that they are wrong, and they will quote some bizarre bit of scripture about how deceivers will try to undermine the faithful and blah blah blah, but when you ask about the passage right next to it about the correct procedure for selling your daughter into slavery, they tell you that the Old Testament does not apply as Jesus fulfilled it.

      You can show solid evidence that their belief is just plain wrong, and they will blather about persecution.

      It's the perfect scam for grifters like David Barton. He can say anything he wants, and any criticism or peer review will be automatically be called an attack on Christianity, and make him more popular. It's actually better for him to lie and be called a liar, as it strengthens his hold on his marks. And the cash flow in!

      May 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Bullfeathers

      Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor = thou shalt not lie. Get your facts straight before declaring others don't have theirs correct.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  19. momoya

    Look, CNN, I know this is under the "Opinion" section and then further categorized as "Belief," so it's not like any fact-checking is a necessary step but, when an associate professor has ALREADY DONE the fact-checking and proved much of the findings as false/lies/biased-massaging-of-data, don't you think that ought to figure a little more prominently in your reportage?

    Why hide this paragraph near the bottom, CNN?!?

    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.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  20. JohnQuest

    A Conservative rewriting history, no news there.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Denise

      No surprise, anyway. But it should upset smart conservatives (there are some) that Christian loons have hijacked and co-opted their category. Come on, secular fiscal conservatives, take it back!

      May 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      That CNN would give the man press and praise him with faint damn is a bit of a surprise. Can't they find a credible conservative to promote?

      May 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      danielwalldammit, can you name a credible Conservative?

      May 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Can't they find a credible conservative to promote?"

      Barry Golwater is dead. Bill Buckley is dead. Jon Huntsman was laughed out of the Presidential race by the tea baggers.

      The republican party was been taken over by the religious right (oxymoron). Until they kick these môrons out, there isn't a chance that the party will be seen as credible by anyone with at least 10 functioning neurons.

      May 2, 2012 at 2:21 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.