Book by Author Endorsed by Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck Withdrawn by Publisher

Michelle Goldberg writes:

At the Rediscovering God in America conference in 2011, Mike Huckabee gave an impassioned introduction to David Barton, the religious right’s favorite revisionist historian. “I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced—at gunpoint, no less—to listen to every David Barton message,” he said. “And I think our country would be better for it.”

…In 2010, Glenn Beck called him called him “the most important man in America right now.”…

But now, suddenly, Barton’s reputation is in freefall… Earlier this week, the evangelical World magazine published a piece about the growing number of conservative Christian scholars questioning his work. Then, on Thursday, Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher, recalled Barton’s most recent book, the bestselling The Jefferson Lies, saying it had “lost confidence in the book’s details.”

At Talk to Action, Rachel Tabachnick adds (some links added): contributors have referenced or featured David Barton in over 250 articles, including detailed debunking of his revisionist histories by Chris Rodda and Rob Boston, and updates from both Frederick Clarkson and Bill Berkowitz this week

David Barton has been a superstar in some Christian Right circles for many years, but gained more notice from the larger public with his numerous appearances with Glenn Beck. Barton coached “prayer warriors” in conference calls prior to Beck’s Restoring Honor event on the Mall in D.C. in August 2010. Barton also accompanied Beck on his trips to Israel in 2011, and was featured along with Beck and John Hagee at the “Restoring Courage” events held there.  At Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Love” event in Dallas on July 28, he promoted a David Barton talking point,  showing the audience a Bible that he claims was printed by Congress in the late 1700s.

I looked at the Beck/Barton relationship here.

A report in the Tennessean suggests that a particular concern for Thomas Nelson was Barton’s attempts to gloss over Jefferson’s attitudes towards race and slavery:

“‘The Jefferson Lies’ glosses over Jefferson’s real record on slaveholding, and minimizes Jefferson’s racist views,” said the Rev. Damon Lynch of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, an African-American congregation in Cincinnati.

Lynch said he and other ministers from diverse backgrounds had contacted Nelson about their concerns. He said that if the book hadn’t been canceled, he would have boycotted Nelson.

“We love Thomas Nelson,” he said. “My library is filled with Thomas Nelson books and I didn’t want to stop doing business with them.”

In response to Thomas Nelson recalling the book, Barton now boasts that:

…the book has already been picked up by a much larger national publisher and distributor.

For some reason, Barton doesn’t name this new publisher – and given that Thomas Nelson was very recently acquired by HarperCollins (retaining Thomas Nelson’s CEO, Mark Schoenwald), it’s difficult to imagine what company could be called a “larger national publisher”.

Meanwhile, Barton’s defenders have gone on the attack. Here’s Rick Green (H/T Ed Brayton), who co-hosts a radio show with Barton:

Question: What do elitist professors have in common with Adolf Hitler & Saul Alinsky?
Answer: They masterfully use the powerful art of innuendo to falsely defame those with which they disagree.

Green has also challenged critics – and in particular Chris Rodda, author of a book debunking Barton entitled Liars for Jesus – to present specific examples of Barton distorting history; Chris has responded in the comments section of his site, although so far her answer remains unpublished and “in moderation”.

Meanwhile, anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively sees a gay conspiracy (link added):

[Warren] Throckmorton, the chief critic of Jefferson Lies, is heavily quoted in the Christian media in the attacks on Barton, and has written his own book to rebut it called Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President.

Why, one might wonder, is a psychology professor so heavily invested in refuting David Barton’s claims about Thomas Jefferson’s Christianity?

…I have my own little conspiracy theory and it centers on David Barton’s emergence as a vocal opponent of the “gay rights” movement and Throckmorton’s self-appointed role as the saboteur of such people. If you “Google” “David Barton” and “Homosexuality” you will find that Mr. Barton has become a subject of intense vilification in the “gay” blogosphere.

Throckmorton’s website is here, and I discussed Lively’s activism here. Lively knows a thing or two about churning out distorted pseudo-history; he’s the co-author of The Pink Swastika, which claims that the Nazi persecution of homosexuals is a myth, and that gay people had a “central role in Nazism”.

However, while Thomas Nelson may have “lost confidence” in Barton, a look at the company’s website shows that it remains happy to promote other books and authors of a dubious nature. For example, there’s Ascent from Darkness, an “ex-Satanist” memoir by a certain Mike Leehan. Swallowing the Camel notes some familiar problems:

It’s quite typical of ex-Satanist testimonies. We don’t know where Mike Leehan resides, where he grew up, or which Satanic group he joined. He vaguely mentions sacrifices, bloodletting, and Satanists’ unquenchable thirst for “power” (in these testimonies, explanations of Satanic beliefs rarely go beyond “power”). Then he tells us the Devil once commanded him to shoot the pastor who is filming the testimony.

Given the fiascos and tragedies that have followed in the wake of previous publications of this sort, one would have thought that Thomas Nelson would have shown a bit of interest in the need for verifiable information.

Also on offer is the best-selling Heaven is For Real, in which a pastor’s son (through “conversations” with his father) describes a near-death experience involving a journey to heaven where he encountered dead relatives, the throne room where God the Father sits with Jesus and Gabriel on either side, John the Baptist,  various winged creatures, and Jesus’ “rainbow horse”.

The site also carries a book about the threat from Iran co-authored by Jerome Corsi, the notorious birther who recently put forward the suggestion that Obama may perhaps have formerly been married to a Pakistani man. There are also innumerable screeds from John Hagee, including one ludicrously outdated 1996 work explaining how the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is linked to “the coming Antichrist”.

2 Responses

  1. […] Richard Bartholomew – Book by Author Endorsed by Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck Withdrawn by Pub… […]

  2. […] which David Barton claims will re-publish his Thomas Jefferson book, following the book’s withdrawal from sale by Thomas Nelson. It seems likely: Beck regards Barton as “the most important man in America […]

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