- Reminder: We are in the midst of our second annual Winter Pledge Drive! If you value this blog, its mission, and its content, please consider making a donation to keep The Wild Hunt open, ad-free, and updated daily. Spread the word, and thanks to all who have donated so far!
Glenn Beck calls him “one of the most important men in America,” People For the American Way call him the “right’s favorite pseudo-historian, “ and Time Magazine listed him among the 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005. He’s David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann wants him teaching the freshman class of recently elected Republicans all about the U.S. Constitution.
“Rep. Michele Bachmann announced last month that she wants to hold “Constitution classes” for new members of Congress in the hopes of preventing them from being “co-opted into the Washington system.” She’s already announced several people she wants to teach the classes, including David Barton, a controversial figure whose ideas about the constitution and the founding fathers have drawn sharp criticism from both the religious and secular communities. “Every week the hour before we take our first votes, we have our weekly class so that we are reminded of our constitutional jurisdictional limits,” Bachmann told Glenn Beck in a recent radio interview. She mentioned Barton as a key figure in those weekly classes.”
Anyone who pays attention to the nomination and approval of Supreme Court nominees knows that there are different schools of thought regarding the constitution and how it should be applied in court cases, but Barton’s interpretations and views go beyond whether we have a “living constitution” or not, they are something far more radical and dangerous. In short, Barton has a theocracy-tinged exceptionalist view of America that would see the equal treatment of non-Christian religions eliminated. That isn’t hyperbole on my part, I’ll let Barton speak for himself.
“The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses. Thus, in the present case there can be no violation of those clauses … Should this Court conclude that McCollum has taxpayer standing … this Court should at least acknowledge that its conclusion is compelled by Supreme Court precedent, not by history or the intent of the Framers.”
That quote is from an amicus brief written by Barton in the case of Patrick M. McCollum; et al., v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. McCollum v. CDCR centers on the state of California’s discriminatory “five faiths” policy, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents.
It’s unsurprising that Rep. Michele Bachmann is so keen on Barton since she tried to funnel tainted contribution money into an anti-Pagan charity (which they later returned), one that has ties to the virulently anti-Pagan New Apostolic Reformation. Indeed, Barton and Bachmann have been chummy for years.
“Bachmann and Barton have a long relationship going back to Bachmann’s time as state senator. Barton was invited to Minnesota to help Bachmann with legislation on school history standards, she’s appeared his radio show numerous times and she and Barton have conducted tours in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate to tea partiers how religious the Founding Fathers were.”
Sadly, Bachmann isn’t the only politician Barton has on his speed-dial. He helped Republican candidate Marco Rubio win a senate seat, and Mary Fallin the governor’s chair in Oklahoma, this November. He’s also close to potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.
Despite being engaged in various scandals and outrages, nothing seems to have slowed Barton’s ascent to a position of influence in national politics. That he may be in a position now to “educate” unexperienced politicians elected with a largely fiscal mandate by an unhappy electorate is chilling. If Barton gathers enough “students” among holders of high political office, how long before his distorted perspectives on the Religion Clauses start to carry real weight? As recently as 1999 there was a congressional effort to ban Wiccans from serving in the military. Who’s to say that the next time an anti-Pagan (or minority-religion) amendment gets attached to a vital spending bill it won’t sail through the House and get ignored by the Senate?
What is certain is that any politician who counts Barton as a friend or mentor can’t be guaranteed to have the best interests of religious minorities in America at heart. If your representative, governor, or senator was endorsed by, or takes “lessons” from, Barton, maybe you should ask them if they agree with his stance on the Religion Clauses.