I want out, but they keep getting me back in.
These classic lines from the otherwise unfortunate sequel film Godfather III came to me when Religion Dispatches suggested I write a piece about the latest David Barton dust-up involving his publisher, Thomas Nelson, pulling its copies and ceasing publication of Barton's most recent book The Jefferson Lies.
After this article from last year (characterizing Barton as an intellectual entrepreneur, a piece I still stand by, and the only thing I ever intended to say on this rather dismal subject), and this article more recently reviewing Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter's work Getting Jefferson Right, I had retired from David Barton commentary, hoping to move back to commenting on, you know, actual books containing actual facts and reasoned analysis of stuff that has happened in the past. Or hell, maybe even commenting on defining the term "religion."
summarize this latest saga, provide links to the various outlets where this has occurred, and provide some brief comments at the end. I also was thinking about why it was some Christian and some conservative (and some who are both) scholars who sliced and diced Barton while the much-feared "liberal media" (ironic quotes intended) tried to stick to the "fair and balanced" approach, mostly depicting Barton as "controversial."
Barton’s partisans and admirers have enthusiasms that will survive this setback. Their project of both reclaiming a Christian America from an imagined past and building a Christian America from the pagan present will survive the slings and arrows of Barton’s current outrageous misfortune.
Some of you might enjoy checking out Barton's Facebook page, where the commenters serve as the best primary source for the assertion. A recent post there linking to a related article begins this way:
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.
And now, like Brett Favre, I am most definitely retired from the subject. Probably. Unless the Packers, or the team in my Fantasy League named "David Barton is a Sexy Beast," call.