An evangelical Christian historian who has contributed to the development of Texas social studies curriculum has seen his book on Thomas Jefferson dropped by its publishing company, according to the Christian news publication The World.
David Barton – whom Time Magazine once named one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America – has drawn controversy for his belief that the United States was founded on Christian biblical principles. It’s a perspective he promotes from his Aledo, Texas-based organization WallBuilders.
Barton’s most recent book,The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, will no longer be published or distributed by Thomas Nelson publishing after the company received “a number” of complaints about its accuracy. Barton debated the book in May with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.
“There were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported,” Thomas Nelson publishing spokesperson Casey Francis Harrell told The World. “Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”
Thomas Nelson’s decision follows a nine-minute story that aired Wednesday on NPR explaining Barton’s view on American history. "It's what I would call historical reclamation," Barton told NPR. "We're just trying to get history back to where it's accurate." (As part of the story, NPR fact-checked several of Barton’s claims.)
Barton was appointed to a “panel of experts” in 2010 by the Texas State Board of Education to provide input on statewide studies standards. One of his most controversial recommendations was that civil rights activist Cesar Chavez be excised as a historical role model, partly because of his ties to Saul Alinsky. The suggestion was discussed by the full State Board of Education but ultimately rejected, and Chavez remained in the standards. You can read all of Barton's recommendations here.
The latest development has been seized upon by Texas’ progessive education activists. “It’s clear that even the evangelical community is starting to see David Barton for what he is – a propagandist who distorts history for political and ideological purposes,” the Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller said in a press release. “The question is now, will politicians and pundits who have promoted his views have the integrity to follow suit and repudiate Barton?”