Over at Religion in American History, Charlie McCrary, a graduate student in religion at Florida State, makes a thoughtful attempt to explain the David Barton phenomenon. He argues that Barton may be best understood through Maurice Halbwach’s work on “collective memory.” Here is a taste:
While McCrary thinks that historical refutations of Barton’s work will “miss their mark,” I am not so sure. It all depends on what he means by “historical refutations.” As I have argued before, Barton is problematic for two reasons. First, he gets his facts wrong and/or manipulates his facts in order to mislead his readers. The conservative evangelicals who follow Barton may be part of a community of memory that celebrates certain myths about the founding, but most of them are also diligent seekers of truth. We are already starting to see organizations such as Thomas Nelson, Break Point, the Discovery Institute (and their 10 historical consultants), World View Weekend, World Magazine, and others come out against Barton on this front. (And from what I have heard, there are others waiting in the wings).