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David Barton

Named by Time in 2005 as one of the nation’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals,” David Barton has spread the damaging idea that the separation of church and state is a myth. His historical writings have helped provide a respectable veneer for the rise of radical-right religious ideology over the past several decades.

About David Barton

Barton has long promoted the idea, now widely popular among the religious right, that the Founding Fathers never intended the separation of church and state but instead sought to construct a Christian nation. Historians and scholars across the political and religious spectrum have panned Barton’s version of U.S. history, which supports his religious nationalism, for what they claim are its many fundamental inaccuracies, so much so that the publisher of Barton’s The Jefferson Lies said in 2012 that it was pulling the book. Even though such criticism would usually end the career of an academic historian, Barton’s Texas-based group, WallBuilders, sells an abundance of books and DVDs pushing Barton’s vision, while his ideological history has found new life in Rick Green’s Patriot Academy. Barton should be seen less as a serious historian than as a political operative and cultural warrior. He has been a political consultant to the Republican National Committee and served as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. Barton has also demonized LGBTQ persons and communities, arguing that HIV and AIDS are god-given consequences for living out one’s LGBTQ life.

In his own words

“Strikingly, only nations who respect Biblical teachings and traditions offer protection for the rights of religious conscience. Secular and non-Biblical nations, and those with state-established churches (such as those that predominated in England and Europe at the time of the American Founding), do not allow rights of conscience but instead demand conformity, which often requires governmental punishment coercion concerning religious beliefs, which violates the Scriptures.”, “Biblical Christianity: The Origin of the Rights of Conscience” 2022

“And we don’t want racism in America. But then as you started watching, that’s not what this was about. This was about a hate America movement.” In reference to cancel culture, the 1619 Project, and Covid-era anti-racism protests. – The Elephant Heard Podcast, April 27, 2021

“There is nothing in the Bible — nothing — that aligns with this. How can you be a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ when you don’t follow his teachings on these things?” Talking about Christians that don’t think being LGBTQ or abortion are sins.
– Wallbuilders broadcast, Aug. 6, 2014

“There’s a passage that I love in Romans 1, where it talks – I don’t like what the topic is – but it talks about homosexuality, and it says that they will receive in their bodies the penalties of their behavior. And the Bible, again, it’s right every time, and studies keep proving that, and that’s why AIDS has been something they haven’t discovered a cure for or a vaccine for... And that goes to what God says, ‘Hey you’re going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior.’ And the same things go for abortion.”
– WallBuilders broadcast, April 27, 2012

“I’m sorry, your sexual choice is not a God-given right…You’re talking about a choice and you’re talking about elevating a choice to an inalienable right, which is impossible, you can’t, not under the definition of American documents.”
– WallBuilders broadcast, Aug. 19, 2011

“When you find homosexuality in nature, it is an aberration, there is no homosexual group in nature that survives, it can’t, it simply can’t, in nature it happens but it’s always an aberration. What is normal is heterosexual, and that is a law of nature and it’s a law of nature’s God. God put one man, one woman, said, OK, you’re it, that’s as far I’m going with the family, I’ve created a family, and that’s exactly where I stop, and that’s good.”
– WallBuilders broadcast, Aug. 19, 2011

“God’s the one who drew up the lines for the nations. So to say open borders is to say, ‘God, you goofed it all up and when you had borders, you shouldn’t have done it.’ And so, from a Christian standpoint, you cannot do that. God’s the one who establishes the boundaries of nations.”
– Wallbuilders broadcast, July 26, 2010

“Ellison may not have the same beliefs as the Muslims who openly decry and even attack America; nevertheless, their behavior reflects on him. It is therefore understandable that citizens outside his district are highly concerned. This concern was heightened by the fact that Ellison himself publicly flaunted his abrogation of American precedent by making his swearing-in on the Koran a national issue.” On Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, being sworn in on the Quran.
–, “Winter 2006,” Jan. 3, 2007


Although he has no academic credentials in history, Barton founded a company in 1987 called Specialty Research Associates Inc., whose stated goal was to do historical research “relating to America’s constitutional, moral, and religious heritage.” In 1988, Barton took that mission and founded WallBuilders, a nonprofit organization that promotes Barton’s view, through recordings, books, trainings, and curricula, that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and therefore cannot survive without Biblical values to guide legislation, policy, and the broader culture.

Barton speaks with great confidence, citing original documents from the nation’s founders and modern statistics to argue that a turn to secularism and the abandonment of biblical values as he understands them has led to a crisis in the United States.

This confidence, however, distracts from a long and serious track record of misusing quotations, statistics, and sources. One well known example is Barton’s claim that President John Adams supported religious control of the U.S. government. To make that point, Barton quoted the following passage from a letter to Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, from Adams:

“There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it — all without it is rebellion and perdition or, in more orthodox words, damnation.”

This quote makes Adams into an advocate of religious nationalism, which is only possible because Barton omits the next part of the quote, in which Adams seems bewildered by those who would subscribe to such religious absolutism:

“All, without it is Rebellion and Perdition, or in more orthodox words Damnation. Although this is all Artifice and Cunning in the secret original in the heart, yet they all believe it so sincerely that they would lay down their Lives under the Ax or the fiery Fagot for it. Alas the poor weak ignorant Dupe human Nature.”

Barton’s approach here is called proof texting, a method in Biblical scholarship that uses quotes out of context to make one’s point. His discussion leaves out the larger context of the letter, as well as a discussion of Adams and Rush, what they believed, and their relationship. But as historian John Fea has stated, Barton often fails to take such care. Fea writes, “Barton calls his historical method a “best evidence” approach. This way of dealing with evidence allows him to let the founders speak for themselves, but it rarely explores deeply the context in which such words were uttered.”

Historians against Barton’s history

Barton achieved mainstream recognition with his book, The Jefferson Lies, which argues that Thomas Jefferson was neither a deist nor a racist but a devout Christian and a supporter of African American rights. Barton’s argument was popular enough that his book made The New York Times best-seller list. Despite the work’s popular appeal, critical reviews by historians and scholars claimed The Jefferson Lies was riddled inaccuracies and questionable quotes.

Senior fellow Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute, a think tank known for its advocacy of “intelligent design,” asked 10 conservative Christian professors to evaluate Barton’s work. They found the book rife with errors. Professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter of Grove City College, a conservative Christian school in Pennsylvania, wrote another book in 2012, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President, that debunks Barton’s claims. That same year, Richards said that Barton’s books and videos were full of “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”

Martin Marty, a leading scholar of U.S. church history at the University of Chicago, suggested that Jefferson’s Lies would be more accurate if it were called, “Barton’s Lies about Jefferson.”

In 2012, readers of the History News Network voted Barton’s new book the “least credible history book in print.” Meanwhile, a multi-ethnic coalition of evangelical ministers, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, asked Thomas Nelson, the book’s Christian publisher, to withdraw the book, which the publisher soon did, despite the work’s commercial success. The pastors said Jefferson’s Lies inaccurately portrayed Jefferson’s true views on race, his record as a slaveholder, and his negative views of Jews.

In 2015, the book was published by World Net Daily, a right-wing website promoting anti-democratic conspiracy theories, and an SPLC-designated hate site, for which Barton expressed his gratitude. Wallbuilders also continues to publish Barton’s work.

Patriot Academy and Christian supremacy

Despite these criticisms and setbacks, Barton’s work has found new life in a partnership with Rick Green, a former Texas legislator, who founded Patriot Academy, an organization that combines gun training with Constitutional education “to help restore our Constitutional Republic and the Biblical principles that cause a Nation to thrive.” Patriot Academy offers different curricula, including “Constitution Alive!” and “Biblical Citizenship,” that have proved popular with not only evangelical and charismatic churches but also tea party groups and other patriot groups that have arisen since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The curricula draw heavily from Barton’s writing, and Constitution Alive begins every lesson with a discussion between Green, who acts as pupil, and Barton, in the role of history teacher, in Barton’s headquarters and library in Texas. Expanding constitutional education is a welcome project, as long as the curriculum reflects the best historians have to offer and adequately reflects the ambiguities and complexities that invariably arise when trying to understand early U.S. history and the motivations of important, long-dead figures. As such curricula draw on Barton’s work, however, which has been heavily critiqued and shown as unreliable by scholars in Barton’s own evangelical world, they are not so much educational as they are doctrinal. They do not build critical skills for engaging U.S. history but instead champion specific forms of Christianity to be dominant in U.S. politics and culture.

The main themes of courses such as Constitution Alive include arguing for a central and even supreme place for certain forms of Christianity, and asserting that without the biblical values that the hosts hold up as important, the United States will faulter. In other words, the Founding Fathers not only founded the United States as a Christian nation, but they also baked biblical values and principles into the constitutional foundation. The country’s DNA is itself Christian, according to these courses.

Barton makes this clear in the second episode of Constitution Alive. There, he argues that the Constitution, which famously makes no mention of the divine and rejects religious tests for political office, must be read through the Declaration of Independence, which does invoke god. This move, a form of “declarationism,” allows someone like Barton to more readily argue for Christian supremacy in U.S. culture and politics, placing the Declaration prior to the Constitution not only chronologically but also in terms of its value, so that the Declaration becomes the mission statement and interpretive key to the U.S. Constitution and U.S. governance.

Without religion, and specifically without Christianity, as Barton narrowly understands it, the Constitution will die.

There is, of course, no imperative to interpret the founding documents as Barton does, but in doing so does empower certain understandings of the relationship of church and state that, in turn, allow for policies that exclude others from full participation in public life. Atheists, both Rick Green and Barton argue, cannot take oaths, because oaths lose their retributive power without a God to provide consequences for oath breakers. As public officials are sworn in by oath, this would seem to eliminate the possibility of non-theists holding public office.

Barton argues that the Declaration clearly states that the foundation of U.S. government and shared life is a divine creator, and it just so happens that this creator aligns quite neatly with Barton’s modern, charismatic and evangelical understanding of Christianity’s God. The divine creator is the source of all rights and liberties, so government’s job is not to debate what values the country will uphold but, instead, is relegated to protecting rights that come directly from God.

Unlike a liberal democracy that values diversity and the voices of all, Barton’s notion of government and society does not seem to allow for public debate around what is moral and what is of value. For Barton, these are timeless truths that are not up for debate. Instead, what is right and wrong has been decided by God for all time with the implication that churches or specific Christian communities and leaders interpret God’s will for the government (and society).

Consequences of Barton’s Christian Supremacy

Christian supremancy may be why Barton is so critical of the U.S. judiciary, claiming that the separation of church and state did not actually arise until Supreme Court cases in the twentieth century, starting with Everson v. Board of Education. The judiciary’s role as interpreter of U.S. law and the constitution competes with what Barton would seem to be aiming for, a country where moral discernment occurs in Christian community and among Christian leaders, as opposed to the judiciary or even the broader public square. This would fit with Barton’s religious affiliations, as he seems to be aligned with dominionist Christian ideals, which argue for Christian supremacy over society, culture, and politics.

Such an argument implicitly denies the possibility of true religious pluralism. Even if Barton does not believe in theocracy, where religious bodies govern society directly, it is hard not to see such an approach to government as a form of Christian supremacy, where specific Christian communities and leaders govern at least indirectly and to a significant degree and where certain versions of Christianity, which exclude swaths of the American public, oversee culture and society. Barton argues, after all, that the only way to push for a change in governmental structure, is if the government denies or undermines the rights provided by God. In other words, changing the form of government is only possible when Christian leaders decide it is time.

Throughout his writings and talks, Barton seems quite clear on this point: that the Bible provides rather clear direction for modern-day policies and laws. He is against retirement, for example, because he does not see it affirmed in the Bible. He is also against open borders, claiming that God, as the author of national boundaries, would not allow it.

Barton argues that the federal government is constitutionally empowered to promote religion and Christianity. The first amendment, he claims, only limited the federal government from establishing a particular religious denomination over others but did not permit the encouragement of religion, including in education.

Despite criticisms of Barton’s work, his understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the relationship between church and state continues to be influential. Patriot Academy claims to have educated over half a million people in their curricula and trained 2500 young people in their leadership programs. Once a regular on Glenn Beck’s “Founders’ Fridays” radio broadcasts and a teacher for Beck’s online university – and so a historical source for the Tea Party movement – Barton has his own radio show and podcast, Wallbuilders Live, that he runs with his son, Tim Barton, who is also the president of Wallbuilders, and Rick Green, founder of Patriot Academy.

Barton, Political Operative

It is easy to misunderstand Barton and the point of his work if one views him as an historian, as both his detractors and his key supporters, such as Rick Green, often call him. Barton himself has said that he approaches history not so much as an historian but as a lawyer, laying out the evidence to, as he claims, speak for itself.

Rather than a historian, or even a lawyer, Barton is better seen as a Republican political operative, as researcher Frederick Clarkson has described him, and as a culture warrior, who is deeply committed to right-wing theology, and seems focused not on accurate historical writing but instead on rewriting the norms of government and culture in a decidedly Christian supremacist direction. He writes history to achieve a political realignment where his understanding of Christianity is supreme over policy, public morals, and U.S. culture in general. Barton no doubt sees this as a restoration of the nation that the founders established, yet it is unclear, and even unlikely, that the founders would see themselves in Barton’s Christian supremacist vision.

Barton’s political work, however, continues to be very effective both locally and nationally. He has promoted the idea throughout the religious right world of the separation of church and state being a myth manufactured by the Supreme Court with great effect since the early 1990s, gaining the support of religious right leaders such as Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jerry Fallwell. He has advised Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, and Michael Huckabee. Bachmann has argued Barton should teach constitutional studies to the Congressional caucus.

Brownback, a former Kansas governor, has said that Barton “provides the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today.” Also among Barton’s most ardent fans is Michael Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful, who declared, somewhat facetiously, in 2011:

“I don’t know anyone in America who is a more effective communicator. I just wish that every single young person in America would be able to be under his tutelage and understand something about who we really are as a nation. 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.”

Through WallBuilders, Barton branched out into public policy in 1998 by launching what he called the ProFamily Legislative Network to help “conservative, God-fearing legislators.” The group’s annual conference and regular updates keeps state and national legislators apprised of “pro-family” legislation. This includes bills to ban abortion and prevent gay marriage, support religious expression in public schools and public life, and resist gun control. The network provides expert referrals for legislation and supportive research, and its conferences also offer media training and strategy sessions to far-right lawmakers who want tips on how to succeed in getting their legislative agenda passed.

Even more, Barton has been a leader in the Republican party. From 1997 to 2006, he was vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. In 2004, the Republican National Committee hired him as a consultant during that year’s presidential campaign, where Barton’s charge was to reach out to evangelical clergy and encourage their congregants to get out the vote for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign that year.

According to the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), “Barton has also been a prominent speaker at ‘pastors’ policy briefings’ for the Texas Restoration Project and similar ‘Renewal Projects’ in key election battleground states.” TFN describes the Texas Restoration Project as a model for “the right’s recruitment of conservative, evangelical pastors into political campaigns across the country.”

In 2015 and 2016, Barton also led a political action committee, Keep the Promise, that supported Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. His political work has gone national, and as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, Barton posted that 70 of the 71 positions he proposed as part of the party’s 2012 platform were approved.

Most recently, Barton has joined with Faith Win’s “American Restoration Tour” on a barn storming tour of churches to get out the vote for the religious right leading up to the 2020 elections. Faith Wins claims to push back against attacks on America’s founding principles, which it says are “guided by Biblical values” that “are under attack like never before in its history.”

Christian dominionism and public policy

Barton has been a key figure, then, in developing histories to support right-wing and Christian supremacist worldviews. One idea that he has promoted successfully is that the separation of church and state is a “myth,” perpetrated mostly by what he sees as an activist judiciary bent on removing Christianity from public life. Historians have criticized the aruguments he has used to bolster this debated claim.

Beyond the debates around whether the separation of church and state is a good interpretation of the intent of the Founding Fathers, it is important to see what the claim that the separation as a myth allows Barton and others to do. Without such a separation, Barton is able to claim that all policy should conform to his vision of Biblical values, and that Barton’s idea of the Christian Church – which excludes many Christians and churches – should have an authoritative role in government and culture.

Barton has supported and helped lead projects and campaigns meant to undermine the separation of church and state and codify his religious beliefs as the law of the land. He has long argued to pastors that they should preach their preferred political candidates from the pulpit, and so challenge the illegality of politicizing the pulpit in this way. Barton’s ProFamily Legislative Network has been a sponsor and supporter of “Project Blitz,” a campaign to supply what been called “a covert campaign for conservative Christian dominion over law and public policy.”

Other organizations have used his work to support their aims. Liberty Counsel, an SPLC-designated anti-LGBTQ legal organization, has even used Barton’s work, Original Intent, in its amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. Family Research Council, another SPLC-designated anti-LGBTQ organization, has also promoted Barton’s work during its “Watchmen on the Wall” Washington summit for pastors.

In the end, Barton not only believes that “government is ordained by God.” This is an idea that Christians who are committed to social justice can also believe. Barton, however, goes further, and claims that without a higher power over government, society will quite literally go to hell.

An exclusionary view of the United States

Barton actually insinuates in episode two of Constitution Alive with Rick Green that without his understanding of a fixed moral law that secular cultures and governments might actually say that “rape is OK sometimes.” This reveals a parochialism that does not adequately grasp the humanity of those who do not believe in his particular theological outlook.

This comes from a belief that morality is not possible without the divine to guarantee ethics and right living. Barton’s belief comes not from empirical insights but from a failure of imagination to see that those who are not Christian or theists can nevertheless still be moral and act in the interest in others.

In one exchange with Rick Green on Constitution Alive, Barton argues that if you are not raised in the country, “if you don’t have that rural mentality, you miss the laws of nature.” The laws of nature are important here, because “the laws of nature tell you what is right and wrong.” The not-so-subtle indication is that people in the country know more about morality than people in urban areas. With 80% of the United States living in urban areas, according to the 2020 U.S. census, this would suggest that the overwhelming number of people in the United States are cut off from knowing what is right and wrong.

Despite calls for religious liberty, Barton and Wallbuilders deny that modern-day pagans and Wiccans can received the constitutional protection afforded to Christianity. The constitutional framers, Barton argues, did not conceive of religion to include these groups when writing the Constitution’s “Religious Clauses.” This would mean any tradition that began after the Constitution was written would not be constitutionally a religion, and thus, would be denied protection of other religions. Barton does not seem to apply these standards to the Mormon Church, to which his old partner Glenn Beck belongs, or other Christian denominations that were founded after the founding of the country and its constitution. Wallbuilders has also argued, in the same amicus brief, that religion means “monotheism,” which would seem to rule out Hindism, Buddhism, and other polytheistic faiths, and does not include “atheism, heathenism, or paganism.”

Religious freedom, then, has its limits for Barton, limits drawn in a fundamentalist move that shuts down evolving understandings of religion by making 18th-century views of religion paramount over current ones.

Even though Wallbuilders has in court documents argued that religion meant monotheism for constitutional purposes, Barton champions the United States as Christian, based on its founding in biblical principles and values, and claims the Christian God is essential to the future flourishing of the United States: “For America’s continuing survival and world leadership, we must recapture the founders’ vision of the importance of God’s Word and His gospel for this nation.”


Barton has portrayed LGBTQ people in derogatory terms. He has insinuated that gay people are inherently unhealthy and die “decades earlier” than others, having more than 500 partners apiece in their lifetimes. In a Wallbuilders Live episode, the hosts invited on Pastor Kenneth Hutcherson, who wrote a column in World Net Daily decrying LGBTQ persons and claiming that being LGBTQ is unhealthy. This inspired Barton to argue that since the federal government regulates unhealthy substances and activities, he claims it is “oxymoronic” to regulate salt and trans-fats and not homosexuality. Barton goes on to discuss an 1814 legal work, which he does not name, that claims homosexuality corrupts youth. Barton quotes this piece, that if homosexuality – really, LGBTQ persons – are allowed, “National weakness must inevitably follow.” Even more, he says, LGBTQ persons when tolerated will lead to national destruction:

“Whoever therefore wishes to ruin a nation has only to get this vice introduced, for once it is introduced it’s extremely difficult to remove it where it has taken root. Because it can be propagated secrecy, and when we perceive that once it’s got a foot in any country, however powerful and flourishing that country may be, we may venturous politicians to predict that the foundations of its future decline is laid, and that within 100 years it will no longer be the same powerful country as present.”

Such sentiments make LGBTQ persons to be foreign, as something introduced into the country to contaminate it, which makes it similar to age-old antisemitic tropes. It is, in other words, a shameful and dangerous statement to make or endorse.

On his WallBuilders radio broadcast, Barton has claimed that the “leading pediatric association in America” has cautioned educators against providing education about LGBTQ people or communities or transgender persons, arguing that heterosexuality is “normal and natural.” But the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) that Barton referred to only has a few hundred members and is a right-wing breakaway group from the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics, which is the real “leading pediatric association in America.” The ACP, which is an SPLC-designated anti-LGBTQ hate group, split with the American Academy of Pediatrics explicitly because it had taken an official stand that there is no harm associated with same-sex parenting.

Barton believes that a “fixed moral law” that is a central principle in the U.S. constitutional framework. This claim allows him to say that the divine always has and always will condone marriage only as a union between one man and one woman. Government does not have jurisdiction to define or redefine marriage, as God has already done this in Matthew 19. Denying LGBTQ families, then, – not only those that have received legal recognition, but also by those who fall outside of legal marriage – becomes a righteous act in accordance with divine plan. And it denies a meaningful place for such families in the larger political community.

This is what “limited government” means for Barton. It does not refer to the size of government but its jurisdiction. And its jurisdiction does not allow government to go against the moral law that God has put into place. It is the jurisdiction of government to follow, legislate, and protect eternal moral law.

All of this is based on Barton’s declarationism, which allows him to argue that government will be tyrannical without belief in a God as the source of government and as the overseer of politics and culture. And it allows him to argue that anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and actions are constitutionally, as well as religiously, imperative.


Barton has also promoted the anti-immigrant causes and engaged in anti-Muslim sentiment. He opposes immigration reform, or at the very least, opposes more open borders, saying that God established those same national borders, making them sacrosanct. Barton has also appeared on the radio show of hardline nativist William Gheen, and has had Gheen on Wallbuilders Live. Barton also cited infamous Islamophobe Robert Spencer in criticizing U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim congressman, for being sworn into office using a Quran.


Much of the work of Wallbuilders and Patriot Academy is focuses on education as a way to get individuals involved in the political process and effect political change. This includes curricula and briefings for teachings, legislators, students, law schools, and the general public. Such activities would be noble if so much of what is passed off as history in both organizations did not fail the test of historical rigor.

Despite the problems with Barton’s writings and the methods he uses to construct his histories, Barton continues to be a significant resource for the right. As reported by National Public Radio, “In 2010, the Texas Board of Education voted to rewrite the history textbooks to make them more conservative and Christian-friendly.” Barton was appointed as an expert advisor.

This caused controversy as Barton supported efforts to excise Martin Luther King Jr. and 1960s farm worker activist Cesar Chavez from textbooks. He has also claimed it was not minority groups but the majority that gave voting rights to women and both civil rights and an end to slavery to communities of color. As reported by Washington Monthly, Barton said King didn’t deserve to be included for advancing minority rights because “only majorities can expand political rights.”

Barton’s idea is to create a pipeline of students that will grow into adults primed with his faulty histories who will turn Barton’s political theology into law and policy. Wallbuilders has also created its own curriculum and materials for students and schools to reach out beyond Texas.

Barton has also accused educators – using the vague “they” – of “grooming” and sexualizing kids, telling his son Tim Barton on a Wallbuilders Live podcast, “They’re grooming these kids, Tim, the word is out there, the word you used, and they’re trying to remove their moral inhibitions on anything.” This exchange occurred during an episode where they praised Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory who, working with Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC-designated hate group, has pushed anti-LGBTQ education legislation.

The use of Wallbuilders’s curriculum in schools is, however, its own sort of grooming, where children are indoctrinated into a form of religious nationalism. How educationally inappropriate this curriculum is has not gone unnoticed. Neal Biggers, a U.S. district judge, ruled that Wallbuilder’s curriculum and material, and in particular “America’s Godly Heritage,” were not appropriate for a public school. Bigger focused specifically on Middle Eastern history that the curriculum taught, writing:

“The film teaches that ‘the United States was founded as a Christian nation’ and that the current ‘moral and social crisis of America’ are ‘due largely to the elimination of Christianity from the public sphere...’ While some or all of this film may be very true, the only implication the court can draw from the showing of this and other religious films to a class of students supposedly studying Middle East history is that the teachers are attempting to indoctrinate the students in their religious beliefs by claiming to teach Middle East history. This practice cannot be condoned in the context of a public school system.”

Even as Barton has pushed his version of U.S. history and Christian ethics as authoritative, Christians themselves have pushed back on his writings and claims. The Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Freedom has called Barton’s work “pseudo-history.” Local pastors as well as others asked Alabama Public Television in 2012 not to air some of Barton’s videos on U.S. history.