‘Christian Nation’ Guru Promoted Bush And GOP In ‘Below Radar’ Scheme

The Republican National Committee hired David Barton, a prominent “Christian\n nation” advocate, to travel the country and speak at fundamentalist Christian\n churches prior to the election.

Barton, who became famous in Religious Right circles by rewriting American\n history to “prove” that separation of church and state is a myth\n and that America was designed to be an officially Christian nation, worked\n under the radar through a series of low-profile visits.

The website www.beliefnet.com re­ported in October that Barton, who serves\n as vice chairman of the Repub­lican Party of Texas, was hired by the GOP\n as a consultant to speak in evangelical churches. (One record indicated that\n Barton had been paid $12,000.)

Barton traveled the country for about a year prior to the election, showing\n pastors a slideshow designed to prove that the United States was meant to be\n Christian. He told Beliefnet that his efforts were meant to be “below\n the radar…. We work our tails off to stay out of the news.”

Pastors were informed that the meetings were non-partisan. But during the\n events, which were coordinated by the Republican Party’s evangelical\n outreach arm, Barton advised religious leaders that they could endorse candidates\n from the pulpit as long as they say it’s their personal opinion. The\n Internal Revenue Service, in fact, has warned against pulpit endorsements.

Barton told Beliefnet it is legal for a pastor to stand up in church and\n say, “Now look, I’m going to tell you something – and the\n church didn’t vote on this, and the elder board hasn’t gotten together\n on it – but I’m telling you, John Kerry is not fit to be president.”

Added Barton, “He can do that, that’s fine. The pastor has the\n right of free speech, but he cannot bring the corporate machinery to bear.”

Barton’s retelling of American history has been extensively reviewed\n and de­bunked. In 1996, the Baptist Joint Com­mittee on Public Affairs\n said that a Barton documentary called “America’s Godly Heri­tage” is “laced\n with exaggerations, half-truths and misstatements of fact.”

Barton’s book The Myth of Separa­tion contained a number\n of quotes attributed to Founding Fathers that turned out to be bogus. Barton\n later withdrew the book, rewrote it and issued it again under the title Original\n Intent.