The proposed Republican platform is the most conservative and regressive in history. It encourages gay conversion therapy, seeks to amend the constitution to undo same-sex marriage and calls on the Bible to be taught in schools. It is no surprise that a member of the GOP Platform Committee is David Barton, a ‘Christian nationalist’ historian who is strongly supported by former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Barton is the favorite historian of right-wing Republicans. His shoddy scholarship has been criticized for years by legitimate historians and other Christians. Barton argues that separation of church and state was never meant to be in the constitution and has written a book entitled America’s Godly Heritage. He has long campaigned for biblical education in schools.
While Donald Trump has had little to no influence on the Republican national platform, Barton’s long campaign to convince conservatives of a false, Christian history of the US seems to have succeeded. The GOP has adopted policy positions straight out of Barton’s playbook. He has personally endorsed Trump as ‘God’s guy’, furthering the Republicans’ attempt to insert religion into everything political.
The GOP platform’s fiercely anti-LGBT language could have come straight from Barton’s comments. He has claimed gay people die ‘decades earlier’ than straight people and have 500 to 1000 sexual partners. He has also said that God is preventing doctors from finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Conservatives like Glenn Beck and Huckabee helped to make Barton famous by endorsing his false claims that the Founding Fathers were all devout Christians and traditional history completely misrepresents the Founders’ intentions. He has used suspect quotes from presidents and Supreme Court rulings and was forced to withdraw his book The Jefferson Lies because it was loaded with false claims.
While Barton has been a low profile member of the actual Platform Committee, his influence on the final product is undeniable. As the only historian willing to endorse conservative myths about the history of the country, he has succeeded in spectacular fashion. The GOP platform is the expression of everything he believes.