David Barton, Bully for God

Call me a masochist—or just plain weird—but I’m an incurable right-wing radio addict. Maybe I just don’t like being one of those cloistered liberals who require smelling salts every time election results roll in and the “rational” candidate, whether it’s John Kerry or Bill White, gets steamrolled by a wingnut. Or maybe I have suppressed hairshirt tendencies and take a perverse pleasure in hearing my queer, socialistic, Obama-voting self relentlessly flogged. But whatever the reason, my days and nights are incomplete without heaping helpings of Rush, Sean, Laura, Michael Savage and Alex Jones.

Naturally, then, I rarely miss WallBuilders Live. Hosted by Texas’ own David Barton—historical guru of the Tea Party, professor at Glenn Beck University, teacher of Michelle Bachmann’s “Constitution classes” for freshman members of Congress, and former vice chair of the Texas GOP—the show mostly focuses on Barton’s longtime project of inventing a fundamentalist Christian version of American history. Named by Time as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005, Barton has made a lucrative career of cherry-picking quotes designed to show that the founding fathers committed a silly oversight when they left God out of the Constitution. In the counterfactual world of Barton’s wildly popular books, homeschool texts and videos-for-sale, church and state were always meant to be one and the same. Deists like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were the Pat Robertsons of their day. “He is to history what the creationists are to science,” said one of Barton’s most astute critics, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Which no doubt explains why Beck has called Barton “the most important man in America.”

He is also one of America’s most important hatemongers. And Barton’s sharpest sallies are reserved—surprise!—for “militant homosexuals.” Last October on WallBuilders Live, Barton outdid even himself, calling on the U.S. government to “regulate homosexuality.” As Barton informed his audience, with all the scrupulous attention to facts that makes him Beck and Bachmann’s favorite Constitutional scholar, gayness is far more dangerous than smoking three packs a day or ingesting huge quantities of trans fats. “Homosexual/bisexual individuals are seven times more likely to contemplate or commit suicide,” Barton said. “Oooh, that doesn’t sound very healthy.” That’s not all: “Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals.” And there’s more: “Nearly one-half of practicing homosexuals admit to 500 or more sex partners and nearly one-third admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime.”

When Barton’s “regulate the gays” rant got picked up, and picked apart, by the likes of MSNBC, he immediately resorted to the haters’ last resort: claiming reverse victimhood. “If there’s a group in America that is hypersensitive, it is homosexuals,” Barton told his listeners. “They came after me in unbelievable ways.”

And now “they” are after him again. On the Jan. 24 installment of WallBuilders Live, Barton hosted Brian Camenker of Mass America, an anti-gay hate group, for a chat about the hot topic of bullying in schools. “Anti-bullying” initiatives, they heartily agreed, are actually just indoctrination tools used by the militant gays in their ceaseless recruitment efforts. As Barton said, “All this bullying stuff … it’s not the schools that are doing bullying, it’s the people from outside coming in and saying, ‘Oh, you got a bullying problem and we need to teach a course for you.’ “

“This is a very aggressive, fascist-type movement,” Camenker chimed in. “These guys define the term bullies.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right,” said Barton. “The perception out there is that they’re the only ones being bullied.”

Try telling that to Asher Brown’s parents. Last September, the 8th-grader from the Houston suburb of Cypress used his stepfather’s 9-mm Beretta to shoot himself in the head, becoming one of many gay teen suicides in 2010. His parents said he’d endured 18 months of non-stop harassment at Hamilton Middle School, and school officials turned a deaf ear to their complaints. Asher had told his parents he was gay. They were OK with it. “We didn’t condemn,” his stepfather said.

But loving parents are sometimes no match for the hatred stirred up and sanctioned by “Christian” bullies like Barton, who provide anti-gay tormenters with both  ammunition and “biblical” justification. Anti-gay bullies tormenting their fellow students are only doing God’s will, after all. They are helping to cleanse Christian America of its No. 1 health threat. And if you don’t believe it, tune in to WallBuilders Live. America’s “most important man” has a few things to teach you.