Doing Gods Work The Devils Way: Kevin H
Many years ago, early in my time of attending Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, David Barton, a man whom I had never previously heard of, was in the pulpit one Sunday morning.
He gave a presentation that focused around the founding of our country and just how Christian it was. While I don’t remember much of the particulars, I do remember walking away thinking it was slick and impressive. But I also remember thinking that something just didn’t seem right. After taking in the whirlwind of the presentation, I couldn’t put my finger on any one thing with definitiveness, but something just didn’t sit right with me.
Sometime not too much later, I decided to do a little bit of googling to learn more about this David Barton. Now at that time (probably 15 years ago or more), there wasn’t a whole lot on the internet about Barton besides his own promotional material, but I had found enough to learn that Barton was not a trustworthy individual. I had found multiple writings that documented Barton’s misuse of past history, often presenting partial quotes and/or taking them out of context, and also presenting skewed, if not outright false stories. It was enough to confirm my feelings that something, indeed, was not right with his presentation.
Since that time from years ago, Barton’s falsehoods and deceptions have been uncovered and documented far and wide, from stupid little senseless stuff, like his his lie that he played basketball for Oral Roberts University, to the almost unheard recall of an entire book of his on Thomas Jefferson by a major Christian publisher because it was so full of falsehoods and inaccuracies.
Despite this and grievously so, Barton’s influence and fame has only grown in many Christian and politically conservative circles during this same time, to the extent that he now has a very real impact on national politics, as newly elected Speaker of the House and devout evangelical Christian, Mike Johnson, has said that Barton has had, “a profound influence on me, and my work, and my life, and everything I do.”
Very recently, Politico published an excerpt detailing interactions with Barton and his associates from Tim Alberta’s about to be released new book that is a personal examination of American evangelicals’ involvement in politics. Alberta is an author and journalist who is a practicing Christian and the son of a long-time evangelical pastor. The excerpt does not reflect very well upon Barton and his people, with Alberta concluding the excerpt:
“This fixation on winning and losing was revealing….. Because losing, in the eyes of men like Connelly and Barton, was no longer an option. “The stakes are too high,” Connelly told me at one point, to cede any ground to the opposition.”
“Unsavory alliances would need to be forged. Sordid tactics would need to be embraced. The first step toward preserving Christian values, it seemed, was to do away with Christian values.”
This is where the biggest problem resides with Barton and others like him – in struggles to install Christian values in America, they have done away with so many Christian values in efforts to achieve that goal. The irony is so thick, yet Barton and his ilk carry on as if nothing is askew, feigning offense at suggestions that something is wrong, all the while redirecting the finger to exclaim just how terrible the “other side” is. Worse yet, is that more and more Christians have fallen prey to this misguided, if not wicked mindset – from the people in the pews to the pastors in the pulpit, who should certainly know better.
The Atlantic also published an excerpt from Alberta’s book just a few days ago. Within this excerpt, Alberta recounts his experience at his father’s funeral in 2019:
“They kept on coming. More than I could count. People from the church—people I’d known my entire life—were greeting me, not primarily with condolences or encouragement or mourning, but with commentary about Limbaugh and Trump. Some of it was playful, guys remarking about how I was the same mischief-maker they’d known since kindergarten. But some of it wasn’t playful. Some of it was angry; some of it was cold and confrontational. One man questioned whether I was truly a Christian. Another asked if I was still on “the right side.” All while Dad was in a box a hundred feet away.”
“It got to the point where I had to take a walk. Here, in our house of worship, people were taunting me about politics as I tried to mourn my father. I was in the company of certain friends that day who would not claim to know Jesus, yet they shrouded me in peace and comfort. Some of these card-carrying evangelical Christians? Not so much. They didn’t see a hurting son; they saw a vulnerable adversary…..”
“…..A few hours later, after we had buried Dad, my brothers and I slumped down onto the couches in our parents’ living room. We opened some beers and turned on a baseball game. Behind us, in the kitchen, a small platoon of church ladies worked to prepare a meal for the family. Here, I thought, is the love of Christ. Watching them hustle about, comforting Mom and catering to her sons, I found myself regretting the Limbaugh remark. Most of the folks at our church were humble, kindhearted Christians like these women. Maybe I’d blown things out of proportion.”
“Just then, one of them walked over and handed me an envelope. It had been left at the church, she said. My name was scrawled across it. I opened the envelope. Inside was a full-page-long, handwritten screed. It was from a longtime Cornerstone elder, someone my dad had called a friend, a man who’d mentored me in the youth group and had known me for most of my life.”
“He had composed this note, on the occasion of my father’s death, to express just how disappointed he was in me. I was part of an evil plot, the man wrote, to undermine God’s ordained leader of the United States. My criticisms of President Trump were tantamount to treason—against both God and country—and I should be ashamed of myself.”
“However, there was still hope. Jesus forgives, and so could this man. If I used my journalism skills to investigate the “deep state,” he wrote, uncovering the shadowy cabal that was supposedly sabotaging Trump’s presidency, then I would be restored. He said he was praying for me.”
David Barton and Christian Nationalists and many others like them want us to fight for Christianity in this country, yet as a consequence of that fight, they have in many ways abandoned the ways of Christ.
The world sees it. Many other Christians, especially around the world, see it. Many people have been hurt, disillusioned, and repulsed by Christianity when they see and experience it. When will large segments of the church in America that need to see it, see it?
Partisan politics are poison to the soul.
Jesus is the cure.