If you’re not a follower of The Wild Hunt (what!! you should be!) you might not have heard of a guy named David Barton. I’ve been talking about him on Facebook, and Twitter, but not yet here. This is a character who needs to have a harsh, harsh spotlight shown upon him.
David Barton is the most visible of a group of religious conservatives who are trying to spread the meme that the Founding Fathers * meant religious freedom to mean merely the freedom to pick your version of Christianity.
This is patently false. But Barton is getting a lot of national attention right now as the Conservative Republicans’ pet historian ** (attention such as a front page story in the New York Times, followed by a Daily Show appearance) so this particular meme is gonna get credibility creep. In other words, if Joe Schmo said it, the media would ignore it, but Barton is getting accepted in the media world as Someone to Pay Attention to. (Someone To Whom They Should Pay Attention? Grammar is your friend … but I digress.)
At this point, the “Christians only” meme has not surfaced in too many places. Which is good news and bad news. The good news is, we don’t want it out there. The bad news is, he’s not being challenged for this belief when he gets media face time with people such as Jon Stewart ***
Star Foster, over on Patheos, put forth the idea that we need an articulate, media savvy Pagan spokesman go on the Daily Show to talk about the questions that no one, including Stewart, has been asking Barton. Jason Pitzl-Waters, who has been relentlessly covering Barton on the Wild Hunt, was the one she thought of. This idea has turned into a real campaign, and is getting legs with a Facebook page, a stream of posts on the Daily Show forum and a letter-writing campaign to Comedy Central.
Back in 2004, Jon Stewart joked, “Dude, Pagans don’t have an agenda. They’re Pagans. Organizational skills, eh, not their strong suit.”
To which we could answer, maybe yes, maybe no. We don’t have a conversion agenda, but we do have a religious liberty agenda. Isaac’s Aquarian Anti-Defamation Defense League, organized in 1973, was perhaps the first Neopagan rights group. Circle Sanctuary’s Lady Liberty League recently celebrated its 25th year. The Hindu American Federation (HAF) gave Patrick McCullom the Mahatma Gandhi Award for Religious Pluralism last year for his work in the California prisons, because he exemplifies what so many of us Neopagans understand: freedom of religion means freedom for all religions.
Isaac was clearly committed to this ideal for his entire career. David Barton clearly is not. I know Barton would have made Isaac’s blood boil.
When I had my occult shop, Explorations, in Peoria oh-so-many years ago, I had a regular customer who would bring her lady friends by to get supplies such as John the Conqueror floor wash or Block-Buster mojo candles. She’d tell me, “I keep tellin’ ’em, you can’t just pray about it, you gotta do something!”
It’s our future as stake. So let’s get out there and do something.
* I have no evidence of mothers being quoted in this fight.
** He is an amateur historian, with a BA in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University. As an amateur scholar myself I throw stones reluctantly; however, I am very aware that amateur scholars seldom experience peer review, and I’m not presenting my conclusions as the basis for public policy.
*** Some folks have asked why we should care about a “fake news” show (though it is actually a satirical news analysis show) on Comedy Central. We should because mainstream media pays attention to it. And because more people between the ages of 18-35 get their news from Comedy Central than from CNN.
**** Frankly, I don’t think a FB page ever accomplishes anything except–and this is a big except–the page brings an issue to people’s attention. If all you do is “like” a page, you have done nothing. I will repeat that. If all you do is “like” a page, you have done nothing but make yourself feel better. Let that page give you ideas of what you can actually do. Such as write a letter to Comedy Central suggesting Jason as a guest. Or blog about it.
From an pluralist artist and consumerist viewpoint, Hobby Lobby, a major (!) craft store, is involved with Christian Nation stuff. Here are a few links on that.
Hobby Lobby and David Barton’s Wallbuilders have been explicitly partnered on this same Christian Nation vein for some time. Here’s a quick run down, gleamed from wikipedia pages and other sources listed in my comments here.
Okay, so we know David Barton (former Vice Chairman of the Texas Republican Party) received a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University in 1976. And we know that David Barton founded Wallbuilders. But we should also be acutely aware that he formed Specialty Research Associates (guess what they research!) and serves on the Board of Advisors of the controversial nonprofit publisher National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools organization. The National Council on Bible Curriculum recommends resources published by WallBuilders as well as the video “Foundations of American Government.” — http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Chancey_Bible_Curr_Revised.htm
Okay, that’s David Barton, but how does Hobby Lobby enter the picture? David Green (#136 on Forbes’ List of The 400 Richest Americans; net worth of $2.6 billion and counting) founded Hobby Lobby, a chain arts and crafts store founded on Christian principles, and attributed his business success to God. He wrote a book about it. You often hear Christian music in their stores. (Yes, there have been accusations of religious discrimination and other issues but employees sign an agreement not to sue on job applications.) Here are some of Hobby Lobby’s affiliated companies: Mardel (a Christian bookstore chain), Hemispheres (a home furnishings company), Crafts Etc! (a craft wholesaler and online retailer), H.L. Construction (handles the construction and renovation of Hobby Lobby stores), Ethnographic Media (formerly Bearing Fruit Communications, an advertising agency) and Hong Kong Connection (the Chinese sourcing and buying office). There are also some entertainment companies, but I don’t know if they’re not listed as affiliated with Hobby Lobby, specifically.
Meanwhile, various allegations and lawsuits left ORU (Oral Roberts University) incredibly financially troubled.
The Green family (via David Green’s son, Mart Green) basically bailed ORU to the tune of 110 million now (the first link I gave, in my previous comment, is a couple of years old –the Green family has continued to give to ORU, thereby raising their total donation considerably). Mart Green, who never graduated college, replaced the majority of the ORU Board of Trustees and became the new Chairman of the Board at ORU while **also** sitting on Hobby Lobby’s board of directors. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_Roberts_University#2007 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mart_Green#Oral_Roberts_University .
As Daily Kos blogger Dogemperor notes in one of his entries, Hobby Lobby’s 4th of July message “was in fact co-sponsored by the group Wallbuilders…and further research showed Wallbuilders has been partnering explicitly with Hobby Lobby for some time.” — http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/07/23/361219/-Dominionisms-parallel-economy,-Pt-2:-Dominionisms-Corporate-Sponsors
(The July 4th Hobby Lobby link was included in my previous comments here, if you want to go back and look at that.)
So, David Barton’s WallBuilders and Hobby Lobby’s Christian Nation stuff appear to be rather entwined. It’s the kind of thing that every time I even bother to read anything about it, I learn more…and what I find horrifies me.
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