Some of you who find me here may be interested in following my short essay pieces for the online journal Religion Dispatches. The most recent one concerns David Barton, a self-styled historian and one-man intellectual entrepreneur from Texas, who recently declared that Barack Obama is America’s all-time most “biblically-hostile President.” The piece, a classic of bad history writing (I plan to use it in future classes to demonstrate the kinds of fallacies that historians should avoid) , is perhaps more importantly placed within the context of a history of hyperbolic rhetoric about the religiosity (or lack thereof) of American presidents. My essay “It’s Barack v. the Bible, Says Barton,” tries to set the current furor over a supposed “war on religion” in historical context. News flash: we have plenty of arguments about religion and politics all through American history, including now, but there is no “war on religion” going on. Indeed, as the excellent historian John Fea has recently explained, Obama may be the most explicitly Christian president in American history (even as he criticizes the administration’s lack of follow through in certain areas of faith-based initiatives).
Here are my other contributions to Religion Dispatches thus far; click on the link to read any of them. The topics range from pieces on the band Arcade Fire and the singer/performer Gillian Welch, to the superstar Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey, to a review of the PBS series God in America, to the meaning of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. While you’re at it, my blog Religion in American History is going on 5 years old now, and I’ve got a roster of about 25 top scholars from across the country who contribute there, so make sure to check it out.
It’s Barack v. the Bible, Says Barton
Keeping the “Southern” in Southern Baptist Convention
Martin Luther King in the Era of Occupy
Why 9/11 Changed Everything Nothing
Fix the Economy GOD’$ WAY: Dave Ramsey’s Great Christian Recovery
Blessed With a Dark Turn of Mind: Gillian Welch’s Spiritual Strivings
Selling the Idea of a Christian Nation: David Barton’s Alternate Intellectual Universe
Arcade Fire and the Suburban Soul
Martin Luther King: Libertarian and Anti-Abortion Social Conservative
Congress Reads the Constitution, Tea Party-Style
“Liberal Nazis”: The Republican Crusade Against NPR
Country Music Minus the Culture Wars: A Lesson from a Legend
The Brutality of the American Eden
White Rockers in Search of Soul Salvation