Religion

Ohio School Offers Class Taught by Debunked Christian Historian David Barton

| by Michael Allen

The Springboro, Ohio School District is offering a summer school class on the U.S. Constitution, which will be taught by debunked Christian historian David Barton and  Christian Reconstructionist John Eidsmoe.

Barton's latest book The Jefferson Lies, about Thomas Jefferson, was actually pulled by the publisher for historical inaccuracies, reported the New York Times. The book was called the "least credible history book in print" by the History News Network.

Eidsmoe was a  professor at Oral Roberts University where one of his students was future congresswoman Michele Bachmann. According to The New Yorker, "she helped him build a database of state homeschooling statutes, assisting his crusade to reverse laws that prevented parents from homeschooling their children. After that, Bachmann worked as Eidsmoe’s research assistant on his book Christianity and the Constitution published in 1987."

According to WThrockmorton.com,  an ad for the class taught by Barton and Eidsmore course offers people a chance to “learn your Godly American heritage and birthright."

Several parents are concerned about the class and the teachers.

"I googled some of the names, some of the groups that are teaching the classes, and of course my assumptions were correct in finding out it was a religion-based class," parent Jenny Nijak told WLWT-TV.

"The fact that we're using public resources for something that is clearly promoting a political and religious agenda that appears to be unconstitutional as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars is unconscionable," added parent David Bowman.

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In a statement, the school district said its policy did not allow it to act "as a disseminating agent for any person or outside agency for any religious or anti-religious document, book or article."

But the school disctict added: "Our district makes every effort to be a full community partner in permitting and encouraging the responsible use of school facilities for purposes that serve the community. For example, the district has agreements with area churches, civic groups and sports organizations for facility use as well."

The controversial summer course may be the first step to making it part of the permanent school curriculum, notes Professor Warren Throckmorton:

When the state of Ohio passed a law requiring schools to teach about the founding documents, I wondered if the stage was being set for the introduction of Barton’s materials into the classroom.  These summer courses are supposed to be evaluated for use in the school system to help meet the requirements of the law.

Sources: New York Times, History News Network, WLWT-TV, The New Yorker, WThrockmorton.com