Telling Jefferson Lies

Telling Jefferson Lies

The series will conclude during the last week of April, 2024. New episodes will be posted periodically until then. Please subscribe so you will be notified. Telling Jefferson Lies chronicles how history can be hijacked for ideological and political purposes, as well as a much broader story about the surge of Christian nationalism and the misuse of history which often goes along with it. The series begins with an in-depth consideration of the methods of Christian nationalist story teller David Barton. Then I tell the story of how his book on Jefferson was pulled from publication in 2012 and the response of evangelicals to that rare event. From there, I broaden the scope to examine the varieties of Christian nationalism and the negative consequences of this way of thinking about church and state. The last segment examines the reasons why the separation of church and state is good history, good civics, and good religion. For more information, go to


April 30, 2024 44 mins

Often debates focus on Christian nationalism and the problems which come from blurring the line between church and state. In this episode, I end the Telling Jefferson Lies series with some thoughts and testimony from experts about what is good about separation.

Helping me close out the series are:

Randall Balmer, John Phillips Chair in Religion, Dartmouth College
Caleb Campbell, Pastor, Desert Springs Bible C...

Mark as Played

In 2005, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asked an important question for those who would erode separation of church and state: "Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly? "

I spend much of this episode affirming that we should not trade. Much of this series has been raising alarm about Christian nationalism and supporting separation of church and state. This ...

Mark as Played
April 23, 2024 50 mins

In this segment, I argue that Christian nationalism is bad for religion in general and bad for Christianity in the specific case. This segment sets up the finale which argues that separation of church and state is a benefit to the United States and should be strengthened. 

If you like experts and multiple voices, this is the segment for you. Here is the lineup:

Randall Balmer, John Phillips Chair in Religion, Dart...

Mark as Played

In this short bonus episode, Dartmouth College professor Randall Balmer provides an introduction to reasons why he doesn't see the U.S. as a Christian nation. 

Dr. Balmer is the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth College. He has spoken at numerous colleges and universities, including where I met him, Grove City College. 

Balmer has published more than a dozen books, including Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carte...

Mark as Played
April 11, 2024 54 mins

In general terms, I believe Christian nationalism is bad history, bad politics, and bad religion. In prior episodes, I have concentrated on the bad history. In this segment and the next, I focus mainly on the bad politics. Around the world, religious nationalism is associated with state sponsored violence against citizens, use of force to take political control, erosion of the separation of church and state, degrading of democratic...

Mark as Played

As promised, here is the completion of my examination of David Barton's whitewashing of Thomas Jefferson. In our book Getting Jefferson Right: Fact-Checking Claims About Thomas Jefferson, Michael Coulter and I assume the position held by most scholars and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation when it comes to the paternity of Sally Hemings children, i.e., Thomas Jefferson was their father.

In The Jefferson Lies, David Bart...

Mark as Played

This supplements episode 10, Still Searching for Christian America, Part Two. You can listen to this first, but I definitely encourage you to go back and catch up if you do.

Everybody in Christian nationalism is talking about the seven mountains message. The message is at the root of much violent rhetoric coming from Christian nationalists but according to one of the key players in the movement, the origin story is fake. ...

Mark as Played

Note: Earlier versions of this segment had a low quality version of a speech by Jerry Falwell. The audio problem has been corrected.

In this episode, I describe the National Prayer Breakfast movement, right-wing Christian nationalists, Reconstructionists, and non-denominational charismatic Christian nationalists. 

My guests for this episode are:

Julie Ingersoll, Professor of religion at the University o...

Mark as Played

In 1983, Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden published a book titled The Search for Christian America. They concluded that there was nothing uniquely Christian in the founding of the United States and there is no Christian America to which to return.

In this episode, both Drs. Noll and Marsden join me to say they believe today they were right in 1983 and the same conclusions are correct today. In between comments ...

Mark as Played
March 13, 2024 49 mins

Stephen Wolfe's book The Case for Christian Nationalism ignited a firestorm of controversy when it was released in 2022.  In the book, Wolfe calls for revolt against tyranny and for Christians to mobilize at the state and local level to enact self-conscious Christian governments. In principle, according to Wolfe, Christian state's could use violence to maintain a Christian social order.

With the help of Cato Ins...

Mark as Played


This bonus episode is a supplement to Conspiracy of Silence (Episode Seven of Telling Jefferson Lies). It provides the audio of the Family Research Council Capitol Tour led by David Barton followed by the the response of 35 historians and social scientists who, in 2013, asked FRC to remove the video from social media.

You can watch the original video here:

Mark as Played
March 6, 2024 48 mins

After David Barton's book The Jefferson Lies was pulled from publication in August, 2012, some Christian organizations wrote critical articles and publicly distanced themselves from Barton and Wallbuilders. Other groups some were caught off guard. The leaders of these groups knew they had false and misleading material being offered to their constituents, but they didn’t make any moves to remove it. 

This episode examines how tw...

Mark as Played
February 28, 2024 47 mins

This is a continuation of last week's episode on whitewashing Jefferson. Today, we specifically take on Barton's contention that Jefferson was a civil rights hero for African Americans and was a strong anti-slavery advocate during his entire life.

In fact, after 1784, Jefferson's promising beginning as an opponent of slavery faded away. While he continued to advocate emancipation, he linked it with deportati...

Mark as Played
February 21, 2024 45 mins

Why did Thomas Nelson pull David Barton's book The Jefferson Lies from publication in 2012? Last week, we started to answer that question. This week we continue to provide specific illustrations of the historical errors which triggered that unprecedented move by Thomas Nelson.

In this episode, we focus on the errors regarding race and slavery. We spend a significant amount of time demonstrating how David Barton delib...

Mark as Played
February 14, 2024 25 mins

Since the founding era, Christian nationalists have told and believed myths about the founders and their religious views.  Paul Matzko, historian and researcher with the Cato Institute and Anna Berkes, librarian at Monticello's Jefferson Library talk to me about the persistence of these stories throughout the history of the U.S.

Then, I fact-check a fable involving Thomas Jefferson and Daniel Webster which has been l...

Mark as Played
February 8, 2024 44 mins

What was so wrong with The Jefferson Lies that Thomas Nelson decided to pull the book from publication? In this episode, Michael Coulter and Warren Throckmorton start answering that question by pulling  material from their book, Getting Jefferson Right.

In this episode, we take long looks into Barton’s handling of the Danbury Baptist letter to Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Bible, and a fable about Jefferson and church a...

Mark as Played
January 31, 2024 56 mins

In 2012, only four months after release, publisher Thomas Nelson removed David Barton's book The Jefferson Lies from publication.  Many people blamed or credited a book by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter titled Getting Jefferson Right for moving the publisher in that direction. What happened?

Building on the foundation of the first two episodes, this installment in the Telling Jefferson Lies series provides th...

Mark as Played
January 24, 2024 43 mins

"You know, he is the where's Waldo of the movement. He's a little bit everywhere."  Katherine Stewart, author of Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Christian Nationalism. 

"He's managed to create a kind of brand in a way for himself through Wallbuilders of being a trusted authority on the American past." Randall Stephens, professor of American Studies at the University of Os...

Mark as Played
January 17, 2024 51 mins

In April 2012, Thomas Nelson published The Jefferson Lies, a book about Thomas Jefferson written by David Barton. By August of the same year, the publisher had removed the book from publication. What happened?

This series tells that story and so much more.

Just over a decade later, the Speaker of the House of Representatives declared his thanks to the same David Barton for his work in history.

This ser...

Mark as Played

Telling Jefferson Lies not only documents the role of revisionist history in the maintenance of Christian nationalism, it addresses what Christian nationalism is about.  This weekend seems like a good time to preview that aspect of the series. 

The series starts in two weeks with a look at the origin story of America's Premier Historian, followed by an examination of the cataclysm of The Jefferson Lies of 2012. Then ...

Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    The Nikki Glaser Podcast

    Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

    White Devil

    Shootings are not unusual in Belize. Shootings of cops are. When a wealthy woman – part of one of the most powerful families in Belize – is found on a pier late at night, next to a body, it becomes the country’s biggest news story in a generation. New episodes every Monday!

    Start Here

    A straightforward look at the day's top news in 20 minutes. Powered by ABC News. Hosted by Brad Mielke.

Advertise With Us
Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.