Tim Barton of the ultra-conservative anti-LGBTQ Wallbuilders group delivered the keynote speech Friday at the Christian Home Educators of Colorado’s (CHEC) annual “Homeschool Day at the Capitol.” last Friday.
The event also featured “Interactive Activity Booths” from CHEC partner groups, including the John Birch Society, a far-right conspiracist group known for stoking fears of communism.
Several Republican legislators and both GOP gubernatorial candidates, Heidi Ganahl and Greg Lopez, joined the conservative evangelical group on the west steps of the state Capitol.
Ganahl later shared pictures of the event on Facebook, praising and tagging CHEC directly in her post.
CHEC Board President Bill Roach praised the candidates and legislators as warriors for Jesus.
“We’re thankful for stalwart leaders,” said Roach. “It takes principled men and women who are not afraid of the enemy to stand. It’s an arduous job to stand in the minority and so many critical issues… I pray that you would give them fear of God and not fear of men. Father, we know that this building is not our safe house. We know that Jesus is our safe house. We’ve seen signatures and stamps of approval on wickedness that has come through here. … May they remember that you sit on the right hand of the father and you will not stop until all enemies are under your footstool. Lord, it’s tough days when evil is strong in this building, but pray with these behind me.”
State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) received CHEC’s Statesman of the Year award.
Various CHEC staff spoke, though not Kevin Swanson, the virulently anti-LGBT pastor from Elizabeth who has infamously called for gay people to be executed and who still helps organize CHEC’s annual summer conference.
Barton speech’s that blended scripture and American history, culminating in comparing recent pushback against COVID regulations with the Revolutionary War.
“God has a way of taking bad situations and bringing really good things out of them,” said Barton. “I will tell you that’s what happened with COVID, where so many Americans had no idea who their governor was, who their mayor was, who their state reps were. Then all of a sudden, when freedom was stripped away, when things were taken away for many Americans for the first time, they were going, ‘Who’s doing this? I don’t like it anymore!’ It awakened people’s eyes up. That’s what happened in 1776.”
Barton’s analysis aside, his historical assertions require some fact-checking. He claimed that “George Washington only won one battle, at Yorktown.” Washington fought a total of seventeen battles during the war, winning six, losing seven and fighting four others to a draw.
Wallbuilders’ version of America’s origin, which claims that the founding fathers were evangelicals, isn’t substantiated by the historical record. In 2011 the world’s largest Christian publisher was forced to recall David Barton’s book, even after it had made the New York Times bestseller list, because of its numerous factual inaccuracies.
Here in Colorado, the John Birch Society (JBS) is also known for dubious takes on history. Last year, JBS local representative Leah Southwell gave a speech to a Front Range conservative group in which she claimed that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet wasn’t such a bad guy, despite torturing and murdering thousands of his own people.
Wallbuilders has a long history of promoting anti-LGBT misinformation and hate. Founder David Barton, Tim’s father, has repeatedly claimed that AIDS is God’s punishment for being gay, and argued that the government should regulate homosexuality the way it does trans fat and cigarettes. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes David Barton as the “extremist historian of the Christian Right.”
Despite CHEC calling its event “Homeschool Day at the Capitol,” not all Colorado homeschoolers are conservative Christians, or even religious, as Complete Colorado columnist Ari Armstrong, a free-market Republican and homeschooler, points out.
“I am pleased to be a part of a vibrant community of secular homeschooling families in Colorado,” says Armstrong. “I hope people remember that the likes of Wallbuilders and the John Birch Society do not represent or speak for all homeschoolers in our diverse state.”