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Meet David Barton, Bachmann’s constitution class teacher

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced last month that she wants to hold weekly “Constitution classes” for new members of Congress in the hopes of preventing them from being “co-opted into the Washington system.” She’s already announced several people she wants to teach the classes, including David Barton, a controversial figure whose ideas about the constitution and the founding fathers have drawn sharp criticism from both religious and secular groups.

Barton has said the idea of separation of church and state is a myth and suggested the federal government should regulate homosexuality. His association with reported anti-Semitic groups prompted the Anti-Defamation League to condemn him earlier this year. He has called holding congressional sessions on Sunday unconstitutional and he has stated that United States’ borders were drawn by God.

“God’s the one who drew up the lines for the nations, so to say open borders is to say, ‘God, you goofed it all up and when you had borders, you shouldn’t have done it,’” he said recently on his radio program. “And so, from a Christian standpoint, you cannot do that. God’s the one who establishes the boundaries of nations.”

Bachmann and Barton have a long relationship going back to Bachmann’s time as state senator. Barton was invited to Minnesota to help Bachmann with legislation on school history standards, she’s appeared his radio show numerous times, and she and Barton have conducted tours in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate to Tea Partiers how religious the founding fathers were.

Barton has come under criticism for what some have called revisionist history in promoting the idea that the Constitution calls for America to be a Christian nation.

The Baptist General Association of Virginia passed a resolution last week that promoted the concept of separation of church and state and singled out Barton’s work, calling him inaccurate and urging its members not to read his work.

In a 2008 interview, Bachmann said of Barton, “I’ve probably been on four of his Spiritual Heritage tours at the Capitol, and the staff knows, whenever David’s going to be in town doing one, if I can get over there, I want to go because I learn something new every time I’m going through one of his tours. He’s a treasure for our nation.”

The classes will be a part of the new Constitutional Conservative Caucus that Bachmann intends to start. It would be separate from the Tea Party Caucus that she founded in the House earlier this year.

“Scholars such as David Barton, members of the media who cherish [the founding] principles such as [Fox News host] Sean Hannity, honorable commentators such as Judge [Andrew] Napolitano, honorable judges and justices, and leading legal minds will and have been invited to speak,” Brooke Bialke, Bachmann’s deputy chief of staff, told AOL News. “Topics ranging from the commerce clause to the intersection of constitutional principles with daily concerns such as Medicare will be covered.”

Andy Birkey reports for The Minnesota Independent.

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