Lost in Translation: Yet Another David Barton Claim Comes Under Scrutiny
When we last left David Barton, the Religious Right’s favorite pseudo-historian and “Christian nation” advocate , he was under fire for claiming that he had played on a record-setting basketball team at Oral Roberts University (ORU) in the mid- 1970s.
Warren Throckmorton, a prominent Barton critic and a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, was skeptical of the claim. He called ORU. Officials at the school said they had no record of anyone named David Barton ever playing basketball there.
Now Barton is back with another startling assertion from his college days: He claims that he served as a translator for the Russian National Gymnastics Team in 1976. Once again, Throckmorton did some digging. Once again, there is ample reason to believe that Barton is telling tall tales.
Throckmorton learned that Barton did take a basic course in Russian at ORU, but it was hardly the type of class that would have led to fluency in a difficult language.
A Russian gymnastics team did tour the United States after the 1976 Olympics. But they did not visit ORU or any cities in Oklahoma, and Throckmorton found that the team brought its own translators.
Perhaps Barton was thinking of some other type of Russian sports team? As it turns out, a Russian trampoline team did come to Oral Roberts University in July of 1976 as part of an international competition. It was also accompanied by its own translators. Remember, this was during the Cold War. There is no way the Soviets were going to risk a defection by using translators provided by the United States.
Throckmorton tracked down Leigh Robson, an American who performed in that event. She bluntly said, “Rest assured, David Barton did not translate Russian at the 1976 World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships at ORU.”