Former pastor and revisionist historian David Barton recently claimed that righteous Christians cannot drink Starbucks. Speaking at Whitesburg Baptist Church, Barton announced that Starbucks was “pouring money” into the destruction of marriage. Barton asked, “Can a Christian give money to a group he knows will use it to attack what God supports? If you know that when you buy a cup of Starbucks, 5, 10, 15 cents is going to be used to defeat marriage, can you do that?”
In case the answer of his question wasn’t obvious enough for you, Barton added, “the answer is no.”
Despite being one of the worst historians ever (his books don’t stand up to peer review, and his most recent, The Jefferson Lies, was actually pulled from the shelf by his publisher, even conservative Christian historians hate him), Barton is far from a marginal figure on the right. Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann both gave hims very public shout-out. Mike Huckabee famously said that he wished he could force Americans to read David Barton’s books “at gunpoint.” So ideas like Barton’s are very popular on the radical right.
I’ve been tracking this strange story of the relationship between homophobia and businesses choices for a while. Basically, it has intellectual roots on the idea that businesses shouldn’t have to provide contraception if it is against their religious beliefs (or the religious beliefs of their owners.) Then Christian business owners began to declare it was their right to deny service to gay people based on their sexuality – a choice that resonated with a surprising amount of Americans. Now, Barton has extended the argument – claiming that the business choices of private individuals reflect their commitment to either conservative or liberal values.
Barton is right about the fact that we are morally accountable for what we buy. Where Barton’s argument collapses is when he argues that “Christians” can’t buy Starbucks. Barton is willfully ignoring the millions of Christians who accept homosexuality not in spite of their Christianity but because of it. So really what Barton means is that you can’t be a good homophobe and buy Starbucks.