Monday, April 13, 2015

#1341: Timothy Ballard

We’ve recently had a slew of fundie wingnuts, and here’s another one. Tim Ballard is an author and pseudohistorian, in particular the author of the book The Covenant: America’s Sacred and Immutable Connection to Ancient Israel. Here Ballard argues that the British and Americans are descended from the lost tribes of Israel, using as evidence his interpretation of Genesis 49:22 as a prophecy of America (as “the greatest nation of history”). The interpretation is so untenable that one almost feels a bit of pity for the author. He also claims that Jeremiah 31 predicts the gathering of the Israelites in America, which it rather clearly does not.

Ballard’s ideas are not unprecedented; they remain popular among certain Mormons and adherents of Herbert Armstrong. Indeed, it is sufficiently infamous to have received a name, British Israelism. Ballard himself is, in fact, a Mormon, though that is not much of an excuse. However, since the country that is now America was destined to be settled by the descendants of Joseph and Ephraim, there is a covenant from which America originated that entails a duty to keep the Old Testament commandments. In other words, the Constitution is really not a valid foundation for America’s legal system; the Old Testament is.

Marginal silliness, you may think. But the thing is: Ballard’s book has been treated as a reliable source by the influential pseudohistorian David Barton, whose work has been explicitly endorsed for instance by several members of Congress.

Diagnosis: An insult to bullshit. That’s rather clearly not an obstacle to becoming endorsed by wingnut people of influence.

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