Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Open Letter To The "Respectable" Evangelical/Republican Party Leadership

You evangelical leaders have a choice before you: rejoin American society as it is and love the actual country you're part of, or stick to your mythical Disney remake of a Little House On the Prairie fantasy and fade away -- forever.

To you "moderate" and "respectable" evangelical Christians and you "middle-of-the-road" and "ordinary" Republican fellow travelers -- as distinct from the extreme fundamentalist lunatic fringe and far right of both of your groups -- a word of warning.

You know me and you knew my late father Francis Schaeffer. Without his (and my) work evangelicalism and its close tie to the Republican Party would not exist as we know it. You also know that some 30 years ago you were giving me standing ovations in your biggest meetings, from the Religious Broadcaster's annual convention to the Southern Baptist annual convention. I preached in your leading churches from Falwell's church to Dr. Kennedy's. Now I'm like a pebble in your shoe that you wish would just go away. And believe me, I'd like nothing better than to forget my past. But before stepping back to the reality-based community I offer you a few words of warning.

The bubble of unreality and mythology you have chosen to live in is now coming back to haunt you. American "believers" are out there arming themselves, comparing our president to Hitler, saying that reform of health care would lead to "death panels." You respectable evangelical leaders -- and I'm talking about the editors of Christianity Today magazine, the people running the Billy Graham Association, you presidents of the evangelical universities and colleges from Wheaten to Gordon College and, yes, and you too Rick Warren -- you know perfectly well that the "birthers" and the "deathers" and all the rest represent the equivalent of your very own evangelical village idiot.

But how did your "village idiot" get so damned crazy? What did you do to contribute to this insanity where people get in the face of senators and congressmen and scream: "God will judge you"?! And if violence is used against our leaders because of the ramping up of the rhetoric who is to blame?

You respectable leaders are! Your silence is to blame! Your complicity in preaching myths is to blame!

Who is Glenn Beck's and Fox News' audience? Who are those 20 million Americans on the fringe of the fringe sucking up every lie told by Rush Limbaugh? They're mostly some of your people and you know it.

How did they get this way?

Because if you live in a mythical universe and parallel society you eventually begin to believe your own bullshit. If you divide the world into "lost" and "saved" and say God will punish the lost -- forever -- your hate of the "other" will someday explode.

How long did you think you could go on telling people that because of the legalization of abortion the federal government is your sworn enemy, before someone would take you seriously and kill an abortion provider thinking they are doing "God's will"? How long was it before people would entirely abandon reality and facts after they'd been weaned on your creationist anti-science myths? What about all your groups, such as the so-called Reconstructionists, that so many of your leaders quietly have been either part of or followers of that have a deeply embedded racism in their "theology?" What of the bizarre C-Street gang, and your tie-ins with them through such exercises in getting close to power like the Presidential Prayer Breakfasts? When have you all -- the respectable leaders -- stood up and denounced and called out your haters?

You the "moderate" evangelical leaders and "respectable" Republican leadership have nurtured the beast of ignorance in your bosom. Now it's about to bite you -- big-time. Your willfully ignorant followers are inflicting the rest of this country with the image of hate, intolerance and sheer stupidity on a level that is hard to believe. One of your own idealized leaders, a member in good standing for 25 years of the Assemblies of God denomination -- your very own fellow evangelical Sarah "Death Panel" Palin -- is what's left of the evangelical movement that used to follow sane writers like CS Lewis.

If you want to salvage anything of the movement that my father helped you build and that I contributed to (back in the day when people like James Dobson were giving away 150,000 copies of my book A Time For Anger), you'd better wake up and smell the coffee.

Here's the reality: by unhooking yourself from our culture, through your own hermetically sealed mirror image imitation culture, with your own TV stations, radio stations, publishing houses, bookstores, homeschool curriculum and on and on you've been living in an unreal universe. While you've been away there have been changes.

Let me bring you up to speed: The United States of America is a diverse, multicultural, multiethnic multireligious society. It doesn't belong to white middle-aged men yelling at meetings surrounded by their ignorant equally dumb rube women. This crap may have worked for 1920s lynch-mobs, but we've moved on.

This country belongs to black and brown and white people, to Asians to Hispanics, to atheists and agnostics and believers, and to the folks like me who used to be Republicans and left in disgust and voted for President Obama. It belongs to gay people who have the right to live together, marry and raise families. It also belongs to people like me who consider themselves to be Christians but are ashamed to be addressed as such, given that your village idiots are the image of what our faith has come to mean: the hate-filled, anti-gay, anti-Obama party of reaction.

If you wish to save what is left of your movement, it might be an idea to begin to tell your people that you've been wrong about a lot of things. Rejoin the rest of us. Let your kids go to schools with other children instead of hiding them away like jars of last year's jam in your homeschool and Christian "school" cupboards. Watch, listen and read something once in awhile it isn't derived from your own hermetically sealed subculture. And while you're at it, get used to the idea that our black President is a great man and that he has a good chance of leading us out of the wilderness the born-again idiot Bush led us into -- if you will call off your attack dogs and allow our President to do his job.

Do any of you still follow Jesus? Would Jesus make himself the tool of the insurance companies' and lobbyists depriving the poor of care?


Seeker said...

Frank, what the evangelicals need to see is how much they have been deceived and how their behaviour does not glorify God or bring honor to his name. How can anyone believe that an evangelical knows the truth about God whom they have not seen, when they don't know the truth in their own world, which is readily verifiable. And when they act in such a hateful, fearful, attacking way, they do not show the love of God. When they act so fearfully, it shows that they don't have faith either. When they follow demagogues they are ready to follow an anti-Christ.

The church is ready to be ripped apart and the church could be responsible for ripping up our country, for causing civil war. It is definitely not bringing the Prince of Peace to our world.

Frank, someone needs to teach the basics of Christianity again. Who can do it? Who will do it?

Stick said...

Thank you Frank!

jameseweaver said...

Wow! I have only recently caught up with you - Pearls before swine was excellent, it got me thinking about American Catholicism's love of entertainment in the liturgy - and now see that I have been missing quite a bit.

The few posts of yours that I have read so far not only ring of truth-telling but also of anger. I pray that your anger gets not the best of you.

The challenge of bringing Christianity back into the mainstream, it seems to me, can only be met by those who have been faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church. Certainly those church groups and personages who are about power and control cannot bring this country or any other to the Lord.

The Holy Spirit seems to be moving Metropolitan Jonah in this direction and toward the setting of the Orthodox on fire. Only by faithfully proclaiming the Gospel in a Local Church fired up by the Spirit can American Christians, especially the Orthodox, teach the basics of Christianity within our American land.

David Abraham said...

Wow indeed!

Frank, I wrote you an email an hour or so ago. I had not actuallly "finished" Crazy for God," I still had some 30 pages to go. My final reaction to finishing your book is: you're one lucky man, one lucky dude." Having just read this piece, you are also one angry mother-fucker! I wish you the best of both (good luck and good anger), well-placed rage is an appropriate response to some of the unnecessary craziness being heaped upon the world.

Should you ever be in the DC area, email me ahead, please.

David Abraham

Dan said...

I have also just caught up with Frank Schaeffer, and am happy to see you throwing the money changer tables over in the "temple."

However, I believe you have missed something regarding diversity in this kulture. This kulture is not diverse - it is anything but diverse - take a look around. I believe you have stumbled. Take a look at the lack of diversity. All that remains are maybe two uniform viewpoints today. Diversity is dead. I like your appreciation of the president, but I call you out to find the diversity in that viewpoint.

The kulture does not need health care - it needs an annihilation of the concept of insurance - it won't happen, but that is the largest corruption against what we might seem to need regarding cost containment in health implements and care. While I don't like insco at all, I am also walking directly in to the next criticism I have in this kulture - our worship of mammon all around. We worship price, we worship dollar. We don't give a flying fuck about anyone but our almighty dollar and the almighty price. Jobs running to any corner of the planet but our back yard - all in the name of price. The worship of dollar causes us to grab all we can, since we can - again, without any concern for anyone else around us.

I join your anger - but you are not going far enough. We need more diversity, less uniformity. Uniformity commences at our leaning in to government for all things. Diversity commences at letting us struggle and finding the solution without any government involvement - necessity being the mother of invention. As a former "leader" in an anger that is coming full circle, I hope and pray that you can see yourself to another leadership position like your dad kulutured - get something a bit more diverse than the kulture today is pushing today.

Thanks for your anger and commentary - take it to the next level.

UeA1KSd2svXqgA54V0y5R8PU1EUNmZjaBA-- said...

Hi Frank,

Wow, lots of hatred in your post. Like a typical liberal you wander from one point to the next giving few examples of what you are talking about but are liberal with the name calling and attacks. There are so many topics in a single post it is difficult to even no where to start to respond. So here goes.

Health care reform will ration care. Obama made that very clear in the Colorado town hall - listen to his closing remarks (major points for his honesty, he did not use the word ration but the implied message to fiscal conservatives was there). Medicare is going broke as is is built of a pyramid scheme that requires more workers entering the work force than retirees in ever increasing numbers. Simple math means that either Medicare is going to go broke, benefits cut and rationed, or taxes are going through the roof. Cutting wasteful spending is not going to close the gap, because much of the spending increase is due to the massive number baby boomers retiring and the availability of new expensive drugs and surgerical methods constantly becoming available. Thus the gov will ration, thus they will decide what treatment grandma is going to get, thus they will decide how much end of life care is given. They already do this in the UK, Canada, etc.

20M Americans listening to Rush Limbaugh, etc. have 80M kids, relatives, etc. that are conservative and don't listen. 40% of Americans now consider themselves conservative, the plurality are now pro-life. They are not a fringe of a fringe. You don't seem very factually inclined. To each his own - God Bless.

Joe said...

Frank, you may be well-meaning, but you are naive to believe that government-run health care is not going to result in handing over life and death decisions to evil people with the power to coerce with the full weight of the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS. This is so against everything I know about the U.S.A. I defended in the armed forces and the thought leadership that formulated this country's founding and sustenance.


Enerqy said...

Frank, I have been following some of your posts lately, while trying to understand where you are coming from spiritually and intellectually. My wife has recently read your trilogy and "Crazy ..." and has read to me or shared highlights from these books with me.

In your above blog you seem to tie in secret racism with creationist anti-science myths all in one paragraph. I assert that these two concepts are very ill-related. There are many people who honestly are attempting to take Jesus Christ at his word. Jesus spoke of Adam and Eve as real people, and there is no evidence in the scriptures that he attempted to correct the record as if the creation narrative in Genesis is a myth. If all things were not made through the Word who became flesh as stated in John's Gospel, then Jesus Christ is has no right as Savior of all humanity, or anyone. Darwin, though, attempted to show how, through purely natural processes, Europeans evolved from lower races, and therefore have the natural right to subjugate those presumed lower races. Original Christianity embraced the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. Darwinism justified a century of brutal and genocidal subjugation of presumed lower life forms through science and a century of Darwinistic colonialism. European culture no longer had to uncomfortably dodge egalitarian teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Rather science liberated the conscience of Europeans to mass murder and subjugate "uncivilized" colonial "sub-humans" on a whole new level. Darwin made their greed scientific and respectable. The first German concentration camps were not built in Europe for Jews but rather in Namibia for Africans in 1904. But modern science does not want to shake the love for aristocratic respectability of Darwinism. Where is the connection between Biblical creation and modern racism? It is in the minds of the misinformed. Modern science has much more to do with genocidal colonial racism on a grand scale since Darwin's Origin of Species.

Suggested references:
Exterminate all the Brutes by Swedish author Sven Lindqvist.
One Blood—the Biblical Answer to Racism, Master Books (with Don Batten and Carl Wieland, 1999, ISBN 0-89051-276-0)

Jody said...

Hey. I just finished reading Crazy for God - and it left me feeling, I don't know. Just that tears are streaming down my face. I guess it left me feeling weirdly grateful that someone, somewhere in America who knows the evangelical place that I'm from and that I still very much love - also sees through the crazy schtick mess we seem to be in b/c we don't believe Jesus when He said His Kingdom wasn't of this world.

I'm so tired and weary of the mixed up kingdoms - the near Kingdom, the here Kingdom the coming Kingdom - and instead of us having the resolve to contemplate what these things might mean - we do the easier, crazier jump-into-the-political-fray-of-U.S. -politics -- thinking this is "kingdom" work - ?

So thank you for being honest and maybe not always right, but at least honest since right isn't always discernable - and besides, who's to say what is right? God, yes - yet we make such weird mistakes when we think we can always speak on His behalf. But honesty and truthfulness - at least of one's own story - is possible.

Thanks for doing "your possible" with Crazy for God. It messed with me in a way I didn't expect.

Now it's on to Amazon to order Portofino.