March 9, 2009

Crazy for the Religious Right

Francis August Schaeffer was an evangelical Presbyterian minister, Christian theologian and religious philosopher. He was well known and respected in the circles of folks who helped establish the right wing Christian political movement, along with the likes of Robert Grant, Jerry Falwell, James Dodson and Pat Robertson. He moved in high political circles. Barry Goldwater, Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan were his contemporaries.

It was a family effort. Francis Schaeffer was aided by his wife, Edith, and his son Frank. Reagan’s 1980 winning presidential bid was greatly aided by Schaeffer’s organization and his Christian Conservatives. Schaeffer died while Reagan was stumping for a second term, but he has left a legacy that haunts the American political landscape like the grim reaper.

It was during Reagan's second term that Schaeffer’s dream of an evangelical Christian movement rescuing this country from secular evils took a bizarre twist. This is evidenced by the rise of such Republican political activists as Conrad Burns, George Allen, Rick Santorum, James Talent, Mike DeWine, potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a host of others. We are fortunate that the electorate was wise enough to turn each of these out of office, but others remain and still others are queuing up for future contests. Sarah Palin is a prime example.

The aberrations in the religious right, and the Republican association with the neo-conservative movement caused Schaeffer’s son Frank to examine his affiliation with the Party of Hoover. Frank watched with dismay as his father's philosophies spawned politically active radical religionists such as Tim LaHaye, Randall Terry, and Randy Brinson. Bush 41 and Bush 43 both owe their winning campaigns to the Christian Right. John McCain finally gained some measure of conservative support once he added Sarah Palin to his ticket.

The goals expressed by the senior Schaeffer, while certainly in the theocratic dominion class, can’t come close to the suicidal bent of those who followed. .

By foisting ideology ahead of the good of our country, today’s religious right Republican base is telling us that winning is the only thing that matters, and if they cannot win, they will ensure we all lose. It was this attitude that has turned Schaeffer’s son against the party. .

Frankie Schaeffer has seen the light

The following is an interview with Frank Schaeffer on the D.L. Hughley show:

Even though the interview is done with some humor, Frank Schaeffer's obvious turn from the religious right is dramatic. In his book Crazy for God, Schaeffer relates his family story and his journey through a labyrinth of evangelical Christianity, describing it as a freak show. This is a memoir of the author’s life with super-evangelist parents and how his experiences colored his political and religious philosophies, turning him from Christian activist to Christian realist and Obama supporter.
At one point Schaeffer states, “I believe that my parents’ call to the ministry actually drove them crazy. They were happiest when they were the farthest away from their missionary work. I think religion was actually their source of tragedy.” He describes his father as often muttering to himself, threatening suicide, then going to church and preaching a sermon. .

This does sound pretty crazy, and unfortunately it is the origin of religious right wing conservatism.


tgtsmom said...

Wow, I think I can hear crickets chirping. This appears to be a topic no one wants to touch. (Me included.)

However, I will say . . .
I have faith, but not in the church.
I believe, but not in religion.
I find peace in the heavens, but rarely in the pulpit.

I think that many of my countrymen are moving in that direction, if they are not there already. As religion has borne out to be the thinly veneered mask of mysogeny, oppression and tyranny too many times, what real choice do we have. Religion is a crutch for the weak minded who refuse to think for themselves. Political party lines are proving the same. I can only hope that some day mankind will be intelligent (and strong) enough to put aside all such "aides" and stand on its own feet.

BTW, MB, I'd love to hear your take on the Connecticut (?) legislatures attempt to dictate HR policy for the Catholic Church. No that was a 1A no brainer.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview of Mr. Schaeffer and will read his book first chance. It lifts my spirits to hear this viewpoint publically stated.
I'm also impressed with the comment by tgtsmom. I wish I knew how to access her blog(s).

Mule Breath, said...

Strong words, Mom, and I can't disagree. I've never found a reason to believe in higher powers or creators, but my Libertarian heart keeps me from pushing that. You believe what you want and I'll just not worry about beliefs. I don't worry much about it except when these dominion freaks start trying to shove a foot in the door.

The Connecticut thing is interesting. For the life of my I can't see a reason. Fox news suggests it is payback for church opposition to the gay marriage thing. Too muddy for me.

Jeg, looks like Mom has two member-only blogs. Maybe she will send you an invite.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I don't really want to post my address.
Which brings up a question - as the blogger, can you access the addresses of commenters from the site?

Mule Breath, said...

Only if the commentor offers an address in the profile.

tgtsmom said...

While I thank you for thinking anything I might say is interesting enough to warrant further investigation, my blogs (one mine, one my husband's) are strictly family information (pictures of the kids and dates of interest, fact related to family or high school classmates, gossip) which is why they are private.

I was introduced to this world of blogs and commentary by my niece, who is considerable more politically inclined than I have been before. I have been considering adding a public page and, if and when I do, I'll let you know.

MB, I will tell you, as I have told my son, human nature makes us need faith. Yours appears to be in the law and the constitution. Mine is still in the creator, but not as a ruling force in my life. As the founders of our country set up a system of governance which deserves our respect, so, too, I believe, the universe was created by a force/benefactor/whatever, and what was accomplished deserve our respect. As we both respect the other's right to have a different opinion, I can't see anything wrong on either side.