Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frank Schaeffer, Author of "Crazy for God" on What's Left of the GOP

From CNN via Crooks and Liars:

HUGHLEY: And you have said some -- you do blog for the Huffington Post. You have written some things and I have read you for a little while. You have written some things that I never heard anybody say out loud. You said the Republican base is now made up of religious and neoconservative ideologues and the uneducated white underclass with a token person of color or up two up in front of the "TV to obscure the all-white, all reactionary, all backward, and there is no global warming, rube reality. Actual conservatives, let alone the educated class have long since fled." You believe everybody in the Republican Party is a neocon or an ideologue.

SCHAEFFER: I'd put it differently. I'd say the Republican Party knows that's who that their base is. There are individuals, private citizens ...

HUGHLEY: You mean elected people.

SCHAEFFER: I'm talking either the elected people fall into one of those two categories. Either they are pandering to the religious right -- I don't know what they believe, of course. I can't get into their head. They are pandering to the religion outright or they are pandering to the neocons to whom every war is a good war. And there is very little room in between.

And the people, for instance like William F. Buckley, who was a friend of my dad's, or Barry Goldwater. You could have disagreed or agreed with them. But these were not crazy people. These were not Fruit Loops.

HUGHLEY: They wanted a separation of church and state.

SCHAEFFER: Right. They wanted a separation of church and state. They were not using politics to beat people over the head with a moral crusade. They were not looking to start wars for no reason. We moved from a period where the Republicans represented something you could agree or disagree with, to a period where it represents a kind of fundamentalist Christianity on one side and a view of the world, which sees everyone who is other, whether that is black, white, Arab, Muslim, a different country, gay, as the enemy. And basically that's a very dangerous position.

Click here to watch the interview or continue reading the transcript.

Back in the early 80s when I was a teenage Southern Baptist, I found myself at a winter youth retreat where a youth minister was trying to turn me on to Frankie Schaeffer. "He's an up and coming young evangelist who really knows how to talk to young people, and he's smart, like you. His father is the great evangelist Francis Schaeffer, so Frankie really knows what he's talking about. You really ought to read some of his stuff, Ron." I never got around to reading Frank Schaeffer's evangelical fundamentalist writings, and never really thought about him again, but I never forgot his name--I mean, how could I forget the father/son evangelist team, the thinking man's fundamentalists?

That's why my eyes popped out a couple of years ago when I read that Schaeffer the younger had turned against the right-wing fundamentalist movement he helped his father create. I've been meaning to read up on what his deal is, but haven't gotten round to it until I saw this bit over at C&L. I think that I will now finally read some Frankie Schaeffer.

It's almost impossible for me to not feel some kinship with him. He was there, in the middle of it all, when modern American extremist fundamentalism was born in the mid 70s. He watched with slowly increasing horror as what seemed to him at first to be something good turned into something evil. Of course, because I'm sixteen years younger than he is, I wasn't in the middle of it all like him. But I was a Southern Baptist. I was "saved" in 1980. I was also there, a strong believer, well before the movement unmasked itself publicly to show its demonic face. I, too watched in horror as I came to realize just what these people are all about. And I rejected it all, too. I mean, unlike me, Schaeffer continues to self-identify as Christian, but he converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, which is just about as far from Protestant Fundamentalism as you can get and still legitimately call yourself a Christian.

When I write my anti-fundamentalist screeds here at Real Art, I wonder if people who haven't experienced the evil mind-warping power of the evangelical movement first-hand the way I and Schaeffer have think I'm being too harsh. I wonder if people can understand my intense anger toward fundamentalists. If people can understand my deep sadness about friends and family still clutched tightly within fundamentalist fists.

I think Schaeffer gets it in the way I do. Yeah, I'm gonna read his book.