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Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer

Posted: September 17, 2008 06:10 PM

Here's a happy thought: The Rapture actually happens, just as Sarah Palin and company believe it will! All the rest of us are left behind! Think of it! Jesus does America the immense favor of taking away millions of idiots so that the rest of us have a fighting chance to save our planet and our country.

There's a catch: according to the theology of Palin's church, McCain isn't born-again enough for the Rapture. He doesn't even speak in "tongues!" Besides he abandoned his first wife and family after she had a disfiguring accident to get himself a young blond with lots of money. But assuming the Creator loves America maybe he'll make an exception and take McCain along anyway. God might do that just to see the expression on McCain's face when it dawns on McCain that he's about to answer for throwing away his honor in trade for a few slimy political lies...

Who knows McCain might even repent. I did.

One morning in the early 1980s, I looked out over several acres of pale blue polyester and some 23,000 thousand Southern Baptist ministers. I was the keynote speaker at that year's Southern Baptist convention. My late evangelist father -- Francis Schaeffer -- was being treated for lymphoma at the Mayo Clinic, and in his place I'd been asked to deliver several keynote addresses on the US evangelical/fundamentalist circuit. I was following in the nepotistic American Protestant tradition (a la Franklin Graham, son of our family friend evangelist Billy Graham) wherein the Holy Spirit always seems to lead the offspring of evangelical superstars to "follow the call" or at least inherit the mailing list of donors and/or the jet.

Back then we Schaeffers were evangelical royalty. And as such we were doing what American evangelicals do that defines them: either lead or follow in a series of fear-driven celebrity -- worshiping personality cults. I know about these cults because my dad was a leading cult figure and for a brief moment, so was I. Palin is the next personality for the Evangelicals to follow for a moment or two. Move over Rick Warren!

Given the fact of my family connections to the Republican Party, it was somewhat ironic that when James Webb was elected to the Senate from Virginia by a razor thin margin in 2006, giving the Democrats their first new majority in years, I was credited with helping Webb. Or, to put it another way, judging by the hate email I got from my father's fundamentalist followers and other assorted Republicans and conservatives, I deserved some of the blame.

I had long since left the evangelical subculture -- I was out by 1985 -- when in 2006 I wrote an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, and it was picked up by several hundred blogs and posted on the front page of James Webb's campaign website. I defended Webb against a series of Republican lies wherein his novels were smeared as "pornographic." I noted that Webb is a serious novelist whose work has been widely praised by many including Tom Wolfe, who called Webb's books, "The greatest of the Vietnam novels."

Furious e-mails flooded in. They fell into two categories. About half were from evangelical "Church Ladies" the other half were from profanity-spewing thugs. It was as if I'd stumbled into a Sunday school picnic at a Tourette's syndrome convention.

"As a Christian the best question you could ask is what would Jesus do? He wouldn't give Webb's books a pass just because he's a veteran..."

"Mr. Schaeffer: Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out you FUCK!"

"Mr. Webb has no excuse for using profanity."

When combined the hundreds of emails seemed to boil down to: "Do what we say Jesus says -- and if you don't we'll kick your head in!" The reaction confirmed why any sane person would run, and keep on running from the right-wing/evangelical/Republican morass as far as their legs would carry them. But I had brought this upon myself. The truth is, that with my father I had once contributed mightily to the creation of the right wing, Evangelical/Republican sub-culture that was now attacking me.

When Sarah Palin stepped up it was to lead the hate-filled mob my late father and I once worked so hard to energize many years ago. It is made up of the unctuous and the awful, the unwashed anti intellectuals and the holier-than-thou modern version of witch burners, the thugs and the Church Ladies.

I know these folks well. I could have written Palin's script: make up for a lack of ideas and substance with bluster and heap scorn on the "elite" in other words anyone who can chew gum and walk in a straight line at the same time or who has traveled, read books, or even lives in a city. (Read my book CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All--Or Almost All--Of It Back, for an inside look at this world.

What I slowly realized back in the 80s (and why I quit) was that the Religious Right leaders my dad and I were helping empower were not -- and are not -- conservatives. Like Palin they were and are anti-American religious revolutionaries.

After 9/11 the public got a glimpse of the anti-American self-righteous venom that is always just under the surface of the evangelical Palin/MCain right. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others declared the attack on America was a punishment from God.

Even in the bad old days in the 1980s what began to bother me was that so many of my friends on the religious right seemed to be rooting for one form of apocalypse or another. In the crudest form this was part of the evangelical "Christian Zionism" and a fascination with the so-called End Times, the "Left Behind" scenario that Palin believes in so fervently. As Palin could tell you: The worse things get, the sooner Jesus will come back! But there was another component. The worse everything got the more it proved that America needed saving, by we on the Religious Right!

To understand the 2008 Republican ticket you have to understand that it's driven by and supported by, self-pity. Palin's legion of rubes (or people pretending to be rubes now such as McCain) perceive themselves as victims of all those smart people who hate God! And now, according to Palin/McCain it's time to fulfill the Religious Right's doomsday wish and punish the wicked! Who are the "wicked?" Anyone not like "the Lord's chosen" of course!


Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back (now in PAPERBACK) and the Calvin Becker novels: Portofino, Zermatt and Saving Grandma.

 
 
 

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