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The Perpetual American Lynch Mob

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Who is the "Tea Party"? It's today's incarnation of the Perpetual American Lynch Mob.

In one generation the Perpetual American Lynch Mob is burning Pequot Indian women and children alive in the name of God while cheerfully quoting Old Testament passages "justifying" their actions. In another time and place the Perpetual American Lynch Mob string up black men.

A few decades pass and they can be found calling President Roosevelt a communist, Jew and the anti-Christ and/or marching on Washington in support of Germany and demanding that the US stay out of World War Two. In another generation the Perpetual American Lynch Mob hound their fellow citizens, screaming that they are communists and out to destroy God-fearing Americans.

At another time and place the Perpetual American Lynch Mob call themselves a "Tea Party" and gather to hurl insults and lies at our first black President. They cheer as one of their leaders says: "We'll hang on to our constitution, religion and guns..." And/or they gather to carry loaded weapons in a march on Washington.

Dad (my late evangelical leader father Francis Schaeffer) and I did our bit in the 1970s and 80s to pass on the torch of unhinged Lynch Mob hate when we helped create the Perpetual American Lynch Mob's "pro-life" incarnation. That movement -- Our Movement -- was begun by people like us wanting to save babies. It ended up in the swamp of homophobia, hate of the "other" and even inspired the murder of doctors.

And the anti-abortion movement also empowered a Republican Party that sank under the weight of this single-issue to the lowest common denominator. The Republican Party didn't just cater to the Perpetual American Lynch Mob, but became the Perpetual American Lynch Mob.

Without the culture war (which Dad and I contributed to) that I describe and explain in my book Crazy For God there would have been no George W. Bush presidency because there would have been no evangelical Republican "base" to power the politics of the far right as it emerged from the 1970s and 80s. Until we pro-lifers came along, most evangelicals (of that generation) weren't single issue anti-American voters.

We anti-abortion activists helped pave the way for yet another generation of cantankerous, religious nuts to weasel their way into the heart of American history and even into the heart of our government. We helped keep alive the worst of the crank tradition that runs like a dark subterranean river of sewage just under the surface of everyday American life.

We gave a boost to the Perpetual American Lynch Mob that resurfaces in every generation in a new disguise and with a new excuse. But that new "cause" is really only the latest manifestation of hate, fear, isolation and ignorance (often born of rube religion) combined with the insane myth of American exceptionalism.

Thirty-five years plus later right wing hatred of our actual country (and even more hatred of our government) is packaged as patriotism. Every Sunday across America thousands of right wing preachers, from John Haggee to Rick Warren, (knowingly or unknowingly following in Dad's footsteps) rail against a mishmash of "America's sins" from thousands of pulpits.

They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by "allowing homosexuals," and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my father often did, that we are "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of imminent destruction. And they have turned against our country.

Some, like John Hagee, embrace (and root for) what they believe is the impending Armageddon/Return of Christ and think that because the Bible "says" that this will take place in Israel -- and in wartime -- that Middle East peace is not what God wants. So they've become ardent Christian Zionists and do all they can to undermine Middle East peace initiatives.

Like my father, the far right preachers all claim that America was "founded to be a Christian country" and that religious diversity is a bad thing and we must "return" to "what our Christian Founders had in mind."

They don't often say so openly but their ideal turns out to be a white's only evangelical country filled with consumer goods where no gays, blacks, or other "foreigners" need apply and everyone goes to church but no one lives by following the actual inconvenient tolerant and inclusive example set by Jesus.

In this sense these "Christians" are in fact anti-Christian, and these "patriots" turn out to be anti-American.

Or put it this way: Apparently what Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Thomas Paine, Roger Sherman, John Jay and James Wilson "had in mind" turns out to be a white, racist, homophobic, myth-believing nation of Village Idiots suckled on Fox News and wet dreams of the "Rapture."

In the light of the Tea Party anti-Obama rhetoric, consider a few passages from abortion provider killer Paul Hill's favorite book: my father's immensely influential America-bashing A Christian Manifesto.

Dad's seditious book sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to bestselling religious books as they do now. Nevertheless, besides (at least partly) inspiring several actual murders of abortion doctors it sold more than a million copies and is still popular in evangelical circles.

Here's Dad writing in his chapter on civil disobedience:

"If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US Government]... then at a certain point force is justifiable."

And this:

"In the United States the materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools... There is an obvious parallel between this and the situation in Russia [the then Communist USSR]. And we really must not be blind to the fact that indeed in the public schools in the United States all religious influence is as forcibly forbidden as in the Soviet Union..."

Then this:

"There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate... A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion... It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates its authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation."

In other words we were saying that 1) Force is a "legitimate" weapon to use against evil government. 2) America is like Hitler's Germany. 3) Whatever would have been right to stop Hitler is now right to do here in America to our government.

Fast foreward to Obama depicted as Hitler and Sarah Palin saying "we'll hang on to our Religion and Guns..." And stand back and watch the latest Lynch Mob march on Washington carrying thier guns as a show of what?

Patriotism?

No.

These folks hate our democracy and elected government and anyone who is not like them. They say they want to take back America. From whom? And for whom?

Turns out they want to take it back from the American people who elected a president they don't like.

These many years later and having had a chance to look at America from both sides of the culture wars that have repeatedly engulfed us... I'd like to ask my old friends on the Far Right how anyone who loves our country (let alone who says they follow Jesus!) can support the Republican Party today let alone the "Tea Party," let alone rubes with loaded weapons playing dress up and marching on Washington?

Who could vote Republican knowing that the Republican Party provides aid and comfort and cover to people who are working feverishly to turn the United States into a theocracy and/or a libertarian gun-toting free for all based on don't-tax-me selfishness led by people like a certain woman who says America is all about religion and guns -- "Us" against "Them" -- rather than one nation for all?

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and 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