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Whitehead Interviews Frank Schaeffer on "The Treason of the Right"

05/08/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

An extensive interview with me explaining the rise of the Religious Right -- and the destruction of the Republican Party, as well as the Republican's anti-American and subversive views -- was just published. It gave me the chance to answer a lot of questions that seem to be on the mind of thousands of Huffington Post readers, judging by the many comments on my various pasts. Here is how the interviewer -- John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute -- introduced me:

The Schaeffers had an amazing influence [in founding the Religious Right] -- an influence still felt today. I saw first-hand how Frank, often the instigator and agitator, and his father [Francis Schaeffer] fueled those who would become the Christian Right. In fact, without the intellectual foundation laid by Francis Schaeffer, the entire movement would not have gotten off the ground -- a movement that helped elect Ronald Reagan and would eventually lead to the presidency of George W. Bush.

Excerpt From the Interview

John Whitehead: I remember being invited to meetings along with your father at the White House.

Frank Sschaeffer: "We blessed the elite Reagan revolution, as it was called. We baptized these things. And we gave a theological twist to economic and political ideas that emerged. We did not urge people to vote for a candidate because he would be a good president. We urged people to vote for a candidate because he was right in the sense that his political philosophy somehow reflected the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord. I don't believe we ever said those words, but that is how it came out. Therefore, we baptized the emerging right-wing political movement and all the rest of the things that have now gotten the country into a mess...

"None of what we saw with George W. Bush would have happened without the evangelical votes for president or any other office. We also helped to create a climate in which reasonable people could no longer sit down and discuss the issues of the day in a neutral way because we interjected a moral element into the debate -- that is, our message was that if you love God, you will vote for Ronald Reagan and the Bushes. We gave it a theological spin, which gave us George W. Bush, who undid us because he was of mediocre intelligence and not fit to be president. But because Bush's theology was "correct," he got the evangelical vote. That's the sad result of a single-issue politics and a single-issue theology carried to a logical conclusion..."

John Whitehead: "Politically, the Christian Right made big gains. However, at the end of the day, the Christian involvement in politics produced little in terms of definable positive results spiritually... The fastest growing religious group in the United States is atheists, or non-believers. All denominations are losing people. Fewer and fewer people are going to church... Thus, in the end, the experiment from the actual spiritual nature of merging politics and religion was a failure."

Frank Schaeffer: "You put your finger on it when you said that we identified Christianity with a political movement to the point where the politics and the religion were confused. When you now use the term "Christian" to Americans, whether they are evangelicals or atheists, they immediately think of evangelical American Christianity. They don't think of Byzantine Orthodox. They don't think of Roman Catholicism. They don't think of the historic church. They don't think of liberal Christians. In other words, the first confusion is that the word Christian was equated with evangelical. What was the result? All Christianity and all its claims and all its philosophy will be judged on the basis of what evangelicals do. What did evangelicals do?

"The word 'evangelical' became synonymous with Republican. And then it became synonymous with right-wing Republican. Picture Christ. Christ is bearing the burden of being identified exclusively with evangelicals. And then evangelicals jump on his back carrying the burdens of the Republican Party. And the Republican Party is driven to the right by those very same evangelicals who bring their moralistic crusades on everything from gay rights to abortion to the table. When those things fail or they are hypocritically used, for example, as fund raising measures rather than actually doing something about the issue, they indulge in hatred or homophobic behavior.

"All of a sudden, Christ has the Republican Party, the evangelicals and their hatred and their failed policies on his back. Thus, who is going to be looking at Jesus Christ any more as a religious figure or the Son of God or even as a prophet? What they are seeing is the Republican Party. And what they are seeing is economic failure. And what they are seeing is social programs that don't work. And so essentially the cart not only flipped and drove the horse, the horse disappeared altogether. All that is left is this stalled cart of Republican right-wing failure.

To read the rest of this interview go to:

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. Now in Paperback