by Mark Tooley -
Franky Schaeffer is the son of the late, highly influential evangelical thinker Francis Schaeffer , who helped shape the modern conservative evangelical movement. The son boasts he was himself a co-founder of the Religious Right. But he since has denounced Christianity as “stupid,” writes bitter tell-all books about his parents, and ferociously attacks conservative religionists as the virtual root cause of all American evils.
A blogger for The Huffington Post, young Schaeffer is now faulting religious conservatives for facilitating Wall Street greed. He’s imploring the Wall Street Occupiers to “protest the root source of America’s tilt to the far unregulated corporate right.” For Schaeffer, the next logical step is to demonstrate “outside mega churches, Evangelical publishing houses, [and] religious organizations that lead the ‘moral’ crusades against women and gays and all the rest.”
Will the Wall Street Occupiers heed Schaeffer’s frenzied call and next park their tents, blankets and anti-capitalist placards in the parking lots of suburban mega churches? It seems unlikely. But Schaeffer’s demand fits with the crazy Left’s sometime fixation on demonizing opponents based on class and religion.
Thirty years ago, young Schaeffer joined his father in critique of the secular Left. Today, he faults religious conservatives for the “insanity and corruption” that plagues America. In 2008, he endorsed Barack Obama and publicly demanded John McCain renounce his ostensibly “hate-filled supporters.” More recently, he’s slammed Obama’s critics as “racists.” All the energy he once channeled into what he derides as “fundamentalist” Christianity is now furiously focused against all the perceived representatives of his parents’ faith.
In his recent appeal to the Wall Street occupiers, Schaeffer accused “Evangelical fundamentalism” of enabling the sinister top 1 percent’s “rape” of the remaining 99 percent. According to his mythology, perhaps based on Thomas Frank’s 2005 book What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, evangelicals’ delusional focus on “values” issues beguiles them into voting against their own supposed economic self-interest. Their “bogus (and hate-driven) ‘morality’ litmus tests of spurious red herring ‘issues’ from abortion to school prayer and gay rights” inveigles clueless evangelicals to vote for Republicans “serving only billionaires instead of the rest of us.”
Ecumenically, Schaeffer also tars Roman Catholics as likewise “fundamentalists” who have “delegitimized the U.S. Government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.” So Catholic bishops, like evangelical mega churches, have also tricked their followers into voting against their “own class and self-interest.” Naturally, Schaeffer prefers not to acknowledge that traditional Christians and other people of faith, unlike the dialectic Left, do not typically identify by “class interest.” In contrast with the Left’s materialist obsession, religious believers view the world through the prism of their faith. Not as naïve as Schaeffer insists, traditional religionists have noticed that the supposed champions of their “class” not only disparage their faith’s morals, they also want further to marginalize faith through Big Government’s constant expansion. While people of faith prioritize churches, families, private charities, and private business, the Left pushes for centralization of power in the coercive and unelected federal bureaucracy.
More revealing of his own politics than of the purported beliefs of his targets, Schaeffer explained that “fundamentalists” had stigmatized government as “evil” and “satanic” because it allows abortion and gay rights. Accordingly, these otherwise progressive “God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because ‘the government’ is evil.” These fools equate Wall Street with “freedom” and government with “tyranny.” Incoherently, Schaeffer also surmised that Evangelical and Catholic “fundamentalists,” in keeping with their Puritan witch-burning and Spanish Inquisition heritage, seek “fusion of state power and religion through the reestablishment of the ‘Christian America’ idea of ‘American Exceptionalism.’” So they apparently think government is both “satanic” and ordained by God, in Schaeffer’s telling.
Naturally, Schaeffer also faults these aspiring theocrats for supporting Israel, and therefore preventing Middle East peace. And he compares American “fundamentalists” to Iran’s mullahs, though the Iranian theocracy, which exists in fact rather than just his imagination, does not merit nearly as much condemnation. Schaeffer explained: “If you can get Americans to worry about the Bible and not fairness and justice then you have handed a perpetual victory to Goldman Sacks (sic) and company.” Not very strong on facts, he claimed one percent of the population has more wealth than the other 99.
Schaeffer pours on the venom thick. The Religious Right, “as alien as the Taliban,” relies on the “not-so-bright” who dare to doubt global warming and who think “hating” America is unpatriotic. They are also apparently racist, wanting private education so as to exclude non-whites. Evidently Schaeffer is not very familiar with the demographics of most parochial schools. Religious conservatives have “stalled and perhaps destroyed the Obama presidency.” Their achievement in the 2010 congressional elections was not democracy but a “putsch.” And the “timely destruction of the economic elites and their religious facilitators begins by calling fundamentalist/Evangelical/Roman Catholic ‘religion’ what it is: a political grab for power.” Schaeffer chillingly warned that the only alternative to their “destruction” is “chaos, decline, oligarchy and theocracy.”
This nearly Bolshevik-sounding plea for “destruction” of class enemies from Schaeffer has all the sophistication of the Wall Street occupiers’ signage without the excuse of their youth. The occupiers seem mostly like young people looking to escape college debts and real world responsibilities. Deranged by contempt for his parents’ faith, Schaeffer, at age 59, seems seduced by his own demons of paranoia and hatred. He ignores that evangelicals in particular are strongly associated with Main Street, not Wall Street, are inclined towards the Tea Party with its own critique of bailouts, and in general have a historic distrust for centralized power that is deeply rooted in Anglo-American history.
Neither resembling the Taliban or Iranian theocrats, most American traditional religious believers are far more winsome than Schaeffer’s bile-tinged rhetoric. If he attempts angrily to demonstrate outside a mega church, maybe he will learn for himself.