Frank Schaeffer Roars

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Religion, Republican Party

Start your week off right, by watching this powerful interview of Frank Shaeffer, as he plugs his memoir, Crazy for God. Schaeffer’s parents, Francis and Edith, were well-known evangelicals during the 70s and 80s, and helped architect the religious right. Franky, as he was known back then, went along, but eventually he turned his back on what the religious right became. I found this interview on Huffington Post, where Schaeffer has an Open Letter to the Republican Traitors (from a former Republican) – it’s pretty scorching, and is excerpted below. I have rarely heard anyone speak so powerfully to the kinds of things we’ve been talking about on this site for ages:

You Republicans are the arsonists who burned down our national home. You combined the failed ideologies of the Religious Right, so-called free market deregulation and the Neoconservative love of war to light a fire that has consumed America. Now you have the nerve to criticize the "architect" America just hired — President Obama — to rebuild from the ashes. You do nothing constructive, just try to hinder the one person willing and able to fix the mess you created….

As the father of a Marine who served in George W. Bush’s misbegotten wars let me say this: if President Obama’s strategy to repair our economy, infrastructure and healthcare fails that will put our troops at far greater risk because the world will become a far more dangerous place. So for all you flag-waving Republicans who are trying to undermine the President at home — if you succeed more of our troops will be killed abroad.

When your new leader Rush Limbaugh calls for President Obama to fail he’s calling for more flag-draped coffins. Limbaugh is the new "Hanoi Jane."

For the party that created our crises of misbegotten war, mismanaged economy, the lack of regulation of our banking industry, handing our country to rich crooks… to obstruct the one person who is trying to repair the damage is obscene.

Just imagine where America would be today if the 14 to 20 million voters — "the rube base" who slavishly follow the likes of Limbaugh — had not voted as a block year after year thus empowering the Republican fiasco. We would have a regulated banking industry and would have avoided our current financial crisis; some 4000 of our killed military men and women would be alive; over to 35,000 wounded Americans would be whole; we would have been leaders in the environmental movement; we would be in the middle of a green technology boom fueling a huge expansion of our economy and stopping our dependence on foreign oil, and our health-care system would be reformed….

The worsening economic situation is your fault and your fault alone. The Republicans created this mess through 8 years of backing the worst president in our history and now, because you put partisan ideology ahead of the good of our country, you have blown your last chance to redeem yourselves. You deserve banishment to the political wilderness

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Michael  •  Mar 8, 2009 @11:48 pm

    I read Francis Schaeffer (Frank’s dad) back in the late ’70s and it really changed my life. He was the first person I ever encountered who was trying to think about his Christian faith in any sort of practical, intellectual way. He was a complicated, interesting guy, and it’s a shame that he was used to provide intellectual cover for the Falwells and Robertsons of the world.

    I love listening to Frank now because his journey so closely mirrors my own. One of his early booksabout evangelicalism and the arts, Addicted to Mediocrity, is still worth reading. Frank’s life shows the true power of art; he couldn’t, just couldn’t turn his back on beauty to embrace idiocy and I believe that’s what led him out of the swamp.

  2. william  •  Mar 9, 2009 @6:04 am

    That was truly amazing to hear from “Franky,” though I fear the ardent followers of Rush and the like will simply refuse to listen.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 9, 2009 @8:48 am

    Wow! You can’t say it better than that.
    This should be required reding for everyone with an “R” next to their name. And some with a “D” too.

  4. Lynne  •  Mar 9, 2009 @9:08 am

    Whoo hoo! I wish I’d said that.

  5. muldoon  •  Mar 9, 2009 @10:57 am

    Wow. Just . . . wow!

  6. Stephen Stralka  •  Mar 9, 2009 @12:37 pm

    Well, after years of being called a subversive and a traitor for refusing to back Bush I’m a little uncomfortable with the fifth column references. But still. Yeah.

  7. bill bush  •  Mar 9, 2009 @1:16 pm

    Maha, remember last year your posts on “authoritarian followers” as the psych profile of the righties? I think it reverberates with this post.

  8. felicity  •  Mar 9, 2009 @1:22 pm

    I got the base ugliness of some Republicans with, “better over there than over here” when ‘justifying’ the invasion and war on the Iraqi people. Then of course, there’s torture for the sheer pleasure, I guess, of inflicting pain and suffering on other human beings – since torture never elicits usable information.

  9. Swami  •  Mar 9, 2009 @2:52 pm

    Limbaugh is the new “Hanoi Jane.”

    What does this mean?.. I’m just not a big fan of perpetrating the vilification of Jane Fonda if that’s what Frank’s statement is intended to do. Even after all these years I don’t think Jane got a fair hearing in the public arena. Sort of like the recent charge of: You don’t support the war so therefore you don’t support the troops, and therefore you’re un-American… and therefore by logic you are a traitor.

  10. Crazy for Urban Planning  •  Mar 9, 2009 @4:05 pm

    Wow, incredible stuff! I would love to be so articulate and precise with my language! He hits the nail right on the head, incredible! The republicans have turned into a few categories: religious fundamentalists (mostly old, white, and uneducated), pseudo – “conservatives” (mostly corporate hacks like Sean Hannity), war mongers like the Weekly Standard, and the extremely wealthy who need more tax breaks. Its pathetic, and I smell Whig party.

  11. moonbat  •  Mar 9, 2009 @6:11 pm

    Michael – My first real introduction to Francis Shaeffer – I had heard the name for a long time – was through a campus showing of his film How Should We Then Live?, back in the early 80s. The film – or at least the episode I saw – contrasted the art of northern versus southern Europe, trying to show how this reflected the forms of Christianity that grew up in these regions. I still remember watching Shaeffer scampering over art and junk, James Burke Connections-like, making his points.

    Although his conclusions were a bit specious even to my uninformed, early 20s mind back then, I was impressed by the guy’s intellect, iconoclasticism, and his burning passion for the truth, as he saw it. The series opened and closed with a wonderful piece of music, which many years later I discovered was Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. I actually wrote in to NPR’s “Performance Today” to find out the identity of this music, when they just happened to play it, many years later. Amazingly, an intern wrote back and I was thrilled.

    I suspect Franky is right – his dad would be appalled at “the crap” he and Edith helped create.

    Franky’s obvious passion to set things right in Christianity and politics echoes the fire I see in Chris Hedges, another son-of-a-pastor, and in this case a divinity school grad. He’s the author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, which parallels the kind of things talked about in Schaeffer’s Crazy For God.

    Tech Note: I wanted to include a lot more links in this comment – to “How Should We Then Live? – which is on youtube, and to a wikipedia entry for Chris Hedges, as well as an Amazon entry for Hedges’ book – but it wasn’t coming out in the preview, and so I scaled back the linking. I doubled checked my html, and I think it was OK, but there were some odd characters in the urls, which may have thrown off the parser. A programmer’s work is never done.

  12. joanr16  •  Mar 9, 2009 @6:37 pm

    I’d never heard of either generation of the Shaeffers. Considering the publicity-lechery of media evangelism today, that must speak well for them.

    I’ve been waiting years for a passionate (read: pissed off and fed up) Christian response to the Religious Right. It seemed to me that the time for polite tolerance of intolerance, and those myriad other sins, ended long long ago; but then it really wasn’t up to me, since I’m not a Christian. I think it’s extremely important that people like Chris Hedges and Franky Shaeffer are pissed off, fed up, and speaking out. I applaud their courage.

  13. joanr16  •  Mar 9, 2009 @6:41 pm

    Limbaugh is the new “Hanoi Jane.”

    Swami, I wondered this too. I’ve heard Rush compared (maybe by someone here?) to Tokyo Rose, which I think is mostly apt. It seems to me that Shaeffer’s comparing Limbaugh the anti-American to “Hanoi Jane” the false meme… but he doesn’t realize the HJ meme was/is false.

  14. moonbat  •  Mar 9, 2009 @7:33 pm

    Swami – “Hanoi Jane” is one of those things that is loaded with meanings, some of them real, some of them not. I was in high school, was anti-war, anti-establishment when Jane traveled to Hanoi, and for better or worse created the event that will follow her to her grave and beyond. I’m generally sympathetic to her, but I think what really happened and what it really meant might well be lost for all time.

    That said, I think Franky is using the phrase “Hanoi Jane” – regardless of what you or I think of that phrase – in a deliberately provocative way that his audience – Republicans and the Christian Right will understand in only one way – that Limbaugh is betraying this country in exactly the same way this audience believes Jane Fonda betrayed America. His use of this phrase is to get them to see this connection, to wake them up, by speaking their own language back to them. It’s brilliant, in my opinion, even though I’d probably agree with you that Jane Fonda is getting short shrift.

  15. khughes1963  •  Mar 9, 2009 @8:44 pm

    I thought Frank Schaeffer’s interview with D.L. Hughley excellent. I also recommend his book Crazy for God, and especially for what it tells of his spiritual change and his commentary on religious right luminaries like Pat Robertson (Schaeffer thinks he couldn’t get a job unless hearing voices was part of the job description) and the late Jerry Falwell. Schaeffer and his wife Genie left his father’s Calvinist evangelicalism for the Greek Orthodox faith.

  16. angulimala  •  Mar 10, 2009 @11:50 am

    Even after all these years I don’t think Jane got a fair hearing in the public arena. Sort of like the recent charge of: You don’t support the war so therefore you don’t support the troops, and therefore you’re un-American… and therefore by logic you are a traitor.

    Learn your facts. Fonda did NOT just oppose the Vietnam war. She openly propagandized for the N. Vietnamese and VC and disparaged not just the war but the soldiers who fought it. She even has the maturity now to feel regret for much of it.

  17. Dave O'Neal  •  Mar 10, 2009 @12:08 pm

    I’m happy to see such strong words from Shaffer, mostly because he can serve as a model to less self- assured wingnuts to show them how to “change their minds” as he calls it, showing them also that they needn’t give up ranting to do so. But in general, I have to say the guy gives me the creeps. I first encountered him maybe late eighties, when he’d converted to the Orthodox faith and was all gung-ho for it. Even then, you got the impression he felt himself the one who was going to straighten the Orthodox Church out finally, and he became a self-appointed spokesman for Orthodoxy. Later I believe he became a big supporter of the war. Every time he “changes his mind,” he somehow expects the world to listen to him. Some time spent in the wilderness would seem somehow more appropriate. It’s a bit like Jimmy Swaggart going right back to preaching after his fall from grace with the hooker.

  18. erinyes  •  Mar 10, 2009 @4:46 pm

    Moonbat, Thanks for posting that interview.
    Swami, I’m with you on the Jane Fonda issue; crap, how old was she when she went to nvn? In her 20’s? And she was right about that war being a useless, senseless slaughter.Its a done deal, ALL Americans should focus on getting our military out of the ME and central Asia, too many dead soldiers, civilians, and “dead presidents” being thrown into the crapper for NOTHING!



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