Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A prominent evangelical writes about his change of heart

I just put this book on my reading list: 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 by Frank Schaeffer.

For those who don’t know who Frank Schaeffer is, he is the son of theologian and Presbyterian pastor Francis Schaeffer, “who was pivotal in the creation of the Religious Right.”

As John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute wrote recently, “In fact, without the influence of Francis Schaeffer, who often was prodded into action by Frank, the so-called Christian Right of today would not exist.”

Frank Schaeffer once shared most of his father’s opinions and, as an adult he worked alongside him so he has had an ” insider’s view of the rise of the Religious Right.”

But Frank Schaeffer had a change of heart and a change in thinking. What does he think of the Religious Right now? Rob Boston, writer for Americans for the Separation of Church and State, in his article Appealing Apostate: Prodigal Son Frank Schaeffer Roasts Religious Right states,

Let’s just say he’s not a fan. He refers to Robertson as “a lunatic” and says Dobson is “a power-crazed political manipulator cynically abusing his followers.” He calls the late Jerry Falwell an “unreconstructed bigot.”

Here are some choice quotes selected by Boston:

* “What I slowly realized was that the religious-right leaders we were helping to gain power were not ‘conservatives’ at all, in the old sense of the world. They were anti-American religious revolutionaries.”

* “Pat Robertson…would have had a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement.”

* “Dad could hardly have imagined how they would help facilitate the instantly corrupted power-crazy new generation of evangelical public figures like Ralph Reed, who took money from the casino industry while allegedly playing both sides against the middle in events related to the Abramoff Washington lobbyist scandal.”

* “Long before Ralph Reed and his ilk came on the scene, Dad got sick of ‘these idiots’ as he often called people like Dobson in private. They were ‘plastic,’ Dad said, and ‘power-hungry.’”

* “There were three kinds of evangelical leaders: The dumb or idealistic ones who really believed. The out-and-out charlatans. And the smart ones who still believed – sort of – but knew that the evangelical world was sh*t, but who couldn’t figure out any way to earn as good a living anywhere else.”

* “Dad seemed lost in a depressed daze. He had recently been saying privately that the evangelical world was more or less being led by lunatics, psychopaths, and extremists, and agreeing with me that if ‘our side’ ever won, America would be in deep trouble.”

In a recent interview with John W.Whitehead at oldSpeak, Schaeffer discussed his break with the Religious Right, remarking,

“I personally came to believe that a lot of the issues that were being latched onto by the Christian Right, whether it was the gay issue or abortion or other things, were actually being used for negative political purposes. They were used to structure a power base for people who then threw their weight around.”

And in that last comment, Schaeffer sums up the truth of what the Religious Right is honestly all about. I hope you have time to read the whole interview. It’s quite interesting.

As Boston says, “It’s always interesting when a high-profile Religious Right activist has a change of heart.”


vjack said...

That certainly sounds like an interesting read. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

Stardust said...

vjack, I will let you know.

I have read a lot of books by Christians in the past, but in recent years have only read books by atheist authors, so it will be interesting to read this one by an ex-fundie. (He is now converted to Greek Orthodox.)

evolveintobirds said...

hi stardust...came here via "atheist homeschooler".

i converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in part because of Franky. he may now reject his protestant past but believe you me...he is now a fundamentalist Orthodox. just as extreme but with an ethnic flavor. maybe with any luck he'll come all the way around to a rejection of all woo.