Frank Schaeffer, the son of prominent evangelical leaders and founders of the L’Abri Fellowship, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, has become something of a spokesperson for those who vehemently oppose conservative Christians. Because he is a self-described “founder” and former member of the “religious right,” Schaeffer makes regular appearances on MSNBC and other media outlets, such as the Huffington Post, to comment on the supposed “true” motives driving conservative Christians. Most recently, Schaeffer appeared on Martin Bashir’s MSNBC show to comment on a recent conference sponsored by the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
The conference featured many prominent conservatives, including presidential contender, Mitt Romney, Senator Marco Rubio, National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg, Glenn Beck, and many others. Among the topics discussed was the threat to religious freedom posed by the contraceptive and abortofacient employer-provided coverage mandated by the Obama Administration’s health care policy. Describing the conference, Schaeffer told Bashir: “This is not freedom. This is another form, the American form of Sharia law being imposed because of religious fiat … This is naked anti-Obama politics masquerading as faith. That’s all that’s going on.”
According to Schaeffer, when Christian conservatives express concern about growing threats to religious liberty, they are actually motivated by a burning desire to oppress women. He told Bashir: “What you have to understand when they’re in action these days, is they speak in Orwellian double-speak. What’s the common denominator of all their faith and freedom? Politics. It’s to take away the freedom of choice for women, to take away contraceptives from women who work for Roman Catholic institutions, to take away choice for women, to take away gay marriage.”
Schaeffer has developed an elaborate conspiracy theory on this point. In an article titled “How the Far Right Roman Catholics and Evangelical Taliban Trapped the President,” he describes in a matter of fact tone how the Manhattan Declaration, written in 2009 by IRD Board member emeritus and Princeton professor, Robert George, is really an elaborate “trap” for President Obama. According to Schaeffer, the Manhattan Declaration is “an anti-Obama document (that never mentions the president by name) signed by hundreds of evangelical leaders and the Roman Catholic bishops.” He further writes that the document represents a “well laid plan by a few Religious Right Extremists that has succeeded in entrapping the President just as these extremists planned.”
Instead of acknowledging that conservative Christians might truly be concerned about threats to the sanctity of life, dignity of marriage, and religious liberty, he claims the Declaration’s signers deliberately “launched a fishing expedition to find any issue that might gain traction with which to beat the President in 2012. That could have been gay rights, or stem cell research. It turned out to be contraception.”
During his recent five minute appearance on MSNBC, Schaeffer asserted that “the tea party and the religious right have lied about our president consistently, using everything in the book except to come out and say what’s bothering them, and that is that he is a black man sitting in the White House, that in their view belongs to white people, I guess, in perpetuity.”
These, of course, are baseless accusations. But because Schaeffer can describe himself as someone who once worked alongside, and even led Christian conservatives, his opinion is apparently authoritative in the eyes of MSNBC and its viewers.
In closing, Schaeffer told Bashir: “There’s a whole other side that is about faith and freedom. There are moderate Roman Catholics, moderate evangelicals such as the Wild Goose Festival … There are alternatives, someone like myself who is a Christian is one of them.” At the upcoming Wild Goose Festival (which it seems a stretch to call “moderate”), Schaeffer is scheduled to speak on “Child-like Wonder for Jaded Cynics.”