Once again, self-described co-founder of the Evangelical conservative “movement,” turned liberal author and speaker, Frank Schaeffer has made wild claims about what is supposedly motivating the “religious right.” On Tuesday, August 14th, Schaeffer was featured on Ian Masters’s nationally syndicated radio show, “Background Briefing” to discuss Paul Ryan and the “War on Women.”
According to Schaeffer, “We have a Republican ticket with probably the most brutal far right economic policy, coming from the same man who’s got the most anti-woman policy.” He claimed Ryan is “a real extremist … a person who is brutal toward women and equally brutal to the poor.” Even more hyperbolic, he stated “women are second class citizens in his world, as are the poor.” Merriam Webster defines the word “brutal” as “grossly ruthless or unfeeling,” or “cruel, cold-blooded.” Schaeffer may disagree sharply with Ryan, but is it appropriate to call him “brutal?”
As someone who was once deeply involved with conservative Christians and politics, it seems Schaeffer should know that opposition to abortion is not really about oppressing women, or that free-market economic policies are not motivated by a deep-seeded desire to oppress the poor. It is certainly possible to disagree with Ryan’s views without accusing him of sinister motivations. But often when a news outlet like MSNBC or CNN wants “analysis” on conservative Christian politics, they call in Schaeffer.
As the son of prominent evangelical leaders Francis and Edith Schaeffer, he has a veneer of legitimacy in his claims. Schaeffer accuses conservatives of the same things the liberal media already accuses them of, yet goes further, with the “inside scoop” on the supposed evil motivations driving conservatives.
Schaeffer alleged that Ryan “does not believe in the rights of all human beings,” and “he holds up only one part of Roman Catholic teaching faithfully and has dismissed the rest of it on the basis of being an Ayn Rand disciple, not a disciple of Jesus Christ.” He said Ryan would “attack programs for the poor that are the safety net that keep people from a miserable fate, defund Medicare … and attack Social Security.”
Speculating about the chance of Ryan making it to the White House, he said if Americans knew of “Ryan’s anti-woman, war on women record when it comes to abortion, contraceptives, towing the Vatican line to the extreme,” then there would be no chance of he and Romney’s election. He further accused Ryan of having a “preoccupation with other people’s sexuality … [and] is the only part of Roman Catholic teaching which has actually transferred into Ryan’s agenda. The rest of it, when it comes to compassion for the poor, serving others, following Jesus Christ when it comes to the view of wealth as opposed to sharing, in those areas he’s totally departed and … is a disciple of Ayn Rand.”
Schaeffer’s comments don’t contribute to a productive discussion on the actual important issues, like sanctity of life or poverty. It wouldn’t be worth noticing, but because he keeps finding an audience and media outlets, I have to conclude, sadly, that some people believe what he says. Rather than acknowledging that conservatives do want a good life for others, but they simply believe in different means to achieve that outcome, Schaeffer muddies the already murky waters of public discourse with his wild assertions.