December 26, 2012

Deranged Left-Wing Fundamentalist Syndrome

Frank Schaeffer

(Photo credit: Sojourners)

By Mark Tooley (@MarkDTooley)

Children of conservative religious backgrounds who spend a lifetime rebelling against their parents often replicate the “fundamentalism” of their youth. Except their mutated version is often angrier, more intolerant, and unmitigated by the sense of divine grace that permeates even the most zealous of Christian “fundamentalists.”

Franky Schaeffer, hyper resentful son of the late great evangelical thinker Francis Schaeffer, is an icon of this pathology. But in the wake of the horrible Connecticut killings, he has outdone even the most foaming at the mouth caricature of himself.

“George W. Bush was a serial killer of children too for no better ‘reasons’ than the shooter in the school was,” Schaeffer pronounced in his latest diatribe. “Why were we in Iraq? Bush also went on a senseless killing spree. It was birthed by insane Christian Zionism, defended by neoconservative anything-for-Israel idiocy. Period.”

Yes, it’s all quite simple, just as any good fundamentalist should angrily, yet confidently assert. But few Christian “fundamentalists” of any note typically talk this way, certainly not Schaeffer’s father, nor even his disciples, such as the late Jerry Falwell, who would have been quickly browbeaten into a public apology had he likened a political opponent to a serial murderer, especially in the wake of a crime so abysmal. Christian “fundamentalists,” even when negative, typically have hope in a final victory for goodness, as their faith demands. Their leftist scoffing children often do not, hence they are completely cynical and see human history as a miserable cycle dominated by rubes lacking their own wisdom.

“But these days this freedom is starting to look like crap,” Schaeffer decreed of American liberties.  “I am beginning to think that our country is a blood-soaked monstrosity that mostly won’t admit what it is and we are.” Admitting that “hate is not cool, even wrong,” he then delineates all the millions of Americans who merit his disdain:  militias, gun owning “urban white moms and dads,” secessionists who remind him of the Klan because they’re really motivated by prejudice against a black president, the “white trash” who harken to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News, and the “idiots, stupid, ignorant persons, blockheads, boors, bucolic buffoons, bumpkins, oafs, peasants, yahoos, yokels… and other Republicans.”

Schaeffer’s hate list is a long one. He also despises Democrats who support drone strikes, Christian Zionists, and the “radical hate-filled bigots occupying the West Bank,” who in his mind seem to be honorary contemptible Americans. All of this bigotry “infects and ‘inspires’ our crazies with a virus of lethal scope,” he explained. “It’s in the air so to speak.” America’s strong military is also to blame because it’s “about 10 times bigger than we need for self-defense” and is an “invitation to murder.” Former President Bush of course is his prime example of mass murderer.

But Schaeffer generously granted that America’s intrinsic taste for murder can’t be faulted on Bush.  It’s always defined us.  He recalled the Puritans killing Pequot Indians “not long ago,” i.e. over 350 years ago.  He cited high prison incarceration rates and how America has “watched blacks, Native Americans, and other minorities marginalized, targeted killed, raped, shot, and imprisoned.” So America is not a civilized country and “actually, we never were.” After all, Thomas Jefferson, was a “slave owning rapist.”

Indeed, “this whole place stinks of the blood that’s been shed, from the Native Americans slaughtered and lied to, to the 3 million buffalo shot down from train windows and wagons by swaggering fools for no reason, to the glorification of weapons by the lynch mobs surrounding one black man hanging from a tree to all the ‘sporting rifles and shotguns’ that somehow turn out to be military weapons just-for-fun.” Schaeffer’s knowledge of American history seems mostly confined to the worst analysis of Harold Zinn. America was always rotten, based on a “Calvinistic theology of retribution and hate” in the north and slavery in the south. “We never had this country,” Schaeffer concludes, without defining “we,” which presumably includes himself and a few other isolated, noble souls.

Schaeffer’s father, a Presbyterian theologian and commentator, strongly critiqued America’s failures. But he did so with hope of renewal, based on God’s love, and knowing that not all dead white men in American history were necessarily evil. The younger Schaeffer, who’s largely lost his faith, of course offers no hope because he doesn’t really believe in it.  He offers only fury, smugness, and despair.  The father believed all of humanity is sinful but God offers redemption.  The son, so obsessed in rejecting his father’s faith, seems to locate evil only in people identifiable with his father: virtually all Americans, but especially Christians, conservatives, gun owners, and “white trash.”

The older Schaeffer, who loved rather than hated, is still revered by millions even decades after his death.  The son, although on MSNBC and in The Huffington Post, will be mercifully forgotten, unless, we can pray, he too seeks redemption. In the spirit of this season, let’s hope he does.

Read the original article at Front Page Magazine.

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  • Paul Hoskins

    Good article, BUT, consider this: Cuckoos like the Connecticut school shooter know they are getting loads of media attention. True, he isn’t enjoying it at the moment, but there are anticipatory pleasures, and I think we can safely assume that this nut probably weeks, even months, thinking how the name “Adam Lanza” would be on people’s minds for a long time. Obviously media cannot NOT cover such stories, but the more airplay these incidents get, the more some other nut jobs out there will be thinking, “Gee, I’m a pathetic nobody, but I could be famous . . . ”

    Segue to Franky Schaeffer: Yeah, same principle. I think you give this creep way too much coverage, and no doubt he is keeping some mental scrapbook of Christian Organizations I Have Irked. Deny him that pleasure. Ignore him.

    • Geoffrey Hiler

      I just wonder what would happen to him if he knew he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) get the publicity he now receives from the the more conservative media? I’m sure there are many “outlets” for his particular bile, but they have already steeped themselves in that same vile “tea”. I agree…ignore him! The average Christian conservative probably doesn’t know he exists now. Why advertise for him?

  • Eric Lytle

    I looked in the dictionary under “blowhard,” and Schaeffer’s picture was there. It was also under “cherry-picker,” because he is very good at cherry-picking history. His father had a deep knowledge of history, but apparently Blowhard sees only Americans as capable of violence. Yeah, there’s been a lot of bloodshed – but compared to other nations, we stack up pretty well. Think about the gushy peaceniks, the Scandinavians – their ancestors were the Vikings, remember them? For that matter, think about Muslims – violence originating with Muhammad himself and continuing to the present. Funny that he mentions the Puritans killing Pequot Indians. He forgets that the English colonists always tried negotiation with the Indians, and only resorted to violence when the Indians struck the first blow.

    Does this nitwit really think he’s won any friends on the Left with his stupid rants?

    • Walker

      Eric, soul for soul Christianity holds the world’s record for killing in the name of its religion. The others – including Muslims – aren’t even close. And country for country, the United States of America is arguably the most aggressive nation in the history of mankind – chiefly evidenced by the fact that its very existence, far from being the city on a hill, is the result of a massive genocide and land-grab followed by systematic land wars, occupations, and nation building both above and below the radar. Your comment about the English trying to negotiate with the Indians is, frankly, insulting – and I am not even Native American. Do you really think that negotiating with someone who comes into your home, kills your wife, enslaves your children, and takes over your property is someone YOU would want to “negotiate” with? The fact that we are empowering Israel to do precisely the same thing with the Palestinians (and here at the IRD in the actual name of GOD, for God sakes…) shouldn’t surprise anyone. We have one of the most dismal records as a warring nation in the history of civilization. You will say that in our time, Hitler wins the prize, and it may be true – but we will never know how many innocent men women and children the United States of America slaughtered in Iraq during the previous decade President Bush refused to allow those numbers to be made public. There are many who say that America’s reign and THE greatest power on earth is about over. I say GOOD. I am ashamed of my nation and even MORE ashamed that as our current President works to try and fix some of the atrocities of the past administrations, religious folk and right-wing zealots are attacking him as the anti-Christ and worse. As for Christianity in America, it is a false morality pure and simple – why else would be spend so much time decrying a wardrobe malfunction at a ball game and then invoke the name of God in the fight to keep assault rifles in our homes? We are off the rails and no matter how we twist the words of the Bible to fit our aims, it isn’t truthful and it will ultimately fail. This is not a nation under God but a nation under a delusion that somehow God is behind all of this.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, like I stated in another board, I would not say to Eastern Orthodox that Emperor Justinian did genocide against the Vandals and Osterogoths since after the reconquest they were greatly reduced. Jame Mcdonnell does this. Frank needs to go back to his orthodox faith.

  • Mike Ward

    I read Schaeffer’s first two post on Red Letter Christians, and I was dumbfounded, not only by how hateful and mean-spirited they were, but also be how many comments agreed with him or defended him and by the fact that Red Letter Christians would even publish Schaeffer’s screed at all. In reflects very badly on Tony Campolo and his organization.

    • J S Lang

      Speaking as an ex-fan of Campolo, I think his theme song these days is “Slip Sliding Away.” If he slips any further to the left, he’ll be firmly in the “spiritual but not religious” category.

  • Walker

    Sorry, folks, but I think the man has several good points. How we can Christians – followers of Jesus Christ who taught “do not resist evil” and “pray for those who persecute you” possibly be in FAVOR of the 2nd amendment, no gun control, and war. Try as we might, it is irreconcilable with Christ’s teachings, period. He also makes a courageous point that America’s insane obsession with our “iron-clad” commitment to Israel is at the heart of terrorist activity against the US, and at the heart of the continuing ill-will that the M.E. harbors against our nation. As he rightly points out, we are not so righteous as we like to think we are – our warlike aims have always been with us like dirty underwear. It only took someone as dumb as GW Bush to wear it outside his clothes. Schaeffer is also correct in pointing out (in so many words) that Calvin and the violent “theologians” like him hardly reflect the spirit of Christ, but rather the lowest, basest, and most hateful expression of humanity cloaked in God-talk. It is not unlike the current religious right whacks, of which the IRD continues to serve a prime example.

    • JDE

      The world is not a righteous place and never will be until God directly deals with it. Much evil is done even in the name of our own country by those who care nothing for God or his ways. But that’s reality. We have a 2nd Amendment because we live in a reality where evil bearing a sword can only be checked by good bearing a sword. As for extreme Calvinism, agreed. It is readily maleable into a number of anti-Christian forms, while maintaining a pseudo-Christian veneer. But perversion of Christian reality for evil purposes is nothing new — just read the New Testament passages dealing with false teachers. Hatred and war are evils when committed for evil ends. When directed against genuine evil, however, hatred is the proper response and war, when engaged in to save the good from the onslaught of evil, is also entirely appropriate. God does not demand Utopian thinking of people who don’t yet live in Paradise. He is, after all, a realist.

      • Walker

        God (“He”) is a realist? I don’t even know that means. Does it mean God (“He”) sees things as they ARE? Then explain the point in creating anything at all… The creative act is in itself a movement to change the way things are in favor of the way one wishes them to be. And what savior did you hear tell you that “hatred is the proper response and war, when engaged in to save the good from the onslaught of evil is also entirely appropriate…” That runs so counter to the teachings of Jesus that I wonder what you’re trying to say. The religious right tries SO hard to shoe-horn the political ideologies of the right that it finally disfigures the faith altogether. Jesus NEVER called for anything but loving our neighbor, for resisting evil with good, and forgiving one another. War, by the way, is not good – even if engaged to stop a greater evil. Let’s admit what it is – man’s failing to find a better way – or more accurately, to follow a better way. The idea that a righteous world will never be until God deals directly with it is an admission of our collective unwillingness to do what “He” asks of us every day. Personally, I think religion – all religion – has misshapen and misused all of our spiritual teachings and tools to the point that we cease to talk honestly anymore with one another.

        • JDE

          Walker, if you can’t understand my comment that “God is a realist” then you probably won’t understand the equally simple principle that “all truth is God’s truth.” You don’t know where I’m coming from, or what I’m trying to say, but I see all too clearly where you’re coming from. My seminary career involved study at a very liberal seminary and study at a very conservative one. If you’ve only experienced the former, and never learned exegetical method, historical method, or how to work with ancient documents, then you’re befuddled. The Bible as hard-nosed reality doesn’t register. God’s truth as having the real world — not some idealized Utopia — in view may not register either. Yet, that’s precisely what God’s truth as expressed in Scripture represents. Jesus was painfully clear about the nature and fate of his enemies. He was clear that humankind would continue in wars and evil until he himself returned to deal with matters. Yes, yes, I know . . . the heresy of our age tells us to ignore what Jesus actually said, what the Biblical writers wrote down, the written legacy of our faith, and substitute some ethereal philosophy of what he should have said and what it “really” means. But that’s heresy. The gnostics did it. The legalists did it. The antinomians did it. Now the liberal protestants and modernists catholics do it. And it’s equally false. Until you fully understand the conservatives you demonize, you can’t begin to address our viewpoint.

  • JDE

    Shaeffer is just another ex-Christain kid of a famous Christian leader/thinker/etc. Saw it too often in seminary. No concept of truth — only a gnawing fixation on rebelling against their father. Very sad to spend one’s life in the shadow of a famous dad and never forge one’s own path. Shaeffer could have done so — could still do so — if he weren’t so fixated on his father, who even now is his only anchor. He can’t seem to define himself as anything other than little Frankie Shaeffer. Might be time to really give God a chance . . .