June 20, 2012

Frank Schaeffer: Conspiracy Theorist?

Frank Schaeffer makes regular appearances on MSNBC. (Photo Credit: MSNBC.com)

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.

Wild Goose Festival Logo (Credit: NCCouncilofchurches.org

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.”


16 Responses to Frank Schaeffer: Conspiracy Theorist?

  1. Conspiracy? says:

    […] the rest. Share this on: Mixx Delicious Digg Facebook […]

  2. Ron Henzel says:

    Franky has been hacked off and throwing a tantrum at evangelical America (which he has never even remotely understood, having grown up in Switzerland) ever since 1984, when his father died and all the chips he constantly carries around on his shoulders caused the mantle that he fully expected would land on him to slide right off. I was at the last L’Abri conference that Dr. Schaeffer gave in Knoxville, TN, six weeks before he died, which also premiered Franky’s film interpretation of The Great Evangelical Disaster. Unlike the book, the film itself was a disaster. When the lights came back on in the stately Presbyterian church where we had gathered an awkward silence hung in the air, and I recall Edith herself referring to the film as “caustic” (and ridiculously so, I might add).

    A short while later Franky (and that’s what we all called him back then because that was the name he went by) published his embarrassing machine-gunning screed, Bad News For Modern Man, and when, for some strange reason, the-oh-so-many evangelicals he alienated in the book did not rise up as one and anoint him as their leader, he huffed off to find purpose and meaning by indulging his inner Mad Max with some rather bizarre film making while searching for new objects of wrath in Eastern Orthodoxy. In the process he reconstructed himself (not to mention the actual evangelical history of the ’70s and ’80s) as a co-founder of the Christian Right. He is now on a one-man mission to persuade the world (and perhaps himself) that this Frankenstein’s monster he supposedly helped create (and oh, what creative license he takes regarding that creation!) must be slain.

    For those of us who were actually involved in evangelicalism back then, and paying even minimal attention to Franky’s role (such as it was) within emerging evangelical leadership, it was painfully obvious that he got to where he arrived in the mid-’80s by riding along on his father’s coattails, his role in “co-founding the Christian Right” having been largely confined to being in the same room when some interesting things happened, and that he lacked the intellectual tools and temperament to be anything more than a rather near-sighted attack dog in the developing culture wars.

    But fortunately for Franky’s current career in railing as long and as loud as he can to anyone who will listen, such duly non-diligent media stars as Rachel Maddow do not see the importance in fact-checking the older stuff on his résumé. (If they did they may have noticed a disturbing long-term tendency of turning on those who help make him what he is.) For now, it suits their purposes to give Franky something that is at least as important to him as his anger: an audience.

    • Interesting insights and experience. Thanks for taking the time to share that. You may want to add the factual account of his film debut to his wikipedia page, which appears mostly to be a puff-piece. I recently added a quotation from Os Guinness for balance.

  3. Ron Henzel says:

    Franky has been hacked off and throwing a tantrum at evangelical America (which he has never even remotely understood, having grown up in Switzerland) ever since 1984, when his father died and all the chips he constantly carries around on his shoulders caused the mantle that he fully expected would land on him to slide right off. I was at the last L’Abri conference that Dr. Schaeffer gave in Knoxville, TN, six weeks before he died, which also premiered Franky’s film interpretation of The Great Evangelical Disaster. Unlike the book, the film itself was a disaster. When the lights came back on in the stately Presbyterian church where we had gathered an awkward silence hung in the air, and I recall Edith herself referring to the film as “caustic” (and ridiculously so, I might add).

    A short while earlier, Franky (and that’s what we all called him back then because that was the name he went by) had published his embarrassing machine-gunning screed, Bad News For Modern Man, and when, for some strange reason, the-oh-so-many evangelicals he alienated in the book did not rise up as one and anoint him as their leader, he huffed off to find purpose and meaning by indulging his inner Mad Max with some rather bizarre film making while searching for new objects of wrath in Eastern Orthodoxy. In the process he reconstructed himself (not to mention the actual evangelical history of the ’70s and ’80s) as a co-founder of the Christian Right. He is now on a one-man mission to persuade the world (and perhaps himself) that this Frankenstein’s monster he supposedly helped create (and oh, what creative license he takes regarding that creation!) must be slain.

    For those of us who were actually involved in evangelicalism back then, and paying even minimal attention to Franky’s role (such as it was) within emerging evangelical leadership, it was painfully obvious that he got to where he arrived in the mid-’80s by riding along on his father’s coattails, his role in “co-founding the Christian Right” having been largely confined to being in the same room when some interesting things happened, and that he lacked the intellectual tools and temperament to be anything more than a rather near-sighted attack dog in the developing culture wars.

    But fortunately for Franky’s current career in railing as long and as loud as he can to anyone who will listen, such duly non-diligent media stars as Rachel Maddow do not see the importance in fact-checking the older stuff on his résumé. (If they did they may have noticed a disturbing long-term tendency of turning on those who help make him what he is.) For now, it suits their purposes to give Franky something that is at least as important to him as his anger: an audience.

    • Frank is thankfully pushing many Buttons, and long overdue. For good reason, preacher sons have the inside scoop. http://www.hellboundthemovie.com/

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Too many other people were there and have very different recollections of Franky’s so-called “inside scoop.”

        • Ronnie, I believe your buttons have been pushed. By others, do you mean Billy Graham and daughter Gigi, who was there to marry a very wealthy European?
          Mr. Schaeffer happens to be the first one that is demonstrating how the religious right is always poking their agenda into our Democracy. We always hear about the “Founding Fathers” who introduced “One Nation under God”, when it was Pres. Eisenhower who added the phrase to the “Pledge of Allegiance” in 1954, after giving into the Knights of Columbus. Those founding father tried their very best to separate church and state, but the right only thinks of themselves. Myself and many others might be willing to listen to religious arguments if they were willing to forfeit their tax exemptions. http://video.msnbc.msn.com/martin-bashir/47834976/#47834976

      • @ Rambling, It might help if you learn some American history. The Puritans founded Massachusetts and Connecticut, with laws copied verbatim from the book of Leviticus, to be “Bible Commonwealths”. Your insinuation that the “religious right” and Christian “intrusions” into American politics is a recent thing is total nonsense. There was a “religious right” in America before there was a United States in America!

        • Leon Peek says:

          There was a “religious right” in America before there was a United States in America!
          The Puritans? How could anyone forget the Puritans? Those reformers that made a new home in the “New Nation” complete with their very own new nation rules. Puritans would have it their way, join, tythe, convert or leave. I was raised in a Puritans home, but my parents called themselves Southern Baptist.
          When it came to the Salem Witch Trials, they did so in the name of their Lord. After all, someone was to blame for the drought that killed the Puritans tobacco crops. Those witch hunts have never stopped, we have one going on within this post. Puritans are the very reason the founding fathers wrote the “Establishment Clause”. To help you in this history lesson, you can find it in the First Amendment of the United States of America Constitution.
          Please continue your psychological profiling of this Napoleon figure you childishly call Franky. Your actions and words can only give courage to those confined, restrained, and living with the Insane.

  4. Hennypenny says:

    yeah it’s really worth having children and putting all your life’s effort into them…
    /not

  5. cynthia curran says:

    Well, since Franky join the Eastern Orthodox, the Byzantine Empire merged state and church in ways that the US would find as a theocracy. Emperor Justinian had his law codes even sang in Church. Jews and Pagans in the legal system could not defend themselves while they had to testify for a christian in a legal case.. Even in Greece today, its hard to get permits to hold religious gatherings if you are not orthodox and you can be jailed if you preach a non-orthodox message in Greece. Yet, Franky complains about the US.

  6. cynthia curran says:

    I mean if you go out into the streets and preach a non-Orthodox message not if you are meaning in a church or synagogue or Mosque.

  7. Os Guinness, who lived with the Francis and Edith Schaeffer and was Frank’s best man, wrote in a published review of “Crazy for God”, that Frank Schaeffer is a typical example of a spoiled kid who is now dishonoring his parents as revenge for not getting the attention he craved as a child. “The real truth is that Franky, as he then called himself, was spoiled. He was more like a poster child for Benjamin Spock than the son of “fundamentalist missionaries.” . . . He was rarely challenged, disciplined, or denied. As a result, he grew up a “little Napoleon,”. . .In sum, the combination of neglect, guilt, nepotism, and spoiling was a toxic brew.”

  8. cynthia curran says:

    Partly true but I think eastern orthodoxy is an influence, granted there are some Eastern Orthodox whether they are conservative to liberal that are not that fond of Frank Schaeffer. Frank belonged to a group of Eastern Orthodox that tend to be both anti-Roman Catholic and Protestant since Orthodoxy is not only have a different view of some not as great as a fall and Theos to become like God in Morality and Goodness but also a strong anti-Western view of Western History which is complex since they do have a point on some events in history like the 4th crusade or England’s support of the Ottoman Empire against Russia or US support of Turkey over Greece. A lot of protestants here don’t visit Orthodox blogs to find out how they view the west. There are some Orthodox that are not anti-west. Frank S wants to hit at the religious right since they represent the west more to Eastern Orthodox than liberal Protestants.

  9. cynthia curran says:

    I mean eastern orthodoxy view of sin is not as great as a fall.

  10. cynthia curran says:

    Personality, I think we here need to go prior to the Puritans. American Government was also influence by the Roman Republic-Cato referred to either Cato the Elder who was a cultural conservative who opposed using Greek in Rome among the senatorial class of Rome or Cato the Younger who opposed Julius Caesar and died at Utica in North Africa. Both Eastern orthodox and Roman Catholic are aware of ancient Roman history and historical events in the middle ages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *