“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 word.
They were anti-American religious revolutionaries.”
Theocracy Rejected: Former Christian Right Leaders ‘Fess up
By Rob Boston, Church and State
Posted on March 10, 2008, Printed on March 11, 2008
Frank Schaeffer spent several years making a good living writing books promoting the Religious Right’s worldview and speaking before rapturous crowds of fundamentalist Christians.
Schaeffer, the son of evangelical guru Francis Schaeffer, was the closest thing to a rock star that politically conservative fundamentalism can offer. As the Religious Right soared in the 1980s, Schaeffer was there to ride the wave. Young, bright and charismatic, he could have founded his own Religious Right group or perhaps even launched a political career.
Twenty years have passed. What does Schaeffer think of the Religious Right today? He wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial 10-foot pole — and the feeling is mutual. A spiritual and professional crisis brought Schaeffer to the understanding that the Religious Right has it all wrong.
“My doubts really began when I realized that the people we were working with on the Religious Right were profoundly anti-American,” Schaeffer said in a recent interview. “I began to get the same vibe from them I got from my friends on the far left during the Vietnam War. They seemed to be rooting for North Vietnam. When I was working with the Religious Right, they seemed be rooting for the failure of America. Bad news was good news for them.”
Schaeffer isn’t the only ex-Religious Right activist having second thoughts these days. About 30 years ago, a young lawyer named John W. Whitehead worked alongside people like Jerry Falwell to help birth the Religious Right. Hoping to give the movement an intellectual grounding, Whitehead penned a series of books attacking the separation of church and state and demanding a government based on Christian fundamentalism.
Whitehead’s books — The Separation Illusion, The Second American Revolution and The Stealing of America — made him a popular figure in Religious Right circles. With the backing of Falwell and others, he helped found the Council for National Policy (CNP), a secretive and highly influential coalition of Religious Right groups. He also formed the Rutherford Institute, a legal group designed to promote conservative Christian causes.
Venturing into the farthest fringes of the Religious Right, Whitehead was for several years close to Rousas John Rushdoony, a leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement that seeks to replace America’s secular republic with a theocracy based on the Old Testament’s legal codes.
Whitehead repudiated theocracy years ago. It’s unlikely he’d be welcome at a CNP meeting now.
“Politics,” he said in a recent interview, “would never even figure into Jesus’ mind. He was a homeless person. He was like Gandhi. It wasn’t in the picture. Christianity was not founded on politics. It was founded on helping the less fortunate …. That’s how you impact culture.”
Schaeffer and Whitehead are two high-profile Religious Right apostates, but they aren’t the only ones. Even Cal Thomas, who once served as vice president of the late Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, is critical of the Religious Right these days. Thomas in 2000 coauthored a book titled Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America.
In a column written shortly after Falwell’s death in May, Thomas opined, “The flaw in the movement was the perception that the church had become an appendage to the Republican Party and one more special interest group to be pampered. If one examines the results of the Moral Majority’s agenda, little was accomplished in the political arena and much was lost in the spiritual realm, as many came to believe that to be a Christian meant you also must be ‘converted’ to the Republican Party and adopt the GOP agenda and its tactics.”
What’s more, these critics aren’t shy about speaking out. Schaeffer details his years in the Religious Right in his recently published book 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.
The tome is a frank tell-all loaded with broadsides against the Religious Right. Schaeffer does not hesitate to speak bluntly, as the following passages indicate:
- “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 word. 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.”
- “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.”
READ THE REST HERE: