Samantha Bee interviews Frank Schaeffer, who helped create the religious right

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That’s one of those interviews where I think, “Either he’s totally delusional or else… holy crap.”

That’s one helluva root cause analysis.


Damn. As Siskel and Ebert used to say: “two thumbs up–way up.” I mean, everything he’s breaking down was always pretty obvious to me (well, it was obvious as I came of age, but it all started when I was a wee one) but I could never figure out why it was not obvious to the then-adults who were sucked into it. That it was manipulative by-design no longer surprises me, but as a cradle atheist, all theism seemed so bizarre to me I just assumed that the evangelical proselytizers and their targets were both “in on it” to build a hype-train, or like what we would now call a media troll.

I’m happy to hear his perspective; indeed, I was fascinated. Yet, I doubt it will have any impact on his former constituency, whom I assume will just ignore or never hear it, like every other aspect of their evangelical bubble.


Her whole series on what caused the rise of the religious right is fascinating. That the original issue that motivated them was racism (they were for it) - in particular, the desegregation of religious schools - and that this was a religious issue for them was new to me. Also surprising was how much of an afterthought the whole abortion issue was. It’s too bad they didn’t stick with racism as their sole issue - that way, when they lost that battle, we’d be fucking done with them.


Can someone tell me why we need comedians to tell us the truth now a days?? Comedians like Samantha Bee, John Oliver, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert,Lewis Black, Bill Marr Wanda Sykes, George Carlin,… Oh i guess its always been that way.


There are a lot of good traditional political and social journalists out there writing. They just aren’t entertaining.


It’s also “safe” to cover topics in comedy that could get you in trouble in other venues. Same goes for Science Fiction.


That was interesting. :slight_smile:

As a side note, i’m still bemused by the fact the ‘religious right’ even exists… Have they ever actually read their own religious texts?
It would be amusing if there was a modern Jesus figure just to watch the religious right lose their minds over it. Can you imagine the hysterical “communist!” cries? :smiley:


It might be worth pointing out that he also repudiated Evangelicalism and embraced Greek Orthodoxy in the 90s. I had a close friend in Evangelical missions who used to be really into Francis Schaeffer’s work, then followed Frank into Eastern Orthodoxy while I went the more traditional route into apostasy. Keith and Melody Green were also pretty influential - I was born after it was written, but we had Melody’s article “Children, Things We Throw Away?” in our home and Francis Schaeffer and K&M Green’s no compromise call to engage with philosophy, politics and culture appealed to young people who wanted spiritual reality (we were with an Evangelical organisation that started in the 50s and had a lot of the same emphases, but without such a strong anti-abortion voice). While abortion was one aspect of the message, there was a strong focus on community, hope, engagement with physical needs and the idea that an authentic Christian message could give answers to a world that had lost its way. To be honest, quite a few people I knew at the time who were strongly engaged with this message ended up leaving Evangelicalism. It’s attractive, but ultimately unsustainable and seeing the poverty of a message that looked clear and the compromises that leaders were willing to make tarnishes its appeal.


The Jehovah’s Witnesses have announced the end of the world at least five times, and they are still going- if anything, stronger. As Schiller said, against stupidity even the gods struggle in vain.

Wise kings kept court jesters to tell them the truth that the courtiers kept from them.

Christianity was corrupted by being incorporated into the Roman state religion, which was there to assert the power of the élites and tell people it was divinely ordained. Protestantism didn’t mostly change this - Luther was totally on the side of the aristocracy. In the OT the prophets arise precisely because the city has become corrupt, but today’s Protestants are part of the City, not the desert.
The Catholic Church has often been politically left-leaning, but that is in part because it suits the claims of the Popes to ultimate authority.


There we have it. This man is responsible for ISIS.


Which root cause were you thinking of? Greed, racism or misogyny?


More the root cause of people using those things to gain power – and apparently not caring much about the consequences, which are still snowballing today.

I remember in high school (1980s) the teachers would discuss those evangelists and say it was going to get worse. I just think it’s amazing to hear from someone who was at Ground Zero but has some self-awareness (again, assuming this isn’t constructed).


You did all that, huh? Well… thanks, asshole.

If he’s guilty of everything he says, that’s beyond mortal forgiveness. Although I don’t buy that none of this would have happened without him. That sea of pent-up rage was always going to find a crack to burst out through, and it was always going to be ugly. Then again, what if it’d been someone like Bernie Sanders who activated that constituency?


I came from the same background as this guy and followed much the same path. There’s an inherent sense of entitlement and superiority within the religious right. That’s not to say that there are no humble people involved; it’s just that I’ve never met one. Their understanding of faith is supreme confidence in their particular understanding/interpretation of the Bible.

In religious terms, it’s nothing more than a slight twist on Pharaseeism. Ironically enough, it’s a movement completely devoid of faith.


The history he’s describing is known and well documented. The modern American religious right began as a response to the Civil Rights Act and was quickly hijacked by profiteers who turned to misogyny when racism became less fashionable (and then added homophobia once misogyny went stale).

Frank Schaeffer has been around and telling his story for a while now. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to doubt his veracity.


Never admit to wonder or learning something new in public. Got it.

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The idea that legislating abortion is like legislating relationships is an interesting metaphor: “There can be no divorce… love is forever… it has to work!” The anti-abortion movement really does draw this impenetrable line in the sand that sounds good from a dogmatic perspective, but is not workable from an everyday human perspective.

As I understand it, he calls himself an atheistic Christian now, which confounds some people, but makes perfect sense to me-- he goes to church and prays regularly, but has no idea if what he’s doing is valid. I bet a lot of people are in a similar position but don’t admit to it. The Orthodox Church typically calls the sacraments “mysteries”, which I always felt was a tacit admission of that very idea.


Nothing wrong with being one of today’s Ten Thousand, but your repeated mentions of “if this is true…” made it seem that you were suggesting that this is an unreliable, unverified story.

It isn’t; that is the entirety of my point.

I know homosexuality wasn’t his focus, although it does tie in with misogyny, but I’m glad he brought it up. I know some evangelicals who predicted all-out civil war if the Obergefell decision didn’t go their way but who now try to pretend they never picked that fight.

I understand better now why they switch the subject to abortion. Having lost on segregation (although there are plenty who still argue for it under the guise of the “free market”) and homosexuality (although they’re trying to shift the focus to transgender people) abortion must still seem like a fight they can “win”.