Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelical icon Francis Schaeffer, has long been prone to overreact to stuff he doesn’t like. For instance, when he converted from evangelicalism to Greek Orthodoxy, he wrote a convert book called Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in an Age of False Religion that basically pronounced anything Western in Christianity anathema. Yesterday, in an amazing overreaction to the religious right of which he used to be a part, Schaeffer donned the tinfoil hat and told readers of the Huffington Post that there’s no difference between the religious right and…Iranian theocracy:
The Republicans are faulting President Obama for not taking a “strong enough stand” in support of the freedom marchers in Iran. Yet if the Republican/Religious Right/Neoconservative agenda had come to full fruition over the last 35 years the Republicans would have plunged America into our own version of the misbegotten theocracy destroying Iran today.
Had we succeeded America would be another version of Iran. Instead of people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson having become marginalized they’d be sitting in Washington advising whomever was the next Republican president. Instead of environmental protection and new mileage standards for cars there would be new anti-gay laws on the books.
So the theocrats in Tehran are against car mileage standards and environmental protection as a matter of religious dogma? Who knew?
If the far right of the Republican Party and we of the Religious Right had had our way by now there would be a constitutional amendment and/or laws forcing prayer in schools, disenfranchising gay men and women, banning all abortions under penalty of death, banning gay men and women from serving in the military, launching a neoconservative led and religious right backed holy war against Islam, fixing Israel’s borders permanently to incorporate all the land taken in 1967 forever into a “Greater Israel” based on the “fact” that “God gave the Jews” the land “forever,” capital punishment would be used routinely to punish a variety of crimes including being gay, civil rights for blacks, women, gays, unions would be in retreat, and — other than enforcing “morality” – George W. Bush’s style of “free market” non-governance would be permanent.
Think this is all far fetched? Then you never sat in secret meetings with Pat Robertson or the late Dr. Kennedy — as I did when I was a religious right leader — fomenting plans to “bring America back to God.” If we’d won America would be a slicker more dangerous version of Iran.
I have no idea what might have happened in those “secret” meetings, which were no doubt held under the auspices of the Learned Elders of Zion. In particular, there’s no way to know whether any of these ideas were actually discussed, or whether they are the invention of Schaeffer’s fertile imagination. For one thing, he’s attributing ideas that didn’t even become pertinent–holy war against Islam? banning gays from the military?–until the 1990s to people participating in meetings in the early 1980s. For another, he mentions ideas that were never part of the public debate, such as capital punishment in connection with abortion and “being gay,” and that were the purview only of a marginal theological movement (Christian Reconstructionism). Though organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and People for the American Way have tried to build Reconstructionism into some kind of looming boogeyman on the verge of taking over the Republican Party if not America itself, its extreme positions regarding the use of Old Testament law in modern public policy have had zero influence on actual politics. But if Schaeffer had left it at this, he might be accused of distorting history or exaggerating about the past. But he doesn’t:
Picture America if Sarah Palin was president, both houses of Congress had a deep Republican majority, and the last 30 years of appointments to the Supreme Court had all been far right choices. Picture Fox News as the only TV news with access to the government, and the editors of the New York Times in jail for “treason.”
Cue the black helicopters, left-wing version. One has to wonder if Schaeffer is aware that Sarah Palin ran for vice president, or that both houses of Congress had Republican majorities working with a Republican president for four of the last eight years. Whatever. At this point he’s sliding into fantasy land, and that means there needs to be a master mind standing behind this neo-fascist coup. He conveniently supplies one:
The Religious Right has been awash in anti-democratic (even anti-American) religious ideologues for the better part of 40 years. For instance I knew the founders of the so-called dominionist or “reconstruction” wing of our movement personally, people like the late Reverend Rousas John Rushdoony the father of “Christian Reconstructionism” and the modern Christian home school movement.
Rushdoony (who I met and talked with many times) believed that interracial marriage, which he referred to as “unequal yoking”, should be made illegal. He also opposed “enforced integration”, referred to Southern slavery as “benevolent”, and said that “some people are by nature slaves”. Rushdoony was also a Holocaust denier. And yet his home school materials are a mainstay of the evangelical home school movement to this day!
Rushdoony’s 1973 opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law, says that fundamentalist Christians must “take control of governments and impose strict biblical law” on America and the world. That would mean the death penalty for “practicing homosexuals.”
Yes, well. I’ve never had much use for Rousas Rushdoony, who may or may not have held some of the views attributed to him. The point is, so what? Even if Rushdoony was a Holocaust denier, does that make anyone else in the religious right one? Even if Rushdoony thought slavery was a stroll in the park, why does that mean that anyone who ever associated with him or read any of his books must as well?
Picture the harshest Old Testament laws applied at home and the harshest neoconservative military policy abroad and that would be America if the Republicans had everything they wanted. We’d be in three wars now instead of two – Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. It would be open season on domestic surveillance. Torture would be legal. Habeas Corpus would be a thing of the past. Women would be in prison for having had abortions. Gay men and women would be hounded and if they were murdered there would be leaders saying they had it coming. The CIA and FBI would be operating inside the USA to crush dissent. Blackwater (and other companies like it) would be taking over more and more military duties and operating internationally as a mercenary death squad.
Look at Iran and give thanks that the Republican Party — the tool of America’s mullahs married to the Neocon war mongers — is in decline and has been rejected by the American people. Work to keep America secular, free and democratic.
At this point, one can only shake one’s head and wonder whether Schaeffer has not been taking his lithium.