September 18, 2009, 9:00AM
Wednesday night, after Pres. Carter's remarks identifying the racism attendant to the teabagger rally in Washington and the other virulent eruptions of the right, Rachel Maddow interviewed a fellow named Frank Schaeffer about what it all means. She introduced the segment by pointing to some of the survey results about New Jersey "conservatives" and how many of them believe that Obama either is the antichrist or might be. Schaeffer grew up in the "Evangelical" movement and was an influential player early on in organizing the Christian right. Like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, Schaeffer, at a certain point had an epiphany and changed the course of his life. He now recognizes Christian fundamentalism for what it is and does what he can to combat it's continued malignant growth.
I think Mr. Schaeffer has a great deal of wisdom to impart about the Christian right, what it's all about and why it manifests itself politically as it does. People should listen carefully to what he has to say on this subject.
Rachel noted that about 60% of McCain voters in New Jersey do not think Obama is an American citizen. She wondered aloud why this is and how this could be and this is what Mr. Schaeffer said:
Those of us who come from the evangelical subculture have been weaned with our mother's milk on a changing cast list of villains. It might be Kennedy to one generation, Obama to the next, but I think the larger point this brings up is that the mainstream, not just media, but culture doesn't sufficiently take stock of the fact that within our culture we have a subculture which is literally a fifth column of insanity that is bred from birth through home school, Christian school, evangelical College, whatever to reject facts as a matter of faith. And so this substitute for authentic, historic Christianity, and I may add a little caveat here I'm a churchgoing Christian, really brings up the question can Christianity be rescued from Christians?
And that's an open question and when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our President is the antichrist you have to draw one of two conclusions. Either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation or they're beyond crazy and I think beyond crazy is a better explanation and that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America. We have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back. They look forward to Armageddon. Good news is bad news to them. When we talk about the Left Behind series of books that I talk about in my book Crazy for God, what we're really talking about is a group of people who are resentful because they know they've been left behind. By modernity, by science, by education by art, by literature.
The rest of us are getting on with our lives. These people are standing on a hilltop waiting for the end. This is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors and they are our national neighbors. And this is the source of all these insanities that we see leveled at the President, one way or another they go back to this evangelical subculture. Uh, it's a disaster.
Rachel then went on to discuss the large numbers of self-identified "conservatives" who pay heed to the birthers and deathers, etc... She then asked...
Q: How do you work to move people off of that position? It doesn't seem like facts are relevant in trying to move people away from these beliefs.
You don't work to move them off this position. You move past them.
Look, a village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot. It's as simple as that. And we have to understand we have a village idiot in this country: it's called fundamentalist Christianity, and until we move past these people, and let me add as a former lifelong Republican, until the Republican leadership has the guts to stand up and say it would be better not to have a Republican Party than have a party that caters to the village idiot there's gonna be no end in sight. The next thing they'll do is accuse Obama of being the antichrist and then who knows what comes next? On and on it goes. There is no end to this stuff. Why? Because this subculture has, as it's fundamentalist faith, that they distrust facts per se.
They believe in a young earth, 6000 years old, with dinosaurs cavorting with human beings. They think that whether its economic news or news from the Middle East it all has to do with the end of time and Christ's return. This is La La Land and the Republican Party is totally enthralled to this subculture to the extent that there is no Republican Party. There is a fundamentalist subculture which has become a cult. It's fed red meat by buffoons like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and other people who are just not terribly bright themselves and they are talking to even stupider people. That's where we're at. That's where all this is coming from and it's becoming circular. It's becoming a joke. Unfortunately a dangerous joke because once in a while one of these looney tunes we see brings guns to public meetings. Who knows what they do next? It's a serious thing we all have to face but the Democrats and sane Americans just have to move past these people and say, go wait on the hilltop for the end. The rest of us are going to get on with rebuilding our country.
You can go to the following url which will take you to Mr. Schaeffer's website. The clip from the Maddow show is front and center and can be watched by clicking on the link:
Mr. Schaeffer knows these people and their beliefs very, very well. He understands their mentality. Mr. Schaeffer does not dispute that much of the vitriol for Obama comes from racism but interestingly, he thinks that racism is only a part of it and even the racism we see emanates in large part from fundamentalist Christianity. I went and looked around on his blog and he believes that soon they may well turn to violence. I think he may well be right. The paranoid, sensationalist rhetoric of the right is very reminiscent of other times in the not too distant past when right wing violence sprang up. Speaker Pelosi was warning of that today and was all but ignored by the Republican leadership. People need to be prepared. And we need to be prepared to smack down any further violence by the right quickly and effectively so they do not pick up anymore momentum.