Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Internet Review Of Books

A cacophony of religious voices

PATIENCE WITH GOD
By Frank Schaeffer
230 pp. Da Capo Press $25

Reviewed by Sue Ellis

I hadn’t read this prolific author before, but the description of his book at Amazon hooked me—something to the effect that he finds a middle ground between religion and atheism; it’s a book aimed at the “hopefully uncertain.” That’s for me, I thought. If the author was searching for a receptive audience, he may have hit pay dirt with this one. It turns out that a lot of people might be looking for middle ground, having Patience With God, even guys like Frank Schaeffer, who have experienced it all in the modern world of religion.

His childhood was spent with his evangelist parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, on a mission to spread the word of God. Frank followed in their footsteps for many years—until he became dissatisfied with “the literal-minded religion and the political causes that had become indistinguishable from it.”

The first part of the book pecked at the flaws of atheism while admitting that there are some aspects of non-belief that appeal even to him. He names names when he criticizes the famous athiests: Richard Dawkins, Tracie Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens. One by one he characterizes them with candid looks at their lifestyles and beliefs. To my surprise, he goes on to criticize religious leaders as well—people like Rick Warren and Tim LaHaye. He says he can’t see much difference between their scare tactics and commercial marketing strategies. He even picks on himself, detailing the way his lifestyle and his faith have changed over the years—a process he believes is natural.

While that part of the book was a little dry for me, I could still see where he was aiming. What I didn’t find, and was relieved not to have found, was a guy stepping up to lead me down a new “correct” path. In fact, he admits there may not be one.

In the second half of the book, I related better to the stories he began to tell. He described personal experiences with the characters who have peopled his life and led him to believe that there is a higher power. He writes beautifully. Here’s a section that tells about his comeuppance at a tender age after he and a friend had bullied a schoolmate to tears. They were made to wait outside the headmaster’s study door for two hours in the middle of the night.

“Well?” asked Parke, looking up from his book, “How did you enjoy that?”

“Not very much, sir,” we mumbled.

Mr. Parke closed his book with a snap and sat back in his chair. He sighed, then nodded slowly before he spoke.

“Now you know how Higgins spends his days. You see, you chaps are happy boys. When you get up in the morning, it isn’t with a sense of dread. You’re expecting a pleasant day. When Higgins gets up, he’s expecting unpleasantness. He knows that chaps like you think it’s funny to wind him up, to take advantage of the fact that he loses self-control. Well, for him that is a sort of hell. Would you make fun of him if he were a cripple, Schaeffer?”

“No, sir.”

His words hit home. No one at the school had ever so much as mentioned my polio or my thin atrophied left leg. This had been a great relief to me, and the shame of my hypocrisy welled up.

Skipping a little, here’s the summary of his experience with Mr. Parke:

The wisdom and mercy of our headmaster was what I followed, not a theory. He did not try to convert me to a better way. He was the better way. His teaching me didn’t depend on my believing what he believed. It depended on his setting an example for me to follow—an example that cost him a night’s sleep. Mr. Parke spoke no grand words. He traveled with two scared little boys a few steps down a path to greater kindness, to empathy, to learning to walk in another’s shoes. That is the purpose driven life.

There are more stories like it, stories about the god-like qualities he’s encountered in ordinary mortals. Although it is apparent that he has faith, he readily admits that a good part of it is long-standing habit. He says outright that parts of the Bible trouble him—some of what is written about God makes Him seem unforgiving and vengeful.

Schaeffer’s message seems to be that faith comes naturally and doesn’t need to endorsed by an organized, self-appointed religion. In describing his love for his baby granddaughter Lucy, he writes:

I find myself praying, “Lord, may none but loving arms ever hold her.” That prayer has nothing to do with theology. I’d pray it whether I believed in God nor not, for the same reason that on a lovely spring morning when I’m looking at the view of the river that flows past our home I sometimes exclaim, “That’s beautiful!” out loud, even when I’m alone.

Schaeffer’s voice is one among the cacophony of voices present in religious literature today. He’s saying it’s okay if you’ve never found a church to be comfortable with, and at the same time legitimizing a time-out for the exhausted religious. I enjoyed his perspective and his gentle nudge toward Christianity. It is also evident that Frank Schaeffer has led a remarkably interesting life, so the book is an enjoyable memoir as well.

Sue Ellis is a retired postmaster who lives and writes in Spokane, Washington. Her short stories have appeared at Flash Me Magazine, Wild Violet, Six Sentences, and Camroc Press Review, all online publications.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Frank Schaeffer Speaking Dates, Times, Places

Oops, I forgot some speaking dates... Here's my updated list

Frank Schaeffer -- Upcoming events

Date: Thursday, November 5th 2009 Time: 7:00 pm Location: Lolita Bar 266 Broom St. New York, NY 10002 Event: “Patience with God” book party hosted by Jeff Sharlet (author of “The Family”) and Killing the Buddha online magazine. Contact: (703) 967-7217

Date: Friday, November 6th 2009 Time: 7:00 pm Location: Cornerstone Bookstore 45 Lafayette St. Salem MA 01957 Event: “Patience with God” talk, reading and book signing Contact: (978) 744-1831 www.cornerstonebooks-salem.com

Date: Friday November 13 2009 Time: 7:30 pm Location: First & Central Presbyterian Church 1101 N. Market St. Wilmington, DE 19801-1223 Event: “Patience with God” talk, reading and book signing Contact: (302) 654-5371 www.fandc.org


Date: Friday, November 20th 2009 Time: 7:00 pm Location: Jabberwocky Bookstore 50 Water St. Newburyport MA 01950 Event: “Patience with God” talk, reading and book signing Contact: (978) 465-9359 www.jabberwocky.booksense.com

Date: Saturday, December 5th 2009 Time: 7:00 pm Location: St. Mary’s Orthodox Church 8 Inman St. (Boston) Cambridge, MA 02139 Event: “Patience with God” lecture and discussion Contact: Fr. Antony Hughes – (617) 547-1234

Date: Saturday, February 20th 2010 Time: 1:00 pm Location: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church 4070 Park Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604 Event: “Patience with God” lecture and discussion Contact: Gail Bellas-Papageorge – (203) 913-7601

Patience With God—Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) is in bookstores everywhere now or you may order from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/030681854X/ref=s9_simz_gw_s0_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=09FQX367KEK9556E4T8V&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tea Party "Judgment Day"

According to the "Tea Party" website (http://www.teapartyexpress.org/tour-schedule-2/) Tea Party Express II: Countdown To Judgment Day" is underway. Here's how their website describes it:

All throughout the recent Tea Party Express national bus tour we kept receiving calls from people around the nation who lived far away from the route our buses took across America. We vowed at the time to keep the Tea Party Express effort alive - and that's exactly what we are doing.Join us from October 25th to November 11th, 2009as we tell Congress and the White House: "Enough!" Let's stand up and stop the bailouts, cap and trade, out-of-control spending, government-run healthcare, and higher taxes! We're back and determined to take our country back!


What will happen on their predicted "Judgment Day"?

If you buy the biblical spin of the Religious Right folks -- that make up the bulk of the Tea Party movement -- the implication is clear: Jesus will soon return, send all Democrats, gays, blacks, progressives, liberals, college-educated unbelievers, etc., to Hell, while saving what Sarah Palin calls "us" "Real Americans" -- in other words unreconstructed frightened and resentful white lower middle class Americans.

(As a former right wing evangelical anti-abortion leader who built a good career from these folks -- until I quit in disgust with myself, the anti-American nature of the movement and the takeover the Republican Party by extremists -- I know of what I speak.)

If you put the secular/right's "tree-of-Liberty-must-be-watered-by-the-blood-of-tyrants-Timothy McVeigh spin on the Judgment Day scenario; then there will soon be a hoped for bloody day of reckoning for the occupant of the White House.

If you put the Republican Party/Rupert Murdoch/Fox News spin on Judgment Day; then it's the old game trotted out once again: stir up the malcontent and get them to defeat their own self interest in the name of flag, country, God, babies, free enterprise -- and support the corporate interests that profit from village idiots, say by defeating health care reform.

When the Tea Party folks say they want to "take back our country" who do they want to take it back from? It turns out it's going to be taken back from the democratic process itself. The effort here is to reverse the last election result.

In this scenario any time there is not a white, wealthy, far right Republican in the White House and any time Congress isn't controlled by the far (white) right of the Republican Party, then the country has been "stolen" from "us" "Real Americans."

Since democracy is not so easily undone, the implication is that to "take back" America must needs involve, not votes but "Judgment Day." In the view of the right Democracy Herself has failed "we" good God-fearing, "birther" "deather" "he lied!" "Obama is Hitler!" Americans. So we must now turn to "other means."

First Tea Parties then Judgment Day. Get it?

What do you think "We Real Americans" have all those guns for?

Frank Schaeffer is the author of Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)












Frank Schaeffer is the author of Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)

Where Frank Schaeffer Will Be Speaking Oct/Nov

Hi Frank Schaeffer here: Here’s where I’ll be speaking about my new book Patience With God—Faith For People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism). I hope you or your friends can join me. If you live nearby please join me. If not please let a friend who lives near one of these venues know.


Frank Schaeffer --

Upcoming events



Date: Thursday, November 5th 2009

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Lolita Bar

266 Broom St.

New York, NY 10002

Event: “Patience with God” book party hosted by Jeff Sharlet (author of “The Family”) and Killing the Buddha online magazine.

Contact: (703) 967-7217



Date: Friday, November 6th 2009

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Cornerstone Bookstore

45 Lafayette St.

Salem MA 01957

Event: “Patience with God” talk, reading and book signing

Contact: (978) 744-1831

www.cornerstonebooks-salem.com



Date: Tuesday, November 17th 2009

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Event: “Patience with God” lecture and discussion hosted by the Hammer Museum

Contact: Claudia Bestor
Director of Public Programs and Education

(310) 443-7038 office
cbestor@hammer.ucla.edu
www.hammer.ucla.edu



Date: Friday, November 20th 2009

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Jabberwocky Bookstore

50 Water St.

Newburyport MA 01950

Event: “Patience with God” talk, reading and book signing

Contact: (978) 465-9359

www.jabberwocky.booksense.com


Date: Saturday, December 5th 2009

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: St. Mary’s Orthodox Church

8 Inman St.

(Boston) Cambridge, MA 02139

Event: “Patience with God” lecture and discussion

Contact: Fr. Antony Hughes – (617) 547-1234



Date: Saturday, February 20th 2010

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

4070 Park Ave,

Bridgeport, CT 06604

Event: “Patience with God” lecture and discussion

Contact: Gail Bellas-Papageorge – (203) 913-7601



Patience With God—Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) is in bookstores everywhere now or you may order from Amazon at:



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/030681854X/ref=s9_simz_gw_s0_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=09FQX367KEK9556E4T8V&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A (Great!) Guest Post From Alternet

8 Reasons Fox Is Not a News Organization

By Adele Stan, AlterNet. Posted October 24, 2009.

http://www.alternet.org/media/143456/8_reasons_fox_is_not_a_news_organization?page=entire


Even before Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, Rupert Murdoch had declared war on him via the personalities of Fox News Channel, a subsidiary of Murdoch's media conglomerate, News Corp.

Since Obama's election, the cable channel's hosts and paid analysts have launched a full frontal assault on the president, smearing his nominees, calling him a racist and suggesting that his administration was trying to persuade disabled veterans to off themselves.

Now the fearmongers at Fox are crying foul since the president and his aides declared Fox not to be a news organization. Earlier this month, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn called Fox an "arm" of the Republican Party. Obama went even further, suggesting this week that Fox "is operating basically as a talk-radio format," and we know what that means: A format in which the most provocative opinions dominate the discourse and facts are optional.

Yet that's just the tip of the iceberg. Setting Fox apart from the two other cable news networks is its ownership by a corporation whose CEO and major shareholder is a mogul with an ideological agenda -- who operates his News Channel as a propaganda machine for his anti-government cause.

He even has his own community organizer, a fellow named Glenn Beck, who can turn out a mob on a dime at your local town-hall meeting. His big ratings-getter, Bill O'Reilly, is a professional bully, handsomely paid to physically intimidate progressive commentators -- on video -- and to vilify others.

Murdoch's agenda is simple: He's against regulation of any kind. Famous for smashing the unions at his U.K. properties, Murdoch also has a pronounced disdain for labor.

In essence, Murdoch's agenda tracks closely with that of the current GOP, that far-right rump of a party that once claimed to embrace a range of views under the canvas of a big tent. So he uses the Fox airwaves to raise funds for Republican political action committees.

We've seen the Fox News-branded hosts and pundits -- such as Michelle Malkin and John Stossel -- sent out gin up the fearful folk gathered by astroturfing groups funded by corporations that seek to derail government intervention of any kind, whether in the nation's dysfunctional health care system or in its increasingly compromised environment.

Murdoch saves money by farming out the investigative-journalism functions of his alleged news enterprise to Republican Party entities, whose error-laden press releases are passed off as original Fox News research.

When you watch Fox News Channel, what you see is the advancement of that agenda through a media organ that seeks to turn regular people against their own interests -- the better to enrich the coffers of Murdoch and his heirs -- and that actively organizes those whose paranoia it has fed with lurid and untrue tales.

How else would you turn their fear of a bitter economy and an unstable world into rage against a president who ran for office on an economic platform geared toward the needs of everyday people?

Here we list a few of the reasons why Fox News Channel is anything but a news operation in the hope of shedding light on what it actually is: a massive media campaign for the consolidation of wealth through unfettered markets.

Why Fox News is not a news operation:

1. Glenn Beck, the community organizer -- No other news operation in memory has ever hired its own community organizer, at least not one tasked with the mission of organizing paranoid people to march through the streets of the nation's capital with signs depicting the president of the United States as a mass murderer.

Through his 9-12 Project, which he promotes on his Fox News Channel program, that's exactly what Beck did, organizing with other right-wing organizations the 9-12/Tea Party march on Washington -- AlterNet reported marchers sported signs comparing Obama to Hitler and Stalin.

Beck was also instrumental in turning out angry mobs to disrupt this summer's town hall meetings, where members of Congress attempted to discuss health care reform with their constituents. After participants in a scuffle at a Tampa, Fla., town hall named their local 9-12 Project site as their inspiration, the national 9-12 Project site stopped accepting comments.

Despite the loss of some 80 advertisers from The Glenn Beck Show, thanks to a campaign by Color of Change, which targeted the show's sponsors after Beck claimed the president had "a deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture," Beck remains on the air at Fox. Could that be because he's more valuable to his boss-daddy as an organizer than as a conduit for advertising dollars?

After all, defeating government regulation of any kind could assure billions for Murdoch the investor, while advertising profits for a show with 3 million viewers would at most bring in millions. It's all about the zeros -- how many.

2. Fox's alliance with the corporate-funded astroturf group Americans for Prosperity -- We've scratched our heads trying to come up with an analogous relationship between a cable news channel and a corporate-funded group that organizes fearful people to disrupt public meetings, but we came up empty.

Americans For Prosperity, a group that received funding from Koch Industries, an oil-and-energy company and major polluter, also organized this summer's town hall disrupters. Although they kicked off their rabble-rousing campaign by galvanizing opposition to health care reform, their real target appears to be energy reform, especially the cap-and-trade provision that will make dirty industries pay a pretty penny to pollute.

At an AFP conference in Pittsburgh in August, we noticed that the roster of speakers was heavily populated by News Corp. personalities, including Fox News contributors Malkin and Jim Pinkerton, and Wall Street Journal columnists John Fund and Stephen Moore. (News Corp. also owns WSJ.) AFP Policy Director Phil Kerpen, who also addressed the crowd, has a column at FoxNews.com, and he was quick to use it to take credit for the resignation of White House adviser Van Jones, against whom he helped orchestrate a smear campaign in collusion with other Fox personalities, including Beck.

When, at the August RightOnline conference, AlterNet asked AFP President Tim Phillips whether his organization had a partnership with Murdoch, he looked stunned:

"We have someone from Fox News?" he asked.

"Well, Fox News Channel contributors," I replied.

"OK. So, they're not on the payroll of Fox News. Do any of those guys get money from Fox News?"

He's asking me? "I don't know if they're paid by Fox," I said, "but I assume that they are. Do you have a partnership with Rupert Murdoch?"

"Not at all, not at all," he replied with a little laugh. "The fact is, the Wall Street Journal's my favorite newspaper; I love those guys. I like what they write. ... But there's no partnership -- financially, understood or anything else."

I checked with the Fox News Washington bureau, and indeed Malkin and Pinkerton are paid by Fox, and are branded by the News Channel, listed on the "talent" page of its Web site. Fund and Moore are full-time employees of the Wall Street Journal, and AFP's Kerpen has a weekly platform on Fox's well-traveled Web site.

In fact, Murdoch's minions accounted for more than one-third of the roster of speakers at the conference plenary session.

Now, the News Channel's sibling station, Fox Business News channel is, fittingly, getting in on the act. The ink barely dry on his new contract with Fox, John Stossel is hitting the road with AFP's Phillips to argue against "government-forced health care" at AFP rallies, the Raw Story reports.

Stossel hosts a weekly show on FBN, and appears on Fox News Channel as a commentator. In August, Stossel appeared on Mike Huckabee's Fox News show, where he advocated for the right of insurance companies to charge more for, or to dump, patients who have pre-existing conditions.

"I mean, an insurance company helps us by saying, 'We're gonna charge the town drunk more for car insurance than we're gonna charge you,' " Stossel said.

Nice. Comparing someone who has, say, multiple sclerosis, with the town drunk -- because MS is apparently the result of bad behavior. In the same segment, he said insurance companies should have the right to charge women more because "women go to the doctor more often. ... Some discrimination is good."

3. On-air fundraising for Republican PACs -- Fox News personalities encourage viewers to contribute money to, and visit the Web sites of, specific Republican-affiliated political action committees. We can't find a single instance of either CNN or MSNBC doing anything of the kind for Democratic causes.

Oh, sure, Keith Olbermann raised money for free health clinics for the uninsured, but it's our understanding that there are uninsured Republicans. And Rachel Maddow raised money for jerseys for an Iraqi baseball team (who learned the game from American troops), but last time we looked, baseball was the Great American Bipartisan Pastime.

As reported by Media Matters via Air America, Fox political analyst Dick Morris used a September appearance on Fox's Hannity to promote Republican Trust, a PAC for which Morris works, crowing that "we've raised now $2 million to run ads ..." Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee, who hosts an eponymous Sunday night show on the alleged News Channel, took a softer approach when he directed viewers to the Web site of his Huck PAC, the fundraising mechanism for an expected presidential campaign, to sign a petition.

4. Bill O'Reilly, stalker of those whose opinions he doesn't like -- We exhausted all avenues of research trying to find a news show host at another cable news channel who pays his producer to stalk people whose opinions he or she doesn't like. Came up with bupkus. Nor could we find one who locked the media out of remarks she or he was delivering in acceptance of an award from a nonprofit group.

At the annual conference of the religious-right political group, Family Research Council Action, O'Reilly received an award for his vilification of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was an abortion provider who was gunned down in his church by a man who obviously took to heart references by O'Reilly and others, "Tiller the baby-killer."

As AlterNet reported, FRC Action gave O'Reilly its first "Media Courage" award, only to see the Fox News host lock out the media to watch his speech.

One of the trademarks of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, is the dispatch of producer/stalker Jesse Watters to ambush liberal commentators who have expressed opinions with which his boss is at odds, pummel them with questions framed around lies or misleading statements, and capture their shocked replies on video, which is then edited for maximum effect and played on the nightly program.

But when Watters tailed Think Progress blogger Amanda Terkel for two hours and bushwhacked her at a resort town where she was vacationing, he traveled a bridge too far, awarding Terkel a moment of fame that did not play well for O'Reilly.

Fox defenders reply that Watters uses techniques developed by the legendary Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame, neglecting to mention that Wallace does not sic his producers on people who criticize him -- only on people alleged to have committed crimes who refuse to return his calls.

5. Sunday talk-show host who promotes Republican falsehoods -- Once upon a time, Chris Wallace, son of the aforementioned Mike, was a real journalist, just like his dad. Then he joined the Fox team, as host of Fox News Sunday, which airs on the Fox's broadcast network.

Wallace fell full-fledged into Fox's wing-nuttery when, in the heat of the town hall madness this summer, he promoted a Bush administration official's mischaracterization of a booklet recommended for patients in the Veterans Affairs medical system as a "death book" for veterans. The guest who made the allegations was an author whose book about end-of-life options had been rejected for distribution by the VA -- a guy named Jim Towey, the former director of the Bush administration's office of faith-based initiatives.

The pretext for Towey's appearance on the show was an op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal slamming the Obama administration's VA department. While we don't always love the framing of issues on NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, or ABC's This Week (or the frequent absence of progressives on those shows), we don't recall David Gregory, Bob Scheiffer or George Stephanopoulos promoting a similar misrepresentation of any Bush administration policy.

6. Fox News anchors, show hosts and pundits parrot GOP press releases, or just make up stuff -- Promoting the notion that their organization is on some sort of Nixonian White House "enemies list," Fox News personalities first trotted out the "enemies list" theme in August, when they suggested that the White House, asking for Americans to send the administration any unsolicited e-mails they received that promoted false information about health care reform legislation, was actually compiling an "enemies list."

The idea was promoted by Steve Doocy of the Fox and Friends morning program, and a number of other Fox talking heads. (Note: Nixon's enemies list was a list of targets for dirty tricks.) After Obama administration officials began hitting back at Fox for its misrepresentation of administration policies, Fox personalities, ever sounding a theme of victimization, declared themselves to be targets on the imaginary "enemies list."

Just this week, Fox and Friends anchors Brian Kilmeade, Doocy and Gretchen Carlton recited as fact a false claim in a GOP press release that reported administration projections for 2011 of jobs to be created by the stimulus package as 2009 figures, which the GOP then, of course knocks down based on current data. A graphic on-screen during the segment read: "STIMULUS GENERATES UNEMPLOYMENT," a claim no credible economist has made.

This isn't the first time Fox News has looked to Republican press releases as substitutes for scripts. In February, Media Matters caught Fox passing off as its own research slides apparently cut-and-pasted from a Senate Republican Communications Center release. How did Fox get caught? They passed on a typo from the SRCC document, citing the date for a WSJ report as "12/19/09."

7. Fox News hosts urge viewers to join a particular political group -- During the run-up to the big right-wing 9-12/Tea Party march on Washington, Fox News entities and personalities repeatedly flogged viewers to join the Tea Party Express, a bus tour of anti-Obama activists.

Advising viewers on "how you can join" the tour, Fox and Friends hosted Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams, vice chairman of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, who is a part of the birther conspiracy movement of people who contend that Obama wasn't born in America. At the Fox Nation Web site, viewers were treated to a promotional piece that asked, "Will You Join the Tea Party Express?" We don't see the other cable news outlets soliciting members for, say, MoveOn.org.

8. Glenn Beck, deranged inventor of paranoid conspiracies -- Here's a Beck exclusive you won't hear on any of the other cable news networks: OnStar, the GPS/emergency-alert system available in General Motors cars, is being indirectly funded by the auto-industry bailout so the government can spy on you.

To be fair, Beck said this on his radio program, which is not a Fox News product, which is also where he compared the situation of Fox News to that of Jews during the Holocaust (with other news outlets acting as silent bystanders). In the same segment, he cast Obama as a "brutal dictator."

But statements such as these seem to serve no detriment to his Fox News career. (Compare this to MSNBC, where David Shuster got sidelined for a month during the height of campaign season for a bad choice of words regarding Chelsea Clinton stumping for her mom.) And there's no shortage of outrageous and paranoid material to choose from from Beck's television show, much of it reported, blogged or cataloged by AlterNet.

The big one, of course, is Beck calling Obama a racist, and then going on Fox and Friends to declare that the president has "a deep-seated hatred of white people" and "white culture."

Then there's all the weeping, which looks a lot like bad acting. On news opinion shows on other cable channels, we don't see much of that.

And there's this one: Beck's claim that he couldn't debunk the conspiracy theory that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is building internment camps for political dissidents:

"We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination," Beck said on a March broadcast of Fox and Friends. "I have to tell you, I'm doing a story tonight that I wanted to debunk these FEMA camps."

In June, after New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called out Beck for the claim, he dialed it back.

Now, there's some stuff you won't find on any other cable channel that claims to be a news outlet.

Why Fox News Is NOT News

Rachel Maddow made the best commentary anywhere on why FOX News is not news at all, please watch this!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#33456104

Why We Must Fight For the Separation of Church and State

Do you want to know what is really going on in Iran? Did you know that they have their own version of our "born-again" rapture cult? Did you know that just like our fundamentalists they are rooting for chaos and the "End Times"?

Here is the best information in one place I've come across on all this. Take 29 minutes and listen to this incredible BBC 4 radio program on Iran, the clerics, Islam, and politics.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00n80b5/Analysis_Ayatollogy/

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'll Be In NYC Reading and Doing a Q & A Nov 5

Hi if you are in NYC please come along! Best, Frank

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Person:
Nathan Schneider, Senior Editor of Killing the Buddha
(703) 967-7217 / contact@killingthebuddha.com
http://www.killingthebuddha.com
Former Evangelical Leader to Advise Patience with God in November 5th Reading

Thursday, November 5th, 2009
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Lolita Bar
266 Broome Street, New York, NY

October 22, 2009 - NEW YORK, NY - Nobody knows better than Frank Schaeffer what he’s up against. Together with his father Francis, he was one of the architects of the modern conservative evangelical movement, and he has lived to tell the tale. On November 5th at Lolita Bar in New York City, he will read from his new book, Patience with God, a celebration of the wide middle ground between fundamentalist religion and the new strident atheism, in an evening sponsored by Killing the Buddha.

As someone who has known personally some of the last half-century’s greatest religious power brokers, Schaeffer pulls no punches. “He names names but is an equal opportunity assailant,” writes Donna Chavez in her review of Patience with God in Booklist. The book, published by Da Capo, appears on shelves this month.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of many books, including novels, memoirs, and, in his former life, conservative Christian polemics. In 2007, he published 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. In the New Statesman, Jeff Sharlet called it “a brilliant book, a portrait of fundamentalism painted in broad strokes with streaks of nuance, the twinned coming-of-age story of Frank and the Christian right.” In addition to being a writer who overcame severe dyslexia, Schaeffer has been a self-taught documentary movie director and a director and producer of four low-budget Hollywood features.

Killing the Buddha (www.killingthebuddha.com) is an online religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the “spirituality” section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. Since 2000, it has published uncommon commentary, journalism, reviews, fiction, art, and more about religion, politics, and culture. The site has spawned two books: Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (Free Press, 2004) and Believer, Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith (Beacon, 2009), which Library Journal calls “shocking, exhilarating, and never dull—highly recommended.”

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Listen To My First Radio Interview On "Patience With God"

Oct 21, 09 Frank S on "Young Turks" radio talking about Patience With God--Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXbxS_Zh0f4

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama vs. FOX News

President Obama is getting criticism for going after Fox News. I fault the White House too: for not going far enough. The real issue is not Fox's right wing "bias." The real issue is that FOX News seems to be trawling for assassins. Here's the letter White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs should write. Or maybe it should come from the head of United States Secret Service.


Dear Rupert Murdoch, since you are responsible for what is on Fox News I have a question for you: Do you ever wonder how you'll be remembered by Americans and the world (not to mention your children) if someone takes a shot at President Obama, and when asked why they did it, quotes the misinformation spouted by Fox News as their "reason"?

You have dozens of far right and dangerous and/or crazy seeming commentators working for you but lets just talk about one as an example of the rest. What of Glenn Beck?

Does the name Father Charles Coughlin ring a bell? Do you want to be remembered as the facilitator of today's version of that deranged radio personality and hater who hounded President Roosevelt? What if a Coughlin devotee had assassinated Roosevelt? Instead of just being a nasty footnote to American history Coughlin would be remembered as another John Wilkes Booth. What if Coughlin had had someone with money and virtually unlimited influence backing him and amplifying his remarks? How would we feel about his backer?

Glenn Beck is a second rate, not terribly bright Coughlin-type demagogue with rather dimwitted followers. And you are the paymaster making his silliness dangerous by giving him a voice that would otherwise be heard only by those who happened to hear him barking at the moon on some lonely street corner.

You've given today's Coughlins -- the haters -- a national platform. And they have taken the lies of the "birthers", "deathers", "Obama-is-the-Antichristers" etc., nationwide. It was a bad day for America when you became a citizen for the sole purpose of purchasing TV stations and invading us with your far right agenda. But you've gone way past politics, even the politics of hate.

You have legitimized actual insanity by widespread repetition of extremist racist and religion-based lies to the sort of people who believe the earth is 6000 years old, that Jesus will come back soon and send everyone not like them to Hell, that Obama is the Antichrist. In other words you've got the keys to the national asylum, are stirring up the inmates and threatening to unlock the door!

Here's a sample (compiled with the help of Media Matters and the online magazine Crooks and Liars) of just a small stock of the incendiary rhetoric and bare-faced lies your money pays for.

Fox News host Glenn Beck has:

# said President Obama has, "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,"


# flirted with the idea that FEMA is building detention camps,


# suggested that President Obama is purposefully "tanking" the economy to force young people to work for AmeriCorps,


# said that Obama is "moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism,"


# stated: "We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination..."


# says Obama "Wants you to work as a bureaucratic slave to government."


# said: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing? Do you not hear -- do you not hear the cries of people who are saying stop? We would like some sanity in our country for a second! We didn't vote to lose the republic."


# ran several segments, including one on his radio show, promoting the concept of the secession of Texas from the Union,


# promotes "one world government" paranoia, including a supposed plot to put us all on a global currency controlled by the New World Order,


# warned his audience about Obama's supposed secret plot to grab our guns,


# speculated that it is actually liberal "political correctness" that inspires right-wingers to go on murderous killing rampages...


Rupert Murdoch; is there a limit? If Beck was shrieking, "Kill the uppity nigger in the White House!" would that be okay too? Would it be any more of an incitement to violence than what Beck is saying now?

You can't claim you're not having a baleful impact. How about this? According to the Boston Globe ("Secret Service Strained" October 18, 09),

The unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, a rise in racist hate groups, and a new wave of antigovernment fervor threaten to overwhelm the US Secret Service, according to government officials and reports, raising new questions about the 144-year-old agency’s overall mission.


Where is this "new wave of antigovernment fervor" coming from? Media barons have started a war or two before but I don't recall one fomenting the climate wherein an assassination attempt becomes virtually inevitable. Far fetched? Who stirred up that nut in Pittsburgh who shot down three police officers because he believed that Obama was going to order cops to take away his guns?

Don't you know that here in America we have a rather large angry far right well-armed subculture thriving on imagined insults and nursing a perpetual grievance against the "other"? Don't you have any qualms about feeding them the red meat of hate, lies and incitement?

However you got to this point you still have a choice: reign in FOX News, fire Beck, speak out to undo some of the lies you have told through your people about our President, our country and the world, or go down in history as the man who fed the unhinged haters lies until one or more of them boiled over in some desperate act and lashed out.

You are playing Russian roulette with American history. When your name is forever linked to an act of history-derailing domestic terror your billions won't save you from the place in history reserved for a select group of monsters. When your name is linked to our next Oklahoma-type bombing or the killing of one of our elected leaders, nothing else you did in your life will be remembered.

Sincerely,


Frank Schaeffer is the author of 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 and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) =

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'll Be At the Hammer Museum in LA

If you live in the LA area and want to hear me speak here's the gig:

http://hammer.ucla.edu/programs/detail/program_id/322

A Pastor Reviews "Patience With God"

Book Review: “Patience with God: Faith for Those who Don’t like Religion (or Athiesm)”

By Ben Daniel


(Ben Daniel is a Presbyterian *minister and a leading voice for the Religious Left. He writes for UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum and lives in San José, California.)

I should begin my review of Frank Schaeffer’s latest book, Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)(Da Capo Press, $25.00, hardcover), with a disclaimer: I have an indirect financial interest in Mr. Schaeffer’s success as a writer. Frank Schaeffer wrote a beautifully-crafted, thoughtful, and gracious foreword for my forthcoming, yet-to-be-named book on American Christianity’s response to undocumented (or “illegal”) immigration. His name will appear next to mine on the cover of my book because my publisher, Westminster John Knox Press, hopes Frank Schaeffer’s fame will rub off on me in a way that is profitable for everyone involved.

I asked Frank Schaeffer to write the forward to my book because I admire his work. The wit displayed in Frank’s writing has made me laugh out loud in inconvenient places (I first read his novel Portofino in the close quarters of a transatlantic flight) and I have wept at the beauty of Frank’s non-fiction prose, in the silence that descends upon my house when everyone but me is asleep. Reading Patience With God confirmed what I suspected to be the truth: I asked the right guy to pen the foreword to my book. More than ever I want to be on Frank Schaeffer’s team. From the pulpit and in the blog-o-sphere, as an author, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend, I want to live and practice the kind of faith offered up by Frank in his latest book, a summary of which is to be found in the book’s last chapter:

At its best, faith in God is about thanksgiving, shared suffering, loss, pain, generosity, and love. The best religious people and best secular people learn to ignore their chosen (or inherited) religions’ nastier teachings in order to preserve the spirit of their faith, be that faith in secular humanism, science, or in God. It’s the tediously consistent fundamentalists—religious or atheist—who become monsters. They are so sure they have the truth that they dare claim that only the members of “my” religion will be saved. (p.225)

Amen.

In the first part of Patience With God Schaeffer takes on both the fundamentalists who call themselves “New Atheists”—writers such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—and the fundamentalism that marks the Christianity of his earlier life. Both the New Atheists and religious fundamentalists are, in Frank Schaeffer’s eyes, cut from the same cloth. Both types of fundamentalism are marked by absolutism, intolerance, and a desire to convert “non-believers.”

Roughly half of the book’s first part is familiar. Schaeffer condemns the closed-minded intolerance of the Evangelical Christianity in which he was raised. This is something Frank does well, both as a storyteller and as a writer of non-fiction. For years Frank Schaeffer has used his personal narrative as the son of prominent American Evangelical leaders, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, to critique American Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. It’s always a good read when Frank is writing about the faith of his father and mother, still, it is nice to discover that his abilities as a critic extend beyond his family’s Evangelicalism.

With wit and insight Schaeffer exposes Richard Dawkins as tee-shirt-and-trinket-selling evangelist, Sam Harris as a dangerous extremist who—with no sense of irony—would kill some religious people because their beliefs are dangerous, and Christopher Hitchens as a sex-obsessed intellectual lightweight, and he does so using ideas and images he has gleaned from the world of art and music and from his experiences as a husband, father, and grandfather. It’s wonderful, because when Frank Schaffer addresses the narrow-mindedness of atheists and of religious fundamentalists, he uses a broad-minded approach. His arguments appeal to the artist, the mystic, the lover, and the poet residing in each of us.

It works, and it gets better, because in the second half of the book, Schaeffer proposes a faith that is experiential: to know God is to experience God in the same way that a young boy discovers beauty in the craftsmanship of a Swiss bricklayer, or in the way a grandfather experiences love in the company of his infant granddaughter. This is religion that is more comfortable saying what it does not know than what it does know; this is a faith of humble, loving compassion that sustains the father who sends his son off to war, and that inspires even the hardest heart to give thanks for the beauty of a new day. It is faith for people who don’t always know all the answers and who are tired of pretending they do. In short, this is my kind of religion, and I’m happy it’s so well represented by as skilled and as admirable a writer as Frank Schaeffer.

(This review may be found at http://bendaniel.org/?p=247 where Ben D may also be contacted)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Reader's Note on "Patience With God"

Hi, Frank

I congratulate you for the living, writing, and publishing the superb work, Patience With God.

It so well written and such supportive wisdom I literally could not put down. I am grateful for your courage in debunking pretenses that support fundamentalist/evangelical religiosity which undermines the message and meaning of Jesus.

I appreciate your even-handedness and emphasis on behavior that makes a difference and away from theological rigidities that produce separateness fueled by unconscious self-righteousness. You recognize that the challenges of the 21st century require compassion, respect for others, fueled by our “hopeful not-knowing.”

As I wrote before, I was born in a Baptist parsonage, baptized at age 6, “born again” as often as I felt alienated from God. Graduated from Moody Bible Institute and a M.A in New Testament Studies from Wheaton College. I readily support your comments about Wheaton College and I personally am embarrassed that Moody Bible Institute would select Jerry Jenkins, however decent, to chair Moody’s Board of Trustees. I heartily concur that the Left Behind theme is hateful and dangerous for what lies ahead. When I receive appeals from Moody for donations I am really tempted, in light of Jenkins considerable fortune gained from wrapping a shameless right-wing screed with a view of the Second Coming that is nowhere presented in the Bible.

Frank, I salute you for your new book and intend to share it with interested people with enthusiasm. You are and will continue to receive uncharitable comments and hate-filled threats.

You are for me, the prophet, Micah (I Kings 22:13-24). “One should always take care to have the right friends and the right enemies” and you are doing exceedingly well!

And your special love for Lucy is compelling ….how can I say more?
Blessings and Good Energy for the Journey,

Lou Tulga


In Bookstores Now or order at Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Patience-God-People-Religion-Atheism/dp/030681854X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255952967&sr=8-1
Albuquerque, NM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

STOP RIGHT WING TERROR (Before It Starts)

My interview on stopping domestic right wing terror before it starts

Please watch this--


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJBvupwOmPY

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Great "Booklist" Review of Patience With God

Booklist

November 15, 2009



Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism). By Frank Schaeffer.


Former evangelical Christian political agitator Schaeffer has been born yet again. This time, he has been reborn into what he calls the Church of Hopeful Uncertainty, as defined by his belief that the vast majority of people inhabits a middle ground between the two fundamentalist extremes battling one another for followers in the world today. He suffers no one who advocates a devotion so rigid as to exclude any but the stanchest. He names names but is an equal opportunity assailant, laying into fundamentalist atheists and religious zealots alike, decrying both for inflexibility and the blatant commercialism of their enterprises. Make no mistake, Schaeffer is not proselytizing. He knows, or at least hopes, that with this book he is singing to the choir of millions fed up with or unable to commit to full-blown atheism or stiff-necked religion of any kind. His belief that faith, in God or not, ought to support and enrich one’s life, not run it into the ground, strikes, he hopes, a universally appealing chord. —Donna Chavez

Frank Schaeffer's Interview With Raw Story

This was posted on "Raw Story" today.

http://rawstory.com/2009/10/former-right-wing-leader-warns-of-religious-right-violence-anyone-can-be-killed/

By Larisa Alexandrovna


Frank Schaeffer
is an outspoken critic of the politicized Christian evangelical right. He sees the “End Times” movement as anti-Semitic. He fears that a right-wing terrorist might assassinate the President of the United States.

None of these talking points would be novel on the left, but Schaeffer is hardly a bleeding heart liberal. His father, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, is considered to be the godfather of the modern religious right movement. Schaeffer himself took up the family mission and became a prominent speaker and writer, promoting many of the sentiments that have given rise to the politically active, extremely well organized and zealous movement of today. He left the religious right in the 1980s, and was a Republican until 2000.

In an interview with Raw Story, Schaeffer -- who has a new book coming out this month called Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) -- discussed his concerns about the radicalization of the Christian right and the increasingly violent rhetoric he foresees turning into actual violence.

"Since President Obama took office I've felt like the lonely -- maybe crazy -- proverbial canary in the coal mine," Schaeffer said. "As a former right wing leader, who many years ago came to my senses and began to try to undo the harm the movement of religious extremism I helped build has done, I've been telling the media that we're facing a dangerous time in our history. A fringe element of the far right Republican Party seems it believes it has a license to incite threatening behavior in the name of God."

"The bestselling status of the Left Behind novels proves that, not unlike Islamist terrorists who behead their enemies, many evangelical/fundamentalist readers relish the prospect of God doing lots of messy killing for them as they watch in comfort from on high," he added. "They want revenge on all people not like them -- forever."
Story continues below...

The former religious right leader also says he's worried President Obama could be assassinated -- or that extremists might launch another "Oklahoma" type bombing.

"Sadly that line from the 'Godfather' sticks in my brain about the fact that anyone can be killed," Schaeffer told Raw Story. "The scary thing is that there are a number of pastors on record as saying they are praying for the President’s death. Can you imagine what some gun-toting paranoid who hears that in a sermon is thinking and might do? And to them the fact that 'the world' likes this black man is reason enough to hate him. You wait. The reaction to Obama winning the Nobel Prize will be entirely negative from the far Religious Right. 'See the world, all those socialists like him that just proves he’s a -- fill in the blank -- communist, secret Muslim, the Antichrist, whatever.'"

Schaeffer asserts that he's trying to "right" the Christian right while also trying to explain God and religion to non-believers. But ultimately, he has a very critical view of the Christian right and what he believes is the reason for their deep-seated anger: resentment. He has recently written a column in support of a campaign to prosecute threats of violence and hate speech that may incite violence:

“The campaign includes letters from attorney Kevin Zeese and myself to Attorney General Eric Holder asking that he take the issue of domestic terror seriously by investigating and prosecuting threats and acts of violence," Schaeffer says. "I'm working with others on a campaign to reach religious leaders who enable and encourage this violence, and asking for the launching of investigations into the use of the media and web organizations by the right wing to foment violence. It is time to combat hate speech.”

More on this campaign can be found at StopDomesticTerror.com.

###
Coming Full Circle (The INTERVIEW)

Larisa Alexandrovna: For those who are not familiar with you and your family, could you please provide a brief summary of your history?

Frank Schaeffer: One morning in the early 1980s, I looked out over several acres of pale blue polyester and some twelve thousand Southern Baptist ministers. My evangelist father -- Francis Schaeffer -- was being treated for lymphoma at the Mayo Clinic, and in his place I’d been asked to deliver several keynote addresses on the evangelical/fundamentalist circuit. I was following in the proudly nepotistic American Protestant tradition, wherein the Holy Spirit always seems to lead the offspring and spouses of evangelical superstars to “follow the call.”

A few weeks before, after being introduced by Pat Robertson, I had delivered a rousing take-back-America speech to thousands of cheering religious broadcasters. And not long after, I would appear at a huge pro-life rally in Denver. Cal Thomas -- once the vice president of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, who later became a Fox News Commentator -- would introduce me as “the best speaker in America.” The “anointing” he said, was “clearly on this young man!” They were saying that I was a better speaker than my famous father.

LA: You mention your father and I think it is important to point out just how well connected your father was and subsequently how important you and your family were to the movement.

FS: [Yes]. At that moment the Schaeffers were evangelical royalty. When I was growing up in L’Abri, my parents’ evangelical/fundamentalist religious community in Switzerland, it was not unusual to find myself seated across the dining room table from Billy Graham’s daughter or President Ford’s son, even Timothy Leary. The English actress Glynis Johns used to come for Sunday high tea. I figured it was normal. They were just a few of the thousands who made it through our doors. Only later did I realize that L’Abri attracted a weirdly eclectic group of people who otherwise would not be caught dead in the same room. My childhood was, to say the least, unusual.

When Gerald Ford died in January of 2007, I recalled that the day he had assumed the presidency, his daughter-in-law Gayle w as babysitting my daughter Jessica as her job in the work-study program at L’Abri, where Mike Ford, the President’s son was a student.

Mom and Dad met with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr. and stayed in the White House several times. In the 1990s when my mother Edith -- then in her eighties -- heard that George W. Bush might run for the presidency, she exclaimed, “What? But Barbara asked me to pray especially for young George. She didn’t think he had what it took to do anything.”

LA: But you have moved away from that history or perhaps a better way to put it is that the movement moved entirely away from you -- from Conservatism to extremism?

FS: Dad and I were mixing with a new set of people that had not known much, if anything, about my father. If they had even heard of Dad before he came on the pro-life scene in the mid-seventies, they probably hadn’t liked the sound of him. These people included Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, James Kennedy and all the rest of the televangelists, radio hosts, and other self-appointed “Christian leaders” who were bursting on the scene in the 1970s and early eighties.

Compared to Dad these slick media figures were upstarts. They were “not our sort of people,” Dad often said. What people like Robertson and Falwell got from Dad was some respectability.

Dad had a unique reputation for an intellectual approach to faith. And his well deserved reputation for frugal ethical living, for not financially profiting from his ministry, for compassion, openness and intellectual integrity, was the opposite of the reputations of the new breed of evangelical leadership, with their perks, planes, and corner offices in gleaming new buildings and superficial glib messages. Empire builders like Robertson, Dobson and Falwell liked rubbing up against (or quoting) my father, for the same reason that popes liked to have photos taken with Mother Teresa.

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.

LA: Then you defended Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ) for the way they were treated by this movement. Can you point to a particular issue you took with both the attack on Webb and on McCain? What happened after?

FS: I had long since left the evangelical subculture when I wrote an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, and it was picked up by several hundred blogs and posted on the front page of James Webb’s campaign website. I had defended Webb against a series of scabrous attacks wherein his novels were smeared and he was even labeled a “pedophile” because he had described a sexual tribal ritual. I noted that Webb is a serious novelist whose work has been widely praised by many, including Tom Wolfe, who called Webb’s books, “The greatest of the Vietnam novels.”

I also took the Republicans to task for doing to Webb what they did to another war hero, Senator John McCain, back in the 2000 Republican primaries. I went so far as to say that, in disgust, my wife Genie and I were switching from registered Republicans to independents.

A few days after this op-ed was published I wrote another piece, this time for the Huffington Post, about the reaction to my departure from the Republican Party. This was picked up by dozens of Democrat-friendly blogs. As the congratulatory e-mails poured in I was reminded of the welcome given new believers when they converted from some particularly hideous life of sin. Then the Drudge Report and dozens of other right wing and/or evangelical outlets alerted their faithful to my treason.

Furious e-mails flooded in. They fell into two categories: The evangelical “Church Ladies” said they hadn’t read Webb’s novels but were shocked by his immorality nonetheless and went to three and four page single-spaced quivering lengths to justify the Republicans' tactics; The second group were simply profanity-spewing thugs. The Church Lady emails contrasted markedly with the insults. It was as if I’d stumbled into a Sunday school picnic at a Tourette’s syndrome convention.

“As a Christian the best question you could ask is what would Jesus do? He wouldn’t give Webb’s books a pass just because he’s a veteran.. .”

“Mr. Schaeffer: Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out you FUCK!”

"Mr. Webb has no excuse for using profanity..."

"Good fucking riddance -- you fucking cry baby!"

"I have never read any of Mr. Webb’s novels. However, the excerpts [in the Drudge Report] are very disturbing. . . . As for the Bible, yes it has all the things you mentioned: rape, murder, adultery, masturbation, etc. However, the Lord did not give us graphic details . . . And I hope as Christians we can remember that and be a voice crying out against ALL the ugly things..."

"We don’t need your lame ass motherfucking comments or your support..."

When combined the hundreds of emails seemed to boil down to: "Do what we say Jesus says -- and if you don’t we’ll kick your head in!" The reaction confirmed why any sane person would run, and keep on running from the right-wing/evangelical/Republican morass as far as their legs would carry them, something I’d been doing for more than twenty years. But I had brought this upon myself. The truth is, that with my father I had once contributed mightily to the creation of the right wing, evangelical/Republican sub-culture that was attacking me.
Alarms Bells Sound

LA: Most recently you have expressed serious concern about right-wing extremism in the name of God and the radicalization of the Christian right since the election of President Obama. What is it that has you so alarmed?

FS: Since President Obama took office I've felt like the lonely -- maybe crazy -- proverbial canary in the coal mine. As a former right wing leader, who many years ago came to my senses and began to try to undo the harm the movement of religious extremism I helped build has done, I've been telling the media that we're facing a dangerous time in our history. A fringe element of the far right Republican Party seems it believes it has a license to incite threatening behavior in the name of God.

They have singled out President Obama as their target. Since the real President Obama is not who they describe -- no, he's not the Antichrist, was born in America and doesn't want to kill your grandmother -- they have resorted to lies and intimidation to try and stop his agenda of much needed change. The problem is that I believe that Religious Right leaders and their Republican base are also potentially inciting violence. Within their numbers are unhinged people who also happen to be well armed.

Rachel Maddow and the readers of Huffington Post and Alternet have heard my warnings and so have a lot of bloggers. However, most of the media have ignored the looming threat of far right violence while conservatives deride those of us who link crazy talk to the potential of crazy actions. (I explain and expose the link between evangelical/fundamentalist "End Times" theology, politics and violence in my new book Patience With God--Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism).

LA: Have we not seen angry rhetoric before or is this something new, something different?

FS: David Gergen recently said that the racial attacks on Obama are reminiscent of the atmosphere leading to the killing of President Lincoln. Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that he saw this same disturbing play of religious hate shortly before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Israel. And Roger Ebert warned of the rise of the fringe in the GOP and how they are undermining democracy.

Of course in [President] Roosevelt's time the far-right was pro German and called him a Jew.

LA: This I did not know. But to the current far-right, why do you think religion, Christianity in particular, has become so politicized?

FS: Power is a strong drug. But the most recent power grab goes back to Roe v. Wade. It was too soon and too fast a change. That started the whole culture war as we know it. The bestselling status of the Left Behind novels proves that, not unlike Islamist terrorists who behead their enemies, many evangelical/ fundamentalist readers relish the prospect of God doing lots of messy killing for them as they watch in comfort from on high.

They want revenge on all people not like them -- forever. Knowingly or unknowingly, Jenkins and LaHaye cashed in on years of evangelical/fundamentalists’ imagined victimhood. I say imagined, because the born-agains had one of their very own, George W. Bush, in the White House for eight long, ruinous years and also dominated American politics for the better part of thirty years before that.

Nevertheless, their sense of being a victimized minority is still very real -- and very marketable. Whether they were winning politically or not, they nurtured a mythology of persecution by the "other." Evangelical/fundamentalists believed that even though they were winning, somehow they had actually lost.

LA: Can you better explain this mentality?

FS:
I used to be part of the self-pitying, whining, evangelical/fundamentalist chorus. I remember going on the Today Show with host Jane Pauley back in the late 1970s (or early 1980s). I debated with the head of the American Library Association about my claim that our evangelical/fundamentalist books weren’t getting a fair shake from the "cultural elites." We Schaeffers were selling millions of books, but the New York Times never reviewed them. I made the point that we were being ignored by the "media elite," which was somewhat ironic, given that I had been invited to appear on Today to make that claim.

I dropped out of the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture soon after that Today appearance. Others carried on where I left off, pushing the victimhood mythology to the next generation of evangelical/fundamentalists, and they have cultivated a following among the terminally aggrieved based on ceaselessly warning them about "the world."
The Radicalization of Religion

LA: Do you think there a direct correlation between the radicalization of Islam by extremists to the radicalization of Christianity by extremists?

FS: No. we were ready to try and take over America long before the present wave of Islamic-inspired terror started. But now it's another excuse for the far right to hate the "other."

LA: What is it that is driving the Christian right to such extremes? Is it fear? If so, fear of what? Is it something else?

FS: It is fear of facts. Look, if you believe in the earth being 6000 years old, that gays chose to be gay and can "change," that Jesus will come back soon, that war in the Middle East is good... what you fear is the real world, the reality-based Americans who know you are dumb, crazy or both. It is resentment that drives the right.

LA: For those of us who are not familiar with the "end-times" movement, could you please summarize what it is? How does it relate to Israel?

FS: The expanding Left Behind entertainment empire also feeds the dangerous delusions of Christian Zionists, who are convinced that the world is heading to a final Battle of Armageddon and who see this as a good thing!

LA: A good thing? And what does Zionism have to do with this movement?

FS: Christian Zionists, led by many "respectable" mega-pastors -- including Reverend John Hagee -- believe that war in the Middle East is God’s will. In his book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, Hagee maintains that Russia and the Arabs will invade Israel and then will be destroyed by God. This will cause the Antichrist -- the head of the European Union -- to stir up a confrontation over Israel between China and the West.

LA: Wait a moment. Aside from the obvious of the real geopolitical allegiances and resource interests -- making this scenario less likely than all of us packing up and moving to Mars soon -- they believe this is a good thing?

FS: Yes. It will "prove" that they will "inherit the earth." In other words they’ve spent their lives feeling left behind by culture and scholarship. If the "End" comes, they get the last laugh. So they cling to this like an addict clinging to his last fix.

Perhaps, in the era of Obama, Hagee will do a fast rewrite and say that President Obama is the Antichrist, because the same folks who are into Christian Zionism are also into the far, far loony right of the Republican Party represented by oddities like Sarah Palin.

These are the same people who insist that President Obama is a "secret Muslim," "not an American," and/or "a communist," "more European than American," or whichever one of those contradictory things is worse -- not like us anyway, that’s for sure. Christian Zionists support any violent action by the State of Israel against Arabs and Palestinians because the increasingly brutal State of Israel is, in the fevered evangelical/fundamentalist mind, the nation presently standing in for Jesus as avenger on evildoers everywhere, by which they mean Arabs and others not like us.

Christian Zionists are yet another reason why I and countless other Christians, including many of the more moderate evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox are hesitant to be labeled "Christian." Who wants to be confused with some of the most dangerous and stupid people in the world: nuclear-armed, paranoid evangelical/fundamentalist Bible-thumpers rooting for Armageddon on and worrying in paranoid "official" documents about being forced to become like "the Europeans"? (Just a thought: does that make high-speed rail service a tool of the Devil?)

LA: Being a Jew, this idea of Christian Zionism sounds very much like anti-Semitism. Would you say that Christian Zionism -- and the whole end-times philosophy -- is anti-Semitic or am I misunderstanding it?

FS: Yes. The "purpose" of the Jews is to be there to be killed after the Second Coming. Christian Zionists love Israel the way oncologists love cancer. It's a good living. Jews who play footsie with evangelicals in return for the "support" of the State of Israel are fools.

LA: What do you fear will happen? Who or what do you fear will be targeted?

FS: I don't fear large scale violence. I fear another Oklahoma type bombing, and most of all the assassination of President Obama.

Sadly that line from the "Godfather" sticks in my brain about the fact that anyone can be killed. The scary thing is that there are a number of pastors on record as saying they are praying for the President’s death. Can you imagine what some gun-toting paranoid who hears that in a sermon is thinking and might do? And to them the fact that "the world" likes this black man is reason enough to hate him. You wait. The reaction to Obama winning the Nobel Prize will be entirely negative from the far Religious Right. "See the world, all those socialists like him that just proves he’s a -- fill in the blank -- communist, secret Muslim, the Antichrist, whatever."

LA: How would you describe the audience to whom this violence is marketed?

FS: This is rube white America. This is the cracker fundamentalist South. These are the Sarah Palin "He's Not-A-Real-American" Obama haters. These are the people waiting for Jesus to come back and/or the UN to take over the world or the Army to take their guns.

LA: Who do you see as fueling this rhetoric?

FS: Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Glenn Beck... we all know this crew. And of course there's Rush Limbaugh. But worst of all are not the famous leaders but the every day religious leaders feeding hate. Look how they came together in California to push prop 8. Behind them are those like James Dobson who has told his followers to beat their children into submission. He is always looking for new enemies and is now aiming at gays. But none of this would happen if there were not thousands of pastors and followers whose idea of faith is to divide themselves from the "other."

LA: What do you think motivates these media personalities, politicians, and so forth? Are they true believers or opportunists?

FS: I'll speak for the ones I know personally. Dobson gave away 150,000 copies of one of my far right 80's hate screeds. He had me on his show. His intentions started out as good. Then he got used to power and became a genuine egomaniac. Pat Robertson is a genuine lunatic. I've been on Fox talking about my military-friendly books before they put me on their shit list. They are just plain stupid.

LA: Have you seen similar extremism from left-wing Christians? If so, how is it the same or different from what you observe from the right-wing?

FS: I wouldn't say I've seen the same levels of hate and outright lies from the left. If you read the comments on places like Huff Post they are shrill sometimes but no one is being condemned to hell, and people try and stick to facts. The amazing thing about the religious right is the combination of lies, myth and hate into a rather unique blend.

LA: What do you think a workable solution might entail? Some would argue that no matter how hateful, ugly, even violent the speech, it is still protected speech. How then do you think your concerns could be addressed in that context?

FS: All I'd say is this: The hate speech of the right ought to draw the same level of public and governmental attention as, say, Muslim hate speech. If we take bin Laden seriously when he talks about God hating America's sins, we should take the America extremists as seriously. There should be no free ride for these idiots carrying weapons near presidential or other political gatherings. People like Operation Rescue should be investigated to see how many of their members are planning to murder more abortion providers. And if you want to know what the greatest threat to our president is, look no further than where evangelical "Christianity" intersects with Glenn Beck's fans. The FBI should seize his fan letter email. I'll bet they'd find some very interesting folks out there, people in militias, far right hate groups, and all the rest.

LA: How do you think your father would react if he were still alive today? How about Jesus?

FS: Dad would despise Glenn Beck. My father was not a hater. He opposed abortion on demand and Roe. But he never bashed gays but welcomed them and everyone else in his ministry. Even before he died in 1985 he told me that he thought Robertson was a nut, Falwell crass, and Dobson power-hungry. Except for the abortion issue my father was center left, interested in art and culture. As for Jesus, well, I won't speak for him, but let me just say that if "conservatives" are now going to edit out the "liberal" parts of the Bible, they better cut the four Gospels in their entirety.

LA:
Thank you for your time.

Larisa Alexandrovna is managing editor of investigative news for Raw Story. Contact: larisa@rawstory.com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Read A Chapter of "Patience With God"

Hi go to Killing the Buddha (a great website) to read a chapter on "Spaceship Jesus" from my new book.


http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/dogma/spaceship-jesus-will-come-back-and-whisk-us-away/

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ON BBC 4 This Sunday

Hi I enjoyed being interviewed by my favorite radio station in the world BBC Four re Obama and the US religious right's reaction to his Nobel. Here's the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/sunday/

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bad News! Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

By Frank Schaeffer

Here's how Obama's critics will react to the news of his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Religious Right will take this is further proof that Obama is the Antichrist.

The neoconservatives will trumpet this as the ultimate evidence of Obama being a socialist, embraced by notoriously socialist Norway.

The "Birthers" will find evidence that Obama is indeed not an American since isn't it more likely that those Communists in Europe would give the Nobel Peace Prize to a Kenyan?

The "Deathers" already know that in Sweden (same as Norway, right?) socialized medicine kills one out of every two patients and forces 99% of women to have abortions, so this will just prove that a similar fate awaits all Americans.

The surprise for some Democratic voters who believe that all lefties are sensible people will be the reaction of the Obama-isn't-progressive-enough left. Obama's critics to the left (Krugman/Maher et al) will issue lists ranging from his "failure" to change the don't ask don't tell policy fast enough, to the fact that we are "still in Afghanistan" to show that the Nobel committee was somehow mistaken.

Because President Obama has not been on a timetable of a fast-paced music video but rather has approached governing at a measured pace working for long term results the smart ass part of the left, raised on high sugar content breakfast cereals and too much TV, a group of people who think in soundbites and 30 second news cycles, will somehow, like the far right, turn this good news into bad news.

The rest of us who have steadily stood by our man, worked to get him elected and have faith in his brilliance, good humor, patience and kindness will rejoice.

em>Frank Schaeffer is the author of 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 and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stopping Right Wing Violence

Since President Obama took office I've felt like the lonely -- maybe crazy -- proverbial canary in the coal mine. As a former right wing leader, who many years ago came to my senses and began to try to undo the harm the movement of religious extremism I helped build has done, I've been telling the media that we're facing a dangerous time in our history. A fringe element of the far right Republican Party seems it believes it has a license to incite threatening behavior in the name of God.

They have singled out President Obama as their target. Since the real President Obama is not who they describe -- no, he's not the Antichrist, was born in America and doesn't want to kill your grandmother -- they have resorted to lies and intimidation to try and stop his agenda of much needed change. The problem is that I believe that Religious Right leaders and their Republican base are also potentially inciting violence. Within their numbers are unhinged people who also happen to be well armed.

Rachael Maddow and the readers of Huffington Post and Alternet have heard my warnings and so have a lot of bloggers. However, most of the media have ignored the looming threat of far right violence while conservatives deride those of us who link crazy talk to the potential of crazy actions. (I explain and expose the link between evangelical/fundamentalist "End Times" theology, politics and violence in my new book Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism).

Has The Craziness Hit A New High?

What a difference the post-election months of overt thuggery, threatening behavior and outright lying by the right wing horde has made. The village idiot quality of the "Tea Baggers," "Birthers," gun totters, "You Lie(ers)," and the "Let's Secede From The Union(ers)" has made it tougher to discount we who see a looming threat here and a direct line from hate talk to hate actions. It's harder these days to feel sanguine about our prospects for avoiding the calamity spewing from the right's vortex of lies and hate.

The extremism and paranoid delusions of the far, far loony right -- in other words The Republican Party today as led and deformed by Beck/Limbaugh/Fox and the fundamentalist "Christians" --- is now on full display. Even some members of the Republican leadership are beginning to cringe.

Last week Senator Lindsey Graham called Glenn Beck a "cynic" and the Birthers "crazy." Centrists like David Gergen are saying that enough is enough. Gergen said that the racial attacks on Obama are reminiscent of the atmosphere leading to the killing of President Lincoln. Speaking for moderate progressives Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that he saw this same disturbing play of religious hate shortly before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Israel. And Roger Ebert warned of the rise of the fringe in the GOP and how they are undermining democracy.

And in case you didn't know that the far right, big time hate machine and big time religion link up these days consider this: the giant Evangelical publisher Zondervan is crashing out Sarah Palin's memoir. Zondervan is owned by Rupert Murdoch. No, it's not a conspiracy, it's just that all the bottom dwellers eventually find each other in Crazyland.

Other people, besides former evangelicals like me (who have their ear to the ground and hear what's coming before the uninitiated do), are finally starting to realize that there is a serious problem facing America. I'm no longer one of just a few voices (for instance like Max Blumenthal and Jeff Sharlet) saying that the willfully ignorant far Right (usually religion-inspired) is risking our future.


The question is: What are we going to do about the haters?


Now some of us -- from moderate Independent voters like me to many people on the progressive side of the Democratic Party -- are organizing to do something about this evil (yes I use that word deliberately) trend. We're doing this because more and more of us see that if unchecked the inflammatory garbage spewing from the Right's hate machines will result in tragedy -- in other words violence.

I started pondering the question of what we could do right after the assassination of Dr. Tiller by a religious extremist. I felt that it wasn't enough to call for boycotts of right wing commentators who spew their hate, because that did not really address the core problems. In fact as a former right wing religious "pro-life" leader I felt compelled to publicly apologize (in the Huffington Post) for the "America-is-like-Nazi-Germany" rhetoric that my late Evangelical leader father and I helped create in the 1970s and 80s that inexorably led to justifying violence in the Tiller case.

Now I want to endorse a campaign to address these issues.

It was launched last week at

http://www.StopDomesticTerror.com

The campaign includes letters from attorney Kevin Zeese and myself to Attorney General Eric Holder asking that he take the issue of domestic terror seriously by investigating and prosecuting threats and acts of violence. I'm working with others on a campaign to reach religious leaders who enable and encourage this violence, and asking for the launching investigations into the use of the media and web organizations by the right wing to foment violence. It is time to combat hate speech.

We have a long horrible legacy of violence against public figures. The worst chapters in our history have been written in blood by extremists when they felled our moral and political leaders. We must act now to avert another tragedy.

Sign on to our campaign at www.StopDomesticTerror.com.

Thousands have already signed on but we can only make a change through massive collective action. Join us and help build a wall of tolerance to contain the hate.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A REVIEW OF -- Patience With God:

A REVIEW OF

Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion {or Atheism}



Reviewed by Richard Ettelson



(Richard is a Reform rabbi and a licensed psychologist with a special interest in chemical dependency living in Southern California.)



Frank Schaeffer, a former evangelist who once rubbed shoulders with such luminaries in that world such as Pat Robertson and James Dobson has come out with a book that delivers far more than it promises. The subtitle hints that Frank will take on both the right wing fundamentalist and the left wing atheists in one fell swoop. There is a lot more here than meets the eye, and it is profound.



In many ways, religion has turned into a consumer good. If there is market for some belief or religious practice, or if someone can come up with some that are popular enough, that person can amass wealth and become influential. Apparently, to my amusement, Frank in a few chapters lets us know that atheists like Richard Dawkins can do the same thing. Religion largely exists as a product on the market. If a lot of people buy one particular brand, it must be the best. Right?



Wrong, according to Frank, religion is a natural part of being human, something inherent in our species. In fact, it is one of the things that makes us human. Our individual and group spirituality is dynamic and ever changing, Fundamentalist Christianity, as Frank points out, is nothing like the Christianity of the early church fathers. No religion has ever stayed the same for centuries and has thrived.



Religion is not based on objective facts revealed by a deity, but rather, it is the interaction of frail human beings with the ineffable they encounter in their daily life. Frank Schaeffer is one human being who is willing to share his daily life with us. I feel like I’m an old friend of his, although we have wildly divergent pasts, and we’ve never actually met except by email. Because of the warmth and genuineness of the narrative of his family life, his spiritual stirrings, and his successes and failures, this reader could relate to him, because what is particular to him is common to so many of us. This ability to relate subjective spiritual experience to a wide audience is Frank’s special gift, which he is now using for everyone’s benefit, not just for his.



For the theologically minded there is plenty of meat in this book, with a quotation form Kierkegaard at the front of every chapter. My theological heroes are not far from Kierkegaard, existentialists like Heschel and Buber. But one does not need to be a theologian to enjoy this book, nor is it intended for theologians. It is written in a very accessible and easy to read style, in the manner one would talk to a friend.



What I most loved about this book is that it is a call to all people to support and nurture the spirituality of all, regardless of “brand,” regardless of tradition, and regardless of label. I certainly feel a lot better about enjoying the music of J.S. Bach better than a lot of contemporary synagogue music thanks to this book. It is a call for religion to bring us together into a wider community of fellow seekers, and to include those who claim no religion at all. I agree with Frank that rootedness in one’s tradition is not an impediment to unity, but rather should be an impetus to unity. As we learn more about compassion, understanding and love from our respective faith groups, we move closer together. This book is not an effort to sell a religious product, nor is it a self-help book. It is a book about how to keep faith alive in an age where excess and extremism thrives, and where the still, small voice is hardly ever heard. Thanks, Frank to help keep a compassionate, non-judgmental and non-divisive faith alive in a world today,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Religous Right and Race (Again!)

Read This!

http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/142988/tea_party_movement_returns_christian_right_to_its_racist_past/

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Please READ THIS!


http://www.alternet.org/politics/143007/why_right-wing_demagogues_are_tying_to_peddle_ludicrous_conspiracy_theories