Friday, January 29, 2010

Head's Up on Grit TV (You Need To Know About This)

Hi, Frank Schaeffer here: in case you don't know about Grit TV here's who they are. Take a look on cable or online. They are one of the only sources of alternative news in America that actually looks at all sides of a question. Grit TV also covers real news items that our American press is just too provincial (NY Times included) to bother with. (No I'm not telling you this just because they've had me on as a guest, so have lots of shows and I'm not returning favors here.)

I'd encourage you to watch and donate.

From the Grit TV Website:

GRITtv with Laura Flanders is a new, news and arts discussion show, available daily, in multiple formats, with interactivity and a positive take on what’s going on. The show launched May 12, 2008. Made possible by Free Speech TV, GRITtv is viewer-supported. Checks in support of GRITtv, made out to Laura Flanders Limited, may be sent to GRITtv at the address below.

CONTACT: 641 6th Ave., 4th Fl., NY, NY 10011 || (212) 871-8100 || grittv@grittv.org

On Satellite: GRITtv airs 4 x daily on Free Speech TV, at 8 & 1 Eastern, on the Dish Network (channel 9415) immediately following “Democracy Now.”

On Cable: GRITtv is also available to cable stations in 35 states and 200 college stations. Find out how you can bring GRITtv to your local station. Contact grittv@grittv.org.

Online: Watch GRITtv any time you want — in full or in parts — on Firedoglake.com. Or click on GRITtv.org where you can subscribe to the video feed.

Laura Flanders: Best-selling author and broadcaster Laura Flanders has built a reputation for presenting new perspectives on national and international issues, and for introducing non-traditional “experts” into the conventional political debate. Flanders was the founding host of the Women’s Desk at the media watch group, FAIR where she hosted CounterSpin, FAIR’s syndicated radio show. In 2001, she launched the award-winning YOUR CALL on public radio, KALW, in San Francisco. In the original-line up on Air America Radio, she hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” and then “RadioNation,” the weekly program of The Nation magazine. Her books include, Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007) and the New York Times best-seller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004), an investigation into the women in George W. Bush’s Cabinet. She is a regular contributor to the Nation, Ms. Magazine, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Common Dreams.org and CNN. Find out more at Lauraflanders.com.

Senior Producer, Gina Kim worked as a producer for NOW with Bill Moyers & David Brancaccio, on PBS. Before that, she served as a producer on Phil Donahue’s program Donahue on MSNBC. Gina also worked with Michael Moore on The Awful Truth.

Got Docs Producer: Patricia Foulkrod

Arts Producer, Alexa Birdsong is former Director of Arts and Cultural Programs for the City Parks Foundation of the city of New York where she booked and managed events in over 700 parks.

Theme Music from “More Excited” by “WUNMI“

SUPPORT GRITtv: Contributions to GRITtv may be made online. Checks in support of GRITtv, made out to Laura Flanders Limited, may be sent to GRITtv at the address below.

OPPORTUNITIES at GRITtv: If you are interested in volunteering or interning for GRITtv, please contact: tami@grittv.org || (212) 871-8100

CONTACT: 641 6th Ave., 4th Fl., NY, NY 10011 || (212) 871-8100 || grittv@grittv.org

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My New Grit TV Debates/Interview on Politics and Religion

A year ago, we had a popular new president and the country seemed ready to make some major changes. Now, we’ve dissolved into anger, infighting, and the most cohesive group in the country at times seems to be the “tea party patriots.” What happened to rational thought, reasonable argument, disputes that didn’t end in name-calling and learning from those who disagree with us?

We ask Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason and contributor to the Washington Post, and Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God and Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism), to talk about the problems with our politics, our discourse, our religious disputes, and why



http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2010/01/27/welcome-to-irrational-america/


I hope you watch this and comment, Thanks! Best, Frank

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fixin' To Threaten Jews -- The Religious Right Is Dangerous

Brad Friedman at Bradblog and I have been following a story that should shock America into waking up to the potential for violence and hate from the far religious right.

As Brad notes we've been working on this story together in that I have been passing on the hate mail to him sent to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). I'm on the advisory board of MRFF, as both the father of a US Marine and as a former religious right leader (long since out of that movement) who is keenly aware of the danger the religious right poses to this country.

I challenge the mainstream media to pick up and report this sordid tale of of hate and intimidation against Mikey Weinstein who is an American military vet and who is trying to save our soldiers' lives -- by protecting them from far right proselytizing "Christians" that will expose our men and women in uniform to even more attacks by Islamist extremists who don't need any encouragement in their claim the US is on a "crusade".

What's all this about? The Bible verses on American military gun sights. Read the story here about what happens when an American angers the far religious right and their henchmen. Here's the story as Brad just posted it at The BRAD BLOG


By Brad Friedman

The emails to MRFF below were shared with me via Frank Schaeffer, the reformed religious Rightwing leader and author, a frequent guest blogger at The BRAD BLOG, and a member of MRFF's Advisory Board.

The first disturbing email below is from a U.S. soldier who happens to be a Caucasian Muslim, horrified by the dangers of having such verse referenced on military equipment used in the Middle East, particularly in the event of capture. The soldier shares an appalling alleged account of his superior officer's description of the weapon as the "the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ." All the better, said the officer according to the soldier, than what they might have received, since "Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a 'pussy "Jewzzi" (combination of the word 'Jew' and Israeli made weapon "Uzi").'"

That account is then followed by two very short, anti-Semitic threats sent to Weinstein in regard to the same matter, following ABC's report. Moreover, a senior company executive is said to have described MRFF as "not Christian" to ABC, according to a letter threatening legal action sent to the company by the non-profit organization which counters that it's allied with thousands of Christian troops and organizations.

All three of the email missives are horrifying, though none of them are likely to receive the time of day in the bulk of the cowardly corporate media, where the real cause and effect of the Rightwing's modern day politicized religious agenda is rarely broached in any way, shape, or form.

I should add that the horrors illustrated by these emails are likely very well known by public officials on the Right, who also abhorrently turn a blind eye to it all, in favor of the political gain it offers them.

I continue in amazement that anyone of the Jewish persuasion (which I am) in the U.S. would continue to delude themselves about the true heart of Republicanism, simply because of claims by the GOP in support of Israel. They may support Israel, my friends, but not for the reasons they've convinced you of. The folks behind the politicization of Christianity, and the use of Jesus Christ as a political bludgeon, hate Jews only slightly less than they hate A-rabs. That so many supporters of the GOP, due to their stand on Israel, still either fail to see it, or simply turn a blind eye, continues to amaze me.

The two hate mails below are a fairly representative sample of a "tsunami of vile hate," as Weinstein described it, many of which were reviewed by The BRAD BLOG, that the group has received since ABC's report. Another one of MRFF's board members, "a highly decorated former Vietnam USAF chopper rescue pilot" with "so much shrapnel in his legs that he sets off the metal detectors at airports," according to Weinstein's characterization, has tried to help him respond to some of the incoming emails. The board member writes of "A disconnect that any thinking person having experienced it would believe they were whisked back in time to the 12th Century in which religious ignorance reached it's peak and reigned over torture, genocide and all forms of tyranny."

"I soon found that my erudition had little effect on their extreme views," he said in regard to his attempts to answer the incoming emails politely with facts and reason. "It was like trying to enforce table manners at a crocodile feeding frenzy."

And finally, he admits defeat against the "tsunami." "Even though in the forefront of addressing religious misdoings for a number of years," he wrote, "I was still aghast, taken aback, astonished, chagrined and most of all scared by the vehemence displayed by American Dominionists."

Read the emails...

From: [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 14, 2010 9:47:17 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: "Spiritually Transformed Into The Fire Arm of Jesus Christ"

To: Mikey Wenstein and MRFF:

I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of [rank withheld]. I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort [installation name withheld]. I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat.

I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic. Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my [number withheld] years in the Army. Most of it comes from "angry" conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers.

I am very familiar with the Trijicon ACOG gunsights and have often had them as part of my personal weapons; both my M-4 and my M-16. In my first 2 deployments I saw and experienced no incidents regarding the New Testament bible quotes that are written on the metal casing of the gun sights. Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean. Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda.

As an American soldier I am ashamed that those bible quotes are on our primary weapons. As a Muslim American I am horrified. As one who swore his oath to the Constitution, I am driven to fight this Christian insanity but I know if I try to do so in a visible way that I will suffer at the hands of my military superiors. I am of low enlisted rank and can be crushed easily. I am prepared to suffer, but I am not prepared for my wife and children to suffer. So I have reached out to MRFF because there is nowhere else safe to go to try to fight this thing of disgrace.

There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us. But if you try to fight back, you are not "asking" for trouble, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE from the start. And if you are a Muslim American, the hatred is always just below the surface and ready to explode at a moment's notice. After the Fort Hood shootings, it was so bad, even for a low profile Muslim like me, that I had to ask MRFF for help.

Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his "weapon" several times to which the senior NCO replied "and what ELSE is it"?

FInally, the senior NCO said that the private's rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been "spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ" and that we would be expected to kill every "haji" we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the "spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ" and that we should "bust open the head of every haji we find with it.'"He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a "pussy 'Jewzzi' (combination of the word 'Jew' and Israeli made weapon 'Uzi') but the "fire arm of Jesus Christ" and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights.

He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that "our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol". As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought.

This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the "Christian Military Fellowship" and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called "Under Orders" in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused.

Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not "get right with Jesus" then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered "spiritual cripples" to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn't say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the "right way".

I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life. I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I'm dead I'm of no use to my wife and children.


And here are just two of the hate emails. There are, as I said, many more...

From: Shane [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 18, 2010 7:13:27 PM MST
To: info@militaryreligiousfreedom.org
Subject: Task Force Patriot

I am amazed with the zealotry with which you attack this poor group of old veterans. I am not amazed, though, that you are a jew.

You do not fool me, I've done my research on you and your "organization". You are no better than the ACLU and are just one small part of the effort of those that would destroy this great nation from within.

I will see you in the streets.
Shane [last name redacted for privacy]


From: Curt [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 22, 2010 6:32:59 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Re: The American Muslim - Do Bible Verses on Rifle Scopes Represent Christianity?

You really love to see your name in print, don't you? In the name of God, get OVER yourself! This is the most caterwauling godless jews and pedophile mohammedans have done since the Knights Templar retook Jerusalem. You're pathetic scum. Go circumcise your neck. Oh, and would that wall be the one that the Zionist jews built in Jordon?

Drop dead,
Curt


Since ABC's report, Trijicon, which enjoys nearly $1 billion in Pentagon contracts, has announced plans [PDF]> to remove the bible codes from the gun sights they provide to the U.S. Military in the future, and will provide "100 modification kits to the Pentagon to enable the removal of the references that are
already on products that are currently deployed."

According to the U.S. military's "General Order Number 1," troops are supposedly prohibited from proselytizing or promoting any faith or religious practice in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, that order is frequently ignored. Trijicon has been a U.S. military contractor for nearly two decades.

In a response to ABC, Trijicon's Director of Sales and Marketing, Tom Munson, reportedly responded by referencing MRFF as "not Christian." The group has taken exception to that description, as explained in a letter to the company shared with The BRAD BLOG, from an attorney whose office has been retained by MRFF. The group is now considering legal action in response to what they regard as "slander" and an attempt to "defame the Foundation or anyone associated with it."

As noted in the legal letter from Mathis & Donheister, P.C.:

Referring to the Foundation as a group which is "not Christian" is not only inaccurate and shamelessly false, but demonstrably contrary to fact. Approximately 96 percent of the Foundation's nearly 16,000 active duty military clients and enumerable additional supporters are in fact practicing Christians by faith. To state otherwise not only slanders the Foundation, but also all of its clients. Further, the Foundation's largest supporter is the California Council of Churches IMPACT, which is comprised of 5,500 Christian congregations, 21 distinct Christian denominations, and, directly and indirectly, millions of individual Christians.


In the meantime, the hate from the Right seems to be increasing by the day. The BRAD BLOG recently shared a spate of death threats and other attacks sent to the government watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us; (VR) from Fox "News" readers after Fox had run an article misrepresenting VR's campaign against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR.]

Just days later, Matt Drudge's protege and poodle Andrew Breitbart, publisher of the far Right BigGovernment.com;, Tweeted a death threat against a climate scientist. After I responded to Breitbart's tweet with my own, daring to counter him with facts about global warming, he echoed the death threat against me this time.

Religious Right Saying "Drop Dead" To An Activist (Patriotic) Jew

PLEASE READ This! And pass on the link.


http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7663


Thanks! Frank

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stop the Court and Big Business from Hijacking Democracy

By Frank Schaeffer

T There's only one real answer (legislative parsing aside) to the Supreme Court's attack on democracy by its ruling that big business can spend its billions to support or oppose candidates.

You're looking at it right here. Trust me, we have the power-- it's called corporate fear of losing money, time and privacy.

I'm a blogger and writer. There are thousands like me. Together we have the power to keep corporate America from destroying our democracy. We can unleash the righteous anger of the population in a way that will make the "Tea Parties" look like a Sunday school picnic!

Here's how--

Let us bloggers, writers and activists - of all political positions -- promise corporate America that the first corporations to make use of this Supreme Court ruling will pay a price so steep that no one else will ever want to try it again.

Here's what I propose:

Let all bloggers who agree that democracy is at risk because of this decision unite here today to preemptively declare that any corporation that takes advantage of the Court ruling will:

  • Have its directors, named and outed-- inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7


  • It's executives named and outed-- inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7


  • It's major stock holders named and outed-- inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7


  • That there will be agitation for the corporate headquarters to picketed


  • That the PR firm, add agency and creative people who work on any such add campaign (and media firm, TV and/or radio station's executives that sell them the time) be outed -- inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7


...And that all this will be done by all bloggers to the best of their investigative abilities... and we promise to do this regardless of the content of the add and even if in some individual instance we agree with the candidate (or cause) being helped.

Yes, this is a threat and a promise, actually a sacred vow to sustain our democracy.

Let the first corporation to try stripping the rest of us actual individual citizens of our free speech -- by overwhelming us with their money at the behest of the election-stealing Court -- become a cautionary tale that will not soon be forgotten.

Do you agree?

Will you promise to make this happen?

Then say so! Sign this statement, post it on your blog and pass it on

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'll Be In Wash DC Speaking for a New Prayer Breakfast

Religious Leaders To Announce American Prayer Hour
Posted January 20th, 2010 by Wayne Besen
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Media Contact: Wayne Bessen, American Prayer Hour Coordinator
Phone: 917-691-5118 E-Mail: wbesen@truthwinsout.org



Multi-City Prayer Hour Offers Alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast Whose Leaders Have Apparent Ties to Uganda’s Draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill


What: On Tuesday, February 2, 2010 key religious leaders will hold a press conference to announce the formation of The American Prayer Hour, a multi-city event on Thursday, February 4, 2010, with key events in Washington, DC, Dallas, Chicago and Berkeley. The American Prayer Hour events will affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The American Prayer Hour provides an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast, which is sponsored by The Family (aka The Fellowship), a group with disturbing ties to those spearheading Uganda’s oppressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

When: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 – 10:30 a.m. (EST)

Where: The National Press Club (Washington, DC) Murrow Room
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor – Washington, DC 20045

Who: Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church

Frank Schaeffer, author, “Crazy For God: How I Grew Up
As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take
All of it Back.”

Harry Knox, The Human Rights Campaign, Director of Religion and Faith

Moses, A gay Ugandan man seeking asylum in The United States

Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Metropolitan Community Church, Vice-Moderator, Board of Elders

Bishop Carlton Pearson, Senior Minister at Chicago, Illinois’ Christ Universal Temple

Background: Uganda is considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, put forth by parliamentarian David Bahati and initially backed by President Yoweri Museveni. If passed, the new law would unleash a vicious campaign of persecution against LGBT citizens. Bahati and President Museveni are members of The Family and are among their “key men” in Africa. The Family hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The American Prayer Hour will show that such cruelty and extremism does not represent most people of faith.

Sponsors:

National Black Justice Coalition

Religion and Faith Program
Human Rights Campaign Foundation

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

National Religious Leadership Roundtable
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Metropolitan Community Churches

Full Equality Now DC

PFLAG National

Truth Wins Out

Anti-Obama Lefty Perfectionists Killed Us In MA

By Frank Schaeffer

Congratulations to the Left of the progressive movement and the Democratic Party: You just shot us all in the foot. You contributed to the Democratic loss in Massachusetts.

I’m a former Republican who ran from that hate-filled movement years ago. I am a heartfelt Obama supporter. And I am also and Independent Massachusetts voter.

I blame the ideological purist Left who have worked so hard to undermine the Obama presidency for the MA debacle. You set the stage.

The Left of the progressive movement couldn’t wait patiently for change. They wanted everything Now! They couldn’t ever see a glass half full and the possibility of improvement on the health care reform bill; it had to be prefect Now!

Gay rights moving ahead slowly weren’t fast enough! The fact that our president inherited the mess that landed on his desk didn’t move his Lefty critics to root for him, pray for him, and wait for him: No! It was “You’ve failed!” You’ve sold out to the banks! We're still at war! And all this only after less than 12 months in office!

Well, you got what you paid for. By giving aid and comfort to the extreme right – “See even his own supporters don’t trust him!” – You have emboldened the nuts. You also have sapped drip-by-drip the enthusiasm of Obama’s actual grass roots supporters (like me) who are not part of the "progressive elite".

You of the Obama-hating Left (yes I used that word -- hating) are both short-sighted and unrealistic.

Well, thanks ya’ll! See you in no-health care, no-gay rights, eternal-dumb-wars Sarah Palin’s America.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Latest Limbaugh/Dobson/Robertson Blast (On Grit TV)

Here's a link to my latest Grit TV blast. By the way if you don't watch them and/or help support them you are missing a good thing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39V1Uh0y39A&feature=youtube_gdata

Military Suppliers Who Hate America-- "Christian" Gun Sights

By Frank Schaeffer

Talk about painting a target on our men and women! Talk about more or less making the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s next recruiting video!

I'm talking about a news story on the ABC News website -- "U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes" – (Jan 19, 2009) Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.


One of the citations on the gun sights is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."


Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world." John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."


Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is "not Christian."


The company's vision is described on its Web site: "Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom."

"We believe that America is great when its people are good," says the Web site. "This goodness has been based on Biblical standards throughout our history, and we will strive to follow those morals."

Spokespeople for the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps both said their services were unaware of the biblical markings...

"It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," said Michael "Mikey" Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military. "It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles," he said.



The makers of this gun sight and the military officers who have known about this, are unpatriotic in their criminal negligence. I come to this story as, 1) the father of a Marine and, 2), as a former religious right fundamentalist who, before I left the movement in the mid 1980s was part of the evangelical subculture that specializes in just this sort of religious crusade (as I describe in my new book Patience With God--Faith For People who don't Like Religion (Or Atheism).

What is so terrible about this breach of our Constitution is that it shows just how deeply embedded the evangelical subculture is in our military. From fundamentalist chaplains, to zealous proselytizing generals our military is rife with our own version of the extremists we’re fighting. To fundamentalist "Christians" in love with the apocalypse we really are fighting a "Bring it on!" Bush-type Crusade.

It’s time for the government to step in a and stop this nonsense once and for all. Officers who knew should be court marshaled. The company in question should lose its contract and never be hired again for any military project.

And the evangelical idiots who look at our military as a mission field wherein to convert soldiers on the one hand and through whom to project worldwide missionary efforts on the other, have got to be told once and for all: Hands off our military!

We’re fighting people who recruit based on their belief they are fighting a “holy war” and -- as Mikey Weinstein properly noted -- this plays into their hands. The makers of this weapon sight might as well have painted targets on the backs of every man and woman serving. They are traitors to our military and our country.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Watch My CNN Response To Robertson

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-tv/arianna-pat-robertson-giv_b_424097.html

America and the Devil's (Robertson) Curse

It’s clear that America’s Founding Fathers must have made a pact with the Devil. How else to explain the curse America is so obviously under today? I want to go even farther than Pat Robertson and tell it like it really is!

(Disclosure: back in the 1970s and 80s before I quit the evangelical right, I was on the 700 Club with Pat 6 times, given my late father Francis Schaeffer was a founder of the religious right).

What else besides a punishment for a satanic pact could explain the following?...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sarah Palin/FOX News and "The End"

By Frank Schaeffer

Palin comes from that world of hysterical paranoid delusion. It's her attraction to the people who like her. God has "raised her up for such a time as this" they believe. It is why Fox "News" just hired her as another one of their fair and balanced commentators.

Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series of sixteen novels (so far!) represents everything that is most deranged about Palin's religion, and understanding why those books are popular is the key to "getting" the Palin Fox "News" deal...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Interview With Me

Hi, I discovered a good new website. Here's an interview with me on that site but my real reason for posting this here is because I think my readers should know about this website.You can cut and paste this link below.

http://www.elizabethesther.com/threes_a_crowd/2010/01/a-conversation-with-frank-schaeffer-author-of-crazy-for-god.html

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Open Letter to David Letterman

By Frank Schaeffer
978 761 2408

You should resign. You’ve either gone senile or become so over-confident that your true nature has been revealed. By making a cruel joke at the expense of Obama appointee Amanda Simpson you have done something as unacceptable as using the N-word in a joke. Bigot is as bigot does.

I’m 57, straight, married, father of three, grandfather of three, a progressive independent voter and an Obama supporter, having formerly been a religious right leader (raised by a famous evangelical) before I quit evangelicalism and right wing politics in the 1980s and became a novelist.

But I’m disgusted by you taking a cheap gratuitous shot at transgender Obama appointee Amanda Simpson (appointed to the position of Senior Technical Adviser to the Department of Commerce.)

President Obama appointed Ms. Simpson to a government advisory post, an obscure meat and potatoes post at that. And now she’s the punching bag for the usual right wing religious bullies including James Dobson. In this context you didn’t just make a mistake. You showed you’re a bully too.

I say that as a fan who has loved your anti-TV, anarchic TV since you first went on the air. I say that as a writer who hates to slam doors with media because I need media interviews to help sell my books! It is one thing to pick on elected officials, but what’s anyone like you invading the privacy of a mid-level appointee adviser for?

Transgender people are a minority within a minority. To single out Ms. Simpson for mockery and ridicule and to put her picture all over the airwaves is a callous and disgusting act. It is the act of a wealthy, famous man picking on what (in biblical terms) might be referred to as “the least of these.” Simpson is eminently qualified and entitled to respect and privacy. More importantly she is a human being struggling at a moment in history when violent threats against gay and transgender people are building.

When the thugs at Fox News troll for hate-filled goons -- as they did in the case of the events leading up to the killing of Dr. George Tiller (sadly) we understand why. When hate mongers like Dick Cheney say America is "less safe" because of our elected president we know why he’s lying. When James Dobson urges discrimination against a human being like Ms. Simpson since she’s transgendered we know where he’s coming from.

But -- to not put too fine a point on it -- where the hell does a philandering multimillionaire media idol with a whole TV network to defend his image get off picking on a defenseless individual because of her gender?

To use an old fashioned phrase: Letterman you are a not a gentleman.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do Me A Favor (Please)

Hi, If you've read Patience With God--Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) please write a review for Amazon. It all helps.
Thank you so much,
Frank

Monday, January 4, 2010

What the Talking Heads Won't Talk About

By Frank Schaeffer


Welcome to 2010. I keep waiting for someone to speak truth to power. No, I'm not talking about speaking our minds to those we elected or to those they appointed. There's plenty of that going around. Rather I'm talking about speaking truth to the real power in America: We the American People. That would be you and me.

When it comes to us we like being stroked. So here's what few (if any) political leaders, or commentators will say. (Can I "prove" I'm right about any of this? Of course not.) But I do know that there is too much not being said by too many people. And so do you, even if your list of what's not being said and/or how to fix it disagrees with mine.

Some of our real problems...

.... in no particular order. And I know some of this list is wrong. It must be because we all get a lot wrong. But if half of this makes some sense to you and starts a conversation on what truly ails us that can't all be blamed on others -- so much the better. (Sorry if your particular "ox" gets gored. Maybe it's time it was.)

  • We're a trivialized entertainment-orientated culture making ourselves too dumb and distracted to function

  • Most behavioral medication for children is a parental/educator cop out -- a pharmaceutical industry/psychologist industry abusive bonanza

  • Kids raised watching TV/laptop/game screens have short attention spans (where do you think all these new learning/behavior disabilities are coming from?)

  • The profit motive - say that Amtrak must turn a "profit" - destroys the idea of public space and public institutions - say a good rail system like that of all European countries - so our infrastructure has slowly eroded and been destroyed

  • The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and this is the "American way"

  • Our schools look like prisons

  • The teacher's union protects teachers not students and the Democratic Party has sold out to them

  • Big time American religion breeds hate and is tax-deductible and the Republican Party has sold out to the churches

  • Progressives spend inordinate amounts of time trying to prove that internet porn is okay when - much as we all are enjoying it - we all also know that something weird and maybe destructive to childhood development has happened through the marriage of the internet and porn. No-- this isn't about censorship! This is about where and how porn is delivered and to whom

  • Right Wing ideologues are anti-gay bigots, racist, misogynist and are given access to vast audiences through radio, TV and Fox (and other) far Right outlets

  • Right wing bigots - say the anti-Obama evangelical and Roman Catholic leadership comparing him to Hitler because he's for stem-cell research -- are in effect trawling for assassins

  • Our "all volunteer" military is becoming an all mercenary force working with an actual mercenary force since our military's dirty little secret is that without "outsourcing" it can't function because it's so stretched

  • We don't care about children because if we did religious loons would not be allowed to home school and indoctrinate their helpless offspring

  • If we wanted to really embrace new green technologies we'd have a 2 dollar a gallon gas tax

  • If we wanted educated balanced happy children allowing a child to watch TV before age 5 would be classified as child abuse (and I'm not talking about "bad" or "good" programs, I'm talking about cognitive development since a child needs to connect with the real world before "connecting" with the filtered fast cut TV "world" , be that Sesame Street or other "childrens'" programming)

  • If we wanted happy families we'd have mandatory fully paid leave for new mothers and fathers for 1 year after the birth of any child

  • If we cared about the life of our towns we'd have density and urban mixed-use zoning everywhere and residential sprawl "development" would be illegal

  • If we cared about child development, how boys learn to treat women, and sexual satisfaction throughout life -- we'd balance free speech against children being exposed to commercials, and limit access of advertisers to TV, public spaces like billboards and get porn off the internet and back in stores and theaters where owners can discriminate related to a potential client's age-appropriate status, just as they do when selling cigarettes and alcohol

  • If we cared about education no universities and colleges would have sports teams

  • If we cared about education we'd ban personal computers and cell phones, i Pods etc., (i.e., personal entertainment centers) from all schools K through 12

  • If we cared about education we'd teach art, music, drama, dance, creative writing, history and geography as well as at least two "foreign" languages from kindergarten up

  • If we cared about teens we'd offer sex education from age 6 and up and contraceptives from age 12 and up along with moral instruction -- not to be confused with "abstinence only" religious moralist sermons -- but rather real and sane life lessons about what sex is, why it's great when loving and committed, and what lies the fashion industry, the cosmetic industry and the media industry portray in terms of intimacy, love and friendship and self-image

  • If progressives wanted to be taken seriously our websites would not be increasingly dominated by entertainment/celebrity "news"

  • Even "serious" progressive websites are so saturated with society gossip and commercialism -- another article on the "new" rage in anal sex, weight loss, nipple piercing, or a day-in-the-life-of-a-porn-star anyone? -- that it's difficult to take anything therein seriously

  • If right wing sites wanted to speak to anyone but dumb white bigots they'd tell inconvenient truths, say about the massive failure of conservative evangelical religion to do more than cheer for hate and mindless consumerism

  • If religion wanted to be taken seriously it would stop trying to direct the political debate from the point of view of this or that faith and ask that elected officials be loyal to the Constitution first and to their religion second

  • If atheists wanted to be taken seriously they'd admit that so far atheism has not got a very good track record when it comes to human rights -- from Stalin and Pol Pot et al, to the 1920s eugenics movement



If America wanted to prosper and compete instead of waiting for Obama to walk on water and fix everything, we would:

  • Turn off the TV

  • Turn off the entertainment functions of our laptops, phones and what have you and read a book

  • Save not spend

  • Health care would be universal, and single payer... now

  • Elections would be paid for from public funds and political fund raising and paid lobbying made illegal

  • Elections would be limited to 6 weeks

  • We'd build great new infrastructure

  • Fire bad teachers

  • Use public transport

  • Stop buying crap from Wal Mart made in China

  • Use locally grown food and pay more for it

  • Ban all but actual hunting rifle and shotgun ownership and strictly issue licenses for those weapons that would be updated and reissued (or not) every five years just like a driver's license

  • Cut the size of our defense establishment in half

  • Open our borders to any immigrant with a higher education degree in any science

  • We'd impose a 90% wealth tax on all earnings (say over 250.000 dollars per family) until our national deficit was paid down and fund health care and a total infrastructure revamp and rebuild our schools with the money left over

  • We'd no longer hire teachers trained by teaching colleges (the demonstrably second rate and failed training schools) but hire the best, brightest, most innovative and creative people we could find from all walks of life (as do the top private high schools that feed the elite colleges)

  • We'd ban the use of "contractors" by the US military and live within the means of our all volunteer force and/or have a draft

  • If we didn't have the political will for a draft we'd no longer fight wars that didn't have the support of the American people

  • Gerrymandering would be stopped

  • Child molesters and rapists would be locked up for life without parole

  • Marijuana would be legalized

  • Rehab would be our only "war" on drug users



What do you think are the real issues confronting us?

Do you agree that our political leadership - across the board - and our talking heads - Left and Right, let alone the mainstream media, are mostly too jaded and/or cowardly to actually speak truth? If so add to this list. Argue with me and/or refute me. But let's put non-ideologically-driven, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may reality on the front burner in 2010.

A Letter Of Interest (Proving that the Journey of Faith Isn't Reserved For Idiots)

I get lots of email and answer almost all of it (crank letters aside). Once in a while I get a letter I'd like to share. In this case here's a letter that I think might help all of us remember that stereotypes about religion -- Evangelical or otherwise -- don't apply to a lot of people. I found this humbling and instructive as well as interesting. And no, I'm not including this here just because this writer had a few nice things to say about my books.

Best, Frank

Enjoy.

From Luke Gillespie



Sent: Sun, Jan 3, 2010 2:33 am
Subject: Thank you!
Dear Frank,

May I introduce myself and say how much I appreciate what you've been saying in recent appearances, in your Huffington post pieces and various TV interviews (D.L. Hughley, Rachel Maddow, GritTV, Democracy Now, etc.) and recent lecture and Q&A at the Hammer Museum at UCLA.

If you'll permit me to give some background...

I was born in Japan to what I would call "moderate" Southern Baptist missionaries (youngest of five children) in 1957, grew up in Osaka, and went to a private English-speaking school in the city of Kobe. My father, A.L."Pete" Gillespie, was from Memphis, TN, and my mother, Viola "Bee" Gillespie, was from southern Indiana. They met in Louisville when she was in nursing school and dad was attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

My father was a pacifist (quite unusual for southern baptists), though he would have prefered to simply be called an ambassador for Christ. When WWII broke out, and especially after Pearl Harbor was attacked, dad would preach to his congregation (he pastored a couple of churches in Owenton, KY, and Charleston, IL) that the Bible teaches us to love our enemies, so he said we should pray for the Japanese. Well, some of his congregation didn't like to hear that since some of their own sons were fighting "them Japs". Dad had initially wanted to go to the Soviet Union as a missionary before the war started, but after he married in 1940, both parents decided to go to Japan.

When my parents arrived in Japan in 1948, my dad expressed his opposition to the war to fellow missionaries, including one who said, "Pete, I fought for your freedom." My dad responded, "I didn't ask you to go." "But Pete, what if everyone felt the way you did?" Of course, my dad didn't need to answer that question.

I remember my folks showing home movies of a Japanese pastors' conference c.1949. Dad used to say, "There is pastor so-and-so of Hiroshima Baptist Church. He lost 99.9% of his congregation in an instant. Without the love of God in his heart, this man would not be able to smile today."

Years later, my dad helped Billy Graham during one or two of his crusades in Japan (late 50s, early 60s?). I'm sure that my dad knew a number of folks that you grew up meeting, at least those close to Graham. (As a footnote, I cringe every time I see Franklin Graham today--he seems to have fallen prey to the right-wing agenda more than his father had. Of course, his father stayed close with the Clinton's, and never seemed to subscribe to the notion that one party was more "christian" than the other, at least publicly.)

My parents, however, taught us kids a kind of practical spirituality and became very suspicious when things started turning so political in the late 70s and early 80s and fundamentalists started taking over the southern baptist seminaries. As I reflect back, I'm glad they both died shortly after they reitred in 1979 (mom of lymphoma in 1982, dad of parkinson's disease in 1983, just a year before your father died) before things got so nasty. Dad was of the opinion that the government should not be in the business of teaching Sunday School. He supported the old Baptist tradition of “separation of church and state” (in fact, the first Baptists in the USA were called and came from “Separatists” in England for this very reason, something many do not realize today). So, he was in favor of the effort by the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to lobby AGAINST school prayer. "Whose prayer are you going to pray?" he would say.

My folks were not liberal, but not fundamentalistic. Dad always used to preach that faith was a matter of the heart, not a particular creed. One of my favorite verses is 1 Samuel 16:7b, "the Lord sees not as mans sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." If only we could all do the same.

In any case, I did grow up reading what I could in the area of Christian theology, philosophy, art, culture, etc. I read most of your father's books. I read your Addicted to Mediocrity. I didn't always agree with everything I read, but I welcomed someone writing about the arts and asking christians to become more artistic and more involved in the arts (I am a professional pianist now and a professor of music at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, IN, where I teach jazz and classical piano and history, and also have an interest in comparative arts). Dad used to preach a sermon on how God calls us to "higher ground" in every aspect of our lives, and not to be average or mediocre.

My own spiritual journey has brought me to a point that finds resonance in many of your current thoughts. As Cornell West said in an outstanding lecture here a few years ago, "I am a christian, not a Constantinian christian, but simply a christian." I echo his sentiments and would love to see the two of you on the same panel discussing current socio-cultural, religious and political trends. You would both have such excellent insights to share.

My faith is at the core of my being. Yet, I find nothing in common with right-wing christian theocracy or christian "Taliban" thinking or behavior. The whole right-wing fundamentalist movement has barked up all the wrong trees. When Obama won Indiana Nov 2008, I couldn't believe it. Many of us democratic and independent folks here were thrilled.

I realize that folks like Rush Limbaugh, the mormon guy Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and the like are simply entertainers, but at the risk of becoming too "dogmatic" myself, I hope and "pray" that their sphere of influence doesn't actually lead to an assassination attempt and all the other crazy and stupid things their ditto-head followers espouse. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow may be entertainers, too, but they (and Chris Matthews) seem to speak so much more common sense. Of course, I also enjoy listening to Bill Moyers.

Though I tend to be left of center, I've never felt comfortable with either the far right or the far left. I remember chatting with a unitarian seminary student in Boston years ago. "What is your dogma?" I asked him. He said, proudly, "We have no dogma?" Of course, I added, "Well, that is precisely your dogma." It reminds me of the "Myth of Neutrality" as you wrote years ago, yet we are all blessed and cursed with language and meaning that is at once concrete and fleeting at the same time. The old "line of despair" that your father wrote about with Kierkegaard was always interesting to me. I don't always agree with everything Kierkegaard had to say, but I was still drawn to some of his writings, and this alleged "line of despair" could, I felt, become a perpetual moment of spiritual awakening, a moment where we realize that we simply don't have all the answers but are willing to have faith; and his notion that "Subjectivity is truth" has continued to resonate with me: it's "relational" truth that I'm interested in, not an abstract "absolute" truth.

And your voice is like Kierkegaard in his Attack Upon Christendom as you rightly point out the hypocrisy of the religious right.

After all these years, Pascal's Pensées also continues to resonate with me in many ways. One of my favorite quotes, "Skeptics are rarely skeptical about their own skepticism," could be applied to Christopher Hitchens and the like (though I agree with much of what he says, I don't always like his tone, and I disagreed with his view of the Iraq war).

I have shared several of your interviews to all of my Facebook friends and tried to get as many folks to hear what you have to say as possible. And I just now clicked your "become a fan" on your Facebook page. 

A good friend recently gave me your book, Crazy for God, and I look forward to reading it. As soon as I finish it, I will read Patience with God and I look forward to reading anything else you write and any interview or lecture you give in the future. Your website has been bookmarked! 

I wish there was a way to get you on one of our lecture series here at Indiana University. It would be great to have you here and to meet you in person.

One more point if I may... In the UCLA Hammer lecture, you mention a great point about President Obama bowing in Asia, but, if you'll permit me to say, as I understand the story, it was not China, but rather Japan that the main bowing incident took place. It is part of Japanese culture to bow out of respect; the Chinese don't have the same tradition. As a Chinese friend said to me recently when I was performing a music tour in China, you can recognize the Japanese at Chinese airports because they're the only ones bowing.  So, if you mention this in future lectures, I hope you say Japan. 

Please forgive me for rambling on and for my self-indulgence. Again, I appreciate so much what you're saying. We need more voices like yours in today's aesthetic, artistic, spiritual, cultural, social, and political dialog.

Sincerely,

Luke
-----------------------
Luke Gillespie, D.M.
Associate Professor of Music
Jazz Studies/Piano (MA118)
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music


Published here by permission (Copyright Luke Gillespie, Dec, 2010)

You may contact Luke at:

http://www.riax.com/host/luke-gillespie.com/

Friday, January 1, 2010

If You Missed My Gritt TV Interview....

Hi and Happy New Year. If you missed my Grit TV interview with Laura Flanders check it out on the homepage of my website here. (Highlight, copy and paste the link).

http://www.frankschaeffer.com/

Also.. you can always contact me on that page too.

Best, in 2010

Frank