On the morning after the reelection of President Obama American Christians of a conservative-to-far-right bent typified by the leadership of the evangelical establishment and the Roman Catholic bishops have to admit that along with the Republican Party they have just been resoundingly repudiated.
Since I was one of the minor nepotistic sidekick architects of the rise of the religious right in the 1970s-80s along with my late evangelist father Francis Schaeffer, (before I changed my mind and fled as I describe in my book Crazy For God) maybe I’m the right person to ask: What is the future of a politicized “Christianity” deeply infected by the politics of hate, intolerance, homophobia, xenophobia, victimhood, racism and willful delusion? Bluntly– Will it be Fox News or Jesus?
Will the face that American Christianity presents to the world be that of Franklin Graham hunkered down with Glenn Beck, the Koch brothers promoting oligarchy and conspiracy theories and the likes of Dinesh D’Souza spouting vicious lies or will Christians rediscover Christianity?
For now the “face” of Christianity in America is Franklin Graham who sold his father’s reputation down the river for political gain. It’s the homophobic anti-marriage equality editors of Christianity Today magazine. It’s Ralph Reed who narrowly escaped jail after the Abramoff/casino/lobbying scandal and who reemerged from whatever rock he lives under to “organize” the evangelical vote in return for whatever fees he managed to skim from the budget the Republicans running the Romney campaign gave him. It’s the pedophile-codling Roman Catholic bishops trying to equate religious freedom with withholding insurance coverage for contraceptives from American women.
Christians who care about our country and our faith have a choice: Circle the wagons tighter, deny reality further, hate more, or admit that once again – as with the race issues of the 1940s through the 1960s – that most conservative religious Americans have missed the boat of progress, hope and inclusion.
The Republican Party thought it could disrespect women, gays, Latinos, black people, union workers, single moms, minorities of all backgrounds and young people and yet somehow win an election. Do sane evangelicals and Roman Catholics of a reasonable disposition – and there are many – want to make the same mistake? Do we Christians really want the future of American Christianity permanently hijacked by the most putrid collection of reactionary delusional bigots since Jim Crow?
The circle-the-wagons mentality of paranoia tinged with racism that has typified the – NOW FAILED — anti-President Obama crusade has so infected large swathes of American religion that it’s an open question whether the hate-your-brother-mongers have permanently discredited religion. This is the time for religious leaders in America to humble themselves and to become once again part of our democracy rather than reacting to it while crying doom.
The Republican Party may or may not rise to the occasion and change. But there’s no reason that Christians can’t distance ourselves from a political movement dedicated to willful ignorance. It’s time to put following Jesus ahead of denying other people their basic human rights, their basic humanity and trying to win elections even when it costs your soul.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and 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.To book Frank to speak at your college, church or group please contact Frank HERE