How the Evangelicals Doomed the Republican Party, God and (Maybe) America

 

By Frank Schaeffer

 

Not all Evangelicals are Right-leaning Republicans. But according to polls 73 percent are. That’s the folks I’m talking about here.

No one sane disputes the fact that the base of the base of the Republican Party — post Roe V Wade and with a big “assist” from my late Religious Right leader father Francis Schaeffer and me (before I changed my mind) — is evangelical voters. No one sane disputes the fact that the Republican Party is funded these days mainly by a handful of billionaires with a vested interest in seeing that government does their economic will. No one sane disputes the fact that this attempt to work the billionaires’ economic will has little-to-nothing to do with the core “family values” and “pro-life” issues that motivate the vast swath of Right wing-leaning evangelical voters. And no one sane disputes the fact that in the old days voters disagreed over policy but mostly agreed on basic facts from which policy would be derived.

Not any more.

These days the Right disputes the facts from how life evolved to unemployment numbers to where the President was born. For instance the Right disputes the reality of climate change and our human contributions to that change.  Evangelicals have mostly  signed up for this often oil and coal companies-funded  alternative view of “reality” because their theology teaches them to reject the “world” and look for some other explanation of the cosmos and everything in it than that offered by science.

In other words for those who reject the science of evolution — or reject the science on how people become heterosexual or homosexual, or the economic facts as to why women have abortions (48 percent fall below the poverty line), or what an embryo is,  or if the biblical account is literally true and so on  –  it is easy to embrace other alternative “explanations.” This is especially true for those who see themselves as an embattled persecuted minority of victims of “liberalism.”

The alternative “explanations” about how the world works are offered to evangelicals eager to have their faith confirmed by their own “experts.” Enter those with their own agendas eager to dupe the dupeable. Enter the neoconservatives, the crazies saying that President Obama isn’t a real American. Enter the Ayn Rand-worshiping gun-fondling libertarian Tea Party or those saying that gays “choose” their “lifestyle”  an explanation offered by hacks, quacks and bigots. These “facts” all have something in common: they are sold to the gullible by self-interested liars. And nothing conditions you to be gullible more than biblical literalism.

These liars specializing in lying to the gullible these days include oil and coal company paid “scientists” denying climate change and paid hack “therapists” offering to change gay men and women into heterosexuals.

The liars are mostly Republican operatives (of the Ralph Reed bottom dwelling ilk) shilling for the likes of the Koch brothers, the oil and coal companies and the far Right of the Republican Party with its neoconservative warmongers. These self-interested parties have discovered that  the biblical literalist Evangelicals  are very, very easy prey. You see speaking as one raised in the Evangelical subculture I know that people like me were raised believing in imaginary truths. So we are perfect folks to sell yet more “alternative” realities to.

These new “truths” range  from climate change denial to the idea that Israel is a great little country that can do no wrong and that no matter how many wars we get into in the Middle East defending a bunch of crazed Zionists illegally occupying the West Bank that it’s okay because those wars are somehow a “fulfillment of prophecy.”

But the problem Republicans and evangelicals share is that while American elections can be bought by secret money reality itself intrudes from time-to-time. Enter New York City and New Jersey underwater.

As Timothy Egan writes in the New York Times:

 

“Climate change is to the Republican base what leprosy once was to healthy humans — untouchable and unmentionable. Their party is financed by people whose fortunes are dependent upon denying that humans have caused the earth’s weather patterns to change for the worse.

“At the same time, Republicans have spent the last year trying to win an argument about the role of government as a helping hand. By now, most people know that Mitt Romney, in his base-pandering mode during the primaries, made the federal disaster agency FEMA sound like a costly nuisance, better off orphaned to the states or the private sector.

“His party can get away with fact-denial — in global warming’s case — and win cable-television arguments about FEMA, so long as something like a major news event, e.g., reality, does not shatter the picture. That’s where the storm upset a somewhat predictable race.”

 

“There has been a series of extreme weather incidents,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, stating the obvious. “This is not a political statement. This is a factual statement. Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.”

The other cherished idea of Republican/evangelical matrix (with a few handy Mormons and conservative Roman Catholics thrown in) scattered by Sandy’s winds is the idea that people don’t need government. Let  the local church volunteers handle it! the cry goes up.

But when the bill for New Jersey’s recovery comes due, no  state or church group will pay. And when each year our “once in a generation” disasters hit again and again and again, don’t turn to your local climate-change denier for help.

As Egan put it:

“Ayn Rand is having her ‘Mad Men’ revivalist moment in the Republican Party, led by social Darwinists like Paul Ryan. These people genuinely do believe that life is a battle between achievers and moochers, and that luck, good or bad, has little to do with it. Compassion is for wussies, and tax dollars from those at the top should not be used to help those who are struggling.

“Of late, we’ve seen the ‘hate of all nature,’ as one old-timer called the Dust Bowl, visit nearly every part of the United States. Texas was on fire for much of a year while its governor, Rick Perry, denied climate change and signed an official proclamation calling for a day of prayer for rain.”

 

Here’s what the Evangelicals on the Right have embraced:

  • An alternative version of reality from creationism to denial of global warming
  • The “fact” that Jesus will soon return so that none of this matters anyway
  • The “fact” that America must always defend Israel because the “Bible says so” — even as Israel slides into becoming an apartheid state that will be submerged by its own structural Zionist injustice to Arabs and may take its “greatest ally” (the USA) down with it
  • The refusal to embrace gay rights
  • The whites-in-charge mentality even as demographics change and America becomes a brown country
  • The circle-the-wagons head-in-the-sand home “school” movement pitting individuals against their communities
  • The odd alliance with the NRA and “gun rights” by Christians who say they follow the Jesus who said “turn the other cheek”
  • The retributive version of war as a way of life to punish the world for “not liking” us
  • The acceptance of the lies and outright racism of the shrill anti-Obama Fox News-type reaction to a black man in the White House…

Touch it where you may the evangelical/Republican Party/billionaire alliance is doomed, it’s doomed because the non-retributive Jesus is the true Lord, not a hate filled ideology of imperial overreach that is embraced by crazed and militarized right wing neoconservatives.

It’s doomed by immigration pattern demographics, it’s doomed by nature as we lose our coastal cities one at a time and people remember who it was — folks like the Koch brothers and their evangelical foot soldiers — who made this possible by denying global warming, it’s doomed by the fact that other countries not waiting for the return of Jesus, building high speed rail and embracing science and simple facts will leave us in the dust, and its doomed because lies of the magnitude accepted by the evangelicals and the Right about reality will eventually run into the truth. Or the truth will run into them, and — literally in the case of global warming — wash them away.

To the extent that the alternative evangelical theological reality has turned evangelical voters into suckers for the “gospel” of the oil companies and coal companies and neoconservatives, the kindly nice personally average evangelical voter is the most dangerous person in America.

These nice folks next door – soup kitchens and good works notwithstanding —  will destroy the reality we all are stuck with while trying to force feed “facts” to the country that are lies on behalf of people who will be living in gated communities in the Rockies while average Americans  watch our prairies burn and our cities wash away.  And when we finally bankrupt ourselves fighting Middle East wars on behalf of crazed Zionists occupying the West Bank, drill our last oil well in a national park, and discover that we’re in a self-created Apocalypse it will be too late to note that Jesus didn’t return to yank idiots to heaven out of the mess they made and the only sound you’ll hear is the great grandchildren of some very stupid and deluded people cursing their memory.

Meanwhile President Obama is going to win reelection. The Republican Party will  dwindle and the evangelicals  role  in politics will become a hissing and a byword. And I’m betting that the evangelicals will learn nothing from this, just circle the wagons for their last stand against not just their fellow Americans but against reality herself. Good luck with that.

And to the extent that an “act of God” — tropical storm Sandy — may have helped President Obama win reelection, how very hilarious.  I mean weren’t Mormons and Evangelicals united in praying against our first black president?

I feel sorry for God. With his “friends” helping the Republicans to screw up our planet for profit  he’s in as much trouble as the Republican Party is. God needs better friends and evangelicals need a better theology.

I say again: Touch it where you may the evangelical/Republican Party/billionaire alliance is doomed, it’s doomed because the non-retributive Jesus is the true Lord, not a hate filled ideology of imperial overreach that is embraced by crazed and militarized right wing neoconservatives and the haters of not just our first black president but of God and his good earth.

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.

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PS. Now please WATCH THIS 

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.


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