Last night, my TV was on but I wasn’t really paying attention… all of a sudden, I heard some of the harshest criticism of fundamentalist Christianity I’ve ever heard on network television. I stopped doing my work and started watching. I’m pretty sure my mouth was gaped open the whole time.
It was amazing to hear anyone say these things — even better that it came from someone who used to be a fundie himself.
Frank Schaeffer was the man speaking on The Rachel Maddow Show. He’s 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.
Video is below:
And a transcript:
Schaeffer: … The mainstream not just media but culture doesn’t sufficiently take stock of the fact that within our culture we have a sub-culture, which is literally a fifth column of insanity, that is bred from birth through home-school, Christian school, evangelical college, whatever, to reject facts as a matter of faith.
And so this substitute for authentic historic Christianity, and I may add as a little caveat here, I’m a church-going Christian, really brings up the question:
Can Christianity be rescued from Christians?
And that’s an open question and when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our president is the anti-Christ, you have to draw one of two conclusions: either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation, or they’re beyond crazy, and I think beyond crazy is a better explanation.
And that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America.
We have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back, they look forward to Armageddon, good news is bad news to them.
When we talk about the Left Behind series of books that I talk about in my book Crazy for God, what we’re really talking about is a group of people who are resentful because they know they’ve been left behind by modernity, by science, by education, by art, by literature.
The rest of us our getting on with our lives; these people are standing on a hilltop waiting for the end. And this is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors and they’re our national neighbors and this is the source of all these insanities that we see leveled at the president.
One way or another they go back to this little evangelical subculture… it’s a disaster.Maddow: … How do you work to move people off of that position? It doesn’t seem like facts are relevant in trying to move people away from these beliefs.
Schaeffer: You don’t work to move them off this position. You move past them.
Look, a village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot. It’s as simple as that, and we have to understand: we have a village idiot in this country. It’s called fundamentalist Christianity.
And, until we move past these people, and let me add as a former life-long Republican, until the Republican leadership has the guts to stand up and say it would be better not to have a Republican party than to have a party that caters to the village idiot, uh, there’s gonna be no end in sight.
The next thing they’ll do is accuse Obama of being the anti-Christ and then who knows what comes next? On and on it goes.
There is no end to this stuff. Why? Because this subculture has as it’s fundamentalist faith, that they distrust facts per se.
They believe in a young earth, six-thousand-years-old, with dinosaurs cavorting with human beings. They think that whether it’s economic news or news from the Middle East, it all has to do with the end of time and Christ’s return.
This is la-la land, and the Republican part is totally enthralled to this subculture, to the extent that there is no Republican Party.
There is a fundamentalist subculture which has become a cult. It’s fed red meat by buffoons like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other people who are just not terribly bright themselves, and they are talking to even stupider people. That’s where we’re at. That’s where all this is coming from, and it’s becoming circular, it’s becoming a joke, unfortunately a dangerous joke, because once in a while one of these loony-tunes as we see, brings guns to public meetings. Who knows what they do next?
It’s a serious thing we all have to face, but the Democrats and sane Americans just have to move past these people, say ‘go wait on the hilltop for the end, the rest of us are going to get on with rebuilding our country.’
Maddow: … Is there anybody on the right who could be constructive here if they wanted to be? To the extent that people could be moved off of these conspiracy theories? I understand your point that it’s true that not all of them could be, but is there anybody who could be influential to try and stop the impact of these conspiracies?
Schaeffer: Look, in the year 2000 I worked for John McCain to try to get him elected in the primaries instead of George Bush, but John McCain sold out by nominating… Sarah Palin who comes directly from the heart of this movement and carries with her all that baggage, so he sold out.
I don’t see anybody on the Republican Side of things these days who has the moral standing to provide real leadership or who will risk their position to do so.
Kudos to Rachel for bring people like Schaeffer and Jeff Sharlet on her show, to call out the worst of Christianity for what it is: A collection of lies, believed by the most gullible among us — people who show an unwillingness to accept reality even when it’s right in front of them.