Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The National Tea Party Federation has expelled Mark Williams and his Tea Party Express, says a Federation spokesman. Williams was expelled from the Tea Party movement for his racist "letter" to Lincoln -- which according to CNN read:

"Dear Mr. Lincoln," began the fictional letter posted by Williams. "We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

Meanwhile according to the New York Times Sarah Palin is very busy endorsing more and more far right Republicans to run in the next election. This is good news.

Many of "her" candidates are people like Williams, extremists tight with the "Tea Party" not to mention the far right of the evangelical movement. They'll be shaming her, the Republicans and the nation. Just wait. Pray Palin's picks all win in the Republican primaries!

The Times notes Palin's endorsement of Karen Handel:

"Last week, Ms. Handel became at least the 50th candidate to win the Palin seal of approval. Through a breezy 194 words posted on Ms. Palin's Facebook page -- calling Ms. Handel a "pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude" -- a four-way Republican primary came alive, the latest in a number of races across the country that have been influenced by Ms. Palin."

The "Pro-Life" label is Palin's code to Evangelical (and far right Catholics too) that Handel (and the rest) "is one of us." But who is "us"? Does America really want Palin's hand-picked pro-lifers running the country any more than we want the sort of folks who mock slavery?

I have to believe that most Americans don't want crazy evangelicals running their country, not after 8 years of the crazy evangelical poster boy -- Bush. But that's just who Palin is endorsing: religious nuts like herself. With the loose cannons like Williams out there combined with the fringe evangelicals and pro-lifers etc. Palin is helping to turn November into a season of victory for progressives.

It's time to understand our particular American brand of politicized religious idiocy and stop it. I'm a novelist and storyteller. So my way of telling the story of what the Religious Right did to America is to fold it into the individual story of my life. I do this in my book 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 for two reasons: first, it's (hopefully) entertaining and provides insight into the Evangelical Right Wing mindset; second: it so happens that my father (Francis Schaeffer) and I became leaders in the Far Religious Right movement and then I quit back in the 80s.

So, my story in Crazy For God provides a window into millions of similar lives but also the (somewhat scandalous and controversial) story of one life and family that touched millions of others.

Judging by the (literally) many thousands of emails I've been sent in the last couple of years in response to my examination of religion and politics (in books like Crazy For God and and in my Huffington Post blogs) there are lots of bewildered individuals who, like me, were also raised believing that Every Single Word Of The Bible Is True. These folks are now staggering through life in the grip of a paranoid nightmare. And many people who aren't religious ask:

1) How did the Religious Loony Tunes (say like Sarah Palin) get to be this way?

2) How can they be stopped from taking us all with them to La La Land?

These survivors of the Right like me and of fundamentalist religion know -- from the inside -- just why we don't ever want to allow Palin's people near the levers of power. But the good news is this: Palin's picks are so extreme and/or just nuts that they will take down the Republican's chances with them. Be sure of this: Palin's picks will do what Williams did in one way or another again and again. This is one sorry dysfunctional group of people!

The Far Right world you'll discover if you read my books is one of counterintuitive contradictions, where virginity is upheld as a standard by people also secretly ogling porn and brooding over the "fact" that the Federal Reserve is harboring the anti-Christ and/or, at the very least, is in the Grip of Socialists out to take our country away from Us Real Americans. These are the same folks against all legal abortions and also against distributing contraceptives. These are the people who defend legalized torture but think health care for all is demonic and communist. And they do it all in the Name of Jesus. Go figure.

Overt racism will play a part but its the sex scandals that will (no pun) keep coming. Sexual frustration and dysfunction seems to me to be the heart of the culture wars. Conservative Christians are reeling from damaging family experiences -- ranging from being beaten (in the interest of "godly discipline") to being indoctrinated about science, sexuality and politics. And they're in for disillusionment: finding out that their leaders (in the various personality cults they join that pass for "churches") aren't just fallen sinners in some general theological sense, but are actually cynical manipulators and willful liars, not to mention total hypocrites.

The total sexual dysfunction of the evangelical community is starting to show. The growing list of sex scandals is a ritualized "fall from Grace" that has become a trend. The moralistic denial of healthy heterosexual and homosexual sexuality has unhinged Evangelical leadership as much as it has unhinged the Roman Catholic pedophile-enabling popes and bishops.

If you've ever wondered who in their right mind could have taken Fox News and/or Rush Limbaugh and/or Pat Robertson seriously, here's your answer; amongst others are hundreds of thousands of individuals reared in the closed evangelical information loop.

"Who are these people?" many Americans ask when they watch apparent lunatics screaming at political rallies or attacking President Obama as a "communist" or "traitor." Maybe a few clich├ęd catch phrases can provide a shorthand true-or-false type "questionnaire" that, depending on a person's response, would quickly identify what culture war "camp" they're from: "Health care reform will mean Death Panels..." "Obama is the anti-Christ..." "The Earth is six thousand years old..." "Carrying a loaded gun anywhere I want to in public is a basic American right..." "Sex education just leads to more teen pregnancy..." "The United Nations is the harbinger of the End Times..." "Israel should take and keep all of Judea and Samaria to fulfill prophecy so Jesus will return..." "The Federal Government is evil..." "Slavery in the old South wasn't as bad as liberals say..." "America was founded as a Christian nation..." "Iraq was involved in the attack of 9/11..." "We must return to the gold standard..." "The Bible is all true..." "Stem cell research is murder."

If someone has believed (or presently believes) that any one of these statements is true -- let alone that all of them are -- chances are they fit my shorthand psychological/theological profile of a person who has snapped after being "saved." And you can bet that every single candidate Palin endorses believes most if not all the nutty points raised above.

Because they are living within an alternative subculture, the sorts of people Palin endorses and who will vote for them need their beliefs constantly reinforced: enter the alternate "America" of Christian radio, publishing, education, think tanks, colleges, movies, trinkets, rock, pop, TV, magazines, websites, travel clubs, book clubs, cruises, vacations, yellow pages... all so that they may suck on their own pipelines of "reality."

This too is good news: it means that when in a general election Palin's people face Democrats they will be shocked by the reality that their alternate world misled them into thinking that there are more Americans like them than there are. Put it this way: the world according to Fox News doesn't exist. It "works" when you are talking to yourself but not to others. They will lose.

This imbibing of likeminded affirmation is the only way they feel comfortable receiving "facts." So the loop remains closed and every argument becomes circular. Try talking to a right wing evangelical clone and question something they claim the "Bible says."

They will quote the same book back to you as if quoting the very book being questioned is the answer to those questions!

Here's an analogy:

"Your math book says two plus two equals five and that has been shown to be false."

"No. no, my book is correct when it says two plus two equals five because there are several other passages that back that statement up in my book!"

Expect many more scandals from racist "letters" to more sex scandals involving "family values" people. The total sexual dysfunction of the whole American evangelical community is starting to show. The ritualized "fall from Grace" has become a trend, in fact more usual than unusual. The evangelical theological/moralistic denial of healthy heterosexual and homosexual sexuality has -- apparently -- unhinged not just rank and file but their entire leadership much as it has unhinged the Roman Catholic leadership. (Consider the case of George Rekers as one of hundreds of examples.)

And for every famous Reckers-style fall from grace there are thousands of local faith-challenging falls. Many of these aren't sexual. Add in financial local and national scandals sexual, financial and otherwise, and the list of disillusioning "Christian" malfeasance becomes huge. Add in Roman Catholic priests molesting children and their pope and bishops covering up for them and criminally enabling them and the disillusioning list goes stratospheric. Add in many pastors' ego factor, greed and empire-building (even the ones who keep their pants zipped) and almost every prominent religious leader is on the list.

So the good news is this: Palin is endorsing people who are sure to implode in one way or another. November will be great for Democrats if Palin's extremist religious picks wind up on the ticket all over America. Pray it's so.

America needs to be pried out of the smothering grip of fundamentalist religions of all kinds and the anti-American anti-truth anti-politics that fundamentalism spawns. This isn't optional. Palin will help America have a very clear choice.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of book 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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