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NewsReal Sunday: Pots and Kettles: Maddow and Schaeffer Call Evangelicals “Village Idiots” Who Must be Excluded from American Political Life

Posted on September 27 2009 3:57 pm
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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If your Evangelical Church had a business meeting today, Frank Schaeffer, son of Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer and owner of the world’s biggest daddy complex has an expression for what went on there– The lunatics running the asylum.

Using the pretext of a dubious poll question about whether Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, Rachel Maddow used guest Frank Schaeffer on Wednesday, September 16, to declare that Evangelical Christians are “village idiots” who should be excluded from politics.

Schaeffer, who has been getting ever more shrill in his desperate bid for attention, made his strongest statement yet blasting his former fellow church-goers in a blanket statement that would have the PC police kicking down his door had he made it of, say, Muslims.

MADDOW:  Today, Public Policy Polling released results from its new poll of residents of the great state of New Jersey.  The poll found that 18 percent of New Jersey conservatives say they are sure that President Obama is the anti-Christ.  No questions asked.  Another 17 percent of New Jersey self-identified conservatives say they just aren’t sure, but they “are not willing to rule it out.”

Joining us now is Frank Schaeffer.  He grew up in the religious far right.  He is 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.”

I do not know what possessed this polling firm to ask whether or not people think the president is the anti-Christ, but they did.  Does the response rate among conservatives surprise you?  More than one in three saying yes or they don’t know.

SCHAEFFER:  Well, I was a child when President Kennedy was assassinated, and my mother thought, because he died of a head wound, foretold in scripture of the anti-Christ he would be resurrected as the anti-Christ.  She thought this might be a possibility.

So, those of us who come from the evangelical subculture have been weaned with our mother’s milk on a changing cast list of villains.  It might be Kennedy to one generation, Obama to the next.

But I think the larger point this brings up is that the mainstream—not just media, but culture– doesn’t sufficiently take stock of the fact that within our culture, we have a subculture 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 and 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 talking about is a group of people that are resentful because they’ve been left behind by modernity, by science, by education, by art, by literature. The rest of us are getting on with our lives.  These people are standing on the 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 of 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.

First, there is no evidence in the poll that the people responded were Christians.  That wasn’t a cross tabulation made in the poll.  Interestingly, though, the “Yes” respondents were disproportionately younger voter–not the segment of the population most likely to even think the Anti-Christ will ever exist, but the most likely to humorously give a stupid answer to a stupid question. (more about that later.)

Second, if you think it’s odd for a guy to start a long rambling answer to that question by trashing his mother, then (like most Americans including card-carrying members of the Religious Right that Schaeffer claims to have co-founded) you haven’t paid attention to Frank Schaeffer.

A fair amount has been written by former associates of Francis and Edith Schaeffer in sorrow that the favored son would trash his parents in ways that even their intimate friends say is at best unfair and at worst, untrue.

In one of the best articles, Os Guinness, former Schaeffer associate and the best man at Frank Schaeffer’s wedding writes in Christianity Today:

But neglect and guilt are not the deepest explanation. The real truth is that Franky, as [Frank Schaeffer] then called himself, was spoiled. He was more like a poster child for Benjamin Spock than the son of “fundamentalist missionaries.” Having been born well after his sisters, and having survived polio as a child, he was rarely challenged, disciplined, or denied. As a result, he grew up a “little Napoleon,” as some of the L’Abri students called him. He would boast that he could twist his parents around his little finger, and time and again he proved it.

This makes a lot of sense. You can’t beat this kind of bitterness into a child.  For it to be this twisted and megalomaniacal is has to be spoiled into them.

And writing a memoir that exaggerates his parent’s flaws into full blown hypocrisy and borderline madness is only one step in Frank Schaeffer’s bid to become the Voice of– Something.

As to what kind of neighbors Evangelicals make, I’ll leave it up to you.  Who do you think is most likely to lock their doors, people in the buckle of the Bible belt, or people in 90% Democrat neighborhoods?

And now, we return to the continuing saga of the Village Idiots:

MADDOW: 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, itss called “Fundamentalist Christianity.”

And until we move past these people– and let me add as a former lifelong Republican– until the Republican leadership has the guts to stand up and say it would better– it would be better not to have a Republican Party than have a party that caters to the village idiot, there’s going to 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 its fundamentalist faith that they distrust facts per se.  They believe in a younger Earth of 6,000 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 returns.  This is la-la land.

And the Republican Party 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 the pawns 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 of 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 œlooney 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, “Wait on the hilltop until the end, the rest of us are going to get on with rebuilding our country.”

” I mean what do you expect from people who ignored the chance to make Frank Schaeffer their cultural leader after my father died.  How DARE they! I put it out there, but these stupid people didn’t know what they had.  So I joined the Orthodox Church and gave some speeches, had a few “conferences” attended by dozens of people, but somehow, the oldest church in Christendom didn’t decide to reorganize itself around me, either.  I mean what were they thinking?  I was going to bring them into the forefront of modern culture!  So I got more involved with the Republican Party and I was going to bring Christians of all stripes to McCain, then that moron George W. Bush and all those damned Evangelicals stole that from me, too.  But I’m going to show them, I’m writing for the Huffington Post now, and seen on Rachel Maddow by hundreds of people, and soon, soon, they will be very sorry!”

In short, Frank Schaeffer likes to throw the word “insanity” around, but he needs to find a good shrink and work his daddy issues out in private.  He makes David Brock look like a model of intellectual and emotional stability.

Now, onto the poll that made this outburst of bigotry possible. On Public Policy Polling’s blog, they tell us about all the “thought” they put into this question:

“I’ve had several reporters call me now and ask where on earth we came up with the Anti-Christ question. Well we didn’t.

Last week we were scrambling to get a poll about Joe Wilson out and posted the questionnaire on our blog to get input from our readers and make sure we weren’t missing any important angles on that story. We also got that call for suggestions up on Twitter.

One of the suggestions was that we poll on this question of whether Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. We couldn’t get it on the Wilson poll due to length considerations, but I got several follow up e-mails and messages on Twitter from people saying they really did think we should ask it, so we did.

We put it at the very end of the New Jersey poll, even after the demographic questions, because we just didn’t know how people would take it. It is definitely the strangest question we have ever asked. ..

And well they should explain.  Those of us who do this for our living know that goofy in gets goofy out, and this question was just asking for trouble.  When you ask a completely non-serious question in a poll, you cannot expect a serious answer.  People will likely think it comic relief at the end of a dry fact based survey.

However, a week later, PPP put out another poll.  This time they took their goofy anti-Christ question nationwide, but they also included another candidate for the title…

“We also took a look at the Anti-Christ question nationally and found that a pretty similar number of voters are willing to go so far as to hang that label on either Obama or Bush. 10% of voters say they think Obama is the Anti-Christ with 11% unsure and 8% say the same of Bush with an equal 11% unsure.”

OOOPS!  Somehow, Rachel Maddow and Frank Schaeffer didn’t get together to conduct a powwow of bile on this one!  Looks like both villages could have their share of idiots–and some of them are pollsters.

Actually, I’d like to see a crosstab of this question to find out how many people answered “Yes” to both, but 6% of self-identified Republicans supposedly said that Bush new about 9/11 in advance and 3% answered that he is the anti-Christ.  (5% of Democrats said the same about Obama.)  Try to find some logic there!

Remember this the next time you hear a story in the mainsteam media about a poll that “reveals” how stupid people like you are.

Memo to PPP.  Next time ask, “Do you think we are idiots for asking this question?”  Headline, “95% of Americans think Public Policy Polling is Staffed by Idiots.”

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