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My Horrible Right-Wing Past: Confessions of a One-Time Religious Right Icon

December 24, 2014 in Blogs

By Frank Schaeffer, Salon

I was a religious fanatic appealing to political leaders. Today, the fanatics are the political leaders.


I am a white, privileged, well-off, 61-year-old former Republican religious right-wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart, saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious-right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.”

Only in the Mafia, the British Royal family and big-time American religion is a nepotistic rise to power seen as normal. And I was good at it. And I hated it while hypocritically profiting from it; until, that is, in the mid-1980s, I quit.

These days I describe myself as an atheist who believes in God.

Ironically, I helped my father become famous in the religion sector. In the 1970s I directed and produced two film series featuring Dad with book companions that became evangelical bestsellers: How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? By the time Dad and I completed two nationwide seminar tours launching those projects, I was being invited to speak at the biggest religious gatherings, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

The leaders of the new religious right were gleefully betting on American failure. If secular, democratic, diverse and pluralistic America survived, then wouldn’t that prove that we were wrong about God only wanting to bless “Christian America?” If, for instance, crime went down dramatically in New York City, for any other reason than a reformation and revival, wouldn’t that make the prophets of doom look silly? And if the economy was booming without anyone repenting, what did that mean?

What began to bother me was that so many of our new “friends” on the religious right seemed to be rooting for one form of apocalypse or another. In the crudest form this was part of the evangelical fascination with the so-called end times. The worse things got, the sooner Jesus would come back. But there was another component. The worse everything got, the more it proved that America needed saving, by us! Plus, it was good for fundraising.

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Source: ALTERNET

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