Insider: “The Christian Right is Aiming to Destroy All Things Public”
By Frank Schaeffer, De Capo Press
Posted on May 13, 2011, Printed on May 19, 2011
The following is an excerpt from Frank Schaeffer’s new book, Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics — and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway (Da Capo Press, 2011). Raised in Switzerland in l’Abri, a utopian community and spiritual school his evangelical parents founded, Schaeffer was restless and aware even at a young age that “my life was being defined by my parent’s choices.” Still, he took to “the family business” well, following his dad as he became one of the “best-known evangelical leaders in the U.S.” on whirlwind speaking tours. While rubbing shoulders with Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Schaeffer witnessed the birth of the Christian anti-abortion movement, and became an evangelical writer, speaker and star in his own right.
Ironically, at the very same time as Evangelicals like Dad and I were thrusting ourselves into bare-knuckle politics in the 1970s and 80s, we were also retreating to what amounted to virtual walled compounds. In other words we lashed out at “godless America” and demanded political change—say, the reintroduction of prayer into public schools—and yet also urged our followers to pull their own children out of the public schools and homeschool them. The rejection of public schools by Evangelical Protestants was a harbinger of virtual civil war carried on by other means. Protestants had once been the public schools’ most ardent defenders.
For instance, in the 1840s when Roman Catholics asked for tax relief for their private schools, Protestants said no and stood against anything they thought might undermine the public schools that they believed were the backbone of moral virtue, community spirit, and egalitarian good citizenship.
The Evangelical’s abandonment of the country they called home (while simultaneously demanding change in that society) went far beyond alternative schools or homeschooling. In the 1970s and 1980s thousands of Christian bookstores opened, countless new Evangelical radio programs flourished, and new TV stations went on the air. Even a “Christian Yellow Pages” (a guide to Evangelical tradesmen) was published advertising “Christcentered plumbers,” accountants, and the like who “honor Jesus.”
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