Guest blogged by Frank Schaeffer
Following my recent appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, where I was talking about my new book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) and where I warned her viewers that that the religious right is now “trawling for assassins” with the use of inflammatory items like T-Shirts calling for President Obama’s death, I got a lot of email. What is interesting to note is just how unimaginative and downright stupid the hate mail from the right is.
Speaking of “trawling” (this time for reactions to President Obama) I’d unwittingly conducted a little experiment without meaning to: a basic intelligence test of the right and left...
The cretinism and unhinged nature of the responses from the anti-Obama legion is scary. No, I didn't pick just the worst examples. Trust me: this is all they have! (See below).
On the other hand the thoughtful response from so many is heartening. (Again, examples here are typical).
The question is: can these two groups coexist peacefully within our borders? I’m not so sure they can. What is expressed here isn't two points of view but the raw truth about two countries within one border: Sane America and hater Cretin America.
Here’s a sample from the right:
May God have mercy on your soul.
Here’s an sample from the other America:
...The religious right is playing out a 'death wish'. As a group, they are engaging in a type of 'self-initiation' into a dangerous and eschatological cult-like movement.
Some classic warning signs are evident:
They are cutting off ties with 'family', which can be seen as moderate Republicans. They vilify 'former members' who have left the fold. They advocate extremely harsh treatment of non-members.
Their cult leader is not one person, but rather a 'collective trope' comprising a rigid, dominant complex of ideology, behavior, culture, and language.
They are dependent on the 'collective trope' for direction, instruction, and reasoning. Independent thought or criticism of the 'collective' is punished. Criticism of the 'collective' is deemed persecution.
I realize you are intimately aware and knowledgeable about this perspective. And no doubt you are also aware of the issues involved with 'deprogramming'. Typically, deprogramming occurs only through 'exit counseling' or intervention. For 23% of the nation's population, intervention is unrealistic, and voluntary deprogramming is exceedingly rare and only an option for intelligent, honest, introspective, and educated individuals (such as yourself).
When I hear you speak I typically hear you issue warnings. I hear you inform. I hear you educate. I hear you raise awareness. Thank you.
But, respectfully, we need a plan. We need a realistic viable 'grown up' plan for de-escalation, deprogramming, and re-integration of the religious right. Alternatively, we need a serious assessment of the possibility that such a plan is not viable, and that there may be an insurmountable cultural rift between two different peoples that were formerly of one nation.
To most Americans, the idea of a partitioning of ourselves into two nations is utterly unthinkable. But if 70 million citizens are dedicated to creating a society and government which is in fair measure is mutually repugnant to another 230 million people, such ideas must at least be considered.
When you use language such as "trawling for assassins", you are at your best because you are vividly describing a forward looking, speculative assessment of the state of things. I urge you to do more of that. I urge you use your experience, intelligence, and intuition to look even further into the future and describe what you see.
I counted myself as an evangelical Christian for 3 years. Not a long time by common standards I suspect. But I understand the power of lifestyle, culture, and peer groups in creating a zone of comfort for believers. I understand the ways in which a sense of empowerment is derived from evangelical participation. I understand the tenacity of belief, the sense of righteous correctness, and the divine mandate to not sway or veer from the one truth. I understand the danger this assuredness poses to both individuals and to the greater society at large...
Again, sincerest thanks,
Unfortunately, the tremendous amount of resistance that is being generated against Obama and his agenda has been truly troubling to me as well - if it were merely the usual partisan divisions that were being argued, that would be one thing. But the intense personal animosity for this man quickly reached rather absurd proportions soon after he won the Democratic nomination last year, and you are right in pointing out that the right-wing extremist media seem to be literally "trolling for assassins" in order to put an end to this administration. It's amazing to me that so many in our country's short history whose only desire was to serve their fellow man were not only strongly opposed for their efforts, but were cruelly cut down in the prime of their lives.
Along with you, and I hope many others, I pray that President Obama will be surrounded by the most holy of all the angels as he pursues God's work here on this earth.
What these email writers were reacting to was that I said that the T-shirt vendors selling the Psalm 109:8 logo as in prayer that the President dies, had crossed a line into a place that is nothing more than the organizing of a death squad, or “trolling for assassins” as I put it on Maddow's show, and as I wrote here at The BRAD BLOG some weeks ago.
Here’s what is in the Psalm they quote:
Here are what the other verses in that Pslam call for (in case you didn't "get" verse :
10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
Where is the response from the evangelical leadership to what --- from a “Bible believing” point of view is a blasphemous misuse of the Bible in a hate crusade?
The Christian leadership that fails to denounce this fiasco is morally bankrupt. If the president is killed ask the editors of Christianity Today magazine where they were and what they did to stop the hate. Where’s the Catholic League on this one? Where are the editors of far right Obama-hating World magazine? Where’s Franklin Graham, and Chuck Colson and James Dobson and Rick Warren?
The far right "Christian" leadership managed to crank out a new deceleration against abortion and stem cell research just last week called the "Manhattan Declaration." Here's the list that signed it. Where are these people's deceleration of conscience against their own followers and fellow "Christians" when it comes to not murdering the President and/or seeming to encourage violence with Bible verse bumper stickers?
- Dr. Daniel Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, N.C.)
- Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate, Anglican Church of Nigeria (Abika, Nigeria)
- Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) (Sandy, Ore.)
- Rt. Rev. David Anderson, President and CEO, American Anglican Council (Atlanta)
- Leith Anderson, President of National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, D.C.)
- Charlotte K. Ardizzone, TV Show Host and Speaker, INSP Television (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Kay Arthur, CEO and Co-founder, Precept Ministries International (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
- Dr. Mark L. Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas)
- Most Rev. Craig W. Bates, Archbishop, International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (Malverne, N.Y.)
- Gary Bauer, President, American Values; Chairman, Campaign for Working Families
- His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Basil Essey, The Right Reverend Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (Wichita, Kan.)
- Joel Belz, Founder, World Magazine (Asheville, N.C.)
- Rev. Michael L. Beresford, Managing Director of Church Relations, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Ken Boa, President, Reflections Ministries (Atlanta)
- Joseph Bottum, Editor of First Things (New York)
- Pastor Randy & Sarah Brannon, Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church (Madera, Calif.)
- Steve Brown, National Radio Broadcaster, Key Life (Maitland, Fla.)
- Dr. Robert C. Cannada, Jr., Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando, Fla.)
- Galen Carey, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, D.C.)
- Dr. Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis)
- Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver
- Timothy Clinton, President, American Association of Christian Counselors (Forest, Va.)
- Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview (Lansdowne, Va.)
- Most Rev. Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Calif.
- Dr. Gary Culpepper, Associate Professor, Providence College (Providence, R.I.)
- Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
- Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List (Arlington, Va.)
- Rev. Daniel Delgado, Board of Directors, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Pastor, Third Day Missions Church (Staten Island, N.Y.)
- Patrick J. Deneen, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor and Director, The Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
- Dr. James Dobson, Founder, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
- Dr. David Dockery, President, Union University (Jackson, Tenn.)
- Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of New York, N.Y.
- Dr. William Donohue, President, Catholic League (New York)
- Dr. James T. Draper, Jr., President Emeritus, LifeWay (Nashville, Tenn.)
- Dinesh D'Souza, Writer and Speaker (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.)
- Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America (Ambridge, Pa. )
- Dr. Michael Easley, President Emeritus, Moody Bible Institute (Chicago)
- Dr. William Edgar, Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia)
- Brett Elder, Executive Director, Stewardship Council (Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Rev. Joel Elowsky, Drew University (Madison, N.J.)
- Stuart Epperson, Co-Founder and Chariman of the Board, Salem Communications Corporation (Camarillo, Calif.)
- Rev. Jonathan Falwell, Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, Va.)
- William J. Federer, President, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis)
- Fr. Joseph D. Fessio, Founder and Editor, Ignatius Press (Ft. Collins, Colo.)
- Carmen Fowler, President and Executive Editor, Presbyterian Lay Committee (Lenoir, N.C.)
- Maggie Gallagher, President, National Organization for Marriage (Manassas, Va.)
- Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor, Skyline Church (La Mesa, Calif.)
- Steven Garofalo, Senior Consultant, Search and Assessment Services (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.)
- Dr. Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University (Birmingham, Ala.)
- Thomas Gilson, Director of Strategic Processes, Campus Crusade for Christ International (Norfolk, Va.)
- Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, Texas)
- Dr. Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theological and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary (Phoenix)
- Dr. Cornell "Corkie" Haan, National Facilitator of Spiritual Unity, The Mission America Coalition (Palm Desert, Calif.)
- Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor, CEO and Archpriest, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, N.Y.)
- Dr. Dennis Hollinger, President and Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Mass.)
- Dr. Jeanette Hsieh, Executive Vice President and Provost, Trinity International University (Deerfield, Ill.)
- Dr. John A. Huffman, Jr., Senior Pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (Newport Beach, Calif.); Chairman of the Board, Christianity Today International (Carol Stream, Ill.)
- Rev. Ken Hutcherson, Pastor, Antioch Bible Church (Kirkland, Wash.)
- Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church (Beltsville, Md.)
- Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse, President, American Orthodox Institute; Editor, OrthodoxyToday.org (Naples, Fla.)
- Jerry Jenkins, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Moody Bible Institute (Black Forest, Colo.)
- Camille Kampouris, Editorial Board, Kairos Journal
- Emmanuel A. Kampouris, Publisher, Kairos Journal
- Rev. Tim Keller, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York)
- Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College (Mass.) and at the Kings College (N.Y.)
- Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.
- Jim Kushiner, Editor, Touchstone (Chicago)
- Dr. Richard Land, President, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (Washington, D.C.)
- Jim Law, Senior Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church (Woodstock, Ga.)
- Dr. Matthew Levering, Associate Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University (Naples, Fla.)
- Dr. Peter Lillback, President, The Providence Forum (West Conshohocken, Pa.)
- Dr. Duane Litfin, President, Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.)
- Rev. Herb Lusk, Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church (Philadelphia)
- His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop Emeritus, Roman Catholic Diocese of Detroit
- Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine
- Rev. Francis Martin, Professor of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Detroit)
- Dr. Joseph Mattera, Bishop and Senior Pastor, Resurrection Church (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
- Phil Maxwell, Pastor, Gateway Church (Bridgewater, N.J.)
- Josh McDowell, Founder, Josh McDowell Ministries (Plano, Texas)
- Alex McFarland, President, Southern Evangelical Seminary (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Most Rev. George Dallas McKinney, Bishop, Founder and Pastor, St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ (San Diego)
- Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop, Convocation of Anglicans of North America (Herndon, Va.)
- Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University (Jackson, Tenn.)
- Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Ky.)
- Dr. Russell D. Moore, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of the School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Ky.)
- Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
- Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City, Kan.
- David Neff, Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today (Carol Stream, Ill.)
- Tom Nelson, Senior Pastor, Christ Community Evangelical Free Church (Leawood, Kan.)
- Niel Nielson, President, Covenant College (Lookout Mt., Ga.)
- Most Rev. John Nienstedt, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
- Dr. Tom Oden, Theologian, United Methodist Minister; Professor, Drew University (Madison, N.J.)
- Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-Chief, World Magazine; Provost, The Kings College (New York)
- Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix
- Rev. William Owens, Chairman, Coalition of African-American Pastors (Memphis, Tenn.)
- Dr. J.I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College (Canada)
- Metr. Jonah Paffhausen, Primate, Orthodox Church in America (Syosset, N.Y.)
- Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council (Washington, D.C.)
- Eric M. Pillmore, CEO, Pillmore Consulting LLC (Doylestown, Pa.)
- Dr. Everett Piper, President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Bartlesville, Okla.)
- Todd Pitner, President, Rev Increase
- Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, President, Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
- Dr. David Platt, Pastor, Church at Brook Hills (Birmingham, Ala.)
- Rev. Jim Pocock, Pastor, Trinitarian Congregational Church (Wayland, Mass.)
- Fred Potter, Executive Director and CEO, Christian Legal Society (Springfield, Va.)
- Dennis Rainey, President, CEO, and Co-Founder, FamilyLife (Little Rock, Ark.)
- Fr. Patrick Reardon, Pastor, All Saints' Antiochian Orthodox Church (Chicago)
- Bob Reccord, Founder, Total Life Impact, Inc. (Suwanee, Ga.)
- His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia
- Frank Schubert, President, Schubert Flint Public Affairs (Sacramento, Calif.)
- David Schuringa, President, Crossroads Bible Institute (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
- Tricia Scribner, Author (Harrisburg, N.C.)
- Dr. Dave Seaford, Senior Pastor, Community Fellowship Church (Matthews, N.C.)
- Alan Sears, President, CEO, and General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
- Randy Setzer, Senior Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church (Lincolnton, N.C.)
- Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Dr. Ron Sider, Director, Evangelicals for Social Action (Wynnewood, Pa.)
- Fr. Robert Sirico, Founder, Acton Institute (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
- Dr. Robert Sloan, President, Houston Baptist University (Houston)
- Charles Stetson, Chairman of the Board, Bible Literacy Project (New York)
- Dr. David Stevens, CEO, Christian Medical and Dental Association (Bristol, Tenn.)
- John Stonestreet, Executive Director, Summit Ministries (Manitou Springs, Colo.)
- Dr. Joseph Stowell, President, Cornerstone University (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
- Dr. Sarah Sumner, Professor of Theology and Ministry, Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, Calif.)
- Dr. Glenn Sunshine, Chairman of the History Department, Central Connecticut State University (New Britain, Conn.)
- Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center (Agoura Hills, Calif.)
- Luiz Tellez, President, The Witherspoon Institute (Princeton, N.J.)
- Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, President, Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Ky.)
- Michael Timmis, Chairman, Prison Fellowship and Prison Fellowship International (Naples, Fla.)
- Mark Tooley, President, Institute for Religion and Democracy (Washington, D.C.)
- H. James Towey, President, St. Vincent College (Latrobe, Pa.)
- Juan Valdes, Middle and High School Chaplain, Florida Christian School (Miami, Fla.)
- Todd Wagner, Pastor, WaterMark Community Church (Dallas)
- Dr. Graham Walker, President, Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, Va.)
- Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster, Ph.D., Archpriest, Orthodox Church in America; Professorial Lecturer, The George Washington University (Ashburn, Va.)
- George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, D.C.)
- David Welch, Houston Area Pastor Council Executive Director, US Pastors Council (Houston)
- Dr. James Emery White, Founding and Senior Pastor, Mecklenburg Community Church (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Dr. Hayes Wicker, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church (Naples, Fla.)
- Mark Williamson, Founder and President, Foundation Restoration Ministries/Federal Intercessors (Katy, Texas)
- Parker T. Williamson, Editor Emeritus and Senior Correspondent, Presbyterian Lay Committee
- Dr. Craig Williford, President, Trinity International University (Deerfield, Ill.)
- Dr. John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Ill.)
- Don M. Woodside, Performance Matters Associates (Matthews, N.C.)
- Dr. Frank Wright, President, National Religious Broadcasters (Manassas, Va.)
- Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
- Paul Young, COO and Executive Vice President, Christian Research Institute (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Dr. Michael Youssef, President, Leading the Way (Atlanta)
- Ravi Zacharias, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (Norcross, Ga.)
- Most Rev. David A. Zubik, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
- James R. Thobaben, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor, Bioethics and Social Ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Ky.)
By their silence they are in bed with people who write things like this: “those of us who don’t like Obummer really want him dead…”
If it happens, you know who to blame. The moral cowards listed above are expert at judging the "secular culture" and denouncing it but never at coming together to denounce their own blasphemous rabid followers.
They are like the Muslim leaders that right wing people complain about for never denouncing their extremists. Well, now that we have an American Taliban threatening domestic violence by misquoting our version of the Koran where are the people on the list above speaking out?
Frank Schaeffer 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 and his new book, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).