Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father's sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our "stand" by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American.
Consider a few passages from my father's immensely influential America-bashing book A Christian Manifesto. It sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to best-selling religious books. Nevertheless it sold more than a million copies.
"If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US government]... then at a certain point force is justifiable."
"In the United States the materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools... There is an obvious parallel between this and the situation in Russia [the USSR]. And we really must not be blind to the fact that indeed in the public schools in the United States all religious influence is as forcibly forbidden as in the Soviet Union...."
"There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate... A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion... It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates it's authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation..."
I'm not saying if I agree with Dad here or not. My point here isn't about Dad or Rev Wright's words but about the double standard applied to judging them and using them to smear Obama.
The hypocrisy of the right attacking Obama, because of his minister's words, is staggering. When my late father and I were the guests of Jerry Falwell at Liberty Baptist College, Falwell said to us quite casually and seriously, while speaking of the "homosexual problem," that: "If I had a dog that did what they do I take it out and shoot it." And when it came to saying God was damning America he and Pat Robertson sided with the 9/11 hijackers by saying the terrorist's actions served America right and were God's punishment. Yet John McCain went to Liberty Baptist College and spoke for Falwell, in order to "mend fences" with the Religious Right. He said he no longer believed that Falwell was "an agent of intolerance." And Rudi Giuliani gladly accepted Robertson's endorsement. So much for the Republican "mainstream."
This cuts left too. Fair is fair. So where are the clips--playing incessantly next to Hillary Clinton's picture--of her antiwar friends and Bill Clinton's fellow draft dodger members of the New Left, cursing and damning America during Vietnam War protests and since? The company that Bill and Hillary kept in the late 1960s through the 1970s was defined by damning America and sometimes by rooting for the North Vietnamese. Clinton said he "loathed" the military. We still made him commander in chief.
By providence or blind luck, we are being given a second chance. In Obama our founders appear once again stepping from the mists of time to offer a wayward great, great grandchild an opportunity for redemption. But everything is turned on its head. Good is called bad. The greatest things about Obama are used against him, decency and transparency are mocked.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and 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