Virtual Voices

The Frank Schaeffer mystery

Religion

What if telling the truth, at least the truth as you see it, means dishonoring your father and mother? It has been sad to see the fine writer Frank Schaeffer—I called him once and told him how much I liked his 2005 book, Faith of Our Sons: A Father's Wartime Diary—bashing in print his famous dad, Francis. But maybe Frank thought his iconoclastic message was important, and he was the only one in position to give it, because of his firsthand view.

The Chuck Colson obituary that Schaeffer posted on his blog Sunday, though, is truly extraordinary, and I don't see what purpose his fulmination-from-afar serves. The obit memorably begins, "Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most beloved and bigoted homophobic and misogynistic voices with the death of Charles W. 'Chuck' Colson, a Watergate felon who converted to 'evangelicalism' but never lost his taste for dirty political tricks against opponents."

Schaeffer's evidence for that charge: "Colson teamed up with far right Roman Catholic activist Professor Robert George of Princeton to launch the dirty tricks campaign to brand President Obama as 'anti-religious' with Colson's and George's 'Manhattan Declaration.'"

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How is stating a position a dirty trick? Schaeffer attacks Colson for "helping to craft the mirror image of the racist policy Nixon used to turn Southern Democrats into Republican voters, only this time the tactic was to use 'family values' to get white members of the underclass to vote for corporate America." Why see political disagreement as conspiracy?

After numerous paragraphs of Colson-bashing, Schaeffer turns his ire on another departed leader, "the reactionary's reactionary, Richard John Neuhaus." He argues that Colson and Neuhaus fronted for "oppressive ideas rooted in an anti-constitutional theocratic far right wish list for changes that were supposed to roll back the parts of the democratic processes—say Roe v. Wade, women's rights and gay rights—that far right Catholics and Protestants didn't approve of."

I'm not sure how opposition to Roe v. Wade (by which the Supreme Court removed abortion from democratic consideration) and gay rights (note that voters in state after state have voted against referenda establishing same-sex marriage) equals opposition to democratic processes, but even if that charge made sense I'd still be puzzled: What drives Frank Schaeffer to strike out not only against his dad but against every father figure in the Christian conservative movement?

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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