The Huckabee Win Is America's Loss

By: Frank Schaeffer
From The Huffington Post
Posted January 7, 2008

Mike Huckabee wants to be our president. He doesn't know about foreign policy. But he believes every word of the Southern Baptist interpretation of the Bible. Here is what he believes. God is angry with us and has always been. He was pissed off with us from day one. He was so pissed off that He wrestled with making a choice between killing all of us in a flood or saving just one family -- Noah's -- so that later God could sacrifice His only Son to save everyone descended from the one family he didn't kill and/or send them to hell for eternity. God did this because Adam and Eve, not to mention Noah's great, great grandchildren-that's you and me-didn't live up to God's pre-creation expectations. Cheerful, huh?

I was raised by fundamentalist missionary parents. My life has been one of all-consuming faith, not my faith, but the faith of others that I seem to have caught like a disease. What does God want? I'm still trying to find out. And having once been a famous "professional Christian" myself (until I cut and ran in 1985) my vision is muddied by the psychological baggage I carry.

The problem is Huckabee is sincere. So are the people who voted for him. I understand where they are coming from all too well. Every action, every thought, every moment is judged by an inner voice. Everything seems to have a moral component.

This election recalls the time I was involved in my own crusade, not for the presidency, but for the hearts and minds of the evangelicals my late father (Francis Schaeffer) and I were succeeding in politicizing, as we turned them into ardent pro-lifers. That crusade involved sell-out crowds in Madison Square Garden and all over the country.

I was a zealous evangelical back in the 1970s. When you are a zealous anything -- evangelical, Marxist, feminist, capitalist, Democrat, Republican, whatever-you express your zeal by lying. The lie is always the same lie: to say that you're certain about things, that you are right, and others wrong. They are so wrong that they are evil! This is a lie because truth is elusive. Nothing is as simple as any zealot, of any persuasion, thinks it is.

I've lived to bitterly regret the part I played in galvanizing the political energies of the evangelicals who soon morphed into the so-called religious right, the same people we just saw holding hands and beseeching Jesus to help their candidate save America from the rest of us. Looking back it seems to me that it was something like unlocking the doors to a slow-motion civil war, actually more like the doors to an insane asylum.

I've quit believing in ideological, let alone theological, purity. We guess. We hope. We muddle along. But there are no theological ideas worth hating anyone over. And if you understand vengeful Southern Baptist theology you won't want anyone near the White House who takes it seriously.

We've been here before. (Remember Pat Robertson?) Mike Huckabee will fade, because most Americans are more or less sane. But as he fades he'll take a little more of our self-respect with him.

The way to destroy harmony is to be too sure. I know. I understand how destructive it is to have a message you just have to impose on people even when you know it might ruin friendships, even when it might help rip a country apart. Been-there-done-that.

Nevertheless... in one dark little corner of my brain I still wish all the "lost" would get "saved." And there are lots of other religious Americans like me. We might say we theoretically want to all get along, but on the way there we'd also like to sandbag everyone with our message.

But wanting to "convert" each other is not the way to build any sort of a sense of all being Americans together. And the basis of the whole Southern Baptist raison d'etre is aggressive evangelization.

Huckabee represents the half of us who are waiting for Jesus to "rapture" us and believe that the other half are second class citizens that God is just biding His time to gleefully destroy and torture for eternity. Thanks but no thanks Iowa.

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."

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