MSNBC's Religious Expert Excoriates 'Radical,' 'Theocratic' Christians Like Bachmann Who 'Hate' America
In a segment on the religiosity of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, MSNBC's Richard Lui on Wednesday looked to an author who has smeared conservative Christians as "radical," weird individuals who "hate" America.
The guest host for Martin Bashir interviewed Frank Schaeffer, a blogger on the liberal Huffington Post website and also a constant critic of the religious right. Schaeffer, the son of a conservative theologian, excoriated conservatives: "But, I came to understand that these people actually hate the United States as it is."
Lui never pointed out Schaeffer's liberal leanings or his endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008. The author and blogger warned of apocalyptic dangers, should Bachmann be elected president: "She comes from a wing of the evangelical movement where takes the Bible literally, and that includes the Old Testament that has passages about stoning gay people to death and all the rest of it."
Apparently, if the Republican Congresswoman wins the White House, she "would produce a theocracy in the country where the Bible would be paramount and no longer the Constitution or the Bill of Rights."
Lui didn't call Schaeffer on his apparent contradiction. Just a few minutes after the above quote, the writer suggested that when Christian Republican candidates come into office, "the only people they actually serve is Wall Street, and- and- and so really the social issues are a red herring..."
Schaeffer was appearing, partly, to promote his 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." (Lui awkwardly read the whole title.)
In July of 2010, Schaeffer, whose family helped promote the pro-life movement in the '70s, asserted that some of the "nuttiest" evangelicals support Israel.
A transcript of the July 06 segment, which aired at 3:15pm EDT, follows:
RICHARD LUI: Tea Party darling and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may be the most interesting in the Republican 2012 field. She also may be most religious. The pulpit is a popular place for Bachmann, a conservative Lutheran who is sharing her story of spiritual awakening with U.S. voters, as she did Sunday at a church in Iowa.
MICHELE BACHMANN: It was in 1972 on November 1st when I bowed my knee and gave my heart to Jesus Christ, when I recognized that as the Bible says all have sinned, all have fallen short, all need a savior. And I came to the realization that even though I thought I was a nice person, I wasn't doing drugs, I wasn't wild, I wasn't drinking, It didn't matter. I was a sinner. I needed a savior.
LUI: Now, Bachmann is staunchly anti-abortion, already sharing a personal anecdote about a miscarriage she suffered. She's an outspoken critic of gay marriage as is her husband Marcus who once compared homosexuals to, quote, "barbarians who needed to be disciplined" on a Christian radio show. Leaders of the Christian right are reluctant to embrace Bachmann at this moment and will get behind Texas governor Rick Perry if he enters the race. Now, on August 6th, Perry will host an all-day prayer event in Houston called "the response." To talk about faith in politics in the 2012 race, we welcome Frack Schaeffer, political commentator, blogger and author of the new book Sex, Mom & God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics and How I Learned to Love Women and Jesus Anyway. That's the title. Frank, thanks for dropping by today.
FRANK SCHAEFFER: Thanks, Richard.
LUI: Frank, so, you know, as Americans and really Republican primary voters get to know Michele Bachmann a little bit more each and every week, will her faith be an asset going forward, do you think, to the election or a liability here?
SCHAEFFER: It will be a liability with the general public when they learn how radical she is. She comes from a wing of the evangelical movement where takes the Bible literally, and that includes the Old Testament that has passages about stoning gay people to death and all the rest of it. And, of course, Michele Bachmann, like Sarah Palin and others on the far religious right is too politically savvy to express clearly what she believes. But the fact of the matter is, the part of Christianity she comes from is radical even for evangelical Bible believers. And so I think- I think gradually, it will become apparent to American voters that she could not win the general election. And Republicans are going to have to make a choice to either be a normal political party or, really, theocracy in waiting with people like Michele Bachmann, who in the best of all possible worlds, as far as she would see it, would produce a theocracy in the country where the Bible would be paramount and no longer the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.
LUI: As we see the Tea Party energy continuously grow in the GOP, do you find that in the primary then that she will have some attraction, that she will generate a lot of momentum?
SCHAEFFER: Yeah. I mean, you know, you mentioned my book Sex, Mom and God and one of the things I talk about in that book is charting the course of the religious right from their beginnings in the 1970s with the anti-abortion movement that my family had something to do with, to the present. And the fact of the matter is they have always engaged in these culture war topics when it comes to primary voters, this small core of hard right religious voters, and then they have to change later. But you've got to understand something, and that is that Michele Bachmann and the others on the far right of the Republican Party have moved the whole party so far right that they are no longer normal political party. They are out of the mainstream to the extent that she represents a fringe. The problem is, that fringe controls the nomination process in the primaries and you have to understand that the liability they run is that when the general public gets a look at this, they are going to run a long way away, so that's the bind they are in, appeal to the fringe in the primaries or the general population.
LUI: Now, Frank, your father was a writer, a theologian. Bachmann or the Bachmann family, reportedly, looking towards his writings.
LUI: So there is some link here, at least to your family's background, and you self-describe yourself as one of the founders of the religious right, to what she's thinking and what she's doing today.
SCHAEFFER: Yeah. And I got out obviously, and the story of why I got out in Sex, Mom & God is very clear. But, I came to understand that these people actually hate the United States as it is. Look, they love a fictional, Christian America that wouldn't include gay people, does not have choice and abortion rights for women and all the rest of this. But, in terms of the real America, inclusive, diverse, sustaining of gay people as well as heterosexuals and so forth, this is an America they despise and that's why they talk in terms of taking it back, from whom? That would be from the rest of us, ordinary American citizens under the rule of law.
LUI: But, Frank- Hate is a pretty strong word here. These certainly are citizens of the United States and so far given what they have said and done have not expressed hatred towards the United States.
SCHAEFFER: Sure. Well, you know, when you- you mentioned her husband talking about gay people being barbarians, and if you look, for instance, at Sarah Palin's family, they have had a lot to do with the secessionist movement in Alaska. You're not part of a movement that says it wants to secede from the union in the United States if you like this country. Folks like Michele Bachmann wrap themselves in the flag, but when push comes to shove, their religious values, theocratic values, they are not talking about the same America the rest of us are looking at. And the irony is when they get elected or famous in their politics, when Republicans actually come into office, the only people they actually serve is Wall Street, and- and- and so really the social issues are a red herring because they may get the votes of a certain portion of America, mostly white, middle and lower white Americans in the evangelical of Christianity, but when they get into office what happens, de-funding education, tax cuts for the wealthy, narrowing the public space. And, unfortunately, they take advantage of a lot of well-meaning people who vote for them on social issues they care passionately about. When they get into power, it's all about Wall Street and, you know, they wouldn't let the kind of people vote for them caddy for them on their golf link.
LUI: Frank, we have got to go, but I do want to mention Rick Perry because we've had the introduction very quickly. He also has support from the religious right, conservative right. Would he not be a good possibility here to move towards the primary?
SCHAEFFER: Well, look. Any guy that starts a national run by calling a prayer meeting and mixing the issues of church and state as he has in Texas is someone who has his eye on this little group. But I say one more time just before we go. It's total hypocrisy because these people know that group helps them win the primary but when the Republicans get into office it's about serving corporate Wall Street interests. It has nothing to do with the social agenda they get elected on so it's a scam, but it's a scam that keeps working. 40 Years of Republican domination of the American political process based on abortion, gay rights, these other things they wave around, but actually it's really about corporate America.