Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Back during the (George W.) Bush Administration, I spent (or rather wasted) some time reading books and articles written by journalists who were suspicious (I hesitate to say paranoid) about those suspicious and paranoid fringe religious kooks (theonomists and theocrats) who threatened to take over our country.

I was then attending a theologically conservative Reformed church,the kind of church supposedly pretty close to the center of this dangerous movement. (There were—gasp!—a couple of books by Rushdoony in the church library. And there were—shudder!—some homeschoolers who liked guns. And—chills run down my spine!—most people probably voted for Bush.)

Well, despite the fact that I worshipped with these people on Sundays, had supper and Bible study with them on Wednesday evenings, and enjoyed their hospitality on numerous other occasions, I never encountered the kind of “End Times”-inspired craziness that Frank Schaeffer attributes to the voters who support and the candidates who claim to represent the Tea Party.

Perhaps I wasn’t admitted to the inner sanctum, where the men of the church talked about these things while taking target practice. But I doubt it. What I encountered instead were good men and women who cared about educating their children, who served hot dogs and preached to homeless people in downtown Atlanta every Friday evening, who were as generous as the day was long, who faithfully supported the work of a pastor in Haiti, along with missionaries all over the world, and who didn’t fixate on one book of Scripture .

O.K., I’m now attending a different theologically conservative Reformed church (full disclosure—both are Presbyterian Church in America churches). I still haven’t found the people Schaeffer describes.

The evangelical/fundamentalists/Republican Far Right—and hence, from the early 1980s until the election of President Obama in 2008 and now in the mid-term lashing out, the Religious Right as it informed U.S. policy through the then dominant Republican Party—are in the grip of an apocalyptic Rapture cult centered on revenge and vindication. This End Times death wish is built on a literalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

He calls them the “fringe of the fringe,” but says that they’re now at the “center”:
If you believe the Bible is literal and true and that this is the “End” then the crazies look sane and the sane look crazy. Welcome to the new congress.

Well, no one from either of these churches is a member of Congress, so perhaps I can be excused for not being sufficiently “in the know” to accept Schaeffer’s assertions. Perhaps if he offered some actual evidence—instead of innuendo—I might take him more seriously.

But, then again, perhaps I’m a propagandist aiming to deceive all you gullible people out there.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles