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'I Quit the Evangelical Movement in Disgust': Former Evangelist Fears Right-Wing Lunacy Will Lead to More Murder

Conservative pundits and GOP lawmakers must try to cure the sickness of their right-wing followers -- before it explodes again. Or don't they care?
 
 
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What are the Republicans in Congress and the other "respectable" leaders on the far right -- from Focus on the Family's James Dobson to Rush Limbaugh, from Laura Ingraham to the leaders of the NRA -- doing to stop the right-wing domestic wave of terrorism exploding in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's election? I ask this as a former evangelical right-wing and "pro-life" leader who quit the right and the Republicans in disgust over their extremism.

In the wake of the election of our first black president, we've seen rage -- an abortion doctor gunned down; three police officers in Pittsburgh shot by a man who feared "they" would take his guns; and a black security guard at the National Holocaust Museum slain.

The FBI just arrested a well-known white supremacist and the host of an Internet talk show and Web site for saying that three judges should be killed. (Hal Turner, was arrested in North Bergen, N.J., and accused of posting statements on his Web site calling for the killing of three federal appeals court judges in Chicago who recently ruled on a gun-rights case.)

On June 26, another domestic terrorism story exploded: The gunning down of a father, mother and child by a self-appointed "border patrol" keeping America "safe" from Mexican immigrants. Here is what happened, according to the New York Times:

Arivaca, Ariz. -- "Somebody just came in and shot my daughter and my husband!" the woman shouted to the 911 dispatcher. "They're coming back in! They're coming back in!"

Multiple gunshots are then heard on a tape of the call.

The woman, Gina Gonzalez, survived the attack after arming herself with her husband's handgun, but both he and their 10-year-old daughter died.

The killings, last month, have terrified this small town near the Mexican border, in part because the authorities have now tied them to what they describe as a rogue group engaged in citizen border patrols.The three people arrested in the crime include the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a Washington state-based offshoot of the Minutemen movement, in which citizens roam the border looking for people crossing into the country illegally. Former members describe the group's leader, Shawna Forde, 41, as having anti-immigrant sentiments that are extreme, at times frightening, even to people accustomed to hard-line views on border policing.

There's a biblical story about the stoning to death of St. Stephen, where the yet-to-be-converted-apostle Paul didn't throw the deadly stones himself but stood holding the coats of the people doing the killing. Similarly, the right-wing leadership, are "holding the coats" of present and future violent actors. These coat-holders sow the seeds of hate with their words, then pretend horror when those words are taken seriously.

Who has been beating the anti-immigrant drum? Who has been calling abortion doctors "murderers"? Who has been saying that Obama will take away our guns? Who is ratcheting up the anti-Obama hysteria?

  • In the light of the rising tide of right-wing terror, if leaders on the right were serious about standing against violence and acting responsibly you would see:
  • Pro-life leaders in front of abortion clinics to protect doctors from violence.
  • People like radio talk host Ingraham -- who has been sounding an anti-immigrant drumbeat incessantly -- at the funeral for the little girl gunned down in Arivaca and begging her far-right listeners to not commit acts of domestic terrorism against immigrants.
  • Letters from the NRA to its membership refuting its own scaremongering, anti-Obama election tactics and saying that Obama is notgoing to take Americans' guns away.
  • Republican senators and representatives giving speeches calling on their followers to accept and work with the president in a truly loyal opposition and denouncing Dick Cheney for saying the president is making us "less safe."
  • Evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic leaders telling their congregations to stop believing insane Religious Right lies, like the one about Obama being a Muslim, and/or the Antichrist ...

Instead, the rising tide of violence is met with silence and/or pretended horror by leaders on the right and yet even more hateful words amounting to outright provocation -- "I hope Obama fails," or, "Obama is making America less safe," or, "We regret Tiller's murder, but after all, he murdered 60,000 babies..." or, "Illegal immigrants must be stopped!" and so on.

Who on the right-wing radio shows, among the Republicans in Congress and in far-right media such as Fox News, will now try to cure the sickness of their right-wing followers -- before it explodes again? Or don't they care?

So far, the insanity continues including (according to Time magazine) the New Bethel Church's highly publicized "open-carry service." Assemblies of God church (Sarah Palin's old denomination) in Louisville, Ky., having a service to celebrate carrying weapons, wherein NRA and other members of gun groups were invited and a video was shown of a Marine being asked what he would do if asked to "disarm Americans." More hysteria, more craziness, more religious leaders -- locally and nationally -- ramping up the Obama-will-take-your-guns threat.

Right-wing domestic terrorism committed by a few unhinged people who take the crazy talk (and nutty "open-carry" church services) seriously is a test of the patriotism of the so-called mainstream right-wing leaders. If the mainstream right doesn't stand up to try to tamp down the fear levels in its very own lunatic fringe, and if it doesn't lower the pitch of its anti-Obama rhetoric, then it is complicit in whatever comes next.

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.