Video

Rachel Maddow: Why Do 1/3 of New Jersey Conservatives Think Obama Might Be the Anti-Christ?

Maddow gets to the bottom of a bizarre political mystery with Christian Right expert Frank Schaeffer.

The following is a transcript from Rachel Maddow's Sept. 16 show of her interview with Christian Right expert Frank Schaeffer:

Rachel Maddow: Public Policy Polling released results from its new poll of residents of the great state of New Jersey.  The poll found that 18 percent of New Jersey conservatives say they are sure that President Obama is the anti-Christ.  No questions asked.  Another 17 percent of New Jersey self-identified conservatives say they just aren‘t sure, but they‘re not willing to rule it out.

What do you think the White House strategy is going to be to rebut the fact that more than one in three conservatives think the president might be the anti-Christ?  At least in New Jersey.  That is a P.R. challenge.

Joining us now is Frank Schaeffer.  He grew up in the religious far right.  He is the 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.”

Mr. Schaeffer, thank you so much for coming back on the show tonight. ... I do not know what possessed this polling firm to ask whether or not people think the president is the anti-Christ, but they did.  Does the response rate among conservatives surprise you?  More than one in three saying yes or they don‘t know.

SCHAEFFER:  Well, I was a child when President Kennedy was assassinated, and my mother thought, because he died of a head wound, foretold in scripture of the anti-Christ he would be resurrected as the anti-Christ.  She thought this might be a possibility.

So, those of us who come from the evangelical subculture have been weaned with our mother‘s milk on a changing cast list of villains.  It might be Kennedy to one generation, Obama to the next.

But I think the larger point this brings up is that the mainstream—not just media, but culture—doesn‘t sufficiently take stock of the fact that within our culture, we have a subculture which is literally a fifth column of insanity, that is bred from birth through home school, Christian school, evangelical college, whatever, to reject facts as a matter of faith.  And so, this substitute for authentic historic Christianity, and I may add as a little caveat here, I‘m a church-going Christian, really brings up the question: Can Christianity be rescued from Christians?  And that‘s an open question.

And when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our president is the anti-Christ, you have to draw one of two conclusions.  Either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation or they‘re beyond crazy?  And I think beyond crazy is a better explanation.

And that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America and we have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back.  They look forward to Armageddon.  Good news is bad news to them.

When we talk about the “Left Behind” series of books that I talk about in my book “Crazy for God.” what we‘re talking about is a group of people that are resentful because they‘ve been left behind by modernity, by science, by education, by art, by literature.  The rest of us are getting on with our lives.  These people are standing on the hilltop waiting for the end.

And this is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors, and they‘re our national neighbors.  And this is the source of all of these insanities that we see leveled at the president.  One way or another they go back to this little evangelical subculture.  It‘s a disaster.

Rachel Maddow is the host of her own show on Air America Radio. She has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism, prison reform, and other lefty rabblerousing.
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