I hear the echoing booms. The Family Research Council is hammering nails into the coffin of its own credibility – and, once again, it drags the rest of us into its grave. I’ll crawl out and obsequiously plead before my agnostic friends: “I’m sure the FRC is well-motivated … they care … they’re sincere … law-abiding … love dogs and cats … but (that inexorable “but”) … not all of us are like them.”
My friends are not stupid. They see the organization’s mockery of its proclaimed anti-abortion stance; they see how the FRC is not genuinely pro-life; they see through the chimeras and phantoms and figments and find no resemblance with the New Testament lifestyle. It’s evident: The FRC is a ventriloquist’s doll for the far right fringe, complete with a Bible tucked beneath its wooden arm (witness the clone-like resemblance between its budget cutting proposals and the Republican Party’s, here and here). The ventriloquist preaches from Ayn Rand’s notes while neglecting the baby in the womb as well as the infant in the crib. They want nothing to do with our ilk if it means resembling the Family Research Council.
The hammer fell in the FRC’s September 22 update when it railed against signatories of “An Evangelical Call to Stop the Mercury Exposure to the Unborn.” The call supports proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations meant to curb mercury blood levels from coal-fueled plants because of apparent harm to one in six babies. The FRC itself was “astounding” when it accused the Evangelical Environmental Network of making “an astounding series of claims.” It quickly meandered off the issue and rambled against health care legislation, and Obama, and abortion, and Obama – and Obama and Obama and Obama: “Obama Care, which a number of the signatories of (the call) endorsed, subsidizes abortion in every state. Not to mention that the Obama administration has been a strident advocate for federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which performs roughly one out of every four abortions nationally …” China’s one-child policy even snuck in.
I cover my ears with the deafening blows. Not that it matters, but the FRC’s characterization of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is blatantly deceptive. Judge Timothy Black ruled that the “express language of the PPACA does not provide for tax-payer funding abortion. That is a fact, and it is clear on its face” (see here for the ruling and here for commentary from Democrats for Life). Such hoodwinking mocks Christ’s command to tell the truth: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). It even runs afoul of Bill Saunders, Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs of Americans United For Life, who wrote an article under the bizarre heading, “Don’t Worry NARAL, Obamacare Still Funds Abortion in Insurance” (bizarre because Saunders says the exact opposite): “Fortunately, between the complications created by the PPACA and individual state decisions to prohibit private abortion coverage, the abortion lobby’s desire for a world where an abortion is viewed and covered no differently than a routine gynecological exam is becoming less and less a probability.”
More to the point, the hammer booms again when we look beyond the deception and see the update’s logical incoherence: Why mention abortion and “Obama care” at all? As EEN President and CEO Mitch Hescox replied, “Our efforts to protect the unborn have nothing whatsoever to do with the recently passed health care law.” Supplementary FRC deception emerges along with the invocation of hot-button words: “The EEN has received funding from such liberal groups as the Rockefeller Foundation, and specific signatories are beneficiaries of the largesse of far-Leftists like George Soros and Ted Turner.” Hescox’s response: “the Evangelical Environmental Network has not received funds from the Rockefeller Foundation, George Soros, or Ted Turner, to the best of my knowledge since my tenure …”
And even if, so what? Neither the Rockefeller Foundation nor Ted Turner (a far leftist?) sent envoys to Red Square in communism’s heyday and – just to remain up-to-date – the Cold War’s demise perseveres. The FRC’s guilt-by-association and incantation of the “liberal” bogeyman implicitly impugns signatories like Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Andy Crouch of Christianity Today International; David Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University; Jeffrey Greenberg, Professor of Geology at Wheaton College; Rick Joyner, Founder of Morning Star Ministries and the Oak Initiative; Gordon MacDonald, chancellor of Denver Seminary; and Tri Robinson, Senior Pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Boise, Idaho. There are others, of course (I’ve submitted my name; it’s in the depths of the EEN server), but these are marble statues in the evangelical pantheon. At least one even “liked” Sarah Palin on Facebook.
Liberal? Leftist? Is the FRC wrapping Leith Anderson, Rick Joyner, and Gordon MacDonald in a twitter-era Red Scare? Perhaps I can understand the delusional paranoia in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s – Stalin was gobbling nations and a few bona-fide spies squirreled into Washington’s bureaucracy – but the hammer and sickle has not flown for two decades. Red-baiters once used communism as an illusory foil; the FRC is still at it even though the illusion itself has vanished. It is brandishing a hallucination of a delusion and the ghost of a mirage.
More nails drill the coffin. The FRC debunks the EPA science by citing the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a misnamed Libertarian climate-change denier and oil business apologist, then walks in the tradition of tobacco, auto, and coal companies when it cites industry reports predicting plant closings and job losses. We’ve been here before. Hescox makes sense: “While I freely admit to not being a scientist, I do admit to trusting the National Academy of Sciences and health care experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (–) all of who(m) say that mercury is a threat …” Again: “The bottom line is whom you believe. Do you trust the reports issued by some utility industry groups, the mining trade associations, and those who promote an unregulated free market? Alternatively, do you place your faith in a wide coalition of faith leaders, medical experts, and such scientific bodies and the National Academy of Sciences?”
Unfortunately, such sound reasoning fuels the FRC’s bewilderingly circular argument: “This effort is an example of how well-meaning Christians can be seduced by the rhetoric of the Left, if such rhetoric is couched in the language of Scripture” (using the Bible proves we’re unbiblical), and “the sanctity of unborn life is too precious, and too imperiled, to be diminished by political ideologies who wish to ‘co-opt’ Evangelicals and the pro-life movement in an effort to advance their anti-biblical agendas.”
Who is really co-opting the pro-life moment? Who is using disingenuous scare tactics to block protection of the unborn? What is “anti-biblical” about lowering mercury levels? Who plunges into near sect-like reasoning in a “prayer team” e-mail? It reads: “Since the beginning, factious people and religious cults have tried to infiltrate, divide, and conquer Bible-believing Christians … Demon powers seek to seduce, deceive and delude us (Eph. 6:10-13).” The Evangelical Environmental Network is suspect.
I whole-heartedly agree that demons “seek to seduce, deceive, and delude us.” I’ve exorcised two of them and I don’t relish the memory: I saw unmitigated evil. The air throbbed with deception, confusion and raw malevolence. I remember the atmosphere of those moments as I read the FRC rhetoric. I’m compelled to ask its members: Why are you so sure you haven’t been seduced, deceived, and deluded? You’ve leveled the misrepresentations and allegations. You’ve lost yourselves in dark logical labyrinths. You’ve resembled the “father of lies” and the “accuser of the brethren” far more than your opponents, many of whom are recognized leaders in your own fold. Are you so adrift that you cannot appreciate your decline?
Can you not see the sweating casket-maker in the mirror, hammering nails into the coffin of his credibility?