The New Yorker Smears Francis Schaeffer and Michele Bachmann

In a recent hatchet job on Michele Bachmann, New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza was so eager to smear Bachmann that he smeared Francis Schaeffer as well.

I do not know enough about Bachmann to respond to the bulk of the article about her. However I know enough about editing and writing to know that Lizza did not really have a story, so he just started pulling stuff out of thin air in order to meet the required word count for the article.

Apparently, the Bachmann’s watched Schaeffer’s film series How Should We then Live? in the late 1970s. This in turn causes Lizza to churn out more than 1200 words about Schaeffer, all of which can best be characterized as a complete misrepresentation of Schaeffer’s work and views. He makes Schaeffer out to be some right-wing, crazy, Christian fanatic out to take over the government, install a Christian theocracy, and poison the populace with his outlandish views. Since Schaeffer was a fairly mainstream evangelical, in effect, by slandering Schaeffer, Lizza is slandering the vast majority of theologically conservative Christians in the US, but he seems unaware of this fact. Further, Lizza is unable to provide any link between Bachmann and Schaeffer, except for Bachmann’s statement that Schaeffer’s film was an influence to her.

Funny. In the mid-1970s, I saw the movie Jaws and it influenced my views on some issues (film, ocean swimming, etc.). If Lizza were writing my profile, he would no doubt use more than 1200 words to misrepresent the content of the film (“bloodthirsty sheriff, brain-addled fisherman, and deluded marine biologist persecute and kill harmless fish, breaking numerous laws in the process”), to ruminate about the dangers of the sea (“the ocean is very dangerous for sharks, as crazy people want to kill them”), and to talk about how people had become afraid of sharks (“Saturday Night Live once did a skit called ‘Land shark’, proving how paranoid even America’s elite had become because of this vile film about this benign yet beautiful sea creature”).  Yet, none of this would be the least bit relevant to me or my life. There is no story there.

Bachmann watching a film series in 1979 is certainly no justification for more than 1200 words of prose. A true journalist would have just reported what Bachmann said, made a quick note accurately explaining who Schaeffer was, and then talked about Bachmann and her views. However, Lizza wants to tarnish Bachmann’s reputation through guilt by association with Schaeffer. Sadly for his readers, he does not provide much evidence of a Bachmann-Schaeffer link to begin with, and Schaeffer is not guilty of the crimes Lizza accuses him of.

Among other things, Lizza reports,

In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.

A summary of A Christian Manifesto, delivered in an address by Francis Schaeffer, can be found here. In his address, he talks of civil disobedience to the government when its dictates violate the believer’s conscience. Nowhere in his book does he ever call for violent resistance against or advocate the overthrow of the government in any way.

Francis Schaeffer was primarily interested in philosophy, culture, and apologetics, and even today he is known in theologically conservative Christian circles as one of the best modern thinkers in those areas. While Schaeffer thought that our beliefs should inform our politics and that Christians should certainly be involved in the political situation, he completely rejected the idea that the country should become a theocracy or that the wall between church and state should be torn down. Rather, Schaeffer was most interested in seeing Christians engage with their culture and society, and bring about a transformation of a country one person at a time through persuasion and the triumph of Christian ideas.

While I do not know if Bachmann is really true to the ideas of Schaeffer, if she is then she certainly rises in my esteem. Schaeffer was by no means a perfect man, but his view of how Christians should interact with society was exactly correct in my humble opinion.

Meanwhile, Ryan Lizza has proven that he is nothing but a hack reporter who has not earned his salary and who thinks lies and innuendo are a substitute for solid journalism.

(H/t Coffee & Markets)

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12 Responses to The New Yorker Smears Francis Schaeffer and Michele Bachmann

  1. It is the renaissance of the old “yellow Dog journalism”. Of course it violates all printed canons of journalistic ethics but most people don’t know that all those journalistic ethics are strictly voluntary and editors routinely flout them with impunity. This is why the public opinion polls hover at about 19% approval rating for the media.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

    • John Scotus says:

      Thanks for the comment. In many ways, since journalists serve as the eyes and ears of a country, they are like the Old Testament prophets. How can they avoid judgment for this? Yet they are being judged, and judged where it hurts them worst–in their pocketbooks. People do not want to hear their lies any longer, so they have stopped subscribing and stopped listening.

      • And like Obama, they are blaming everybody and the internet for their falling subscription rates and falling readership. It does not occur to them that they are the ones at fault no matter how much you scream it at them in very angry letters. They are in absolute denial.
        Blessings on you and yours
        John

  2. By the way, Mr Schaeffer also influenced me. I became the head of Crhistians for Life and took on the Southern Baptist Convention back in the seventies when the liberals were in control of the convention and were on record as being “pro choice” on abortion. I sent out the most extensive bible study ever published on abortion (that I wrote) to all 35,000 SBC churches and got them to adopt a pro life stance in 1980 tht they have never backed away from since.
    John Wilder

    • John Scotus says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      Since I lived abroad, I don’t think I was even aware of Roe v. Wade or Schaeffer until around 1980, so I came in late to the party. I gradually became more conservative (both politically and theologically) in university. Over the years I met many people who had gone to L’Abri and who knew Schaeffer and his son-in-law, Udo Middelmann, but I did not see the film series or read any of Schaeffer’s works until I went to the seminary (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) in the late 1980s. You must have been a real ground-breaker in the SBC.

      • Yes I was. You would not believe the politics in the SBC. I also went to Missouri Baptist University right down the road from the seminary Schaffer either attended or taught at, I don’t remember.

        John Wilder

  3. Pingback: The New Yorker Smears Francis Schaeffer and Michele Bachmann (via The Tree of Mamre) | My Blog

  4. The “New Yorker”, yellow journalism, how sad.

  5. Pingback: Michele Bachmann and Francis Schaeffer (Part 5) « HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth

  6. Pingback: Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 5) « HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth

  7. Pingback: Review: Crazy for God by Francis Schaeffer (Memoir). | Dave Enjoys

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