Two new books argue that it is time to stand up for the faith.
It is time for Christians to shed their piety and start protesting—legally when they can, illegally when they cannot—in order to rebuild the foundation of Christian morality upon which the country was based. That is the message of two strongly worded books set for publication this summer by two young authors, both protégés of philosopher Francis Schaeffer. They take up where Schaeffer left off in his successful Christian Manifesto (sales so far: nearly 200,000). If the new books catch on as Schaeffer’s has, there may come a time when atheists and religious liberals long for the good old days when they had only the Moral Majority to contend with.
The first book is by constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, 35, and is entitled The Second American Revolution. It was published this month by the David C. Cook Publishing Co. The second book is A Time for Anger by Schaeffer’s son Franky, 30, an artist and filmmaker. It is to be published in August by Crossway Books, which brought out Francis Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto.
Whitehead, through diligent research and a bibliography of no fewer than 343 books, argues that the United States was founded on principles drawn from the Christian faith, and that without those principles, the governmental system makes no sense. He does not say that the government was ever intended to be a theocracy or that the founding fathers all were practicing Christians themselves.
Francis Schaeffer says in his Manifesto that Christians should resist the state rather than capitulate to laws contrary to God’s Word. Whitehead expands on Schaeffer to suggest an appropriate occasion to resist. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the state of Kentucky could no longer post the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. Since the Bible at many points underscores the value of training in God’s commandments, the court ruling is immoral, according to Whitehead. “Local school officials, based on solid biblical grounds, could have simply refused to remove the Ten Commandments from the schoolhouse walls. Some local school districts in Kentucky did exactly that,” he writes.
Whitehead says that “the time may have come when a local community or a state may have to disobey the Supreme Court or other federal and state agencies that act contrary to the principles of the Bible.”
In his book, Franky Schaeffer also draws on the Christian Manifesto to argue that Christians should resist the immoral acts of their government. He notes that Peter and John, flogged for preaching the gospel, went right out and did it again, in violation of law. “We must develop this militant indifference to the edicts of mere men when they contradict God’s law,” writes the younger Schaeffer.
He argues that Christians have been too well behaved in the past, that first-century Christians were regarded as rebels, and that the time is right for more rebellion: “Atrocities unthinkable a few years ago (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia) go on today with the state’s sanction. More are in the offing. Why is there such roaring, massive silence on the part of those who should know better?” Elsewhere, Schaeffer writes that “Christians should be shamed by the zealous activity of the liberal elite, whose houses are built on sand, while we, with our houses supposedly built on the rock, sit silently and look on.”
Elsewhere in his book, Schaeffer exposes what he calls “the myth of neutrality” whereby news commentators, under the guise of “objectivity,” eradicate or emasculate the Christian message in public debate. In doing so, the public media, far from being “neutral,” promote values opposed to Christian values.
Schaeffer takes several chapters to make his case on this point, and he cites examples all the way. Other Christian polemicists have not taken the trouble to do this, and have simply branded the news media as “secular humanistic.” That term is not used outside of conservative Christian circles, and it only makes members of the news media scratch their heads. Because Schaeffer builds by example, his case is forceful, and because of it, people who don’t understand the jargon cannot ignore the argument.
Like Whitehead, Schaeffer deals in detail with the tragedy of abortion on demand. He reprints a lengthy article from the Philadelphia Inquirer on the situation in which well-developed fetuses are aborted but are born alive. (Contrary to what most people think, abortions in this country are legal right up until birth.) According to the article, this has placed many nurses in emotional turmoil, for they must decide whether to try and save life or obey the doctors who performed the abortions. Regardless of how one stands politically on the issue of abortion, it is hard to deny that situations like these constitute tragedy. Schaeffer compares the Upjohn Company, which manufactures the abortion drug prostaglandin, to I. E. Farban, the German company that manufactured the poison gas bought by the Nazis in great quantities to exterminate Jews. Schaeffer’s writing on the subject of abortion is provocative and pointed.
While Franky Schaeffer’s book is a polemic against the country’s drift from its Christian ethical moorings, Whitehead’s book is more dispassionate in building the historical case for the amount of Christian conviction in the founding of the country.
Whitehead shows, for example, that Christian principles were the basis for English common law, which is the foundation of our own legal system. An example is the Seventh Amendment’s guarantee of trial by jury. Jurors were never expected to be legal experts. Rather, drawing on the moral convictions of their faith, they were expected to render justice. Whitehead quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, from his inaugural address as a Harvard law professor in 1829. Storey said, “There has never been a period of history in which the common law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation.”
There has been a cross-fertilization of ideas among Whitehead and Francis and Franky Schaeffer, and it is evident in the books by the three of them. Francis Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto, published seven months before Whitehead’s book, contains several references to it, and Francis Schaeffer helped to refine Whitehead’s manuscript. Whitehead footnotes the Manifesto at several points in his book. Franky Schaeffer’s company financed Whitehead’s research, and the younger Schaeffer worked as Whitehead’s agent in securing the publisher. He has produced a film based on the book, which will be released in the fall. Franky Schaeffer, in turn, quotes Whitehead in his own book.
Evangelicalism has been pressed from the Right by the militancy of the fundamentalists, and from the Left by social activists. Francis Schaeffer’s influence, now being pumped through a second generation of writers, challenges the evangelical movement right from its heart (although Whitehead does not use the term evangelical to describe himself), and it may well prove a potent impact on evangelicalism in the 1980s.
Moon Held Guilty Of Tax Fraud
Sun Myung Moon, the leader of some 30,000 American Moonies, was convicted of income tax fraud in New York last month. Far from being crushed by the conviction, Moon’s followers expect their number to “multiply three times this year.”
Moon was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the federal government and filing false income tax returns. Convicted with him was Takeru Kamiyama, one of Moon’s top aides. Moon could face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and three years each for three tax counts. (The cult leader lives in the U.S. on a permanent visa, which could be revoked if the conviction stands.) Sentencing is scheduled for July 14, and Moon’s attorneys are already planning an appeal.
The main issue at the trial was whether the bank accounts and stock held in Moon’s name belonged to him personally or to the Unification Church, which he founded. Specifically, Moon was charged with failure to report $112,000 in interest earned for $1.6 million on deposit at the Chase Manhattan Bank, and for receiving $50,000 worth of corporate shares without declaring them as taxable.
The jury of ten men and two women was instructed to determine if the income belonged personally to Moon and, if so, whether or not Moon had “willfully” failed to report it on his tax returns. Key evidence included documents dealing with loans and finances in the Unification Church’s records. The prosecution contended some documents were created long after the transactions they were purported to record, and that the documents had been backdated.
The jury found Moon guilty on its fifth day of deliberation. Mose Durst, president of the Unification Church in the United States, immediately released a statement declaring Moon innocent. He announced the intention of Moon’s attorneys to appeal the case and said, “We have the utmost faith that through the court system in America, justice will be done and our spiritual leader fully vindicated.” Durst called Moon the “most abused and misunderstood religious leader of the twentieth century.”
Officials of the Unification Church were quick to insist the conviction will not cripple the controversial movement. “Membership will multiply three times this year,” said Joy Irvine, director of public affairs. Moonies will not give up because “Rev. Moon has taught us the highest standards of integrity and faith.” She added that the Moonie leader has been “unfairly treated many times” and the tax fraud conviction is “no big deal.”
Irvine denied that Moon had lied. The damaging documents were back-dated “out of ignorance,” she said. They were old documents from the cult’s early days in America, when the persons handling church records were not trained accountants. Any backdating was not intended to be fraudulent she contended, and Moon certainly had no knowledge of any of it. The church has grown since it was incorporated in America in 1961, she said, and it now has professional accountants to train its members in bookkeeping. (Ironically, one of the accounting seminars was being conducted at the church’s New York headquarters the very week Moon was convicted.)
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