Note: I wrote this two years ago, but didn’t post it, because of some pretty significant events. Namely, the election of an open White Nationalist to the presidency, due in large part to the collaboration of white Evangelicals. So I wrote about that. I got distracted last year, and totally forgot to post it. So this year, I am posting it on the two year anniversary.
This is not a eulogy. It is an accusation - an indictment of an evil person, and of those of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation who took her poison to their bosom.
From Merriam Webster:
Hypocrisy: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion
From Jesus Christ:
"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
Phyllis Schlafly has finally died.
While I do not rejoice in anyone’s death, I do breathe a sigh of relief when someone who has done great evil in the world becomes unable to do so anymore. The damage remains, however. I write this post so that we can remember the evil Schlafly stood for, and avoid perpetuating her poisonous policies.
I deliberately started this post with a couple of definitions of hypocrisy, because Schlafly was, more than anything else, one of the biggest hypocrites of my lifetime. She also did immense - and perhaps incalculable - damage to both the Republican Party and to Evangelicalism. The Religious Right as a movement was co-founded by her, and the arguments she made have become mainstream in both the GOP and Evangelicalism, unfortunately.
The two quotes above capture, in my opinion, two complementary features of hypocrisy.
First, let me clarify that I do not define hypocrisy as doing one thing, then learning from that mistake, and advising others to avoid it. All of us have embarrassing things we have said and done that we regret. I certainly have. Growing past those things is not hypocrisy - it’s improvement!
Rather, hypocrisy is holding others to a standard that you do not hold yourself to. That’s in the dictionary definition. A great example that I see all the time is upper middle class people who are always in debt and financial trouble - but who love to lecture lower income people about their budgeting failures. One standard for them - and a different one for us.
But I think Christ captures a second part, which is placing burdens on others that you yourself didn’t have to bear, and refusing to help. This is enjoying one’s privileges yet refusing to extend them to others. It’s taking advantage of opportunities, while denying them to others. It’s a sense of entitlement combined with a lack of compassion.
Schlafly exemplified both of these facets of hypocrisy in spades.
A quick biography. Schlafly was born in 1924. During the depression, her father lost his job and couldn’t find work (like so many in that era - 25% unemployment…), so her mother worked to support the family.
Schlafly herself would enter the workforce after her college education. At age 25, she married into a wealthy family. She would remain in the workforce essentially her entire life - but she had the financial independence which comes with hereditary wealth to set her own hours and do what she wanted.
She entered the political fray, and spent the early part battling against racial integration (as part of the self proclaimed “moral conservatives” that defeated a anti-segregation plank in the Republican platform of 1960.)
It was a later battle, however, which defined her. That battle was for the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have forbidden discrimination on the basis of sex. The Amendment would fail to be ratified by the states as a result of her efforts. (More on this later.)
She would then go on to form the Religious Right, primarily with Paul Weyrich (who has admitted that it was support for segregation that held the coalition together), Jerry Falwell, and Bob Jones Sr. (president of the college of the same name - which only recently began to permit interracial dating, and only then under duress.) Schlafly herself formed the Eagle Forum, a political action group which would focus on opposition to Feminism.
Perhaps the most central idea to Schlafly’s activism was that women belonged in the home, that childcare and housekeeping were primarily “women’s work,” and that Feminism™ was the greatest threat to women. As I will point out, this idea manifested in a number of ways, but in the political sense, she opposed just about anything that would grant economic, political, or social equality to women. (That’s the dictionary definition of Feminism, by the way…)
But she didn’t live that way.
At the same time she was telling other women that they should stay home with their children rather than work, she was out lecturing, running for Congress, writing, and generally not staying at home.
Who cared for her kids?
Well, it turns out that she had a full time housekeeper/nanny who did that for her. This woman performed this function for decades. Schlafly also had a personal assistant, which likely freed her up to set her own schedule.
In a former era, this would be called “having servants.” Of course it is easier to do all the things Schlafly did if you can pay someone to do the grunt work for you - and raise your kids. But most women can’t afford that.
This is the textbook definition of a hypocrite. The standard she imposed on others was not one she had to abide by herself. Of course not! She was rich, so the rules really never had to apply to her.
Likewise, she placed the burden on other women, many of whom couldn’t afford to stay home full time. By making “Stay at Home Mom” into “God’s plan for all women,” she burdened millions of women with impossible expectations. (And, as her political activism against policies which would ease the burden on lower income women show, she had no intention of lifting a finger to help.)
Now, about her legacy. As I see it, she damaged both the GOP and Evangelicalism in a number of ways.
First, the political. Her work to keep integration out of the GOP platform in 1960, which was Nixon’s first run, led eventually to Nixon adopting the “Southern Strategy,” which was a rejection of the Republican heritage of supporting the Civil Rights Movement and an embrace of White Nationalist voters, if not always their policies. It is not a coincidence that pro-Segregation Whites switched en masse from the Democrats to the Republicans.
The founding of the Religious Right as a political force likewise had reverberations which continue to this day. As Paul Weyrich said, the Religious Right was founded on a pro-Segregation basis, and only later switched to an anti-abortion position. Schlafly too was instrumental in this switch, as she made opposition to Feminism the central plank in her platform.
This idea that the ideal family was one where the man brought home the bacon while the woman stayed home and kept house and raised the kids wasn’t a Republican issue at the time. In fact, although it is hard to believe now, Nixon came close to signing a bill for subsidized day care and paid family leave. The Religious Right (and the openly racist Pat Buchanan) defeated that, and ever since, opposition to what many of us consider basic family friendly policy has been vehemently opposed by the Republican party.
You can see the results even now, with a spokesman for The Toupee Who Shall Not Be Named claiming that what women care about most is that their husbands have well-paying jobs. (As I will show, this is nearly a direct quote from Schlafly.)
I’ll detail a few more policies which are directly drawn from Schlafly’s advocacy below. Suffice it to say that The Toupee Who Shall Not Be Named turns out to be pretty much Schlafly’s ideal candidate, as far as policies are concerned.
As for the legacy within Evangelicalism, let me start with this:
You would never know, given the strong anti-feminist advocacy of the Religious Right and most prominent Evangelical teachers, that 19th Century Feminism was actually an Evangelical movement.
The shift started before Schlafly, of course. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the conservative denominations within American Christianity sadly retrenched around Segregation and Patriarchy as core beliefs.
But it is important to remember that prior to the rise of the Religious Right, Feminism wasn’t that controversial of an idea for most Evangelicals. During World War II, many women entered the workforce while the men were away at war - and many of them remained there afterward. The Equal Rights Amendment wasn’t considered controversial either. The Republican platform of 1956 expressly endorsed it. It had passed Congress by that time, and had been ratified by 30 states before Schlafly took aim at it.
And the text of the Amendment isn’t - or shouldn’t be - all that controversial.
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
That’s it. That’s the entire text. This is what Schlafly couldn’t abide.
By the way, in an Eagle Forum pamphlet opposing the ERA, she said: “Do you want the sexes fully integrated like the races?” (Oh yes, she was deeply and viciously racist. See more below.)
This is where the damage was done. American Evangelicalism these days has a strong undercurrent of hostility toward Feminism. Often this is based on a straw-man version of feminism which doesn’t exist except possibly on the fringes. (I know a lot of feminists - including my wife - and the caricature of the man-hating woman is a fiction. Even in my law practice, I meet 1000 men who hate women for every woman I meet who hates men.)
There is also a veneration of the “stay-at-home mom” and an idolatry of motherhood in Evangelicalism. I’ve pointed out before that this essentially denies the higher levels of “godliness” to women in lower income families.
It isn’t universal, but there are a great many - particularly within the more conservative circles - that outright state that a woman who works outside the home while she has children is living in sin. This is the one that is pretty personal for me, as my wife and I have gotten plenty of pushback from extended family over the fact that she works. Schlafly is largely to blame for this, which is ironic because she didn’t live this way.
Now let me turn to a few other things that Schlafly has said and done.
A quick Google search turns up a whole bunch of, um, interesting things that Schlafly has said and done. Here are a few:
Defended Joe Paterno, who knew his assistant was raping young boys, but covered it up:
After the National Organization for Women called for Paterno to resign following his defense of a player who assaulted a woman, she wrote in her column: "Just a few feminists with a fax machine will smear anyone in their war against football.”
Clearly football is more important than stopping sexual assault.
Blamed the Violence Against Women Act for broken marriages:
“When marriages are broken by false allegations of domestic violence, U.S. taxpayers fork up an estimated $20 billion a year to support the resulting single-parent, welfare-dependent families.” – Schlafly, Feb. 2011.
Did Schlafly really believe domestic violence was imaginary? Maybe. I find that upper middle class women of a certain age are in deep denial that anyone else could be experiencing spousal abuse. I get the feeling that Schlafly would rather have seen women get beaten than that they get divorced. I also seem to recall (although I can’t find it) that she, like the reality-challenged folks at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believed that Feminism has increased spousal abuse rates.
Except that VAWA and other laws have reduced domestic violence significantly. The trend is actually very positive. Domestic Violence has been on a long term decline, but has really dropped in the last couple of decades, despite the fact that it is now more acceptable to report it. The culture is changing for the better on this issue - and Feminism deserves much of the credit.
Excused sexual harassment and blamed the victims:
“Non-criminal sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for the virtuous woman except in the rarest of cases.” -Schlafly before the United States Senate, 1981.
Yes, women ask to be harassed and assaulted, right? Only “sluts” get harassed, right?
Said that the way to prevent violence against women was for women to marry rather than have careers:
“So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent 'hookups,' which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.” - Radio address August 28, 2014
Yep, if women would just (unlike her, of course) stay out of college and stay home instead...violence against them would go down. Really?
Said that husbands have the right to rape their wives:
“By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.” – “Schlafly cranks up agitation at Bates” Sun Journal, 2007.
Because saying “I do” means you give up all bodily autonomy, right? In her defense, the law reflected her view for far too long. That doesn’t mean it is a right, or even remotely moral position to hold.
Said we don’t need to ever have a female president:
“Our greatest presidents have all been men,” she said, “and they’ve been very good for our country.”
Of course, we haven’t ever had a female president, so we have no idea if they would have been better than the man. One could as accurately have said “Our worst presidents have all been men, and they were terrible for our country.” (Looking at you, Andrew Jackson and Warren Harding.)
The easy counterexample is England. On a percentage basis, who has been better for England, the kings or the queens? Just saying.
Called for increasing the pay gap between men and women:
“The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.”
Again, say WHAT? But wait! This is what that Trump staffer said too. It’s a worldview: men earn, women stay home. The real world has never worked that way, though, particularly for lower-income families. As a friend pointed out, women of color have always worked.
Called on Congress to pass a resolution specifically privileging marriages where the woman doesn’t work outside the home:
“Once Congress is on a roll to confer dignity, it should confer an extra measure of dignity on the single-earner family, where a provider-husband is the principal breadwinner and his wife is dedicated to the job of homemaker, a role more socially beneficial than working in the paid labor force.” - Newspaper column in 2015
This was part of a column condemning same-sex marriage, by the way. Apparently, the point of “traditional” marriage to her was in large part the preservation of gender roles.
And again, never forget that SHE didn’t stay home with her children and housework. She paid someone to care for her children and clean her house.
Argued against paid family leave:
She made the ludicrous claim that it would only benefit “highly-paid, two-earner yuppie couples” who could afford to take the time off without pay. Never mind, of course, that those would would benefit the most would actually be lower income women.
Called for the elimination of Title IX:
This is the law which prohibits sex discrimination in education. She also called for a combination of quotas and elimination of student loans to reduce the percentage of women in college. The hypocrisy of a highly educated woman seeking to deny the opportunity to other women is astounding.
Opposed scientifically accurate Sex Ed:
“Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.” – Schalfly, Feb. 1997.
Actually, it turns out that comprehensive sex education and readily available contraception has resulted in a significant decrease in both teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the last couple of decades. There is ample and increasing evidence that the key to reducing abortion is a combination of better education and affordable contraceptives - particularly long-acting reversible contraception - lowers both pregnancy and abortion rates. In addition, accurate, consent-based education has been shown to be effective at delaying first intercourse - and dramatically reducing sex between teens and older adults.
Claimed that enforcing child support judgments was bad for children:
“People think that child-support enforcement benefits children, but it doesn’t.” – Schlafly, “Federal Incentives Make Children Fatherless,” May, 2005.
Say WHAT? So, it’s better that fathers not pay child support? I think the argument here is that women wouldn’t get divorces if they and their kids starved or something like that. I don’t even know many people who make this argument. Sheesh! (Okay, this has been a central plank in many ways of the “Men’s Rights Movement.” If women couldn’t get child support from men, then they wouldn’t be so dang disobedient to men’s wishes.)
This actually fits with Schlafly’s central belief about the economics of male/female relationships, which is that men need to be the primary earners, and women need to shut up and obey men. Except her, of course.
Opposed the teaching of science:
“It is long overdue for parents to realize they have the right and duty to protect our children against the intolerant evolutionists.” -Schlafly, “Time to End the Censorship,” Dec. 2004.
I know I’m probably in the minority on this one within my former Tribe, but I really don’t think we need to “protect” our children from learning things such as Astrophysics, Paleontology, Biology, and so on. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of an old universe, the Big Bang, biological evolution, and so forth. (I blogged about this a few years back.) It’s not a conspiracy, and it isn’t about “intolerance.” We do not teach a flat earth or geocentrism anymore either - and it isn’t because of a conspiracy.
Endorsed Trump because of his plan to get the brown-skinned poor people out of the country and keep them out.
This is just one of many, many statements that it was easy to find where Schlafly showed hostility toward non-Whites, immigrants, and poor people. Here are a few more:
Called for banning Latin American baseball players:
“Cut off visas for foreign baseball players, and return our National Pastime to Americans,” the St. Louis native said in a radio segment in February. “When I was growing up, my favorite sport was baseball. One of my most exciting memories was attending the World Series in 1944 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns. Baseball is a wonderful activity for boys and young men. It helps develop mental discipline, patience, and obeying rules. A lower percentage of professional baseball players have post-career troubles compared with football and basketball players, and baseball is a safer sport, too. The best baseball players today are American-born. All six of the six recipients of the top awards this past season are native-born American. But more than a quarter of Major League Baseball players today are foreign-born, with whom our youth are less likely to identify. Some of these players cannot speak English, and they did not rise through the ranks of Little League. These foreign-born players enter on visas and take positions that should have gone to American players. Fewer than four percent of the Baseball Hall of Fame is foreign-born, yet 27 percent of today’s players are.”
Every time I read that, I am astounded by the racism. And the assumption that whites are the only true Americans.
Opposed (and torpedoed) a plank in the 1960 Republican platform calling for an end to segregation.
I mentioned this one above.
Argued that anti-segregation laws were unconstitutional:
Oh yes she did. This has ever since been a cherished belief of the fringe right, from the loathsome Matt Walsh to the equally loathsome Ron Paul. Never, ever, forget that Schlafly began her political career fighting against racial integration. Never, ever forget.
Supported vote-suppression laws:
Specifically the ones in North Carolina which were recently struck down by the courts because the expressly targeted African American voters. Why did she support them? On the grounds of...wait for it...the fact that low income and minority voters tended to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans. Because it is totally legitimate to make laws specifically to benefit your political party while making it harder for African Americans to vote.
By the way, you really should read the court’s opinion in the case. The legislature specifically asked for racial statistics, then wrote the law to change only those things that benefited African Americans. In case you were wondering, this is the case that changed my mind on Voter ID laws. They are expressly intended to make it harder for certain disfavored demographic groups to vote. There is a reason why even conservative judges are striking the laws down.
She repeatedly referred to a Jewish internationalist conspiracy:
It was pretty easy to find quotes about the influence of “financially connected minorities” with “internationalist” goals. Um, this is classic anti-Semitic code language used by the John Birch Society, among others. (Schlafly was a John Bircher for a while, before deciding she had other priorities.)
One final one on race I want to share. A friend of mine worked in media a while back, and did a radio interview with Schlafly. During the conversation, he brought up a current event: the push by Puerto Rico and other US territories for statehood. Schlafly was horrified at the idea. The last thing she wanted was more of “those people.” Here is a partial transcript, which my friend let me listen to.
Interviewer: (mentions Congressional hearing where American Samoa was suggested as well)
Schlafly: Well we don’t want them either.
Interviewer (stunned): Why so?
Schlafly: Well that does nothing but cause trouble.
Schlafly: Okay, have a good day. (Hangs up on him.)
The contempt dripping from her voice is palpable.
She basically initiated the Religious Right’s political war on LGBTQ people.
I could spend plenty of time on this one, including the way that she (and many other Religious Right leaders then and now) grossly slandered LGBTQ people by claiming they were all child molesters out to get the kids. I could mention that despite having a gay son herself, she made opposition to any form of civil rights for LGBTQ people a central plank of both the GOP and Evangelicalism. If you want to look at the history of calls to deny LGBTQ people housing and employment and government services, and so on, you will see the line go back to her. Maybe I should mention that like modern day hate-mongers like Kevin Swanson (no relation, thank God!), she too waxed nostalgic about the days when you could kill and imprison people for gay sex.
I have written about this before, and I stand by it: the obsession with sex and the effort to deny LGBTQ people basic human rights, dignity, and access to society has been a disaster for American Christianity, and will - in my opinion - be a major reason that the next generation abandons the faith. When the focus of your faith is harming people, you are going to alienate the decent people, and attract the evil and violent sorts instead.
So many of these issues affect me and my friends and family. I discussed the ones related to sex discrimination in employment in my review of Gillian Thomas’ excellent book, Because of Sex. I have friends and family who would have lived under Jim Crow had Schlafly had her way. I have clients who have had issues getting ID due to destruction of birth records, and would be excluded from their right to vote. I know many who have been victims of domestic violence, and benefited from VAWA and other laws which take domestic violence seriously. I myself have benefited from parental leave. Many, many people I know and love rely on the income from women. And that includes me. I have a wife who works. I have LGBTQ friends and family who would suffer under the laws Schlafly promoted.
I also have suffered harm as a result of Schlafly’s teaching. A significant source of conflict with certain friends and family has been the fact that my wife does not adhere to the gender roles that Schlafly promoted. For everyone else, not her, of course.
It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? She holds other women to a different standard than she was willing to meet.
And talk about denying others the privileges she had. Maybe it was because she married money, which seems to make one entitled. (In fact, the most entitled people I work with in my practice are the wives of rich men.)
She of course was supported in luxury. The women that needed to work to survive, well, they just weren’t as good as her. She enjoyed living in the United States, but those brown skinned people that wanted the same? No way. Nothing good ever happens when you let those people in. Other women want to escape abuse? No dice. VAWA is bad for marriages. She could take a break from her work to give birth and recover. But other women shouldn’t have that. Unless they found richer husbands. College was fine for her, but most women should be discouraged from doing the same. I’m sure she would have objected had she been denied housing or health care because of her religion. But denying the same to LGBTQ people? Not just fine, but what we should do. And then throw in the opposition to desegregation...
Her entire political career can be summed up as an ongoing attempt to be sure that she and others like her got privileges that would then be denied to others.
This is the textbook definition of hypocrisy.
The rise of Donald Trump
As I researched this, I was struck by just how much Schlafly and Trump were alike. Le Toupee too has, um, distinct opinions on the role of women. He may be more vulgar about it, but he too believes women should focus on reproduction and housekeeping. (And he too has a fondness for farming the work out to nannies and servants…) He too dismisses sexual harassment. Hey, just get a different job - or better yet stay home. He too believes that the man earning the money is the way things should be. I don’t think I even need to draw the parallels on racial issues. His whole campaign could be Schlafly’s views proposed as legislation.
It is no accident that she endorsed Trump. And it is no accident that white Evangelicalism voted for him to the tune of about 80%. He isn’t really that different than she, and he largely represents the “values” that dominate Evangelical culture.
And it is due in significant part to her efforts that Evangelical culture DOES share the “values” of Donald Trump. She set this up over decades. White middle-class privilege as “godliness.” Gender Roles as the Gospel™. Antagonism and fear toward brown skinned people. Hatred of LGBTQ people. Hostility toward Feminism. The whole shebang.
And then, someone came along who represented the real values held by white Evangelicalism, but without the pretty and pleasant exterior, and everyone fell in line behind him.
In fact, religious affiliation is one of the two strongest indicators of whether a white person will vote for Le Toupee. (The other is low education…) That says volumes. And it isn’t good.
Schlafly is losing in the long run, and she may take Evangelicalism down with her.
I’m not fond of politics in the first place, and I really do not care what happens to the GOP. They made their bed, and have become the party of old racist white people. That was their choice, and they will live or die with it.
What I am more concerned about is the long-term and horrific damage that Schlafly and the other founders of the Religious Right did to American Evangelicalism. More than anything, the Religious Right has made good on the guarantee that it would deliver votes to the GOP no matter what.
No matter how opposed the policies are to the teachings of Christ. And, as it turns out, no matter how evil the candidate. Open racism? Eh, Evangelicals will still vote for you. Dead refugees? Children in cages? Evangelicals won’t care about those people. Not really.
That’s Schlafly’s true legacy.
In the greater culture, however, she is losing. Despite her best attempts, feminism is winning. Because it works. Domestic violence is way down. Because of feminism, not because Schlafly got women to avoid college.
Speaking of that, women are seeking education in increasing numbers, and the opportunities available to them are greater than ever. The pay gap is decreasing. And, on a related note, men are increasingly willing to take on the “women’s work” of childcare and housework. (Hey, I’m one of those guys! Caring for children is wonderful, and I am grateful that I can work modest hours and be with them more.)
Ultimately, most of the goals of the ERA are being realized through other legislation, such as Title IX and various state laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex.
And, amazingly, the world has not fallen apart. Is there room for improvement? Of course. And many of us are working toward those improvements, rather than trying desperately to return to the past.
The problem is that the primary foe right now in the fight against domestic violence is white Evangelicalism. The primary foe in the fight to help refugees is white Evangelicalism. White Evangelicals are the problem in the fight against racism, modern segregation, police brutality, and a host of other issues. The main source of hostility toward brown skinned people turns out to be white Evangelicals. The ones most eager to deny fellow humans employment and shelter? White Evangelicals.
The risk here is significant: the Religious Right has made religion all about a political agenda that many of us find loathsome. And we are rejecting it. This is particularly true for people of color, younger people, and people with a college education.
Many Christians I know are bemoaning the increase in the number of people who are “nones.” This includes an increasing number of atheists, of course, but also a lot who believe in the Divine, but shun affiliation with religious groups. These Christians - white Evangelicals - however, are the ones least likely to look in the mirror, and acknowledge that white Evangelicalism is driving away people who have a conscience, who are troubled by racism and xenophobia, who have grave doubts about the claim that the Republican Party platform furthers the Kingdom of God, who eschew hatred of others - even atheists and gays. There is a significant - and growing - backlash against Schlafly’s hatred. And her intellectual and political heirs are crying “persecution.” Which is laughable for many reasons, many of which Ben Corey lays out here. What really is happening is people are revolted by religious bullying, or as I call it, being an “Asshole For Jesus,” which is exactly what she made her political career doing. More and more of us are saying, “enough!” The question isn’t whether we will reject religious bullying. It’s whether we will end up leaving American Christianity all together. (For now, the answer for me and my family has been that no, we will no longer participate in American “Christianity.”)
I’ve used the quote before, and I will continue to use it as often as necessary. This was a comment on a video by John Piper wherein he claims that Christianity teaches that women should stay and be beaten rather than leave the marriage and press charges against the abuser:
“Richard Dawkins wishes he were as effective as this video at convincing people that Christianity is a morally bankrupt mess.”
Herein lies the problem - and Schlafly’s true legacy.
Richard Dawkins can only wish and dream that he had been as effective as Phyllis Schlafly at convincing people that Christianity is a morally bankrupt mess.
Not only did she spend her life demonstrating the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of her religion, she did her level best to make American [white] Evangelicalism the morally bankrupt mess it is today.
It isn’t too often one can truly say of someone that the world is a far better place without them, but this is one of those cases. I do not rejoice in her death, but breathe a sigh of relief that at least one viciously racist person can no longer spew bile in this world.
So, Ms. Schlafly, farewell to this life, and may you find a better mercy than you were willing to bestow on others. May you find a truer justice than you accorded to others. And may you escape the hate that you poured out on others.
And that, my friends, is the best I can do.
I haven’t believed in the Evangelical version of hell since Junior High. (I read C. S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce then.) There are many reasons for this, one of which is laid out pretty well by John Pavlovitz in this post. Another is that it seems to be an Evangelical wet dream of a revenge fantasy to be inflicted on all those outside of the tribe. But if there is an Evangelical hell, Jesus Christ himself made it abundantly clear that our destiny doesn’t hang on whether we pray the right prayer: it’s how we treat the least of these, including immigrants, the poor, the incarcerated, and the ill. On that basis, IF there is an Evangelical hell, then Phyllis Schlafly is assuredly burning there right now.
I am more or less an annihilationist. I believe that someday, all of us will receive (as we lawyers say) full and complete disclosure. We see but through a glass, darkly. Someday, we see face to face. And we will have a chance to choose. Will we give up the evil part of us and enter into fellowship with the Divine? Or will we choose to give up existence. I believe that there are many who, faced with the prospect of being equal to - or worse, lower than - all those people they hated and oppressed during their lifetimes, will choose annihilation. I believe Hitler will choose that, rather than live with constant reminders of what he did.
I believe Phyllis Schlafly will likewise choose that. I hope she doesn’t, but I think she lived her life with her entire identity wrapped up in preserving her own privilege. Without that, she had nothing to live for.
Comment policy: Please read my comment policy before commenting. In particular, I will not tolerate any hate speech in the comments. I also will not tolerate any arguments regarding the morality of homosexuality. I’ve heard the arguments a million times. And I don’t think they matter in the context of our behavior toward our neighbor. Seeking to harm someone is hate. Feel free to read my longer post on this issue.