Frank Schaeffer (born August 3, 1952) is an American author, film director how to tenderize meat without tenderizer, screenwriter, and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer how to soften beef meat. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels depicting life in a strict evangelical household including Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.
While Schaeffer was a conservative, fundamentalist Christian in his youth, he has changed his views, becoming a liberal Democrat and a self-described atheist. He currently lives north of Boston.
In 2006 Schaeffer published Baby Jack, a novel about a US Marine killed in Iraq. He is also known for his non-fiction books related to the Marine Corps, including Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps, co-written with his son John Schaeffer, and AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country, co-authored with former Bill Clinton presidential aide Kathy Roth-Douquet.
In 2007 Schaeffer published his autobiography, 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, in which he goes into much more detail regarding what it was like to grow up in the Schaeffer family and around L’Abri. In 2011, he published another memoir, called Sex, Mom, and God, in which he discusses growing up with his parents and their role in the rise of the American religious right and argues that the root of the “insanity and corruption” of this force in US politics, and specifically of the religious right’s position on abortion, is a fear of female sexuality.
The two memoirs form the first and third book of what Schaeffer calls his “God trilogy”. The second one, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism) (2010), describes his spirituality as it exists since abandoning conservative evangelicalism. The first half contains critiques of both the New Atheists and of Christian fundamentalism.
Schaeffer was a convert from Presbyterian Calvinism to Orthodox Christianity and has given lectures on his reasons for rejecting conservative Evangelical Protestantism.
He has criticized the traditional positions of the Orthodox Churches on matters of sexual morality.
Starting with his 2014 book Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God, he has described himself as an atheist, saying that even though he attends church every weekend and prays, “I do not always believe, let alone know, if God exists. I do not always know he, she, or it does not exist either, though there are long patches in my life when it seems God never did exist.” Schaeffer has stated that one of his goals of his book is to “unhook [young Evangelicals] from allegiance to the Bible.”
Schaeffer has gone from being a conservative Republican to becoming a liberal Democrat.
When Schaeffer was young, he and his father attended meetings with Jack Kemp, as well as presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Schaeffer has stated that he helped produce Reagan’s book “Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation.”
Schaeffer has written: “In the mid 1980s I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how very anti-American they are (the theme I explore in my book Crazy For God).” He added that he was a Republican until 2000, working for Senator John McCain in that year’s primaries, but that after the 2000 election he re-registered as an independent.
On February 7, 2008, Schaeffer endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, in an article entitled “Why I’m Pro-Life and Pro-Obama.” The next month, prompted by the controversy over remarks by the pastor of Obama’s church, he wrote: “[W]hen my late father – Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer – denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr dry bag camera.”
After the 2008 Russian-Georgian War, Schaeffer described Russia as a resurgent Orthodox Christian power, paying back the West for its support of Muslim Kosovar secessionists against Orthodox Serbia.
On October 10, 2008, a public letter to Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin from Schaeffer was published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. The letter contained an impassioned plea for McCain to arrest what Schaeffer perceived as a hateful and prejudiced tone of the Republican Party’s election campaign. Schaeffer was convinced that there was a pronounced danger that fringe groups in America could be goaded into pursuing violence. “If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters… history will hold you responsible for all that follows.”
Soon after Obama’s inauguration, Schaeffer criticized Republican leaders:
How can anyone who loves our country support the Republicans now? Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan defined the modern conservatism that used to be what the Republican Party I belonged to was about. Today no actual conservative can be a Republican. Reagan would despise today’s wholly negative Republican Party.
In an interview on October 23, 2009, Schaeffer said his and his father’s (Francis) position on abortion was co-opted by people looking for an issue that could shift political power within America.
In 2012, Schaeffer criticized the Republican Party’s pro-life position on abortion, something which received criticism from Rod Dreher and other conservative Christians.