Jerry & Cristie Johnston Interview Frank Schaeffer … A Self-Described Atheist Who Prays?02 February 2017
FRANK SCHAEFFER: “When I pray in the morning when I get up; when I use the words ‘Jesus’, and ‘Christ’, and ‘God’, and all these other things that I was raised with. And you say to me, ‘Then, why do you use that?’ And I have a real answer for you – although you didn’t ask it. ‘Because I was raised that way. You got a problem with that? That’s who I am.’ And somebody else is somebody else. But rather than reach for some intellectual explanation like, this is right and everybody else is wrong; or this is the truth; or I put it correctly – I just simply say, ‘You know, at this stage of my life, as a 64 year old, I’m ready to admit that I’m who I am because I was raised that way, because my life experience points in that direction.’ But what I’m very, very certain about is that I’ll never be a None, any more than I’ll be an Evangelical again, because I embrace the fact of paradox itself, which is past explanation.”
That is a bit of a mind-bender. Perhaps, if you can understand ‘paradox’ you may be able to discern Frank’s statement. While there may be a “Nones” phenomenon proliferating in America of adults disaffiliating with the organized church or religion, there is no shortage of people who pray.
Only a small percentage of nones are atheists. Indeed, the majority has an interest in some form of spirituality. The current $2.8MM Templeton Foundation research grant, Understanding Unbelief, is a three-year scholarly study profiling nones. Who exactly are they? What is their ethnicity? Why are they leaving? Why do a significant percentage of nones pray. It will be fascinating research.
The late sociologist-novelist-priest, Andrew M. Greeley, in his research center, claimed 78 percent of Americans pray, more than half (57 percent) daily, and that 1 in 5 atheists still pray daily! Since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, Google Books claims 129,864,880 books have been authored and published. Did you know that the topic of prayer is one of the most popular topics – over 2,000 different published works on prayer?
After enduring WWII and becoming President, Eisenhower commented to Senator Carlson regarding the White House, ‘Frank, this is the loneliest house I’ve ever been in.’ President Reagan later retelling the story indicated Senator Carlson replied, “Mr. President, I think this may be the right time for you to come and meet with our prayer group. And Eisenhower did just that. In 1953 he attended the first combined prayer breakfast.” History repeated itself today at the Sheraton in Washington, D.C.
What is it about prayer that engages people?