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Feb. 24, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 9

A Moment With...

A Moment With ... Andrew Schlafly ’81, on ‘Conservapedia’

Published in the February 24, 2010, issue


Frank Wojciechowski

Andrew Schlafly ’81 learned conservatism as a boy in the 1970s, watching his mother, Phyllis Schlafly, lead the fight against passage of the Equal Rights Amend­ment. Now Schlafly, a Harvard-trained lawyer, has tried   to bring conservatism into the Internet age by launching two ­projects online: Conservapedia (www.conservapedia.com), a ­conservative alternative to Wiki­pedia, and the Conservative Bible project (www.conservapedia.com/ Conservative_Bible). What are ­people viewing on Conservapedia? The first five listings under “Popular Items” are: Evolution, Atheism, Bias in Wikipedia, Jesus Christ, and Bible. Schlafly spoke to PAW in December.  

Where did you get the idea for Conservapedia?

I was teaching a world-history class to a group of home-schoolers, and one of them submitted answers that used B.C.E. and C.E. to describe dates instead of B.C. and A.D. I asked where she had gotten that, and she said she got it from Wikipedia. I realized that more and more people are getting their information from Wikipedia, which is an atheistic and very liberal resource. I decided that we needed an Internet encyclopedia that was free of liberal bias and also gave clear and concise answers.

If anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, what makes it liberal?

It’s the framework that makes it liberal. It’s the difference between a legal proceeding that uses a jury and a good set of rules, which is what Conservapedia is, compared to a mob, which is what Wikipedia is. Anyone can serve on a jury, and anyone can join a mob, but the outcomes are very different. A jury is guided by good rules to promote truth-finding. A mob is guided by the biggest bullies.


Is there such a thing as an objective encyclopedia?

In practice, the answer is no. I think we are better off if people disclose their approach, and then readers can make their own decisions accordingly.  


Have there been calls for a conservative Bible?

There are other Bible translation projects going on, and they are getting increasingly distorted. For example, a group of professors at Wheaton College [in Illinois] have announced that they will come out with a translation to replace the New Inter­national Version. I don’t trust them. Translating the Bible is too important to be done behind closed doors by a profession that is predominantly liberal. I wanted to apply the same tools that we have developed on Conservapedia and open up the Bible to public review and editing as well as public scrutiny.


What makes this Bible conservative?

Conservatism is an approach that adheres to original intent in interpreting older documents. Many of the concepts in the Bible are also politically conservative, so the expectation is that the original intent of the Bible will express concepts that would be called conservative today.

Who makes the ultimate determination as to the best translation?

We have opened this up to the public in the hope that, over time, the best translation will become so obvious that all these members of the public, who are in a sense sitting on this jury, will reach a unanimous conclusion. If it’s not unanimous, you start the process again until there is unanimous agreement.

Aren’t you interpreting the Gospels through the lens of politics, rather than interpreting your politics through the lens of the Gospels?

The lens of politics can be a powerful and effective means of getting at the truth. It’s like solving a math problem. One approach may yield a result in a page of work. Take a different approach, and it may take you 20 pages. By looking at things through a political lens, it often becomes easier to see what should not be there and where the biases come in. A political analysis of the manuscripts is an easier way to identify passages that are not authentic to the true spirit of the Bible than other approaches.

Are you optimistic about conservative prospects today?

My view is that the 2008 election was an aberration, like Woodstock in 1969. It wasn’t the beginning of a liberal movement, but the end of it. The 2009 elections had stunningly conservative outcomes, and I think we are going to see the country continue to move in that direction. The reason is that conservatism is mostly logic, and ultimately logic prevails. 

— Interview conducted and condensed by Mark F. Bernstein ’83

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2 Responses to A moment with...

Rev. Michael O'Connor '77 Says:

2010-03-09 09:07:29

I very much appreciate the Q&A with Andrew Schlafly. America being the Land of the Second Opinion, I have no basic resistance to his spearheading Conservapedia. I also applaud his suggestion of using "original intent" to understand the Bible. So often, a reader reads a Bible, little realizing that it had an original audience, who may have understood its message differently than what a 2010 American would understand. But I also fear that his God is not the God whom Christians believe ultimately authored the Bible, as much as the god "Conservatism." This is not to be flippantly critical, for I recognize that Mr. Schlafly & I probably would vote for the same kinds of candidates on Election Day. But having been in the ministry, I can safely affirm that my chief duty is to communicate God's Truth, from Genesis through Revelation, as accurately as possible, to all who would listen. This would be true of any minister, regardless of what country they minister in, regardless of whatever political systems & stances exist in that country. My fear is that the questioner cited a key problem in approach: the Gospels are being interpreted through the lens of politics, rather than politics being interpreted through the lens of the Gospels. In preaching, I pull many books from my shelf to analyze verses, paragraphs, & passages in the original Hebrew & Greek languages to try to determine how the original audience understood the Bible in its historical context. Having done that, I seek to apply the truth that is clearly timeless to my current audience, whether currently in Illinois, or in the '70s, at Princeton, or in the '90s, when I visited & ministered in Russia. My Bible has a message for everyone, & the political messages that may be communicated are ultimately subservient to a spiritual message for everyone, regardless of where or when they live. One's political stances on issues will definitely be affected by a Bible's statements relative to those issues. But I am convinced, that God did not bring a Bible into existence to primarily turn Americans or anyone into political conservatives. He did wish to introduce mankind to a Savior, Whom one may have, by their turning to & following Him, as their personal King & Master. After such a decision, one can study a Bible, to learn "all things that pertain to life & godliness." (2 Pet. 1:3). As one grows in their knowledge of the Bible, they will grow in their faith, which will affect all human relationships, including those with leaders, & those whom they may lead. So, there are definitely political repercussions to becoming a Christian & following the Lord. But the cart cannot come before the horse. My Lord is the God of the Bible. He is not a political philosophy which may have many features that are derived from a Bible. I wish Mr. Schlafly well, on his "Second Opinion" Internet encyclopedia. I could see referring to it in the future, & appreciating its analyses of subjects. I might also examine the translation of the Bible, that he is launching. Part of my teaching of the Bible certainly includes examining different translations. But I cannot caution him nor any reader enough, to let God speak for Himself, through His Word, & to let one's political philosophies grow from there. Thank you.

Bob Podolsky '85 Says:

2010-04-13 14:34:04

"Reality has a well known liberal bias." -Stephen Colbert Trying to re-shape reality using conservative "values" doesn't make reality liberal, any more than using terms that are religion-neutral (CE, BCE) makes a Web site atheistic. This man has been so blinded by his mama's Christian glow that he will never be able to see clearly.
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Watch Andrew Schlafly '81, who has launched Conservapedia and the Conservative Bible project, on "The Colbert Report."