Newt's "great possibility"

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I seriously doubt, after reading his commencement speech at Liberty University, (h/t: Eric at Classical Values) that Newt Gingrich will take a pass at the 2008 GOP presidential campaign.

There are two egregious failures in this address. The first is Newt’s repeated references—twelve, by my count—to “Dr Falwell,” in an attempt to give dogma the gloss of learning. I have mentioned Falwell’s lack of an earned doctoral degree before, as this does not appear to be common knowledge among his fans. (Interestingly, I have never heard Newt refer to Bill Clinton as “Dr Clinton,” despite the fact that Clinton also has three honorary doctorates. Double standards, though, are hardly new to Newt.)

The second issue I take with Gingrich’s speech is this passage:

A growing culture of radical secularism declares that the nation cannot publicly profess the truths on which it was founded. We are told that our public schools cannot invoke the Creator, nor proclaim the natural law, nor profess the God-given equality of human rights.

In hostility to American history, the radical secularist insists that religious belief is inherently divisive, and that public debate can only proceed on secular terms when religious belief is excluded.

In this contorted logic, the public square becomes more welcoming to the extent that it strips away and banishes all religious symbols and language.

Unfortunately, these false principles of secular absolutism have deeply penetrated the legal establishment. It is called upon to justify all sorts of judicial destruction. In New Jersey, school officials prevented a student from reading to the class his favorite story, because it came from the Bible. In Pennsylvania, a teacher's assistant was suspended because she wore a necklace with a cross. And in California, the nation's most persistent secularist has renewed his crusade to strike the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

[…]

We are supposed to invite all persons and all parties to the public debate. It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet today it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers.

We often hear the need to celebrate free secular and artistic expression—but rarely for religious expression.

Too often, the courts have been biased against religious believers. This anti-religious bias must end.

The Carpetbagger Report has a few comments on this aspect of Newt’s speech:

I’m hard pressed to imagine what country Gingrich and the 12,000 people who applauded his worldview are living in. Out of the 535 members of Congress, 50 governors, the president, vice president, their cabinet, and nine Supreme Court justices, there is exactly one person — not one percent, just one guy — who does not profess a faith in God. If polls are to be believed, less than 5% of the population describes themselves as non-believers.

In the last presidential election, one candidate announced during a presidential debate, “My faith affects everything that I do, in truth…. I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith.” This was John Kerry, the more secular candidate of the two.

The faithful added religion to the Pledge of Allegiance. They added religion to American currency. Both chambers of Congress not only have taxpayer-financed chaplains, but begin each day with a prayer. So much public money is available for religious ministries from the government, they’re hiring lobbyists to get more. The White House now has an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Every year for the last six decades, presidents have declared a National Day of Prayer, and honor Christmas as a national holiday.

In our culture, religion is common in the media — I can’t remember any recent month in which Time and/or Newsweek didn’t feature religion as a cover story — almost exclusively in a positive light. In sporting events, celebrating athletes routinely express their religiosity. At awards ceremonies, entertainers routinely “give thanks to God” from the outset, usually to considerable applause.

Gingrich sees all of this and believes an “anti-religious bias” dominates U.S. society. Exactly how much more religiosity will it take before he’s satisfied? Or is it more likely that Gingrich and his receptive audience yesterday revel in some kind of delusional self-pity because a victim complex sells better than reality?

Gingrich’s latest book, Rediscovering God in America, is also helping to position his (potential) candidacy with the religious right. This supports the “great possibility” (in his own words) that Gingrich will run in 2008.

Newt’s potential candidacy is a great possibility, all right…for Democrats.


update (5/21 @ 9:26om):
Jeremy Leaming posted a review of Newt’s speech at Americans United, and noted that “Only in the minds of fervid Religious Right followers is America a nation of God-haters:”

The reality is that the nation remains a place more than welcoming of Christianity. Indeed, some could conclude that government celebrates Christianity to the exclusion of all other religions. This is a nation’s whose motto professes trust in God, whose public school students recite a pledge that acknowledges God and whose currency includes the proclamation, “In God We Trust.” Fundamentalist Christian personalities are still all over radio and television airwaves, and many of them sell tons of books. It truly borders on delusional for someone to claim that America is somehow anti-God.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 20, 2007 10:09 PM.

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