Gingrich Warns of Paganism, Cherry Picks Jefferson

Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee continue to pander to the religious right, oblivious to the fact that this is what has turned the Republican Party into a regional party of the south and Mormon Belt of the west, while losing a generation of voters. From The Virginian-Pilot (Hat tip to Think Progress):

“I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history,” Gingrich said. “We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism.”

They and other speakers warned about the continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.

Gingrich and Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, argued the rights of Americans stem from God and to ignore that connection is perilous. The two were among several speakers, including former U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North, at the three-hour “Rediscovering God in America” event. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site.

Huckabee told the audience he was disturbed to hear President Barack Obama say during his speech in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday that one nation shouldn’t be exalted over another.

“The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense,” Huckabee said. The United States is a “blessed” nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries’ defeat of the British empire “a miracle from God’s hand.”

The same kind of miracle, he said, led California voters to approve Proposition 8, which overturned a state law legalizing same-sex marriages.

Voters “did it because some things are right and some things are wrong and they had to make a stand,” said Huckabee, who enjoyed some early grassroots support in Hampton Roads during his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination last year. He may run again in 2012.

Gingrich, now a consultant and author, said the ties to religion in American government date to the Declaration of Independence, when Thomas Jefferson wrote that men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights.

“I am not a citizen of the world,” said Gingrich, who was first elected to the U.S. House from Georgia in 1978 and served as speaker from 1995 to 1999. “I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator.”

The Declaration of Independence might refer to God but it is also notable that the Constitution does not refer to God or religion except for prohibiting a religious test for holding office and the First Amendment. Such intentional lack of basing government on God was a revolutionary act for its time. It is interesting that Gingrich mentions Jefferson with regards to the Declaration of Independence but ignores Jefferson’s writings regarding separation of church and state. It has been common on the right to promote a revisionist history which denies our heritage of separation of church and state and the intent of the Founding Fathers to establish a secular government.

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18 Comments

  1. 1
    M. Bouffant says:

    Adding two words to Gingrich’s statement would give us:

    “I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with <b>belief in</b> our creator.”

    Imagine that, if you will.

    And of course, they’d love to restrict the franchise.

    Huckabee urged his listeners to get engaged in public life or their views won’t matter.
    “Politicians aren’t interested in pleasing the public,” he said. “They’re interested in pleasing voters.”

    The fewer people voting, the better for these clowns & their shrinking base. They’ll be resorting to more &  more violence as their ideas (& supporters) die out.
     

  2. 2
    Keith Jones says:

    Gingrich Warns of Paganism, Cherry Picks Jefferson – Liberal … http://bit.ly/TtBOn

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    I’m not sure that adding your own words to someone’s statement gives you any extra insight into the other person’s meaning.

    That being said, I find Gingrich’s unadulterated statement rather odd.  There are a whole bunch of societies where citizenship starts with some version of religious affiliation.  Saudi Arabia comes to mind.

    Personally, I’m reluctant to switch citizenship to somewhere else because the US has a reasonably solid tradition of people being citizens instead of subjects.  That seems to me to be a much more empirically defensible position than Gingrich’s.

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    On the other hand, I understand Gingrich’s objection to the “one nation isn’t exalted above any other” notion.  I’m nowhere near enough of a cultural relativist to believe that all systems are equally OK.  And I have no intention of becoming that much of a cultural relativist.

  5. 5
    b-psycho says:

    …the unmentioned hard part being avoiding mere admission of a preference warping into ugly, brain-numbing “we’re better, we’re superior, you will do as we say!” nationalism.

    I appreciate the benefit of being somewhere where my anti-state rantings aren’t punishable by death.  But I also realize that it’s only through eternal vigilance that it stays that way, & that it takes an equal amount of humility to keep that from being used to justify atrocities abroad.

  6. 6
    Joe Max says:

    @Fritz: “On the other hand, I understand Gingrich’s objection to the “one nation isn’t exalted above any other” notion.  I’m nowhere near enough of a cultural relativist to believe that all systems are equally OK.

    It’s not a matter of cultural relativism – that isn’t what “exalted” means, certainly not the way they are using it. By exalted they mean the USA is more holy than other nations, having been chosen by Yahweh for preferential treatment due to our supposed Christian foundations.

    And anyway, Paganism (such as Wicca) is a religious path in it’s own right, with anywhere from 200,000 to a million adherents (surveys differ) in the USA.  Newt just said that all those law-abiding, tax-paying American citizens are… what? Evil?

    I’m certain he meant it in a much broader sense; in other words, anyone not Christian or (reluctantly accepted) Jewish. So Newt’s  “paganism” covers humanists, agnostics, atheists, polytheists, Buddhists, Taoists – I’m sure he’d toss Muslims in there too, even though it’s just another Abrahamic religion like theirs.

    It’s all blatant pandering to Teh Base. I smell a Gingrich presidential campaign. Great, bring it on…

  7. 7
    John Paul says:

    Gingrich Warns of Paganism, Cherry Picks Jefferson – Liberal … http://bit.ly/oXAug

  8. 8
    Keith Jones says:

    Gingrich Warns of Paganism, Cherry Picks Jefferson – Liberal … http://bit.ly/TtBOn

  9. 9
    John Paul says:

    Gingrich Warns of Paganism, Cherry Picks Jefferson – Liberal … http://bit.ly/oXAug

  10. 10
    Fritz says:

    Joe — a Gingrich campaign would be an amazing train wreck.

  11. 11
    chris says:

    A couple of things should be pointed out:

    1. Jefferson’s beef with organized religion had much to do with the fact that the Virginia of his time required public office holders to be members of the Anglican Church. Jefferson thought that this law barred many able men from serving in office. He also knew that many people joined the Church just to be members of the Church (such as George Washington who was a member of the Church but only attended during times when he was running for office). It was this as much as anything which should be remembered when reading Jefferson’s views on religion and government.

    2. Jefferson was staunchly against big government – especially the Federal Government (except when it suited his purposes like when he exceeded his Presidential powers to make the Louisiana Purchase).

    Jefferson would probably be much more upset with the size and scope of our current government than by Newt and Huckabee taking his views on religion out of context.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    It makes little sense to compare Jefferson’s view of the size of government in the 1800’s to the modern world. He was an intelligent man and would likely understand that the size of government is necessarily much larger in the modern world.

    What Jefferson would probably oppose is the lack of understanding of a limited government–which is quite different from dwelling on the size of government. I think he would be quite upset by the role of religion in government supported by the modern Republican Party. He would also see the modern Republicans as embodying the worst of John Adams views on government.

  13. 13
    Fritz says:

    I think Jefferson would be more than upset about the propensity of both parties to subordinate the individual to the state.

  14. 14
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history,” Gingrich said. “We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism.”

    Oh yes, paganism is much, Much, MUCH worse than this:

    New report finds big problems in war spending
    Commission presents bleak assessment of how billions have been spent:

    “Construction of a $30 million dining facility at a U.S. base in Iraq is scheduled to be completed Dec. 25. But the decision to build it was based on bad planning and botched paperwork.The project is too far along to stop, making the mess hall a future monument to the waste and inefficiency plaguing the war effort . . . In its first report to Congress, the Wartime Contracting Commission presents a bleak assessment of how tens of billions of dollars have been spent since 2001.”

    Thank for saying on top the really critical important stuff Newt, thanks a lot (for making the GOP look like even bigger idiots than they already are)

  15. 15
    Fritz says:

    That’s one hell of a cafeteria.

  16. 16
    Christoher Skyi says:

    Capitol News Connection: “With more than a trillion tax dollars tied up in the Troubled Asset Relief Program and stimulus spending, Congress is trying to figure out how to account for every penny.”

    Yeah, good idea, but —

    just hours after the CNC report, the Government Accountability Office released a report warning about the lack of oversight procedures in the kitchen-sink stimulus bill. And a few days earlier the inspector general for the TARP program reported that Treasury has no real details on how TARP funds are being spent. In fact, IG Neil Barofsky told Congress that there were 20 criminal investigations into possible TARP fraud already underway.

    well, you might say, there’s been a few problems, but this isn’t common, right?  Wrong!

    One of Greg Mankiw’s readers (from the “Random Observations for Students of Economics” blog) worked on the new Department of Homeland Security and reported recently:

    “[Y]ou cannot juice up a government agency’s budget by tens of billions (or in the case of the stimulus package, hundreds of billions) and expect them to be able to process the paperwork to contract it out, much less oversee the projects or even choose them with any kind of hope for success. It’s like trying to feed a Pomeranian a 25 lb turkey. It’s madness. It was years before DHS got the situation under control and between the start and when they finally assembled a sufficiently capable team of lawyers, contracting officials, technical experts and resource managers, most of the money was totally wasted.”

    Linda Bilmes, coauthor with Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, analyzes the massive problems in three somewhat smaller government projects — the Iraqi reconstruction effort, Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, and the Big Dig artery construction in Boston — and finds that “in any organization that starts to increase spending very rapidly there are risks of waste, fraud and inefficiency.”

    Milton Friedman summed up the basic problem with government waste back in 2002:

    “When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it. When a man spends his own money to buy something for someone else, he is still very careful about how much he spends, but somewhat less what he spends it on. When a man spends someone else’s money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about what he buys, but doesn’t care at all how much he spends. And when a man spends someone else’s money on someone else, he doesn’t care how much he spends or what he spends it on. And that’s government for you.”

    As team Obama rushes forward in an unprecedented massive expansion of govt. spending, saying “nobody messes with Joe” is not a solution to the inevitability of waste and fraud when an unaccountable bureaucracy is spending trillions of other people’s dollars.

    Fortunately, there is some hope for at least some oversight, but, yup, it ain’t coming from the government — see:

    RECOVERY.GOV: HOW THE PRIVATE SECTOR, NOT THE FEDS, IS TRACKING STIMULUS SPENDING IN REAL TIME

  17. 17
    perfect777s says:

    “one nation isn’t exalted above any other”

    I hope people don’t take President Obama’s peeches literally as a means to say he is selling us out around the world?

    Here is what I think, by making that statement in Cairo he is subjecting the US to evaluation by humility. Is it easier to say “our nation is above every other” or not make a reference to this idealogue at all? The reason he said it is the Arab world and everyone else in the world believes we have a predisposition that we ARE better than anyone else in the world! And we ARE in certain ways! What is happening is he is alienating the extremists from the true followers of Islam so they will turn on the extremists and they will. It is already happening in Iran (read mousavi followers).

    There is a chess master playing a game of words with the Muslim world to fight the war you cannot beat thousands of years of anger with bulletts and bombs. Not in the middle east!

    Please please people…pay attention to the lesson being delivered here. He cannot say to the US anything contradictory to what he is saying in the rest of the world. We are BANKRUPT…we have NO industry! If you don’t make anything you CANNOT create jobs! We must fight the battle against extremism this way.

    As far as what we do about Israel and Palestine, i am a Christian and I support Israel 100%! I do not know what they should do in this situation by freeing up lands to the Palestenians but during David and Salomon’s time lands were given to those whom dwelt with peace amongst Israel and helped them fight against their enemies.

    Bottom line…Watch and Pray!

  18. 18
    b-psycho says:

    perfect777s: So your religion dictates your foreign policy?

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