Gingrich turns his focus to faith

A possible contender for the White House in 2012, the former Speaker of the House is talking more about his faith on the stump, according to the New York Times:

Newt Gingrich needs no introduction to most Republican audiences. It is the reintroduction that is the challenge.

If Mr. Gingrich moves forward with a presidential bid, as his advisers and friends say he is poised to do as soon as this week, he will start with a reputation as one of his party’s most creative thinkers and a record of leading Republicans back to power in the 1990s and confronting Democrats on spending.

But he will also have to grapple with aspects of his life and career that could give pause to elements of the Republican primary electorate, including a lack of a well-established association with religious conservatives and attendant questions about his two divorces.

So as he travels the country, he is striking two related notes: that the nation faces not just a fiscal crisis but also a loss of its moral foundation, and that his conversion to Catholicism two years ago is part of an evolution that has given him a deeper appreciation for the role of faith in public life.

On a recent winter night here, Mr. Gingrich, 67, stood on stage at a Catholic school with his wife, Callista, and introduced a film they produced about the role Pope John Paul II played in the fall of Communism in Poland. As Mr. Gingrich looked out over a crowd of 1,300 people, he warned that the United States had become too secular a society.

“To a surprising degree, we are in a situation similar to Poland’s in 1979,” he told the audience, which had gathered at a banquet for Ohio Right to Life, one of the nation’s oldest anti-abortion groups. “In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life.”

To most audiences, Mr. Gingrich does not talk directly about converting to Catholicism, but his faith has become an important part of his dialogue with conservative voters.

In an interview, Mr. Gingrich said he knew that a campaign would bring new attention on the full scope of his personal and political background. Last week, in an appearance at the University of Pennsylvania, he grew testy when he received a question from a Democratic student activist about the details of his two divorces.

“There are things in my life I’m not proud of, and there are things in my life I’m very proud of,” Mr. Gingrich said in the interview when asked what effect his background would have on a candidacy. “People have to decide who I am. Am I a person they want to trust to lead the country or not?”

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4 responses to “Gingrich turns his focus to faith”

  1. Of the possible Republican candidates who are Roman Catholic, I would be FAR more interested in seeing Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana run for President than anyone else.

  2. I find it astounding that when a person does repent and move on to a holier life, that just never seems to be enough for some folks, despite it being the essence of Christianty. Somehow the fact that God loves the sinners just isn’t enough for the “jury.”

    The fact that he had Cathlolic Church approval to remarry IN the Catholic Church, should be enough for any skeptic. IMO, that’s all he needs to say.

    I have mixed feelings on him for pres. Part of me loathes the “old boys’ club”, but the other part of me knows he’s the real deal when it comes to Catholicism (I actually had coffee with him one day after mass in the cafeteria of the National Shrine last year). He was extremenly kind to me, and we talked about Pope Benedict.

    One thing I know he really “gets” is the necessity of God in politics or perhaps better said, the danger of a totally secular government (and no, I’m not talking about a theocracy, only the importance of God being the one in control, not the government). His wife is a very devout Polish Catholic, and their faith runs deep.

    All said, I think it would be hard for him to get elected, however, he may our “Churchhill”, in that for these times, he is the right guy, despite his “baggage.”

  3. Klaire, I hear what you’re saying about accepting the repentant sinner and embracing his or her conversion; that’s an important message for all of us, because each of us is that sinner. We all should find ourselves continually on that road of conversion.

    I guess my hesitance in Gingrich’s case is not anything about his Christianity, but rather how convenient a tool his conversion seems to be in his presidential aspirations. Repent, yes, and live anew; but don’t drag out your conversion as one more reason I should elect you president — all that “I’m a new man” stuff. Good. Be a new man. But don’t expect me to vote for you because you’ve made up with Jesus.

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