Sin and deliverance: Gingrich’s appeal to religious conservatives

He’s climbing in the polls and growing in popularity among evangelicals, which is catching a few observers by surprise:

Like many evangelicals in Iowa, Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host, is wrestling with the possibility that Newt Gingrich may be the most viable standard bearer for family-values voters in the next election. It’s a conundrum, he says, that many others are also grappling with. “Maybe the guy in the race that would make the best president is on his third marriage,” he says. “How do we reconcile that?”

One senses him trying. “I see a lot of parallels between King David and Newt Gingrich, two extraordinary men gifted by God, whose lives include very high highs and very low lows,” Deace says. David, after all, committed adultery with the ravishing Bathsheba, then had her husband killed, among other transgressions. The Bible makes room for complicated, morally compromised heroes. Now Christian conservatives, desperate for an alternative to Mitt Romney, are learning to do so as well.

“Under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community,” says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. “But these aren’t normal circumstances.”… 

…On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when most of the GOP candidates gathered in the First Federated Church in Des Moines for a FAMiLY Leader forum, the consensus was that Gingrich came out on top. Partly that’s because he’s been preparing his theocentric message for a while, particularly since converting to Catholicism, Callista’s religion, in 2009, which he has said strengthened his appreciation for the role of faith in public life. In recent years, his writing and speaking have become increasingly religious and even apocalyptic, limning a great world-historical show-down between the forces of Christian civilization and those of what he calls “secular-socialism,” which weakens society, allowing for the spread of radical Islam.

“A country which has been, since 1963, relentlessly in the courts driving God out of public life shouldn’t be surprised at all the problems we have, because we’ve in fact attempted to create a secular country, which I think is frankly a nightmare,” he said at the FAMiLY Leader debate. Most of his audience surely knew that 1963 is the year the Supreme Court banned prayer in school.

After the debate, moderator Frank Luntz held a focus group with 25 conservative Iowa mothers. Vander Plaats was shocked at their enthusiasm for Gingrich. “Though they don’t embrace or endorse or condone his personal past, they might be more willing to get over that if he’s the best one to lead to preserve the America they want for their children,” he says.

Two days later, the FAMiLY Leader came up with a list of four finalists for its coveted endorsement: Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Gingrich. The fact that he made the cut was striking, given that the FAMiLY Leader is asking all candidates to sign a pledge titled “The Marriage Vow,” which says, “We acknowledge and regret the widespread hypocrisy of many who defend marriage yet turn a blind eye toward the epidemic of infidelity and the anemic condition of marriages in their own community.”

Gingrich benefits, of course, from the powerful Christian narrative of sin and deliverance. “These voters believe in forgiveness, they believe in redemption,” says Ralph Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition. After all, as he points out, it was evangelicals who helped elect Ronald Reagan, our first and only divorced president. 

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50 responses to “Sin and deliverance: Gingrich’s appeal to religious conservatives”

  1. The article quote the following:

    “After all, as he points out, it was evangelicals who helped elect Ronald Reagan, our first and only divorced president”

    Here’s how that happened. Reverend Jerry Falwell, of the then highly popular Moral Majority movement, felt trapped. The Democratic candidate in 1980 was incumbent President Jimmy Carter, an active Southern Baptist who was without a doubt the most religious individual to ever serve in the White House (name another president who still taught Sunday School while living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). The problem was Carter’s personal commitment to social justice which Falwell — and a groundswell of other Evangelical Christian leaders — could not stomach.

    What Falwell and a number of those Evangelical Christian leaders did was to arrange for a personal meeting with Republican Candidate Ronald Reagan (who was, at that time, a nominal member of the main-line but extremely small denomination known as the Disciples of Christ). They met him in Reagan’s hotel suite (he was on the campaign trail at that time) for several hours. Toward the end of that visit, in a group prayer, the religious leaders encouraged Reagan into making a simple statement about how he had “accepted the Risen Lord Jesus into his heart.” That was all they needed. Once that simple transformation occurred, Reagan was their “guy” and the rest is history.

  2. Well God bless him. I’m not supporting Newt in the primary. But I’m glad he’s become the alternative to Romney. Perhaps it will a Romney/Gingrich ticket.

  3. “The problem was Carter’s personal commitment to social justice which Falwell — and a groundswell of other Evangelical Christian leaders — could not stomach. ”

    Well that’s not quite accurate. They supported Carter in 1976 but by 1980 were like most Americans, like even many Democrats in his own party, appalled at how weak and ineffectual a president he was. It wasn’t his social agenda; it was his inability to manage and lead.

  4. I greatly admire his fortitude in refusing to go along with the reflexive anti-illegal-immigrant hysteria of so many on the right wing.

  5. Whomever is chosen, I hope that the next presidential candidate for the Republican Party will be a realist that can effectively deal with the tremendous problems and challenges that this nation faces. A realist that will act on a common sense agenda and not on ideological or necessarily religious considerations. The next candidate must have an ideological grounding and be informed by his or her faith, but must not be an ideologue (as our current one is) and must not pander to an exclusive religious group. He or she must be President of the United States, not president of the liberals or conservatives, religious or not religious. A realist must know that the national debt both foreign and domestic and the economic mess we have are a real threat to our national security and that we are facing the end of America as a world power and as a prosperous nation.

  6. I once heard Frank Luntz brag to a small group of Europeans about how easy he finds it to manipulate American voters, for who he has a very low regard. In other words, put no stock in the results of the “focus group” described in the article. Luntz gets the results he wants. He has no interest in the truth, just in producing results that get more work, and more money, for Frank Lutz. I’m sure he and Gingrich have some kind of arrangement. As for Gingrich, if he is the GOP nominee, it will convince me that President Obama is the luckiest guy on earth when it comes to his opponents.

  7. Mr Gingrich’s history of adultery and serial monogamy is a caution. But his ethics violations as Speaker should give pause too. His supporters seem to forget that he was politically hoss-whipped by Bill Clinton, then left office in disgrace. Mr Gingrich seemed to be at his most effective as House minority leader, agitating from the outside looking in. But if he’s the best the GOP can muster, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

  8. If it’s a choice between a president who is still in his first marriage, but who is bankrupting the nation, stripping the military, apologizing for America every time he goes abroad, and has done more to protect and promote abortion than any other man on earth…

    or a serial monogamist who has always preached American exceptionalism, promoted the United States of America, supports the military, actually balanced the budget four years in a row, is pro-life, and who has grown in and through his new-found Catholic faith…

    I’ll take the serial monogamist.

    There are no Sir Galahads in politics, and it’s always a trade-off. Newt may have his flaws, but viewed from the perspective of the national good, his are minor blemishes to Obama’s grotesque visage.

  9. Newt Gingrich biggest story on Next is his challenge to Obama to seven Lincoln Douglas style debates where this lowly grad from Georgia university will take on the President who has Columbia and Harvard as a background and that he was even willing to allow Obama to use his teleprompter. In one statement, he puts Obama and those who call him so bright on notice that he will take the battle right to Obama’s door. Anyone want to bet if Newt is the candidate, Obama will refuse this challenge. Obama knows he would be shown up as an empty suit.

    Newt is the only candidate who has the guts and ability to pull this off and it is why you see such fear in some of the posts around the blogs attacking Newt for old news.

  10. Well, let’s see. When I saw Newt in person, he was telling us why we should be supporting and getting close to the Chinese. He didn’t seem any bit concerned about abortion then. The Chinese should be our friends if we want a good future. That was his message.

    On the other hand, the current president is not “bankrupting” the nation. The nation was in full downhill swing before he was even president. The policies of Bush really are a long-term death trap which many people warned the US about. And more than that, the GOP-led congress made it clear, they don’t care about the fate of the nation, but destroying the president, so as to do all they can do to make the nation fall apart and then blame Obama. The thing is, Obama didn’t create the problem, and he is unable to deal with the problem with a hateful congress with that kind of mentality. The GOP basically said the nation can go to hell because Obama was elected. And so do you.

    As for the man who has done most to promote abortion — once again, the lie which you use shows me all I need to know about you. A political lie to support GOP politicians. Seriously, so many more people easily did more to promote abortion. Obama is doing little, but the rhetoric is large and ignores the past. Ignorance of history or lying about it — or both — is not good if you really cared about abortion. But the fact that you lie like this makes me think you like so many so-called pro-life politicians really are fakers.

  11. Stripping the military? What is your source for that? What is needed is a good, honest, non-emotional national discussion of what is needed for our national defense.

  12. Quite right Gerard. When a president is up for re-election it’s a referendum on his perfomance. It happened to Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush on 1992. If the country is heading in the wrong direction, the sitting president loses. As long as the challenger is seen to have the capacity, then he wins, no matter what his personal life and past experience is like. Reagan was supposed to nuke the world, so you couldn’t trust him. Well he won. Bill Clinton was supposed to be a low life druggy philanderer (which he was) but it didn’t matter. He won. Ask why Truman in 1952 and Johnson in 1968 decided against running. They knew the country was headed in the wrong direction and were certain defeats. Right now Mickey Mouse can beat Obama. Right now I would say that only Herman Cain of the Republican candidates would lose to Obama, because of his manifest lack of knowledge on many issues. If Newt wins the primary and the economy stays the way it is (and no one is foreseeing a major change), he beats Obama hands down.

  13. “Maybe the guy in the race that would make the best president is on his third marriage,” he says. “How do we reconcile that?”……………..

    Easy. The same way you have always reconciled that sort of thing: With hypocrisy. Pure old fashioned brass ones the size of Texas unwatered hypocrisy. You’re about the worship of power, your own power, not that of any god, and your own god is there as a sock puppet to deliver your agenda in the voice of ultimate authority. He’s there to legitimize YOUR power, not the other way around.

    Along those lines, you have to keep the right perspective on all of these rigid moral codes you espouse. Sure, it would be great if your own people walked the walk, but those rules aren’t designed for you. They’re designed to let you monopolize the concept of “family values” in debates. They’re rules for the little people and the dreck of society. The single moms and brown people and homosexuals and the rubes who vote for you and actually subsist on a paycheck. Those rules are more just guidelines for you. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. You’re doing all that anyone can ask just by being you and standing up to those godless socialists, the Party of Death.

    If their guys fall short, it’s proof of their moral degeneracy and inherent perversion. If you or your guys fall short, it’s proof of God’s saving grace. Just drill that into your PR staff and you’ll do fine. If you have a thing with serial marriage or power plays with your secretary or a proclivity for tight-ab male escorts, just try to keep it on the DL and remember that no matter what, you’re the hero. A fallen hero can be redeemed, but no matter what you do you’re still the best alternative to the agents of evil on the other side…

  14. Oh, oh, looks like the comments are about to get a little uncivil. We sure have a divided nation. I find it shameful — shameful that we are this divided, shameful that we elected people that allowed it to happen or intentionally caused it to happen, and shameful that Christians in general and some Catholics in particular are contributing to the divide.

    There is nothing wrong with compromise. It allows things to get accomplished incrementally.

    But I’ll go on record as being an Obama supporter and agreeing with Henry Karlson’s comment above. Additionally, I think Newt is taking us for a ride. I think he’s making too much money to want to be president. He even takes breaks from campaigning to attend book signings for him and his wife. But, even if he does want to be president, I am very leery of his past behaviors. They are probably good indicators of future conduct.

  15. Gerard

    You called me a troll before, now you say I am becoming a troll.

    Perhaps you project too much?

    It’s amazing to see the rhetoric you propose; it is false, but you promote it anyway. Either you are completely ignorant or a liar. I give you the benefit of doubt.

  16. It is sad. The division is creating all kinds of problems. It is one thing to disagree with person X, but the rhetoric is so exaggerated, I can’t help but call out the exaggeration. There is a time for compromise, but right now, the GOP don’t want it. So they lie about the other side to prevent it. It’s sad. It’s not that the DNC is perfect or shouldn’t compromise – it is, however, they have no one who is willing to work for a middle ground.

  17. Our politics has been the politics of destruction at least since Ted Kennedy misrepresented Robert Bork’s positions during the confirmations and Democrats constantly accused Republicans of wanting to “cut Social Security.” Perhaps it was around before, but those instances of a politics of fear and demagogy were what alerted me to how dishonest politics was becoming.

  18. When politicians cloak themselves in religion, or religions try to portray one candidate as being more “pro-” or “anti-” Catholic than another, it brings out the worst in all of us. Mention Nancy Pelosi or Barak Obama, and the Conservatives/Republicans go nuts. Mention Newt Gingrich or George Bush, and the Liberals/Democrats go nuts. Politicians, in general, do what is best for them as individuals and what is best for their party. Hopefully, they stay true to at least some core principles, but for the vast majority of them it appears they’ll say or do whatever it takes to get them elected. However, when it comes to seeking the “Catholic vote”, the “Evangelical vote”, or the “Whatever vote”, they are simply using us to achieve their own political goals/agendas and we shouldn’t allow them to do that.

  19. “If it’s a choice between a president who is still in his first marriage, but who is bankrupting the nation, stripping the military, apologizing for America every time he goes abroad, and has done more to protect and promote abortion than any other man on earth…”

    If such a candidate was running, I’d vote for his opponent. But one isn’t.

  20. I don’t find myself agreeing with Kenneth to often, but there’s quite a bit of truth to what he’s saying here. Conservative “values”, religious or otherwise, are too often used as a double standard for someone whose views we happen to disagree with.

    Show me some concrete examples where that is not the case, and how these same standards will be applied to our disappointing slate of Republican candidates.

  21. I am willing to believe that Newt has perhaps experienced a journey involving deliverance and redemption. Good for him (sincerely) if that is the case.

    However, that redemption narrative would be so much easier to believe if it did not coincide so neatly with Newt’s presidential ambition. “Want to be president? And you say you finally saw the light in the last couple years? Well, now, step right up!” In more than one interview, Newt has attempted to put his repeated infildelty and multiple marriages into a context that is very self-serving. Sometimes he goes on at length about how he’s finally established a better walk with God; on another occasion (in an interview with Pat Robertson’s CBN), he claimed that he cheated on his wives — without ever calling it cheating, of course — because he was so darn patriotic and consumed with his “passion” for doing what’s right for America. Taken together, are those two explanations not likely to lead to great skepticism?

    One final thought from me. Repent and live better and talk about how grateful you are for the grace of God — all very good; please do so; we are all in need of ongoing conversion, me especially. But do not then turn around and argue, as a candidate who needs to win the GOP base, that gay and lesbian couples who have been faithful to each other for ten, twenty, or thirty years are not deserving of marriage equality. That’s where the hypocrisy lies — not in being a repentant sinner.

  22. “These voters believe in forgiveness, they believe in redemption”

    Actually, it’s less about religious metanoia. It’s that Americans always like a comeback. It happens in sport, in politics, in media celebrity. It’s something of a game that a guy can be censured by his own party, fined $300,000, go hide for a decade, then come back and make a move on the presidency.

    Who’s next? Charlie Sheen? Lindsay Lohan? Michael Vick?

  23. In February, 2007 my son, a journalist, attended a press conference in which Newt Gingrich and Chuck Schumer were presenting their latest books. He asked Gingrich: “Are you going to run for president?” (much to Newt’s chagrin, as I was told by the poser of the question).

    Here is his report of the answer:
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday said the early kickoff to the 2008 presidential race was “stupid” despite a recent poll putting him in third place among Republican candidates.

    “I think the current process of spending an entire year running in order to spend an entire year running in order to get sworn in January 2009 is stupid,” Gingrich said at a news conference for his new book, “Winning the Future.”

    Gingrich noted that filing for the New Hampshire primary does not close until the end of November, and that former President John F. Kennedy did not announce his candidacy until January 1960.

    “This current model is a consultant full-employment system,” Gingrich said. “We live in an age of iPods, cell phones with cameras, blackberries, laptop computers, blogs, television, 24-hour radio. You should be able to have a national campaign make a serious decision for president in nine weeks.”

    A USA Today/Gallup survey released last week showed Gingrich in third place among Republican presidential contenders with 9 percent support, far behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 40 percent.

  24. The problem is that our overheated partisan rhetoric sounds like the voice of calm rationality not only to those who spout it but also to those who agree with it. And those who spew it want to hear only “Amen!” from their audience. If these rabid partisans happen to be bloggers, and some of their audience responds critically, chances are quite good the critics will find themselves banned.

  25. Oh yes, Bush is the problem, even three years into the Obama disaster. And talk about denial…Obama is by far the most pro abortion president in the history of this country. He has a zero rating by pro life organization and a 100% rating by every abortion group. Even Clinton and Carter got a few points on either side.

    Henry, you keep trying to promote the myth that Obama is somehow pro life. Please explain his lifetime 100% rating by Emily’s list and Planned Parenthood.

  26. Yes, one is running sjay. He is our current president, Obama. So we can count on your vote if you are in fact serious. Thanks for your support

  27. Manny, not sure why you believe this at this point. I think he has been kind of tentative and playing prevent defense. When it gets down to the two candidates, Democrat Obama, and the Republican candidate, the main street liberal media will be on the attack and Romney has too many issues where he has made a radical turn in belief. When he has been called to defend those positions, he has not seemed to be very strong. If he is the candidate, I will support him as I will support anyone over the most pro abortion and anti business and jobs president in history, obama.

    I note the story in the NY Times on Obama team admitting their are jettisoning efforts to win the working class whites in this election. It shows how far the Democratic Party has gone from supposedly being a party for the working class. Of course it also shows just how racist the Democratic Party is in looking at the color of ones skin in America by their party. It will be interesting to see how this story plays out in the country.

  28. Who’s next or who was before ? Try : Moses or David ? I would think that the proper response would be to pray for these ” lost sheep ” so that some day they might acknowledge themselves as sinners and repent and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins. Remember that the ” chief ” shepherd came to seek and save the lost and that He is long-suffering and extremely patient toward us not desiring that ANY should perish but all turn to repentance and be assured of eternal life. The greatest ” miracle ” is a transformed life living for JESUS !!

  29. You are right there Ron. Critics of the accepted rhetoric are banned at many sites while those in agreement are allowed to use any language they want without even a comment.

    If anyone is really interested in why the rhetoric is so heated, it is easy to trace to when the courts decided that states should have no rights at all and got involved in issues like prayer and abortion and special rights for homosexuals. Prior to this, each state could have their own set of standards so abortion might be more restricted in Ohio than NY or we might have open gay lifestyle accepted in Massachusetts but not Georgia. When the courts started to get involved in these issues, they started to force this set of moral standards on everyone. When parties took positions in support of these new moral codes such as abortion and thus protected the courts by only allowing judges with these moral codes, it brought religion and personal beliefs into politics in a way that was going to create this type of result. Anyone who believes strongly about life and will never support the killing of babies being legal in this country will clearly resent a party that pushes to keep it legal and supported not only in one state, but to push it down your throat in your own state will grow a very strong resentment of that party and see it as a party of death.

    Now we see those who think their own church should somehow not fight to end abortion or to protect the marriage between one man and one woman and call out on their own Church leadership for change or to keep quiet. Thus we have a rift within the Church itself.

    If we had courts that lived by the Constitution as written, and did not legislate from the bench for results, especially on these very personal moral issues, leaving them to the Church and the local areas such as the states, we would have far less screaming. When you get into someone’s core beliefs in a country that is supposed to be Under God, you are going to have some strong stances and accompanying rhetoric.

  30. Steve, so you are basically stating that the Catholic non negotiable position on homosexual marriage is wrong? Pope Benedict XVI seems to disagree with you on this issue and yet you are somehow attacking Newt, a recent convert, for supporting Catcholic Church non negotiable position on this topic.

    From that departure point, would you then support a person who fought for and voted for legislation to support the abandonment of babies who managed to survive abortion to be left to die or who has a perfect abortion voting record? Newt has marriage issues and would seem to have issues with adultery. The Catholic Church has seen fit to give him anullment on his past marriages and to allow him to be married in the Catholic Church to his current wife. I would assume also that any sins he has committed have also been reconciled with the same Catholic Church. Many on the left want to give that assumption to Nancy Pelosi so lets assume we can give it to him. Of course if we knew that like Nancy, he was still doing grave evil in his day to day life with her perfect abortion record, we might have reason to bash Newt for his sins. What surprises me is that some seem to see adultery forgiven as worse than ongoing and continuing support of the murder of babies.

  31. Todd, first of all, after the Democrats lost power to the Republicans after controlling the House for 40 years under Newt leadership, they had Newt in the crosshairs and filed over 80 complaints on ethics charges. They had zero convictions on any of the ethics complaints, but during the process, they discovered some difference in what Newt and his lawyers had stated on a couple of issues. Rather than keep the 3 year old process going some more, Newt and the ethics panel made an agreement that Newt would cover an estimated $300,000 in costs on continuing to now investigate if the discrepancies were a violation and if he or his attorneys had made the misstatment. Newt paid the amount and everything ended. He was not convicted of ethics violations.

    Newt was never “censored” by the Republican Party.

    If you have different facts than these, it might be good to lay them out with proof of your attack.

    If there was ever a comback kid, it would have to be Clinton. The blue dress never left anyone with doubt that he had lied “under oath” while serving as President of the country. He also looked right into the camera to the American people and lied. He also sent his wife Hillary out with the vast right wing conspiracy theory. He lost his law licence for lying and he was impeached but not convicted, not because he was innocent, but because many thought the punishment was too high. By and large, the country has forgiven him and today he is a very wealthy man and is well respected by even some who were his enemies on the right. In fact, Newt and Clinton have a mutual respect society between them even though the believe in different things as witnessed by the words Clinton stated recently. I find it interesting that so many on the left seem to hate Newt with such a passion for things he has done that for anyone on their side would not be an issue.

  32. HMS, what is the point of your post. I would agree with Newt that the entire process is endless and takes too long and think the American people would with a very high percentage as well. Most do not even pay attention until a few months before they get to vote in their own primary or the general election. Just goes to show that Newt is well informed and has new ideas that the country needs to hear.

  33. I find it interesting that so many on the left seem to hate Newt with such a passion for things he has done that for anyone on their side would not be an issue.

    It’s not interesting. It’s politics.

    ‘Twas ever thus.

  34. I’ve seen him go one on one in the debates against Cain, Perry, and Gingrich and i’ve felt Romney got the better of the exchanges every time.

  35. “Special” rights?
    Perhaps equal rights.

    “Force this set of moral standards on everyone.”
    Is not that what you want to do via a legal edict? If the job cannot be accomplished from the pulpit it seems wrong to ask the government to do it for you. If all Christians stopped having abortions then all the laws and judicial rulings are of no consequence.

    “..a rift within the Church itself.”
    No argument there — and it seems to be getting wider.

    “..legislate from the bench.”
    To believe that does, or does not, happen depends on whether one agrees or disagrees with the court’s ruling. There is a winner and a loser.

  36. “The thing is, Obama didn’t create the problem, and he is unable to deal with the problem with a hateful congress with that kind of mentality. The GOP basically said the nation can go to hell because Obama was elected.”

    When will the Dem talking points change that tune? Obama has been in office for three years, two of them with a Dem congress. He is a disaster.
    I feel like I am reading the MSNBC teleprompter anymore.

  37. Mark:
    My point? I guess I did not post any data that would substantiate my subtle point?
    In 2007 Gingrich said that the early kickoff to the 2008 presidential race was “stupid” and “You should be able to have a national campaign make a serious decision for president in nine weeks.”
    However, on May 11, 2011, he officially announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination in 2012, a full 18 months before the 2012 election.

  38. “But do not then turn around and argue, as a candidate who needs to win the GOP base, that gay and lesbian couples who have been faithful to each other for ten, twenty, or thirty years are not deserving of marriage equality. That’s where the hypocrisy lies — not in being a repentant sinner.”

    Being faithful has nada to do with it. If you and sinners (all of us) need grace for conversion I would hope you would convert to the Judeo/Christian notion of marriage between a man and a woman. It is not an equality issue so stop trying to make it one.

  39. IF he was the only candidate running, I wouldn’t vote for him for more reasons than I will go into here. I’d write in someone or just not vote (a decision I wouldn’t want to make, as I take voting seriously). What does it mean when his own staff left him a while ago?

    Gerard, I’ll take the current President anyday—-he’s doing the best he can with the junk left him by the former president.

  40. Manny:
    I stand by what I said about President Carter. If you do not agree with it, that’s fine.

    BUT: many folks in the wider electorate (both Democratic and Republican) still believe that — in spite of what the Constitution says — being religious is an absolute qualification for the position of a U.S. president. The Moral Majority did not support Reagan because he was an experienced “strong” president. That was yet to be seen. They supported him because the evangelical leadership said — essentially — he was one of them.

  41. Beware people, Getting on the Newt boat.. he married his high school teacher at 19. He has been very promiscuous for 40 years. To watch the Cain supporters abandon ship and scramble on Newt’s boat is sad to see that so many that can be fooled. Better to get used to Obama for 5 more years… tempus fugit

    [Comment edited to remove slanderous and baseless allegations. — Ed.]

  42. Yes, Mark, I’m a Catholic who disagrees with the pope on the question of whether two loving, committed, consenting adults who happen to be gay or lesbian should be free under civil law to decide which other consenting adult they wish to marry. Guilty as charged on that one. I’m not alone, of course. Many Catholics disagree with the pope on this. And yes, you can be a faithful Catholic — a practicing Catholic — and disagree on something such as this. Many conservative Catholics would have you believe such a thing is not possible, but that does not make it so. You can love God, practice your Catholic faith to best of your ability, and still disagree with the pope on important issues. God gave each of us a brain, as well as a conscience. We need to inform our consciences well, yes, but that involves far more than just asking, “What does the pope think?” or “What does Cardinal Burke think?” or, for that matter, “What does the conservative star of the day — such as Newt Gingrich — think?”

    I am pro-marriage, having been married to my wife for sixteen years. I know some same-sex couples who are also very pro-marriage: they believe in the integrity of marriage; they believe in the love and respect and mutual support that are at the heart of marriage. I believe they should have the same right under civil law to go down to the courthouse and get married as any other American — including Newt or Rudy Giuliani or John McCain. Church prohibitions on divorce and remarriage do not influence our civil law on marriage, and Americans who are gay and lesbian should not have their right to choose their own marriage partners abridged, either. As I said, I’m pro-marriage. I want to see lots of good, loving people in good marriages; those folks (straight or gay) play an important role in making my community a stable and peaceful place.

  43. It’s not merely the Judeo/Christian notion that marriage is only between a man and a woman. It was recognized by the pagan philosopher Aristotle several centuries before Christ, and it has been recognized by all sorts of societies throughout history. The reason is that marriage has always been understood as the institution within which children can be procreated and raised. Since same-sex couples cannot procreate, they cannot be in such an institution, and to call their relationship marriage is simply playing with words to pretend, falsely, that their relationship is identical to that of a man and a woman. To call a same-sex relationship — no matter how loving and deeply committed the individuals are — by the same name as the male-female one is a misrepresentation of reality.

  44. Steve…

    Just a passing thought here. This is a bit more serious than just having a difference of opinion about how to receive communion or whether there should be more Latin in the liturgy. It’s not really about what the pope thinks. It’s about what the Church teaches, and has taught, for centuries.

    By “disagreeing with the pope” on the matter of gay marriage, you are actually disagreeing with the teaching authority of the Catholic Church and implicitly endorsing homosexual sex — a practice that the Church teaches is always gravely sinful.

    Just thought you should know.

    Dcn. G.

  45. Ok, I stand by what I said too, and let me add that Carter was challenged in a primary as a sitting president by Mr. Liberal himself, Ted Kennedy. Everyone lost confidence in Carter. By the way, Reagan was very religious himself. He did not show it publically. What was said behind closed doors we’ll never know, but I imagine Reagan and those that knew him well provided ample evidence to his faith.

  46. This comment section is a good example of why I now avoid Catholic blogs and Catholic media. I’m a convert and this is NOT an example of the type of ‘discussion’ that drew me to the Church, rather it made me want to avoid it like the plague. It’s seeping with hate. I don’t normally comment on here, but I just felt the need to point out how ridiculous many of you are acting. Think before you type!