Newt’s Religious Freedom Doubletalk

After his long history of adultery, Newt Gingrich is desperate to get the religious right voters on his side. That’s why he is constantly railing about the evils of secularists and judges who dare to protect the rights of non-Christians. And it’s why he has vowed to create the Presidential Commission on Religious Freedom on the day he takes office. But the document that makes that pledge is full of blatant hypocrisy and inconsistency.

It starts out innocuously enough:

Our Founding Fathers believed that a government is not legitimate unless it is first grounded in the principles of individual liberty and free will, which begin with freedom of religion and conscience. Only a society that protects the dignity of every person — the freedom to believe or not to believe, to speak freely about one’s beliefs or to remain silent; one’s right to act according to the dictates of conscience; and ultimately, one’s prerogative to remain personally accountable to his Creator in each of those areas—could be considered just or morally legitimate.

Our Founders also understood secondly that whenever there is a state-sponsored religion, the government tends to encroach upon, to increasingly regulate, and finally to dictate religious belief and expression.

Nice words, but he quickly proves that he doesn’t mean them. He gives a list of Supreme Court decisions that “reflect hostility to religion and an erosion of religious freedom” and here are the first two items:

In 1962, the Court banned prayer from public schools.

In 1963, the Court found that reading the Bible in public schools was unconstitutional.

Both are very bad lies. The Court did not ban prayer from public schools; kids pray in school every single day in schools all over the country, individually and collectively. What the court banned in 1962 were government-mandated and composed prayers. And it banned only mandatory Bible reading in public schools. Students and teachers read their Bibles in schools every day.

I’d love to hear Newt try to explain how forcing students to recite prayers written by the government and forcing them to read the Bible, even if they don’t believe in it, is consistent with the freedom to “speak freely about one’s beliefs or to remain silent” and how that could conceivably not be “state-sponsored religion.”

And to make things worse, the man who continually reminds us that he is an historian presents multiple fake quotes from the Founding Fathers.

The same Patrick Henry who proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death” also said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Except, of course, he didn’t. This is one of the dozen or so fake quotes popularized by David Barton that has never been found anywhere in the relevant writings or reports.

John Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

Not only is this quote fake, it’s misattributed too. Newt can’t even get his false claims right. This one is attributed to John Quincy Adams, not his father. But neither of them said it. Here’s what John Adams actually did say about the Constitution:

Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

Adams clearly underestimated modern wingnuts — even the ones who claim to be historians but are really demagogues.

Best of all, CBN’s David Brody assures us that Newt really, really means it:

While Gingrich knows this commission will be welcomed by conservative evangelicals (read: key primary voters), this should not be read as an attempt to pander. Gingrich has too much “street cred” in this department for this to look like anything but a serious attempt to highlight and focus on a real concern that Gingrich has had for years.

Yeah, why would anyone get the idea that Newt is pandering? I mean, other than the fact that he tells several convenient lies that just happen to coincide with what that particular group of voters wants to believe?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • anandine

    Of course, he tells convenient lies. Why would he tell inconvenient ones?

  • Larry

    Hell, I’m pretty sure conservative evangelical voters would welcome another Inquisition as long as it targeted the 95% of the population they hate. Once the Newtster starts proposing that, you’ll know he’s pandering.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Our Founders also understood secondly that whenever there is a state-sponsored religion, the government tends to encroach upon, to increasingly regulate, and finally to dictate religious belief and expression.

    Except, it seems, in northern Europe. Denmark, Sweden; all those secular utopias have official state churches.

  • Olav

    I am not an American so perhaps I am missing something. Like for instance, aren’t there ANY good candidates to choose from?

  • Olav

    Reginald:

    Except, it seems, in northern Europe. Denmark, Sweden; all those secular utopias have official state churches.

    Minor correction: the Church of Sweden is not a state church anymore, since 2000.

  • DaveL

    Wait, Newt’s obvious attempt to pander should not be read as an attempt to pander because Newt has so much credibility?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches Ed Brayton

    Olav wrote:

    I am not an American so perhaps I am missing something. Like for instance, aren’t there ANY good candidates to choose from?

    Sadly, no. In either major party.

  • d cwilson

    Except, it seems, in northern Europe. Denmark, Sweden; all those secular utopias have official state churches.

    Ironically, these same people would call those countries godless, socialist hellholes.

  • Ellie

    Now that Newt has found a spiritual home in the RCC, perhaps he should read something about the history of reading Bibles in public schools and what happened to RC children, who did not want to pray Protestant prayers, and whose parents told them not to read the King James Bible. Also, he could find out what happened to Roman Catholics who protested these things. One priest was tarred and feathered. Was that the “religious freedom” he was talking about?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    NPR reported yesterday on Newt’s Catholicism:

    Gingrich’s Catholic Journey Began With Third Wife

    Like many adult converts, Gingrich was drawn by the philosophical richness of the Roman Catholic Church.

    there is of course a very deep intellectual tradition within Catholicism,” says Mark Rozell

    (snicker) Also a deep tradition of pareidolia.

    “Without a doubt,” says Rozell, “many people will find it rather strange, ironic, whatever, that his religious journey that led him to convert to Catholicism began with an affair he had with a young woman while he was still married to his second wife.”

    The Lord works in mysterious ways.

  • Michael Heath

    Ellie writes:

    Now that Newt has found a spiritual home in the RCC, perhaps he should read something about the history of reading Bibles in public schools and what happened to RC children, who did not want to pray Protestant prayers, and whose parents told them not to read the King James Bible. Also, he could find out what happened to Roman Catholics who protested these things. One priest was tarred and feathered. Was that the “religious freedom” he was talking about?

    I find this point to be even more ironic when it comes from much of the “talent” at Fox News, e.g., O’Reilly, Hannity, several others, along with Pat Buchanan given they were raised Catholic.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Both are very bad lies. The Court did not ban prayer from public schools; kids pray in school every single day in schools all over the country, individually and collectively. What the court banned in 1962 were government-mandated and composed prayers. And it banned only mandatory Bible reading in public schools. Students and teachers read their Bibles in schools every day.

    Oh, come on, Ed! Everybody knows that freedom isn’t free. You have to be forced to be free, by a suitable authority. Sheesh.

    Michael Heath “I find this point to be even more ironic when it comes from much of the “talent” at Fox News, e.g., O’Reilly, Hannity, several others, along with Pat Buchanan given they were raised Catholic.”

    I’ve learned some things. One thing I’ve learned is that they never expect to be the minority.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    The same Patrick Henry who proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death” also said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Taken literally, quite true: the real Patrick Henry never said either of these things: both came from a fictional PH.

  • Crudely Wrott

    One thing I’ve learned is that they never expect to be the minority.

    That’s because, historically, they have enjoyed the privilege of (mostly) unciticized pontification. Until the popular press (ie the ability of the people to communicate b-r-o-a-d-l-y) got enough traction to catch up. The last century being the best example.

    Now that vehicles for reasoned criticism of traditional beliefs are common coin (thank you, Ed and FTB) there is a corresponding increase in criticism on a popular level which is at least matched by the increasing dicibles from those who feel (feel) put out by such temerity.

    Such things only contribute to a lovely Christmas Season.

    Good will to all and may your days be merry and bright! ;^>

  • Jim

    I thought this was pretty funny:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQSsMRe6BJE