Gingrich’s Latest Attack on Secularists

Rick Santorum may be the social conservative darling and Rick Perry may have his prayer warriors, but no one attacks secularism and those who believe in it more gleefully than Newt Gingrich. He says we’re in league with the reactionary Islamists who would, of course, put us to death if they took power. What, you expected something coherent from him? Here’s his latest tirade, delivered on a conference call with Donald Wildmon and others:

Gingrich: We’re in a two front war for our civilization. At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives, and on the other front are radical Islamists who would seek to make America safe for Islam and militant religion. I think that we have to recognize how truly serious a crisis this is for our civilization, I find when I talk that there is a need for the Church Militant once again if we are going to survive. I really do believe that we are in a two front war over the very potential of our society being preserved.

He has it backwards, of course. I couldn’t care less about getting God out of his life or anyone else’s; I care about getting government endorsement of belief in God out of everyone else’s lives. I would happily fight for the religious freedom of Christians, and I often have. But religious freedom does not mean hegemony and it doesn’t mean that the government should endorse or enforce those views.

Interestingly, on the same call Jim Garlow admits what I have identified for the last year or so as the real problem for Republicans. Mitt Romney is going to get the nomination, but he will not get the full-throated support of the religious right. A percentage of them will refuse to support a Mormon. The same is true of a portion of the tea partiers (there is some overlap there, of course). This is the dilemma of the Republican party. Nominate someone who could fire up the religious right and the tea party and turn them out at the polls in big numbers and you lose the middle; nominate Romney and you see turnout drop and possibly provoke a third party run that would ensure Obama’s reelection. Oh, and that would destroy civilization itself:

Garlow: I really, truly believe that this nation is on a very short fuse and the reason I threw my lot in beside, behind Newt Gingrich is that I believe what he brings in the table is what is needed in this particular moment to break through and to be able to keep us from having a candidate like Romney. If we have a candidate like Romney, the evangelical participation will drop, probably from a 2010 level to a 2008 level, that would be from 28 percent to 23 percent, and that would result in the reelection of President Obama and our country cannot possibly, morally and economically, survive that. It would spell, in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization.

Well as long as you’re being rational about this.

About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • coragyps

    “…..the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization.”

    What, again? Isn’t that the third time this year, already?

    And this fool apparently thinks that the end of the country that gave us pro wrestling and “Real Housewives of Gotebo, Oklahoma” will end Western Civilization?

  • Brownian

    Obama shouldn’t have ended the war in Iraq. Every conservative knows it’s unpatriotic to criticise the president during a war. You might as well emigrate to France.

  • wayneturner

    Gingrich is stung that the fundies picked Santorum over him, when he is so clearly superior. This is just Gingrich saying or doing anything to try and obtain fundie support.

  • Aquaria

    Obama shouldn’t have ended the war in Iraq. Every conservative knows it’s unpatriotic to criticise the president during a war. You might as well emigrate to France.

    Now, now, don’t fret.

    There will always be Afghanistan, dear. 😉

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    Rev. Pearl Klutcher said:

    If we have a candidate like Romney, the evangelical participation will drop, probably from a 2010 level to a 2008 level, that would be from 28 percent to 23 percent, and that would result in the reelection of President Obama and our country cannot possibly, morally and economically, survive that.

    What the does it even mean to not survive morally? Will Evangelicals change their moral beliefs? Will everyone else stop having moral values? Will burglary, auto theft and murder be legalized? Will we start cooking and eating children?

  • raven

    As far as I can tell, Gingrich’s only beliefs are that he should have more power, money, women, and no one should ever criticize him.

    As a religious kook, he isn’t the least bit convincing. He does look like an average christofascist demogogue though.

  • raven

    If we have a candidate like Romney, the evangelical participation will drop, probably from a 2010 level to a 2008 level, that would be from 28 percent to 23 percent…

    Guy is equating evangelical with fundie moron xians and that isn’t right.

    30% of “evangelicals” voted for Obama.

    The so called evangelicals are fragmenting based on age, education, and geography. Hate and ignorance just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even some “evangelicals” get bored with it. Or who knows, maybe their survival instincts kicked in.

    The Tea Party/GOP already set us back a generation. Recovery is predicted in the 2018-2020 timeframe. One more moron president and it will be long after I’m dead, if ever.

  • raven

    The fundies aren’t as powerful as the claim.

    Their three leading candidates of their political party are:

    Romney a nonxian.

    Gingrich/Satanorum both Catholics, Fake Xians from the church of the antichrist (according to the fundies)

    I doubt most of them care all that much. A lot of fundie xianity seems to be right wing extremist politics with a few god stickers stuck on.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    This is the dilemma of the Republican party. Nominate someone who could fire up the religious right and the tea party and turn them out at the polls in big numbers . . .

    I used to presume this but recently I began wavering. I agree this works as an abstract idea validated by even the recent past, but it’s increasingly evident it appears that it’s impossible to appeal to both these groups and with some exposure and scrutiny even by the conservative media, and still pass even their tests. Consider the complete flop of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, and arguably though not convincingly, Rick Santorum (Given Santorum’s spending propensity when last in Congress, which I think is overcome by most ’12 primary voters/pollees not knowing about that and therefore I think he belongs in this set.)

    I’ve frequently asserted that Republicans who appealed to the emerging populist Republican base prior to the 2000s were amoral plutocrats more than happy to pander to the base for votes, but really didn’t even identify with these people, i.e., the Thomas Franks thesis. Richard Nixon being the first revision, George W. Bush being on the fence of a new movement (see below), and Mitt Romney being the latest model. Texan politicians Phil Gramm and Dick Armey are probably the most representative examples.

    We then started to recognize that Republican officials were becoming the very base they used to exploit. Sarah Palin, Steve King, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachman being prime examples. But what I find interesting is that their leaders can’t withstand scrutiny even within their own party. And it’s not just that the money plays are being bet elsewhere like on Romney, the voters are now rejecting their own kind.

    I argue George W. Bush is on the fence because his resume easily identifies him as a blue-blood plutocratic gun-for-hire. But in spite of his education and exposure to the swells, his mindset is a classic example of a social conservative who think he’s a damn reasonable liberal (in his mind-set, not his positions). So Mr. Bush is a great example of being at the apex of the transformation from plutocracy to populism where the party isn’t merely eating its own, the populists are now eating their own favored populists – kind of like Christian communion.

  • John Hinkle

    Gingrich: We’re in a two front war for our civilization. At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives, and on the other front are radical Islamists who would seek to make America safe for Islam and militant religion.

    If ever there were two species who should be natural enemies, it’s secular atheists and militant Muslims. Gingrich should just get them to fight each other. Then he could just shut up about it.

  • mck9

    What the fundies need to do is get together in a smoke-filled room, decide which god-soaked wacko they want, and tell the others to bug off. Otherwise they split the primary vote and let Romney come out on top. United, they stand a chance to beat him.

    They would still lose the election, but it would be worth it. By energizing the wacko vote, the wacko-for-Prez candidate could carry other wackos in on his coattails in lesser races.

    But don’t worry. The leaders of the religious right don’t have a very good track record of taking my advice.

  • snafu

    It would spell, in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization.

    This is a sentiment I hear repeated by the far right again and again. A center-right Nixon-like president is going to end western civilization? Really????

    Alarmist rhetoric like this does not play well to most of the electorate in the US. Most people see this a completely foolish remark.

    Ironically, many of the policies put forth by the extreme right would undo a lot of progress since the enlightenment.

  • eric

    Gingrich: We’re in a two front war for our civilization. At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives, and on the other front are radical Islamists who would seek to make America safe for Islam and militant religion

    False dichotomy. Gingrich wants everyone to forget about the secular Christians (and Jews, and Muslims, and Deists, etc…). You know, the folks who founded several of our colonies. The others who wrote our constitution. The ones who have probably always been a majority of the US population. William Penn. Rodger Williams. Lord Baltimore. James Madison. Thomas Jefferson. All Christian (or at least Deist) secularists.

    This race is amusing (in a gallows humor sort of way) in that it has not one, but two practicing Catholics vying to allow government more entanglement with religion. Clearly these guys have not thought through the long-term goals of their conservative religious bedfellows.

    Newt, Rick, you really shouldn’t need me to say this, but those protestant conservatives you’re currently sharing the big tent with? They’re carrying knives under their robes, just for you. The moment you actually win the right for the government to interefere with religion, there’s going to be “papist” blood in the pews.

  • Elf_Owl

    It is puzzling to me that a believer can fear that mere mortals could “drive God out” of their lives, or out of anywhere else for that matter. Surely “secular atheists” pose no threat to their God; with absolute power, he can choose to stay and make his presence known wherever he wants. Any attempt to “drive God out” should be seen by believers as the ultimate act of futility, and therefore a complete non-issue.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    It would spell, in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization.

    Has there been a point in the last 20 or 30 years in which civilization was not on the brink of collapse according to these geniuses? You’d think they would have sequestered themselves in their underground bunkers by now and left the rest of us alone.

  • raven

    It is puzzling to me that a believer can fear that mere mortals could “drive God out” of their lives, or out of anywhere else for that matter.

    True.

    They claim their god is the all powerful creator of everything.

    And then claim that humans have to defend him because apparently, god can’t do anything by himself or for himself.

    It’s like they don’t really believe their god even exists.

  • Doug Little

    Elf Owl,

    Yes the efficacy of their god relies on them jamming it into the public square any chance they get, because you know, it’s easy to forget about an all powerful creator if it isn’t shouted from the rooftops.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    What the fundies need to do is get together in a smoke-filled room, decide which god-soaked wacko they want, and tell the others to bug off.

    I thought they did that.

    Evangelicals, Seeking Unity, Back Santorum for Nomination

    Ah, but wait…

    Four Evangelical Leaders Reaffirm Support for Gingrich

  • AndrewD

    …and consequently the end of Western civilization.

    So we in Western Europe are not civilised-Fuck you too Gingrich,You republicans would be laughed out of public life in most sane countries

  • Pierce R. Butler

    mck9 @ # 11: What the fundies need to do is get together in a smoke-filled room, decide which god-soaked wacko they want, and tell the others to bug off.

    They did.

    So far the resulting Santorumentum has been of sub-tsunami impact.

  • http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/ Bronze Dog

    Has there been a point in the last 20 or 30 years in which civilization was not on the brink of collapse according to these geniuses?

    I’ve been seeing the “Chicken Little” aspect of Republicans a bit more prominently these days. It certainly looks to me like they’re trying to keep their voting base in a perpetual state of panic. It doesn’t help that a lot of their politicians have apparently bought into their own scares.

  • Michael Heath

    Bronze Dog:

    I’ve been seeing the “Chicken Little” aspect of Republicans a bit more prominently these days. It certainly looks to me like they’re trying to keep their voting base in a perpetual state of panic. It doesn’t help that a lot of their politicians have apparently bought into their own scares.

    I think this could be a reaction due to legitimate threats coming from experts. Primarily, our inability to confidently predict increasing wealth per capita due to a number of factors, changes in demographics that threaten entitlements these people currently enjoy (though the threat won’t effect them but younger people), and the threat from climate change (which they deny is real of course). Couple that to the fact conservatives’ ideology, not necessarily the Republican party, but instead the religious-political movement which dominates its voting base, easily shares the most blame when assessing political culpability. So they’re acknowledging threats in general but incoherently, while also seeking a fall guy to take the hit in order to once again deny reality and more importantly defend themselves against the need to adapt. Europeans, gays, and secularists are targets they’ve long been comfortable smearing where it’s almost too absurd to also point out ‘creeping Sharia law’ given how many degrees of magnitude beyond reality they need to go to assign them as a threat to the U.S. relative to other three groups (OK, blaming gays is also pretty surreal).

    “Increasing human costs and suffering due to increasing extreme weather, with even worse to come? Why that’s due to taking prayer of the schools of course.”

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives

    I sense the force is weak in this one, if his god is so easy to drive out.

  • Zinc Avenger

    <blockquote“…..the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization.”

    Civilization has got on just dandy without the US so far.

  • laurentweppe

    At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives, and on the other front are radical Islamists who would seek to make America safe for Islam and militant religion

    It’s always instructive to see most racist dog whistlers on one side of the pond pretends that their is a dark secular-islamist brotherhood who’s trying to destroy the Judeo-Christian Western Civilization while their counterpart on the other side are pretending to be the Real True Paragons of Secularism who will fight to the death to protect the Secular Judeo-Christian Western Civilization from the hordes of anti-secularism Muslims: the far-right is so busy tailoring their speech to please the biases of their targeted audience that they do not care if they’re openly saying two contradicting things at the same time.

    Plus, the american far-rightists, with their noisy denunciation of the purely fictional “objective alliance” between secularists and islamists behave exactly like the european far-left, with its own noisy denunciation of the purely fictional “objective alliance” between the social-democrats and the rober-barons: always funny to see that Les extrêmes ne s’opposent pas: les extrêmes se touchent et se pénètrent (sexual innuendo intended)

  • tripencrypt

    Gingrich warns U.S. at risk of atheism and radical Islam

    Here is an almost year old quote by Mr. Gingrich that, IMHO, shows that he will say whatever he thinks will help him win:

    “I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

    A secular county dominated by Islamists, rofl

  • exdrone

    mck9 @11 says:

    But don’t worry. The leaders of the religious right don’t have a very good track record of taking my advice.

    Jesus, is that you? Hey, what-up J-man. Fundies, eh? Whatta ya gonna do?

  • exdrone

    Elf_Owl @14 says:

    It is puzzling to me that a believer can fear that mere mortals could “drive God out” of their lives, or out of anywhere else for that matter. Surely “secular atheists” pose no threat to their God; with absolute power, he can choose to stay and make his presence known wherever he wants. Any attempt to “drive God out” should be seen by believers as the ultimate act of futility, and therefore a complete non-issue.

    I get the impression that fundies don’t really believe that secularists will repel god or incur his wrath. I think they just have a first-born complex. They always follow the rules, so why is it that their bratty siblings get to act out and do what they want. The fundies are sitting up straight in the back seat with their seatbelt fastened, and the secularists are chewing with their mouths open and touching them with their foot. The fundies just can’t help yelling out for dad’s attention and hoping that one of these days he will actually pull the car over. In the meantime, we will have to suffer their glaring over folded arms.

  • dingojack

    exdrone said: “I think they [fundies] just have a first-born complex. They always follow the rules, so why is it that their bratty siblings get to act out and do what they want“.

    Didn’t Jesus have a parable about that*?

    Dingo

    —–

    * I know, I know, expecting fundies to have actually read their own big book of fairy-stories – how naive.

  • StevoR

    @19. AndrewD says:

    …and consequently the end of Western civilization.

    So we in Western Europe are not civilised-Fuck you too Gingrich,You republicans would be laughed out of public life in most sane countries.

    What you didn’t get the memo? Europe was renamed “Eurabia” a few years ago after being over-run by the Mohammetan hordes and, let’s face it, has always been the home of cheese-eating surrender monkeys who’ve had to have Uncle Sam come save them them their wars & woudl eb conqurors! [/sarc]

  • StevoR

    @20. Pierce R. Butler :

    So far the resulting Santorumentum has been of sub-tsunami impact.

    A santorum tsunami .. Now there’s an image I didn’t want in my head. Ewww! Bleech! Gak!

  • rork

    “I couldn’t care less about getting God out of his life or anyone else’s”

    While I also endorse having freedom of opinion, it actually is a goal of mine to make a more godless America, cause I think that might be useful in obtaining the goal of a better functioning community. I’m not claiming every believer is incapable of rational decision making, but it doesn’t help. I don’t expect widespread atheism to make an instant utopia, but it would help.

    I am an atheist missionary.

  • hypatiasdaughter

    Trying to interpret Newt (which causes me a great deal of mental pain):

    If the public sphere is completely secularized, EVERY religion will be able to flourish equally in the private sphere, including Islam, Buddhism, and those wrong xtian sects, like Methodists, Mormons and Catholics.

    If the public sphere is supersaturated with (the right kind of xtianity), it can force all those false religions underground. Tolerated only as long as they remain almost invisible to their xtian masters (like Jews, Mormons and Muslims were for most of Western history).

    It’s a sort of reverse osmosis.

    Short version: if we have a religiously neutral, secular government, how can we pass legislation that discriminates against the religions we don’t like?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com tommykey

    I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country

    As the father of two children around the same age, I certainly hope so.