The “Forgiveness Card”

Roland Martin excoriates GOP-evangelicalism for abandoning family values in endorsing Newt Gingrich. [Martin's points here have to be made; but I still will contend that John King's way of beginning the GOP primary debate on that topic was unacceptable and tainted.]

Those willing to make excuses for Gingrich’s cheating on his second wife, Marianne, with his current wife, Callista (he also cheated on wife No. 1 with Marianne, who later became wife No. 2) are quick to say that the Christian faith requires forgiveness. And that is absolute right. But when has Gingrich apologized to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore for his routine missives declaring both of them morally corrupt? When has Gingrich ever said publicly that while he was ripping other to shreds, he was doing the same to his marriage vows to forsake all others?

The nation clearly was made aware of Clinton’s extramarital affairs while serving in the White House with the impeachment trial. But nothing of the sort was said about Gore. Yet that didn’t prevent the bombastic Gingrich from lobbing his morally bankrupt grenades towards the Clinton-Gore White House. Now we know that while he was doing that, he was deeply involved in a torrid affair with Callista, then a Capitol Hill staffer….

What was amazing Thursday night is that we were in South Carolina, the Bible Belt, where evangelicals hold significant sway. Just last year, Republicans were aghast when the governor, Mark Sanford, was busted for engaging in an international extramarital affair, hiding away in Argentina and lying about his whereabouts. Details of his sordid affair made national headlines and embarrassed the state and the national party.

South Carolinians were disgusted with his behavior, and the potential presidential candidate who was a darling of Bible-thumpin’ social conservatives ended his tenure in shame, losing his wife in the process.

So why was the GOP so quick to leap to their feet as Gingrich castigated King for even asking the question? No doubt they will say it was his denunciation of the media for asking such a tawdry question. Others will say that Newt’s multiple affairs were common knowledge and since he was a declared changed man, we all should move on.

But how can someone like Gingrich stand up in debates and forcefully talk about the sanctity of marriage when he has no history of believing what he is saying? How can any social conservative talk about the moral fiber needed in a presidential candidate when the man many of them love has none?…

See, when Republicans are busted for cheating on their spouses, they will quickly play the forgiveness card. Yet isn’t a failure to have character and integrity at home a sign of how someone will act in the workplace?

And it must gall the GOP to watch Obama often dote on his wife, and make clear that even while in the White House, his family is a top priority.

Gingrich is correct in stating that many of the folks in the audience understand personal pain. But when Newt himself, and his party, has shown little concern in the past about such pain when it has affected someone in the other party, their pleas for understanding looks like shameful pandering.

So to the Republican Party, your high-minded and sanctimonious positions about others not having morals and values should end. If you are willing to accept Newt Gingrich with all of his failings, then you had better open your arms for a whole lot of other sinners who have also sought God’s redemption.

 

 

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Robin

    I loathe Gingrich…but I also loathe the “Gingrich was a cheater so he shouldn’t have tried to impeach Clinton for being a cheater” mentality as well.

    CLINTON PERJURED HIMSELF WHEN HE WAS BEING TRIED FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Let me repeat that, in addition to two women who contended that he forcibly raped them, and multiple women who admitted having consensual affairs with him, Paula Jones contended that he had repeatedly sexually harassed her. She was entitled to a hearing where he swore to TELL THE TRUTH. Instead, he perjured himself and denied her justice. He was impeached for THAT.

    It is still completely possible to loathe Gingrich without playing the “he’s worse than Bill Clinton” card.

  • http://www.zknitz.blogspot.com zee

    “Yet isn’t a failure to have character and integrity at home a sign of how someone will act in the workplace?”

    - In response to this statement, I say, Yes, absolutely. Just look at Arnold Schwarzaneggar (sorry about the spelling, but I’m sure you know who I mean).

  • Jerry

    Of all the candidates currently in the race, Barack Obama probably best demonstrates true “family values.” Michelle Obama’s focus on military families has been exemplary. Having said that, I think “family values” is red herring. I think Obama’s policies tend to be pro-family but I also believe they overreach and make the government into “Father Knows Best.”

  • Kyle J

    No one has done any bigger favor for Gingrich than what John King did last week by letting him launch into his anti-media tirade right from the get go in that debate.

    Not really sure what the best way to handle it was, but it was going to come up at some point. With as many debates as they’ve held, the nature of the best is that current events drive most of the discussion.

  • James

    Here’s a question with larger than Newt ramifications:

    How do you know a person that was so incredibly arrogant and self-righteous, and who still makes the same type of arrogant claims about himself, has actually become a humble and penitent man? Jesus said, “You shall know a tree by its fruit.” Words aren’t fruit, and can be deceiving. So how would you (anyone) convince me we’re dealing with a different Newt? All I’ve seen so far is words, words, and more words, and that, at least to me, means jack-diddly. If he’s a genuinely different man, I would be very glad for him. But how would I know?

  • gingoro

    The view from up here in Canada, looks like the victory on Saturday for Gingrich essentially was an endorsement of Obama as the next US president.
    Dave W

  • Fish

    Morality is so situational, isn’t it?

    I saw an interview the other day where the speaker was arguing that Newt’s affairs actually make him better qualified for president. If so many women love him despite his flaws, went the logic, then he must be something special.

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    I have not seen anybody make excuses for Gingrich’s past immoral behavior. Nor have I seen Gingrich himself make any excuses for his past immoral behavior. Quite the opposite — I have heard him repudiate that behavior.

  • Rick

    I agree with much of what Martin says, and I think there is a lack of consistency in regards to forgiveness and/or family values. It is too often based on who the opponent is.

    However, one thing to keep in mind is that Newt did not win the majority vote in SC. The majority of the voters supported someone else. Painting this with a broad-brush of (all) Republicans is just not accurate. In addition, it is known that many, if not most, of the Republican establishment (the “elite”) does not want Newt to win.

  • T

    The older I get, the less I enjoy anything about elections. If I had to guess about Gingrich’s rise, I’d say its that the GOP base is angry. Romney’s lack of believable anger is part of what the GOP mistrusts about him. Gingrich has better read and stoked and mimicked this anger, and the GOP base is believing in him for it. I think Gingrich is just better at believably mimicking the anger of the GOP base, and that may be enough for him to win Florida, then the nomination. Whether moderates and independents will choose him over Obama is a different matter. I don’t know if his “outsider” veneer will work with them. We’ll see. It’s pretty thin in all the wrong ways.

    Regardless, the author rightly points to GOP hypocritical flip-flopping about Gingrich’s affairs. I wish I could say it’s because the GOP base is very serious about forgiveness. We’re forgiving when its otherwise convenient or desirable, as it is now. IMO, this primary is saddening all around.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    I believe this post by Conor Friedersdorf captures the Gingrich rise:

    People bear responsibility for the media they consume. Voters ultimately own the politicians they elevate. But if you’re wondering to which “thought leaders” his rise can be attributed, best to ask, “Whose approach to politics produces, as its logical conclusion, a candidacy like Gingrich 2012?” Surveying the centrality of attacks on the mainstream media, the casting of President Obama as a radical other, and the trick where you shrewdly repeat a racially provocative line, get accused of racism, and cast yourself as an aggrieved victim for political advantage, Gingrich ’12 is modeled after the successful tactics of movement conservatism’s demagogues. Is there any candidate in memory whose persona so closely resembles an egomaniacal talk-radio host? The rank-and-file in South Carolina accept a would-be president behaving that way because they’re used to their “thought leaders” talking like that. They aren’t in on the reality that a lot of what they hear on talk radio resembles performance art; they don’t presume that the rhetoric and arguments employed daily on Fox News are often contrived or disingenuous. What a political movement gets when it spends years marshaling more demagoguery than sound arguments against its opponents, what it gets when its intellectuals are deposed by its entertainers, what it gets when Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh are its agenda-setting personalities; what it gets when all these factors and more prevail, is a Newt Gingrich victory in South Carolina, where the voters, having been trained to elevate emotion and style over substance, didn’t even realize that they’ve chosen as their champion a man who is neither conservative nor capable of leading anyone.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    @Robin wrote: I loathe Gingrich…but I also loathe the “Gingrich was a cheater so he shouldn’t have tried to impeach Clinton for being a cheater” mentality as well..

    On the “CLINTON PERJURED HIMSELF”, let us note that this would have never been were it not for a right wing jihad, drummed up by white supremacists, and then orchestrated by militant right wing foundations (like Richard Melon Scaife and others) that simply never recognized the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency. But do not take my word for it — see the words and work of some of those soldiers (like David Brock) that did the dirty work for these paymasters not interested in justice at all. Not that Clinton was innocent of marital infidelity, but it hard to separate the affairs from the debased hate mongering. (Also, see the testimony of others like Julia Hiatt Steele and others, pressured by the Starr witch hunt to deceive and provide evidence to his whim, totally incongruent with the truth. Or work from objective accounts that came out in the years after Clinton terms.)

    And, sorry, the comparison with Clinton is apt — a contrast of a couple that opted for redemptive and restorative reconciliation v. the narcissism of Gingrich and dumping his wives, once they got sick and old (even, literally, on their hospital bed!).

  • Rick

    Naum-

    I was with you at #11, but you lost me at #12 (“On the “CLINTON PERJURED HIMSELF”, let us note that this would have never been were it not for a right wing jihad, drummed up by white supremacists, and then orchestrated by militant right wing foundation…”)

  • Robin

    Naum,

    When people do things that are illegal, they should go to jail. If they don’t go to jail, they at least shouldn’t be able to serve as the commander-in-chief of the US government.

    Scooter Libby did not leak Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters, Armitage did. But you know what he did do? He lied to investigators, and he went to jail for it, just like he should have. I could say “Well the investigator already knew that Armitage was the one who leaked the info, so him questioning Libby was just a left-wing jihad, blah, blah, blah…”

    He lied to investigators. He went to jail. Clinton lied UNDER OATH. He got impeached.

  • Jon

    I agree with this statement in the article: “you had better open your arms for a whole lot of other sinners who have also sought God’s redemption.”

    I’m not sure why it was spoken in a pejorative tone.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    @Robin, are you really suggesting that lying about an affair, to cover up embarrassment and shield family (either from knowing or from the disgrace) is the same as life & death matters (like outing an intelligence operative, or lying about selling arms to terrorists, etc.…)? Seriously?

    And the point was that sans a right wing jihad and prosecutorial witch hunt, the matter would have never surfaced — again, I refer you to works like *The Hunting of the President* by Conason/Lyons, or the words and testimony of those foot soldiers (like David Brock) that took their marching orders from those hate filled paymasters and are quite clear on what the motivations were. (see David Brock in *Blinded by the Right* )

  • Robin

    My point is that when people lie (1) to investigators or (2) to juries they should face the consequences. His perjury prevented Paul Jones from getting the justice she deserved for enduring his sexual harassment.

  • Robin

    Naum,

    I think it is very important as well that you quit framing this as “cover up embarassment” or “shield family” the issue at hand was criminal sexual harassment.

    That would be like saying the Dominique Strauss-Khan allegations were mainly about “embarassing the IMF”. The main charge in DSK was that he raped a hotel maid, I don’t care if it would have had side effects on the IMF.

    The main charge in Paula Jones’ case was that he sexuall harassed a woman, don’t minimize it by saying that it was about preventing embarassment. It was about covering up an affair so that it would help him with sexual harassment charges.

  • Amanda F

    I think T hits the nail on the head. Newt’s getting the anger vote. He struck the right tone at the right moment for SC evangelicals. Time will tell if Republican voters in FL have enough time to calm down and think about this rationally in terms of electability.

    And as a moderate independent, I can say with certainty that I won’t vote for him. I’d be much more willing to re-elect a Pres. that I’ve been disappointed in (but not red-hot angry at), than vote for Newt. And I’m guessing that I’m not alone in that. Heck, I’d even predict that if Newt gets the nomination, there will be a widespread protest movement to write-in someone like Steven Colbert among my generation, just to get our voices heard.

  • Robin

    For the record, given a choice right now between Newt, Obama, and Clinton I would probably choose Clinton…I just don’t like seeing his impeachment treated as if it were just about infidelity…it was about perjury.

  • Michael Fox

    The sad reality of these posts is reflected in the moral bias of most participants. It seems evident that both sides find a way to declare their party’s man is better than the other: a better leader with better morals. Be careful progressives. The Democratic Party is co-opting you as surely as the Republican Party co-opted the right. I’ll go to the polls this year to vote for a competent leader. Both party’s moral failings and self-serving positions have convinced me that the hope of the world does not rest in politics or politicos. The tide Mr. Gingrich is riding is simply a cry for the leadership of a constitutionalist, not of a messiah..

  • dave

    It really is not a democrat or republican issue anymore, the whole tawdry clinton years where the democrats and the media gave him a pass on his well known ifidelities (all the while claiming Christ) , was essentially throwing our political culture down the tubes, morally speaking. the deviancy of Bill clinton that was largely ignored by the media and the democrats (and his media pastors) seems to have desensitized our culture (and sadly our faith culture) against this type of grievous behaviour. It is becoming the norm in this society, no longer shocks us, nor does it even cause us to blink anymore. The whole situation is dismaying and troubling. And yes the so called Evangelicals who voted for him, I really think they just held their nose and plunged right in. the whole mantra of the media left during the clinton days was personal behaviour does not interfere with professional behaviour. it must have sunk in. and we are seeing it in front of us.

    Sad, very sad.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Robin, I agree, we do not know for sure that he is worse than Bill Clinton (but I think he is), but Bill Clinton is not running for office right now, Newt is.

    And the approach you are taking in this thread is exactly the approach that Newt is taking and exactly the approach that the right wing radio world takes. You are YELLING at us about peripheral issues that make it so the main idea does not get discussed.

    Newt used that approach quite successfully in the debate by attacking the questioner when he was questioned.

    Admit it, whether Clinton was a bigger moral pig than Newt (or if the issue was perjury) does not take away from the fact that Newt had a log in his eye (too). And, he has the added claim of actually dumping them while sick, and not sticking it out in the end. He did not just cheat, he abandoned his wife (wives) at difficult times.

    So, what do you think about Newt Robin? Get off Clinton.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Frankly I feel that the President must be able to be trusted. Now there are a lot of reasons that people can be trusted in various positions. Some can be trusted to do what they feel is the right thing because it is in alignment with what they are as a person. I feel Obama falls into this category. You may not agree with his ideas, but you know what his ideas are going to be like and you know that he is going to be consistent with them.

    Likewise Romney. He may flip flop on specific issues, but you definitely can count on him to do things that will be in keeping with his capitalism. He will follow the dollars each and every time, you can bet on it.

    Newt is much more difficult to manage. He is motivated by his ego. Whether women, money, power, whatever, he will do that which will write his name into history. He will be bold, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

    As far as him winning South Carolina, I am reminded of the scene in movie Gladiator when the new emperor was talking to his sister about what to do. They decided that the crowd was motivated by the “glory of rome”, which is an idea, a feeling. Well, I think the same is true of the Repubs these days. They are thirsting for the glory of the GOP and USA in such a way that a fighter will capture their imagination. Newt will give them the glory of the USA, I just hope he does not use an atomic weapon to do it if he wins.

  • Robin

    DRT,

    I have stated multiple times that I loathe Gingrich, that I won’t vote in the election that if he is the candidate, that he is a scumbag, etc. I even said I would vote for Clinton over him…the ONLY (emphasis, not yelling) thing that I can’t stand about this post is the tendency by liberals to imply “Look, Gingrich was a cheating scumbag, so it was hypocritical for him to impeach Clinton…” as if cheating were the main problem with the affair. As long as people would be clear that Clinton got impeached because he lied under oath (a crime punishable by impeachment) I would haven’t said anything (or at least much less).

    I guess what I am saying is that it isn’t piling on Newt that bothers me, its the attempt to whitewash Clinton’s crimes that gets to me.

  • George

    Gingrich is all about the forgiveness from God thing. However, he is pretty thin on the healing and reconciliation stuff. Apparently wife #2 hasn’t heard from him since the divorce. Where’s the evangelical call for Newt to at least try to say to Marianne, “I messed up, forgive me!!”

  • nathan

    wow…

    gingrich was worse because he and his party positioned themselves as better suited to run the country because of their claims to moral superiority, not merely the strength of their ideas.

    Hypocrisy makes everything worse. Especially when you try to destroy someone on the basis of your hypocritical “moral indignation”.

    That’s exactly why Gingrich deserves more criticism and more rebuke. and that’s why anyone who supports him is complicit in the hypocrisy.

  • JohnM

    Robin #25 – But where do you see the attempt to whitewash Clinton’s crimes? It is indeed possible to loathe both what Clinton did and what Gingrich did. In Gingrich’s case that includes hypocrisy in his excoriation of Clinton. There is no defense of Clinton involved in pointing out that hypocrisy, and no reason voters should not take it into consideration.

  • ao

    For those of us who are saying that Gingrich never offered excuses for what he did, remember that he actually did offer an excuse to Christian Broadcasting Network (although, I can already see people making the rhetorical argument that Gingrich was offering an explanation, not an excuse):

    “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

    I can imagine the job interview for president:
    Q: Newt, what would you say are your greatest weaknesses?
    A: Well, (1) I work too hard, and (2) I love my country too much.

  • Holly

    Sorry, but this isn’t a Republican v. Democrat issue. This is a Christian voter issue – as in – “what is the proper Christian response to someone who has said that they have repented and asked for forgiveness from God and those he/she has wounded?” It shouldn’t matter what the GOP did or how they respond. What is the Christian response, here and now?

    Personally? I don’t think that IN GENERAL (although yes, Obama has a marriage and family life worth emulating)either party holds the moral upperhand.

  • DanS

    We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief, but certainly moral character matters. Problem is, who is willing to run for public office in this era of tabloid media and character assassination? Only those brave enough, and often those who have a pretty fair ego and a pretty significant libido. How many congressmen in Washington do we really think really are faithfully married? The press looked the other way during Kennedy’s philandering and Johnson’s crassness. Clinton’s issue was lying under oath – had he admitted his indescretions, there would have been outrage but no impeachment.

    Personally, if character was the only issue, I’d prefer Santorum to Gingrich, but I’ll take anybody over Obama at the moment. David was a poor husband but a pretty good king and commander. Can Newt run the country better than the guy who’s there now?

    Obama’s actions include single-handedly blocking a bi-partisan attempt to stop live-birth abortions (allowing living infants to die in broom closets) while a senator in Illinois and just yesterday a blatantly unconstitutional imperial reach to force faith based organizations to dispense abortafacient contraceptives. He has defied a federal court order regarding his health care mandate, declared an existing law unconstitutional which is nowhere within the powers of the executive branch and on that basis refused to enforce that law. His handling of the economy, of course, leaves much to be desired, his foreign policy is inept, but it is his disregard for the constitution that is animating the conservative wing – and flaws and all, Newt at least is able to articulate the issues conservatives care about.

    I wish somebody like Paul Ryan had chosen to run, but I’ll vote for the best of the alternatives or at least the lesser of the two evils when the time comes. To me, the personal issues matter, but the policies are the determining factor when voting for this particular office.

  • T

    Holly,

    Forgiveness is not at all the same as trust. Christians can rejoice with repentance, as many times as it takes, and forgive each time. But it doesn’t mean that we give a person who has cheated on two spouses a position of ultimate trust. We can forgive anyone, but we don’t put just anyone in positions of trust, particularly those who we know have a pattern of violating the trust of those closest to them. If it’s a “Christian voter” issue, Gingrich is in trouble. He’s much better off if he’s evaluated on purely secular terms.

  • Holly

    I understand and respect and see your point, T. To clarify, I wasn’t meaning generally, nationally, that this is a Christian voter issue. I meant “here,” as in, literally, “here in this comment box,” this should be a Christian voter issue. I sense a lot of hatred and a lack of forgiveness here….a “well, the GOP did this” so “we are justified in our response to Gingrich.” Well…so, okay….but that’s not really a Christian response.

    But I agree with your trust point. I understand. I really do. :) I wouldn’t trust him, I am not sure I would vote for him. Just because someone says the “right things” according to a certain platform doesn’t mean that they can be trusted.

    Here’s a problem for me. I *like* Obama as a person. I like what he has in his marriage, like him as a father. I like his intellect. I actually BELIEVE him (gasp!) when he says that he is a Christian. I do not know what to do with these thoughts/feelings, however, when I see the aggressive and unwarranted escalation in the health care/religious freedom front. I WANT to downplay this, WANT for it to be no big deal….but can not escape the thought that forcing religious institutions to provide Plan B against their conscience is an “in your face” type of move. What to do with that? How to vote? Like Dan S…..I think I would go with policy vs. private life.

    (ps why the heck did the O administration make that move on the religious/healthcare front? That scares people, particularly in this climate of fear!)

  • T

    Holly,

    Ahh . . . I see your point about how Christians should talk about Gingrich here on this blog. True enough.

    Regarding the rule not permitting religious orgs to limit health insurance so as to exempt birth control (including “day-after pill”) from coverage, I’m not familiar enough with the day-after pill to have a hard opinion. Regarding overall issue of employer-tailored/controlled coverage, I see this as overblown. I think of it this way: medical insurance is part of the total compensation to the employee. If the compensation was 100% in the form of cash, the employee could use the compensation for birth control or anything else. When part of the compensation is medical insurance, the employee can use the compensation for birth control or anything else. It’s still up to the employee either way. If the issue is freedom, I think maximum freedom should be given to the employee regarding his own health care, rather than what the private boss approves. Once the employer pays for some portion of the premium, he should treat it just like cash given to the employee to be spent as the employee decides (in his total discretion).

    So . . . it’s easy to paint this decision as one that impinges on religious freedom, but the alternative was to put employers in a position of really getting more involved in their employee’s business and spending and medical decisions than they have a right to be. I tend to agree that the employee should have the call–it’s their medical decisions and their earned compensation.

  • JohnM

    Holly #33 – “I think I would go with policy vs. private life.”

    I would too, except it doesn’t matter what a person tells me they would do as a matter of public policy when their private track record leaves me no reason to take them at their word. Which point I think you also acknowledged.

    As for “well, the GOP did this” so “we are justified in our response to Gingrich.” – maybe or not that is where some comments are coming from, but I’m a registered Republican myself (anybody suprised?) ;) I also have no intention of voting for Obama either, partly for the same reasons you cite. Might just have to vote third party this year and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

  • Holly

    Oh, Ack! Third party? I….can’t! :)

    (Goes away muttering to dig in trash for tin foil hat….)

    **just kidding**

  • Holly

    Thanks, T….I’ll think on that. :)

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I think T’s#34 point about paying for health insurance is a good one and would love to see a post just about that here on JC.

    The RCC presumably pays its employees cash and they could use it to buy birth control. Having it covered in health care does not mean that they have to go get it.

    And it is regressive to not have it covered. The poor are some of those most in need of the coverage. Rich folks will buy it no matter what.

    And what about the religions who do not believe in medical intervention anyway.

    I think the right is making a big ado about nothing with the medical coverage issue.

  • T

    Let me add just a bit. Part of what I dislike about election years is the over-dramatization of everything. For example, at various gatherings and in various media, I hear stuff like this: worst president ever, most liberal president ever, most blatant disregard of constitutional principals we’ve ever seen, socialist, etc. And most points of disagreement aren’t framed as points of disagreement, but as “direct attacks” on people of faith, or on the constitution, or on capitalism, or something.

    This insurance issue is a perfect example. The issue is whether to allow (religious) employers to have more control than other employers over what is covered for their employees’ medical insurance based on the employers’ moral objections to various treatments or procedures. Now, whether employers of any stripe ought to be able to exercise that kind of control over what kind of medical care their employees can get seems like a perfectly legitimate area for a government rule, especially since individual employees are ill equipped to negotiate such things with their employers for hosts of reasons, including of course that one rarely thinks about what medical care one might want or need until the need arises, not when interviewing for a job. Regardless of how one comes out on the issue, the decision to put power in the hands of the employee/insured rather than the employers (again, since its part of the employee’s earned compensation) isn’t an attack on people of faith, or the constitution or America anything else. At worst, it’s a disagreement about what’s the best rule for all concerned. That’s it. But in election year . . . such decisions are direct attacks on ________________ and similar nonsense.

    And on the economy. Let’s be real folks. The worst (global, let alone national) financial collapse since the great depression started to hit as Obama was taking office. News flash: it would have been a miracle to turn that around in 4 years. What the president of this or any country could have done, of any stripe, is very very limited. Maybe things could have been done better. Maybe they could have been worse. To talk with great certainty on such matters requires more ignorance than careful thought and education.

    And regarding O-care: The two men now leading the GOP race have argued for if not implemented very similar changes when given the chance. In a nutshell, don’t believe the hype. Yes, the president has made several decisions I wouldn’t have made. I may not vote for him. But if I don’t it won’t be because I think that Newt or Romney are gonna make it all better, or would have been all that much better these last 4 years. Immigration policy, War, Abortion, Torture, Environment, Workplace Fairness, etc. These are all things I care about and don’t see a perfect match for me in the bunch. No one elected will be a Messiah or the anti-Christ. He’ll be yet another flawed man, whose powers and faults will both be overblown. As for Gingrich, I do worry about a man who has betrayed two wives. What are election year promises compared to wedding vows? I guess they have in common that they could both be things people say to get what they want at the time.

  • Robin

    T,

    If this thread is still going…using your insurance example, thinking about it as total compensation. Would it change your mind at all if we were talking about abortion? Abortion is legal in all 50 states, many employers have insurance plans that would cover the cost of elective abortions.

    If the Federal Government told religious employers “if you provide health insurance, it must include access to abortion, without a co-pay” would that be OK in your book.

    The rest of your argument still stands, if they give the employee cash in lieu of insurance as part of their total compensation they could turn around and spend it on abortion…so there really isn’t any difference if you just force the employer to pay the premiums on a policy that covers insurance.

    If you are willing to say “Sure, forcing the religious employer to provide insurance that covers abortion or partial-birth abortion is the same thing as forcing them to cover contraceptives, and I am OK with both” then I understand your position and it is consistent. If not, then the issue here is that you are a protestant that doesn’t share the Catholic view on contraception and you are using your acceptance of contraception to carve out an exception for contraception that you wouldn’t carve out for abortion.

  • T

    Robin,

    It’s a fair question. I am opposed to abortion. But how many degrees removed from an employer must the payment be before an employer can pay the employee and let the employee make a decision, and not have the employer feel like “I paid for that; I’m responsible”? In my view, yes, insurance can cover lots of things, some of which we view as totally wrong. But the only way to not drive yourself or your employees crazy about the morality of everything that is (narcotics? ADD meds for kids? vaccines?) and isn’t covered is to treat it as the compensation to the employee, buying power for the employee, just like cash. We could pay our employee’s rent for them, and give them grocery store cards (with restrictions against tobacco and alcohol purchases) instead of cash. We could pre-buy lots of things for them so that they don’t use their pay to buy things we believe to be wrong. I think we create a potential host of problems by putting or expanding this power (over employees’ medical coverages) in the hands of the employers. Treat it as part of their pay and let it go. There are lots of other venues to fight the fight against ____________ that aren’t coercive over your employees. And there are plenty of ways to still be coercive with one’s employees if they so choose.

    I disagree as well with federal dollars being used for abortions (and lots of other things) including other wrongful killings. I don’t, though, for that reason, stop paying taxes or advocate others to do so. There are other venues to fight that fight.

    FWIW, I support medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions. That’s much more direct involvement.

  • Robin

    Just to clarify T, you would be OK if Obama/Sebelius/HHS issued a ruling tomorrow that said every employee-issued insurance policy in the country (including those of religious employers) must cover elective abortions.

  • T

    Robin,

    Sorry, yes, in a nutshell, I am consistent on this. I’m not “okay” with anything that makes abortions more likely or advised or what have you nor would I likely advocate any coverage for abortions. That said, the rule to prevent private employers from limiting medical coverages based on their morality (even when it matches mine) is a good rule, for all the reasons I said above and more. Employers have plenty of power over their employees. They don’t need this level of control; especially in a day where more and more people feel trapped in their jobs because of the medical insurance. It’s better if we treat such premiums as the employee’s money, paid by the employer, like withheld taxes.

    Further, I know many local religious schools will still fire teachers for drinking alcohol or going to certain movies, etc. So if the employer wants to get rid of employees who are not in keeping with the school’s standards, that’s always an option.

  • Tom F.

    Robin, you make good points about Clinton, and it gives me great hope to hear what you say about Gingrich. As someone who would mostly prefer Obama to Romney, I am thus initially pleased that Gingrich is doing so well (since he is so unlikely to win the general election). However, the fact that there is even an outside chance that he could win the election if he is nominated scares me deeply. I would rather hand the presidency to Romney (or even Santorum) on a silver platter, than have even an outside chance that Gingrich could be president.

    Put another way, a Gingrich nomination turns me into a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth supporter of Obama. I might even consider canvassing for the Democratic party at that point, even as I consider myself an independent.

  • Sarah

    I don’t know about you all but I thought Ron Paul seemed, in general, like one of the most moral candidates up there.


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