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Newt’s Religious Freedom Doubletalk

Newt’s Religious Freedom Doubletalk December 23, 2011

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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