Since it now seems that Newt Gingrich has a decent shot at becoming the Republican nominee for President, let me encourage you to have a look at this post, by Sarah Posner. She provides an impressive rundown of Gingrich’s many jaw-dropping statements about church and state. If you’re currently drinking any water, I recommend swallowing now. Here’s a quick taste:

At that announcement, Boston later wrote in the November 1994 issue of Church and State magazine, Gingrich called the 1963 Supreme Court school prayer decision “bad law, bad history and bad culture.” He lauded David Barton’s book, The Myth of Separation, calling it “most useful” and “wonderful.” He insisted that there needed to be a full debate “over secularism versus the right of a spiritual life.” Foreshadowing his more recent pronouncements on American execeptionalism, Gingrich stated that “to be an American is to be aware that our power comes from a Creator.” (This was around the time that he began having an extramarital affair with his current wife, Callista.)

Charming fellow. (Incidentally, for more of the wit and wisdom of David Barton, let me direct you to this post, from P. Z. Myers.)

Comments

  1. #1 eric
    December 6, 2011

    Meh. I can’t get upset because I think he’s just playing to the crowd. IMO he’s manipulating the religious right for votes, he’s not a true believer.

    Gingrich is Romney’s sincerity and ideological purity combined with Cheney’s sunny disposition.

  2. #2 Wow
    December 6, 2011

    “over secularism versus the right of a spiritual life.”

    What on earth does this mean?

    You have your life to live and the entire bit that does it in the United States is your material life.

    If it means “a material life with thinking about the spiritual”, then secularism is the only way to ensure that. A religious country often won’t let you consider many thoughts about the spiritual. They call it “heresy” and “blasphemy”.

    What would they say if the Church of England, that being the one the founding fathers were under, were brought in as the State Religion? For many US christians, worse would be the Roman Catholic faith being the state religion (as it was for most of Europe when the founding of the USA was undertaken).

  3. #3 tomh
    December 6, 2011

    @ #1
    IMO he’s manipulating the religious right for votes, he’s not a true believer.

    I don’t see that it makes any difference. As president he’s not likely to abandon his supporters and suddenly push for separation of church and state. Besides, on this issue he has been remarkably consistent. The quote in the OP is from 1994.

    In 2002, as Speaker, he pushed for a Constitutional Amendment that would say in part, “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions.” If adopted the amendment would allow public officials, including teachers, to dictate how, when and where school children and others should pray.

    In response to a judge’s ruling barring prayer in graduation ceremonies at a Texas high school, (later overturned), last June, he called for firing the judge;

    “As a first step toward reining in an out-of-control, anti-religious bigotry on the bench, let’s start with this modest suggestion: Judge Biery’s office should be abolished by Congress.”

    Last month he said, “A country that has been now 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 seems to think we’re trying to create a secular country, not realizing that is what happened over 200 years ago.

  4. #4 Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    December 6, 2011

    I wonder what “power” he was talking about when he said “to be an American is to be aware that our power comes from a Creator.” If he was talking about high-ranking members of U.S. Congress like himself then that would mean that like kings, they rule by divine right.

  5. #5 eric
    December 6, 2011

    tomh: I don’t see that it makes any difference.

    Here’s the difference as I see it. A true believer like Bachmann (or maybe Santorum) will likely initiate anti-science, creationism legislation themselves. The manipulators like Romney and Gingrish would go along with legislation initiated by conservatives in Congress, but can basically be counted on ignoring creationism etc… unless its pushed on their plate. They’ll treat the issue the same way Bush did: here’s your sound byte, creationists, now go away.

    To give GOP credit where it’s due, we also have Huntsman in the primary race. While he’s way behind, were he to win, he could probably be counted on fighting against and threatening to veto creationist legislation if/when it popped up, because he did exactly that as governor of Utah.

  6. #6 tomh
    December 6, 2011

    @ eric

    Well, creationism, perhaps, though I think Gingrich would push prayer in school, he always has. More importantly, either Gingrich or Romney, (I’m afraid you can forget about Huntsman), will appoint Supreme Court justices that will reverse Roe v Wade, that will decide there is no constitutional protection for same-sex marriage, and as an afterthought, will OK some flavor of creationism, perhaps under the guise of “academic freedom”, “critical evaluation,” or some such. That’s the real danger of a Republican president.

  7. #7 eric
    December 6, 2011

    Tom: do you think Alito and Roberts are pro-creationism? They haven’t given any indication of that (compared to, say, Scalia).

    Sure all of the candidates would look to nominate conservative judges. But I doubt Gingrich or Romney would make ‘position on creationism’ a selection criteria, any more than Bush did. Bachmann, OTOH, might. Huntsman would, but in the good way. :)

  8. #8 tomh
    December 6, 2011

    It’s hard to say, since neither has had an opportunity to rule on the subject. Justice Alito, as a Third Circuit judge, wrote a major opinion upholding a claim by a religious organization for access to school space in a New Jersey public school for after school activities,as well as access to school bulletin boards and help from teachers to distribute flyers to students to bring home, Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Stafford Sch. Dist.(2004) He seems comfortable with a larger role of religion in schools. But I agree that creationism won’t be much of an issue in confirmation hearings. The litmus test will be Roe v Wade, since there are four solid anti-choice members now and depending on who goes and who is appointed that’s the big one that hangs in the balance.

  9. #9 SLC
    December 6, 2011

    Re eric @ #7

    I have not the slightest doubt that Alito and Roberts would vote to overturn the 1987 Supreme Court decision that declared that “scientific creationism” was a religious doctrine and could not be taught in high school science classes. Since Scalia and Thomas would also vote that way, one appointment by a president Romney or president Gingrich would suffice to overturn that decision and there is very little doubt that either of them would appoint an asshole like Scalia.

  10. #10 tomh
    December 6, 2011

    @ eric
    It’s a little hard to say since they haven’t had an opportunity to rule on the question. However, Justice Alito, as a Third Circuit judge, wrote a major opinion upholding a claim by a religious organization for access to school space in a New Jersey public school for after school activities, as well as access to school bulletin boards and help from teachers to distribute flyers to students to bring home. Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Stafford Scool District (2004) He seems quite comfortable with more religion in schools. But I agree that creationism won’t be a major factor in confirmation hearings. The litmus test for a Republican president will be Roe v Wade.

  11. #11 eric
    December 6, 2011

    Justice Alito, as a Third Circuit judge, wrote a major opinion upholding a claim by a religious organization for access to school space in a New Jersey public school for after school activities, as well as access to school bulletin boards and help from teachers to distribute flyers to students to bring home.

    Good for him on the first two! That is not pro-creationism, that is pro-equal access. If a school opens up its facilities for rent/use, it shouldn’t discriminate against who gets to use it. That ‘help from teachers’ part is a bit disturbing, I’ll grant you.

    What’s more, this SCOTUS just yesterday turned down an appeal by a religious organization to use NY school space for religious ceromonies (note it allows bible study groups; the legal question here is the type of activity, not the religiosity of the group renting the space). I’d point out to SLC that it only takes a nod from four of the justices – not five – to hear a case. So its pretty clear that Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia as a group did not think the current rule forbidding such practices was worth trying to overturn.

  12. #12 SLC
    December 8, 2011

    Re eric @ #11

    I fail to see what this decision has to do with the 1987 decision that declared “scientific creationism” to violate the Lemon decision. I stand on my claim that Alito and Roberts will vote to overturn that decision, as will any clown nominated by President Romney or President Gingrich. I am afraid that we will have to agree to disagree on this topic, hopefully not disagreeably.

  13. #13 Wow
    December 8, 2011

    “If a school opens up its facilities for rent/use, it shouldn’t discriminate against who gets to use it.”

    However, that church already has a building.

    Why did they need to use the school?

    Was it so they could hand out leaflets at the school and mention it?

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