Sunday, May 1, 2011

Newt Gingrich at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast took place on April 26th and 27th in Washington D.C., sporting its 2011 theme of "Celebrating the Beatification of John Paul the Great". Beginning on April 26th with mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the Crypt, the event concluded with a breakfast program at the Marriott Wardman Park on the morning of April 27th. Several well-known right-wing figures spoke at this year's breakfast, including Lila Rose of LiveAction, Bishop William E. Lori of the Bridgeport Diocese, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and former speaker of the House New Gingrich. (See www[dot]catholicprayerbreakfast[dot]com for more information.)

In a transcript of Newt Gingrich's prayer breakfast speech posted on Facebook, Gingrich spoke of the late Pope John Paul II and his 1979 visit to Poland. He mused on the political impact of Pope John Paul II's visit on communism and Gingrich's own documentary on the subject, Nine Days that Changed the World. (See www[dot]facebook[dot]com/notes/newt-gingrich/text-of-my-speech-to-the-national-catholic-prayer-breakfast-this-morning/170642579658012)

Gingrich's speech also contained commentary on religion and society. The online transcript of the speech denounces U.S. "elites" who, in their supposed yearning to mimic "European elites", allegedly inject anti-religious values into academia, media, and the judiciary. Journalist Sofia Resnick reported on the event for the American Independent and Iowa Independent, devoting special attention to Gingrich's comments on "coercive secularism." The articles highlight Gingrich's examples of this alleged "coercive secularism," including a 1962 Supreme Court decision declaring school prayer unconstitutional, the recent removal of a cross from a veterans' memorial in the Mojave National Preserve, and the trend of replacing A.D. (anno Domini) with C.E. (common era). A CNN article also noted Gingrich's claim that a growing "government-favored pagan culture" meant to replace Christianity has allegedly emerged in Europe.

Frankly, I'm growing tired of Religious Right rhetoric that construes church-state separation measures as somehow anti-religious. Such measures ensure that American citizens do not have religion thrust upon them by the government, thereby safeguarding everyone's religious liberty. How is it "coercive" to prevent one religion or one form of religious expression from having political dominance over others?

For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

Talking Points Memo: Gingrich: Secular Elites Have Declared War on Time Itself

Politico: New Gingrich Warns: Creeping Secularism Replacing Christianity

Beliefnet: Gingrich Talks of Journey to Catholicism


  1. It's doubletalk. The Christian Right (whether Gingrich himself has joined them or is just pandering to them) don't want religious liberty, not for anyone but themselves. They want their own religion to be officially elevated to a privileged position and to have authority over everyone else.

    There is, of course, one major world leader who carried that kind of thinking to its logical conclusion. And he just got blown away by US Special Forces in Pakistan.

  2. Infidel753 -- Aye. People like this make it all the more inportant that we strive for church-state separation.

  3. Fundamentalists tend toward compartmental thinking. In one part of the brain Bin Laden was a tyrant who wanted to impose his religion on others. In another section, they (the Christian extremists) are simply sharing the "truth" with the world.

  4. I know where they are coming from because I've been there. In Mormonism, for example, all things are spiritual, including government. They look forward to the Millenium when Jesus Christ will rule as a monarch. Of course Jesus Christ will enforce their Mormon beliefs -- which won't be a problem because only Mormons and others similarly "righteous" will be living on the earth during the Millenium.

    So any current laws that run contrary to Mormons' code of morality are evil. There is no separation of church and state allowed -- except to the extent it keeps other religions from imposing their beliefs on Mormons. Funny how that works. Unmarried kids should not be having sex so we should get rid of Planned Parenthood because that only makes it easier for kids to sin. All people would be so much happier if they were Mormons. Why can't you see that, Ahab? Don't you want to convert?

    Seriously though, I'm only using the example of whacky Mormons to illustrate the fact (at least I believe it's a fact) that people like Newt Gingrich are whacked. They really believe we're in the middle of a war between good and evil.

  5. "How is it "coercive" to prevent one religion or one form of religious expression from having political dominance over others?"

    It's not. The wingnuts claim the Constitution guarantees only Freedom of Religion, not Freedom from Religion. But you have to have the latter in order to have the former. If you're not free from the threat of having some other (or many other) religions forced upon you, you are not free to practice the religion of your choice (if indeed you have one). The wingnuts should keep that in mind rather than constantly trying to implement a theocracy.

  6. Buffy -- Precisely. The two freedoms are intertwined and interdependent.

    Cognitive Dissenter -- Thanks for the insight into that kind of mindset.

    Donna Banta -- Good point. In some people's minds, it's only oppression when non-Christians try to force their religion on others.


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