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