Newt Gingrich: a Catholic running against Islam?

David Goldman AP FILE – In this April 13, 2011 file photo, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrives for a … Continued

David Goldman

AP

FILE – In this April 13, 2011 file photo, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrives for a 2012 presidential exploratory committee fundraising event in Atlanta.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and high-profile conservative intellectual, announced today that he is officially in the running for the Republican nomination for president. Along the way he’s been playing the politics of religion.

In the speeches and media appearances he did in preparation for his run, he has emphasized two things. The first is the importance of God and morality in the public square, referencing his own conversion to Catholicism to give him credibility. The second is to rail against the dangers of Islam in America.

This two-pronged approach underscores just how far we have come in America on issues of religious tolerance, and also how far we have to go.

Just a half-century ago, John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith was widely viewed as a significant liability to his presidential aspirations. Kennedy had to do the opposite of what Gingrich appears to be doing: effectively de-emphasize his faith, and say that it would play no role whatsoever in informing his public acts. “I am not the Catholic candidate for president,” he told the American Association of Newspaper Editors in April 1960. “I am the Democratic party’s candidate for president who happens to be Catholic. I do not speak for the Catholic Church on issues of public policy, and no one in that church speaks for me.”

The irony, of course, is that many of the same slanders leveled at the Catholic Church are now leveled at Islam in America. Catholicism was considered incompatible with liberty, democracy and pluralism. Any inroads made by Catholics into the corridors of power was considered a threat to the American way of life. Catholics were considered loyal to the autocratic Pope, not the American flag. Catholic politicians would enact policies to advantage their Church and hurt American values, everything from appointing an Ambassador to the Vatican to sending public funds to parochial schools.

The ‘No Popery’ signs of previous eras feel remarkably like the ‘No Sharia’ signs of today. The view of the Catholic faith as inherently incompatible with American values mimics today’s view of Islam. And the hysteria about the effects of increasing Catholic influence on American culture sound precisely like today’s fears about Muslims. Norman Vincent Peale, a powerful Protestant minister and a leading anti-Catholic anti-Kennedy voice, put the matter of Kennedy’s possible election in stark terms to a Who’s Who group of conservative Protestant leaders: “Our American culture is at stake.”

The same is said, frequently, about Islam in America. And one of the leading voices in raising such fears is none other than Gingrich. He compared the Muslim group seeking to start an interfaith center near Ground Zero to Nazis putting a plaque near a Holocaust memorial. His film ‘America at Risk’ raises fears of Muslim domination. In some of his statements, it feels as if Gingrich is channeling Peale: “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”

The historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. wrote that anti-Catholicism was the “deepest bias in the history of the American people.” The fact that Gingrich can proudly advertise his conversion to Catholicism as a personal and presidential asset is a sign of how much progress we’ve made. But it is profoundly un-American to replace one bias with another, and even more troubling that a man whose Catholic forbears experienced discrimination because of their religion should turn around and peddle such prejudice himself.

The forces of inclusiveness in America always turn back the forces of intolerance – we’ve seen it in the defeat of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism and segregation. Gingrich, who has a PhD in history, is well aware of this. Which makes it all the more surprising that he is willing to risk being remembered on the wrong side of that divide.

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  • hsolares

    Catholic? He’s more like a Henry VIII monarch who decapitates his wives.

  • fjt123

    Newt like much of the Republican party is about fear … fear of someone different … different religion, different beliefs.

    The republicans need to remember Regan … Regan was NOT about fear … he was about hope and a better future.

    That’s why this crop of Republicans are going to get destroyed in the polls for 2012 and why the Republican Party isn’t going to win until they evolve the party from the party of ‘no’ and fear to a forward looking party which is about good governance which sometimes means cutting down spending rather than a zombie like mantra for smaller government.

  • frluke

    Hey, It worked for them with Bush for 8 years. Why run away from an effective tactic.

    Most American’s are not too bright, just read the posts here.

  • jtwblack

    There is a difference between discrimination and all out protection from evil Ideologies. I challenge every person to really look DEEP into the morals and values of Islam, and then look at Islamic nations and what they do to non believers who dwell in that country. Really dig deep into Islam, you will find it very scary if you are not Muslim. Look at terrorism around the globe and then look at what group is behind it, Islamic terrorists. Is America blind to the threat of Islamic ideology?!? C’mon folks do your research! Look at the history of Islam! What you don’t get about Islam is that it cares nothing for your tolerance it wants your obedience. I know this isn’t a popular opinion but you have to ask yourself; what is the truth about the actions behind this Ideology? Also, This violence is on a global scale! Open your eyes and see the truth about Islamic Ideology. Christians and Jews are being killed and driven out of their home countries by Islamic regimes in Egypt, Libya, all over Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Pakistan (which now has a Blasphemy law).

  • jckdoors

    A Catholic running against Islam? No. He’s a self-important, narrcissist fear-monger running on the lowest common denominator.

  • jbentley4

    Gingrich is a bigoted jerk who should know better.

  • ThomasBaum

    bamissfa wrote:

    “you are teaching incorrect doctrine…to wait ” God has had sicne before creation for ALL of us to be in God’s Kingdom, ultimately.”"

    Whereas I wrote, “…God, in becoming One of us which Jesus did in the Incarnation, has a Plan which God has had since before creation for ALL of us to be in God’s Kingdom, ultimately.”

    God chose me to speak for God, not to speak for “doctrine”.

    God has a Plan and has had that Plan since before creation and this Plan is threading it’s way thru history and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.

    You then wrote, “But NO there is NO plan to FORCE non believers and God haters to be in his eternal Kingdom.”

    I never said that God would “force”, you did, and also I am not telling God just what God can and cannot do and how God can go about doing it, remember what God said, “My Ways are not your ways and My Thoughts are not your thoughts”.

    Many people “underestimate” God and in the process overestimate satan.

    See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.

    Take care, be ready.

    Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    Kingofkings1 wrote:

    “There a world of difference between personal beliefs and state law.”

    And it should stay that way.

    Personal beliefs should come from within and state law is imposed from the outside.

    You then wrote, “Who is fanning the flames of hatred and why?
    Fox news is not entirely to blame.
    Ignorance as an excuse is not enough”

    When I state that the god of islam is satan, I state it for some simple reasons, some of which are:

    I have met God and God is a Trinity and the god of islam gets mighty upset when anyone says that God is a Trinity.

    Jesus, Who is God-Incarnate, taught us to call God “Our Father” and the god of islam gets upset over this also.

    These are enough reasons in and of themselves but there are other reasons, some of which I “know” from Divine revelation and some of which I believe.

    I have also stated many times that the True, Living, Triune, Triumphant God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof.

    Something to think about.

    You may look at the “Flame of Truth” and perceive of it as a flame of hatred but God chose me to speak, so I speak, on here and elsewhere.

    See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.

    Take care, be ready.

    Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • steviana

    Calling Gincrich a “conservative intellectual”, when coupled with today’s article of fact checker on his earning the “honor” of four-Pinochio, raises the question whether or an intelelctural will lie or just being negligent on so many issues.

  • YEAL9

    With respect to “nutty Newt”: ……………………………………..

    Jesus was a bit “touched” (as is Newt, as was Mohammed). After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today’s followers of Paul (“nutty Newt”) et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices

  • YEAL9

    With respect to “nutty Newt”:……………………………………….

    Jesus was a bit “touched” (as is Newt, as was Mohammed). After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today’s followers of Paul (“nutty Newt”) et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices

  • fa02

  • ThomasBaum

    YEAL9 wrote:

    “Jesus was a bit “touched”"

    I see that you agree with what some in the bible said about Jesus when He was walking this planet, do you know if your “mentors” also agree that this statement in the bible is “accurate” or have they taken this out of their “new and improved” version of the bible?

    You also wrote, “In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.”

    Whether or not Jesus would be declared “legally insane” has absolutely no bearing on the validity of the things you spoke of.

    By the way, you are not the only one, it seems, that is in for a surprise.

    See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.

    Take care, be ready.

    Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • YEAL9

    Mr. Baum,

    Surprise? I am sure the god you talk to on a regular basis has noted my situation after my demise so tell me.

  • ThomasBaum

    I do not know what your “situation” will be but it will be something and not nothing.

    I am a messenger, I am not God and it is God Who knows the “details”, so to speak.

    And as far as a “surprise”, I would say that ALL will be in for a surprise since none of us know exactly the “details”.

    I am just here to tell the world that God is not the “loser” that so many seem to think God to be and that so many seem to want God to be.

    As I have said, God’s Plan is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God in God’s Kingdom.

    Take care, be ready.

    Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • usapdx

    Why do people want to bring religion into our government? Thomas Jefferson was correct in his views. Can they practice what they preach?

  • Terrey

    I am NOT fond of this article. A comparison between historic anti-Catholicism in America and the recent wave of anti-Islam in America is made, but no incidents, statistics and other information is provided to compare the two. That’s a rather glib comparison.

    I’m not an expert on any of this, but neither am I writing an article on a major newspaper website. I think it should be noted at least that the fear of Islam is rather new in America, and that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks obviously precipitated the wave of dislike or fear of Islam. The strict union of civil law and religious law in Islamic teaching is also juxtaposed to the American concept of separation of Church and State, therefore there is unavoidable ideological tension between Islam and American political theory.

    Anti-Catholicism has a long history in America. For starters, it seems that a predominantly Protestant nation would have some antipathy towards the hoards of Catholic immigrants that arrived from 1840′s onwards. Dislike of Catholicism in recent years is mainly fueled by ethical opposition to abortion and the grossly unethical abuse scandal.

    As for Newt, I’m sure that as many people as there are that will take Newt’s conversion as a plus, there will be just as many or more who view it negatively.

  • youcanthandlethetruth1

    Your analogy fails to consider that there was no Catholic equivalent 50 or 60 years ago to the modern “jihad”. I don’t recall Catholic fanatics flying planes into buildings, setting off bombs or beheading people.

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