Friday, May 29, 2009

Newt Gingrich: Christian Nationalist

Historian wannabe and self-proclaimed Christian Nationalist Newt Gingrich has joined the ranks of David Barton and the other history revisionists. In his book, Rediscovering God in America, which was also made into a video/"documentary," Gingrich links up with David Barton and others to combat the "secularism" of the left by doing what most Christian Nationalists do...proclaim America to be the United States of Jesus:

Part I:


Part II:


Part III:


Part IV:


And here is the preview/trailer of Newt's Rediscovering God in America:


Give me a break, Newt! Quit preying upon the historical ignorance of the masses! Here's just a few examples:

1.) Newt states that Jefferson wasn't a deist. Ok, some on this blog have made that connection. However, he sure wasn't a Christian either, a simple truth (and Newt claims to be all about truth) that is omitted from his presentation

2.) Newt tries to connect the quotes on the Jefferson Memorial (many of them disputed by the way) with Jefferson's "Christianity." Just silly.

3.) Newt points to Jefferson's "Sworn on the altar of God" quote as proof of his piety. However, he forgets that Jefferson swore hostility to the ORGANIZED RELIGION of his day!!!

4.) The "Jefferson supported missionary work" comment is stupid. It was part of the treaty NEGOTIATED BY THE INDIANS THEMSELVES! Jefferson didn't create this on his own, he was simply honoring the wishes of the Indians in the treaty.

5.) Newt should be smart enough to realize that the Washington Monument was built roughly 65 years after the death of Washington himself. The "Laus Deo" inscription was NOT the idea of any single founder, but of the architect.

To sum up, Newt follows the same strategy of his cohorts David Barton, Peter Lillback, etc. He gives half truths mixed with patriotic innuendo to "inspire" a historically ignorant mass. Oh, and of course, Newt has to throw in the typical conservative obsession with Ronald Reagan in his final video...a point that has NOTHING to do with his overall argument, but still quite typical.

35 comments:

Brad Hart said...

Lindsey writes:

***"Historian wannabe and self-proclaimed Christian Nationalist..."***

Uh, you probably should have checked your facts before making a comment like this. Here are Newt's education credentials:

B.A. Emory University in...HISTORYM.A. and Ph.D. from Tulane University in...HISTORYSounds like his "wannabe" credentials are pretty solid!
--------------------------------
Ok, I am actually going to defend Newt on this one. Lindsey's assertion that Newt is a carbon copy of David Barton, etc. is, in my opinion, completely wrong. From my perspective, you are simply trying to lump him in with others because he happens to be conservative. Where in the entire presentation does Newt call America a "Christian Nation?" That is NOT, repeat NOT his goal here. Instead Gingrich is trying to (as the title of his book suggests) REDISCOVER God in American history, which is very consistent with what the majority on this blog are trying to argue. I think it's clear that most of us believe that the founders wanted a RELIGIOUS society, but not an exclusively CHRISTIAN nation. Isn't this precisely Newt's overall thesis?

Where do you get your "Newt Gingrich is a Christian Nationalist" evidence? How and why do you equate him to David Barton, etc.? To be honest, this just seems like a blanket attack against anyone advocating for a pro-religious history. In essence, you are proving Newt's case, Lindsey.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Brad:

Gingrich may have a Ph.D. but he is still a poor historian. There are plenty of M.D.'s out there who are terrible doctors. Having the schooling doesn't automatically make somebody good at their job.

As for your claims that Gingrich isn't like Barton, where is YOUR evidence? I think it's plain to see when Gingrich brings up how the founders "depended" on the Bible for their inspiration and when he uses people like Barton himself in his documentary that Gingrich is pushing the same agenda. You don't have to say "Christian Nation" out loud to get your point across. Besides, Gingrich does pull out the stupid "Year of our Lord" argument to prove his argument. Also the "Laus Deo" bit is clearly a chip that is regularly used by Christian Nationalists.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

Brad Hart said...

Nice "backtrack" Lindsey. Did you even know that Gingrich has his Ph.D. in history? Or were you assuming that he was a "wannabe historian" simply because he's an "evil Republican?"

Video Part II (at 4:35) Gingrich states (Regarding the wall of separation between church and state):

***“There should be no government-paid, taxpayer-financed official established religion. Well my guess is that 99.99.9% of the people in America who are religious would agree that the last thing we need is politicians messing up religion the way they’ve messed up government.”***

This is NOT what Barton and others argue. Let me give you a quote from a TRUE Christian Nationalist:

***“The great misunderstanding of ‘the separation of church and state’ is closer in spirit and letter of the law to the old Soviet Union than it is to the spirit, letter of the law, and actions of the founders of this country." ~Dr. D. James Kennedy***

Notice the obvious difference? This isn't the same thing that Gingrich is saying and I think you know it.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Brad:

Yes, D. James Kennedy was a farce, no doubt about that. His comments are way worse, I will give you that. But how do Gingrich's comments make him less of a Christian Nationalist? It's clear from the videos that he most certainly is. Ok, he's not as vocal as a Kennedy or Barton type, but that's like saying that Lamar Odom is less of a Laker than Kobe because he scores less (and my Lakers are going to put your Nuggets out of their misery 2nite, BTW).


And no, I am not "backtracking" on Gingrich's education. I don't care. For example Doris Kerns-Goodwin has a Ph.D., and worked in a couple of presidential administrations, yet I hate her work because she is a poor historian. She's been caught plagiarizing many parts of her book on Lincoln. I feel the same way for Newt. He can have all the schooling in the world, but his conclusions are wrong.

So no, there isn't much difference in the GOAL of Newt's work v. Barton/Kennedy. The only difference is in the language they use. Newt is just a little more subtle.

Brad Hart said...

2 things, Lindsey:

1.) I suggest watching those videos again, because I see NO EXAMPLES of where Newt portrays himself as a supporter of the Christian Nation. Again, he is advocating in favor of a more pro-religious emphasis on American history, but this does not equate into him being a “die-hard” Christian Nationalists as you claim. Perhaps Newt does believe that America is a Christian Nation. So what if he does? My point is that his arguments in these videos are historically sound. Where does he go “over the top” as we have seen so many times with Barton, Kennedy, Falwell, etc.? I don’t see one single indication of this.

I know that it bothers you when someone on the right makes a good argument, especially when it has to do with the topic at hand, but how can you seriously say that Gingrich’s argument makes him a “Christian Nationalist” (even if you argue that he is somewhat less than Barton et al.)? He clearly does not push such an agenda. Again, give me one place where he vehemently pushes the Christian Nation thesis to be true.

2.) Your comparison between Kearns-Goodwin and Newt is completely unfair. I’ve heard the rumors regarding KG’s alleged plagiarism and it sounds like there may be something to them. However, where and when has Newt done the same? Maybe he has and I just don’t know about it, but unless you can provide examples of Gingrich’s committing the same offenses then I suggest you refrain from making the comparison. It’s simply unfair.

On one thing you are probably right: L.A. probably will finish off Denver, though I don’t think it will be tonight. Look for their victory in game 7.

Mark in Spokane said...

Remember that there are many founders who supported church establishment at the state level -- men like Patrick Henry who were hardly marginal figures. During the Founding period and the early Republic there were state establishments as well. Connecticut, for example, had an established state Church until 1818. Look at the preambles of the constitutions of virtually all of the states -- they all contain expressly religious language that acknowledges the role of God (usually given a non-sectarian title like "Supreme Legislator of the Universe," etc.).

Pinky said...

Newt Gingrich is a highly credentialed person.
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As was Joseph Goebels, PhD, who stood head and shoulders above most all people when it came to being educated..
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Goebels was one of the greatest in communicating propaganda to untold millions.
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It proves absolutely nothing about his honesty that Gingrich is highly educated.

SO Katie said...

I was disturbed when Newt started blathering on about just war. I suppose it is true, but it reminds me too much of Goebels et al talking about Jesus being a warrior. Then again, my father's family is Mennonite so ... the idea of someone who follows Jesus wanting to be warriors in the name of Jesus is beyond me.

Pinky said...

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Raise up a child in the way you want him or her to go and when they are a mature person, they will not depart from it.
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You gotta hand it to Newt and others like him. They are highly skilled in the way they gather followers around them.
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His talk is extremely moving even if it is filled with unabashed and deceptive spins aimed at the ideologically biased.
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This man is a dangerous person according to my understandings.
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Too bad it is seen as anti-Christian to stand up against such charlatanism.

bpabbott said...

I don't see him as a participant in promoting Christian Nationalism, but as a politician promoting himself.

Given his education and intelligence, I expect he is intentionally tweaking the historic record to favor the view of his audience.

It certainly should be a surprize his words sound more like a sermon that a lecture on US history .... after all it *was* a sermon.

As a sermon, I think Gingrich does a nice job tying a pretty ribbon around a pile of dung ;-)

Brad Hart said...

Goodness, people!

Everyone is so quick to condemn Gingrich for his historical "tweaking" yet nobody as of yet has produced a single example of it. Look, I am not a Gingrich apologist. I actually dislike him more than I like him. However, his arguments are NOT based in lies. He is not "tweaking" anything from what I can see. Now, maybe he gets a small kernel of truth wrong here or there but who doesn't? If you are going to crucify Newt for what I see to be solid work then where is your judgment of, say, Howard Zinn et al.? I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with his political leanings...right? You don’t have to accept his perspective of history but the fact remains that he presents his argument well…and it’s NOT the typical “Christian Nation” argument no matter how much you want it to be such.

Pinky writes:

***"As was Joseph Goebels, PhD, who stood head and shoulders above most all people when it came to being educated..
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Goebels was one of the greatest in communicating propaganda to untold millions.
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It proves absolutely nothing about his honesty that Gingrich is highly educated."***

PLEASE tell me that you are kidding! This is beyond ridiculous! Equating Gingrich to Goebbels (actually spelled with 2 "B's") is as over the top as the stuff Barton spews out. In fact, it's probably worse. I am SOOOOO tired of people (on either side of the isle) who spew venom at the others simply because they are on the "other side." Doesn't this make you every bit as bad as...say...Rush Limbaugh? Michael Savage? This is the kind of ilk that I would expect from them.

You don't have to like Newt, you don't have to agree with what he says, but he is NOT TWISTING HISTORY or lying, and he certainly does not deserve to be equated with the likes of Goebbels. That's just nonsense.

bpabbott said...

oppps, I bungled my punch line. I meant the say: It certainly should *not* be a surprize that his words sound more like a sermon that a lecture on US history .... after all it *was* a sermon.

Brad, my pokes at Newt are tongue-n-cheek. He is a skilled politican. I expect him (as all other politicians) to patronize the ideology of the audience in front of him. I can't fault him for that. While I think his words are one-sided, you are correct that he doesn't deserve to be compared to Barton (at least in my opinion).

I think one of the reasons many dislike him is because he is good at manipulating people with rhetoric, which is to say nothing more than that he is quite accomplished in the American political system.

Tom Van Dyke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you for the de-fisking, Mr. Hart, an act of heroism in its way. I was inclined to sit this one out since I have always objected to this technique of posting videos, finding a handful of minor errors, and declaring victory while ignoring 100 other accurate points.

"Just a few examples" of inaccuracy is invariably all there is. As you note, we all make mistakes, and there are over a half-dozen in the first paragraph of this post alone, several of which you documented.

And since I prefer not to sit through these videos in the first place, I'll take your indication that Gingrich nowhere speaks of a "United States of Jesus" as true, and that there's nothing that could be construed to be such by the honest listener.

And Goebbels? C'mon, people. Ugh. Not only the logical fallacy of argumentum ad Nazium, but the fulfillment of Godwin's Law far far too soon even for this venue.
________________

Mark reminds us of the frequently overlooked cornerstone of the Founding principles---federalism, in this case that religion was left to the individual states.

These discussions often drift to the "Godless Constitution" of the new American central government in 1787 as some sort of proof of something, while ignoring the fact that that very same constitution left religion to the states, and often at a higher intensity that anyone in our 21st century would totally freak out at.

The "Godless Constitution" is less than half the true story.
_______________

SO Katie, Newt Gingrich is apparently speaking of not a "just war" in his opinion, but of the theological principle of Just War Theory, which dates back 700 years to the medieval philosopher/theologians, and is still a principle today.

Agree with Gingrich or not on the particulars, but he's not just talking through his hat. Google "Just War Theory" for yourself and you'll see where he's coming from.
______________

But Brad, you did turn out to be wrong about the Lakers finishing off the Nuggets tonight, because they did. Ms. Shuman was quite right about that.

Fortunately for your credibility, this blog is about discerning the truths about the past and not about predicting the future. But props to Lindsey are in order.

[Me, I'm a Clippers fan, so the Lakers and their fans are a satanic cabal. Especially Jack Nicholson. Why do you think he was so convincing in "The Witches of Eastwick," huh?]

Pinky said...

.
Hello, Brad.
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During his day, Dr. Goebbels was heralded for his intellectual abilities and as a trailblazer in mass communications. He was very good at it. I guess we have to give the devil his dues. That doesn't mean that I support what he stood for.
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Gingrich is highly acclaimed even though not so much as Hitler's master of propaganda.

Almost the entire video I watched from beginning to end is an example of spin. It isn't so much that there were outright lies and falsities in his presentation as it is the deception he applies in the way he uses truth to tames his beasts to jump from stool to stool.

I well remember when he had his boiler room making calls across the country selling subscriptions to his publication to save Western Civilization. He is good at promoting Newt Gingrich and no stone is left unturned. I was hooked into giving money to his cause; but, finally came to be fed up that he was raising money nationwide to be a senator from his home state.
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It's not wise to be gullible just because someone knows how to push your hot buttons.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Gingrich is highly acclaimed even though not so much as Hitler's master of propaganda.Ugh.

Brian Tubbs said...

Kudos to Brad and TVD for arguing in favor of balance and reason - qualities that are often lacking in the comments at American Creation.

Equating Gingrich with Goebbels is so outrageous, ludicrous, and over the top that anyone who makes such a comparison surrenders any credibility in my opinion. But this is just par for the course when it comes to the modern-day, "Move On" type Hard Left. Just call conservatives "Nazis" and be done with them.

Lindsey, while you didn't stoop to make Nazi comparisons, you also once again stray into ad hominem diatribes. I've listened to a lot of what Gingrich has to say, and I've NEVER heard him call for a "United States of Jesus." This is just one more inflammatory attack piece from you.

Pinky said...

.
Equating Gingrich with Goebbels is so outrageous, ludicrous, and over the top that anyone who makes such a comparison surrenders any credibility in my opinion..
I guess I would have to agree with you on that.

After just having made comments about you being an honest and good striver, who is it that equated Gingrich with Goebbels, Brian?
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Brad Hart said...

@TVD:

A Clippers fan??? Wow! That's even worse than being a Cubs fan!

You have my pitty.

---------------------------------

As for the rest of this discussion, if we are going to continue the Gingrich/Goebbels comparisons then it isn't even worth the time. I'd rather debate the NBA.

Lindsey Shuman said...

You know, Brian, every time you get upset over an anti-Barton/Gingrich/anything conservative you tend to do your own attacking. Are you simply against anything that is anti-Christian?

I respect your stance and your faith. I think your material is always appropriate and you serve your faith very well in the way you choose to carry yourself. However, why do you get so angry if an opposing position is given? Wasn't this blog created to give ALL views on this issue? You are right that I am 100% against the Christian Conservative agenda. I make zero apologies for that. I dislike Barton and the others every bit as much as you dislike Zinn. Yet our opposing views does not warrant an open-ended attack every time I make a posting that is anti-Christian/Conservative, does it?

I don't think Pinky is comparing Goebbels to Gingrich. Read his comments again, everyone. Pinky is simply stating that Gingrich is a shrewd politician and is catering to his audience. Yes Brad, much like Barton and the rest!

BTW Brad, how did you like that 20 point beating last night?

Go Lakers!

Brad Hart said...

Yep, here we go again debating each other's character as opposed to discussing the actual topic of this post.

Lindsey, you know I luv ya, but DAMN GIRL! Aren't you every bit as harsh and critical of the "anti-liberal" stuff as Brian is of the "anti-Christian?" Isn't it ok to disagree? I think Brian has every right to stick up for his viewpoint in the wake of an attack...especially one as one-sided and hostile as this one against Gingrich.

You say you are "100% agains the Christian Nation." Ok, fine, but don't crucify Brian if and when he decides to be "100% in favor."

Live and let live...or as they said in The Lion King, "Acuna Matata."

bpabbott said...

Brian: "But this is just par for the course when it comes to the modern-day, "Move On" type Hard Left. Just call conservatives "Nazis" and be done with them."

Com'on Brian, there's plent of dismissive name calling from both sides of the aisle.

Its not the fault of the left, its not the fault of the right, it is the political culture of polaring rhetoric that is the norm in the US. If this is to change it must be changed by the individuals who are engaged in political discussion.

In my opinion, I think Obama's popularity is due to a substantive decrease in partisan rhetoric, as compared to what is normative.

I'm hopeful that both parties will change their behavior of seeking votes by patronizing their constituents and begin to focus on seeking votes by actually serving their constituents.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ben, what lovely sentiments. I'll take your word that you were saying the same thing, oh, three or five years ago. ;-}

bpabbott said...

Whatever Tom.

My point appears to have eluded you.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Perhaps, Ben. But your invocation of President Obama brought to mind that after 8 years of attacks on Chimpy McHitler, all of a sudden I'm hearing sweetness and light from that quarter.

Neither do I find it particular honest to equate the two "sides" in this particular discussion. One has been far more temperate than the other.

bpabbott said...

Tom, the point is that the side should be determined, in each instance, by a reasoned examination by each individual of the facts available.

If an individual's principles and reasoned examination
proportionately result in politically right or politically left conclusions great!

That isn't to say it is inappropriate to critique politicians. But that the critique should be based upon substance, and be more substantive than a dismissive hand-wave predicated upon an idividuals political leanings.

Tom Van Dyke said...

On that, we agree. In fact, the problem comes from drawing a line down the middle and calling that wisdom, or truth.

Brian Tubbs said...

One of the shortcomings of text-based discussions is that comments can sometimes come off as angrier or more offensive than intended.

I harbor no anger or malice toward anyone here.

I was surprised at how Goebbels was brought up in relation to Gingrich, and did attack that comparison. This comparison was implied (and, in some ways, encouraged) by Pinky. I agree he didn't directly make the comparison, but "SO Katie" most certainly did! Doubt me? Go back and read her comments.

Lindsey, I have no problem with people criticizing my views or those of conservatives. I don't get offended at that. No problem. And I wasn't angry or reacting in anger toward you for your criticisms.

However, Lindsey, when you do posts like "David Barton: Liar," that's a little over the top. And when you mischaracterize Gingrich's position as "doing what most Christian Nationalists do...proclaim America to be the United States of Jesus," I'm going to call you on it.

Why? Not because I love Gingrich. Frankly, I don't think the multi-divorced, ethically-challenged Gingrich is the best spokesperson for "Judeo-Christian values." I'm not a big Gingrich fan, though I admit the man is very smart and has a lot of good things to say on ECONOMIC issues. But....because I don't like to see anyone get mischaracterized.

Nor do I like to see people get lumped together and dismissed. For instance, in your piece, you lump David Barton, Peter Lillback, and Newt Gingrich together.

You may not agree with Lillback, but he is not sloppy in his research. He's very meticulous. He may draw some conclusions you don't agree with, but the man isn't some "Christian Nationalist" extremist we should just dismiss.

But anyway, in looking back, I see that my comments - in this discussion - came off as angry. I was more frustrated and tired than angry. Next time, I'll work on taking some more time with my comments.

I apologize for any offense. No personal attack was intended against anybody.

I appreciate all of you.

Pinky said...

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Brian, just for clarification's sake, ok?
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What exactly did you infer from the parallel I drew with Goebbels and Gingrich? What was it you thought I was saying about Goebbels?
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I think you must have misread the comments. My implication was that Goebbels was an expert at laying down propaganda--he held a doctorate relating to communications. He was renowned as a leading expert. Did you know that?
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My point in the parallel had to do with deception. I mean to say that Gingrich uses deception as a tool of communications. It's a dirty trick to combine deception and ideology. A person with his morals would most certainly cheat the people he represents if it were to his advantage.
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I don't think much of any man with his morals either. And, in the video Gingrich shamelessly panders to the Christian Right. I find it pathetic that anyone would swallow his deceptions.
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I say he is a fake.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Uh-huh. Nobody misread your comments and no clarification is necessary. People know who Goebbels was, Phil. Do you know what Godwin's Law is?

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an informal adage created by Mike Godwin in 1990. The adage states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form...

[T]here is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.

Brian Tubbs said...

Pinky,

Do I think Gingrich is pandering a bit to Christian conservatives? Yes

Do I think he uses deception in any way that resembles Goebbels? No

I understood you to be comparing Gingrich's tactics with Goebbels' tactics. I was surprised by this comparison, and I do find it inappropriate and, yes, over the top.

Then, "SO Katie" took it a step further and basically compared the two men - not just their approach, but them personally.

That was too much for me to swallow.

But, hey, it's all water under the bridge at this point.

I'm glad you're here. I miss our discussions over at Suite101. :-)

Pinky said...

..
I think the air should be cleared.
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That one person or another sees something in the actions of some public figure one way or another ought to be accepted as respected for that person by any others involved.
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To diss someone for voicing their opinions seems very un-American to me.
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SO Katie might have opinions that differ from mine, yours, or others; but, that's life in the cookie factory.
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There is entirely too much of the mundane here and it tends to drive otherwise interested persons away.

Of all things--in a blog dedicated to getting at the roots of American Creation--being politically correct should not be a respected characteristic as it tends to force some prejudicial view over another.
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I liked this site as it seemed to be seeking as much truth as possible.

Brian Tubbs said...

Pinky, that works both ways. I'm not trying to silence or ridicule anyone for their beliefs. But, were I to make an outrageous statement, I would be called on it - and rightly so. And those who call me on it have as much right to free speech as I do.

There are those on the conservative side who ridicule, demonize, etc. their opponents - calling them Marxists, communists, what-have-you in order to discredit them so no one listens. That's very unhealthy.

Likewise, on the Left, I see this same kind of thing, when Bush is compared with Hitler or Gingrich with Goebbels. Conservative leaders are branded "Nazis" in order for them to be dismissed.

I hate to see that kind of thing happen around here. So when you brought up Goebbels in relation with Gingrich's style and tactics -- and then "SO Katie" took it even further, I believe(d) a line had been crossed. And I spoke up, accordingly.

That doesn't mean I was right. I'm human like anyone else. Maybe you and SO Katie are right and I'm wrong. Wouldn't be the first time I'm wrong, but I have to speak up as I see things at the time.

Pinky said...

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Fair enough, Brian. Fair enough.
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Stephen said...

Why such a tizzy over the mention of Geobbels and Gingrich in the same sentence. I think it is a fair link given he started the modern variation of liberal demonising. Is Gingrich not a propagandist? http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/examples.newt.html

While he is a long way from a Nazi propaganda minister, given the right circumstances I think he would make them very proud.

Back on the subject of his Christian Nationalist alliance.
I found some of his quotes with a Christian zeal Jerry Falwell could have spoken. Here is the full article: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/undergod/2009/06/gingrichs_move_to_the_religious_right.html?hpid=talkbox1

he spoke/preached at Lou Engle's "Rediscovering God in America" conference last Friday, hosted by Rock Church in Virginia Beach and broadcast on GodTV. "The first thing we need in America is spiritual," Gingrich told the congregation. "The first job we have as Americans is to reach out to everybody in the country who is not yet saved, and to help them understand the spiritual basis of a creator-endowed society."

quotes like this one from last Friday's conference: "I am not a citizen of the world," he said. 'I am a citizen of the United States, because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator."

In 2007, he went on James Dobson's radio show to apologize for his marital infidelity and he spoke of "the growing culture of radical secularism" at Liberty University's commencement.
(yeah that's what scares me most, radical secularism)

Not what I'm looking for in a national leader.