Newt on Paganism in America

If Newt Gingrich is to be believed then we are "surrounded by paganism." Speaking at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia at an event called "Rediscovering God in America," the former Speaker of the House was joined by Mike Huckabee and Oliver North. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site. More from the Virginian-Pilot:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee urged Christians to get involved in politics to preserve the presence of religion in American life.

"I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history," Gingrich said. "We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism."

They and other speakers warned about the continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.

Gingrich and Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, argued the rights of Americans stem from God and to ignore that connection is perilous. The two were among several speakers, including former U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North, at the three-hour "Rediscovering God in America" event. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site.

Huckabee told the audience he was disturbed to hear President Barack Obama say during his speech in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday that one nation shouldn't be exalted over another.

"The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said. The United States is a "blessed" nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries' defeat of the British empire "a miracle from God's hand."

The same kind of miracle, he said, led California voters to approve Proposition 8, which overturned a state law legalizing same-sex marriages.

I'll say this for a man who has a PhD in History, Newt is quite the ignoramus. Paganism, using its broadest definition, refers to ancient mostly polytheistic religions outside the traditions of Abraham and his rather bizarre God. I mean what sort of God asks you to sacrifice your only son. I'm an atheist, hardly a pagan though on warm sunny afternoons I do tend to worship the Sun.

Tags: Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrinch, oliver north, Religion in America (all tags)

Comments

42 Comments

I don't think I need

religious advice from someone who dumped two spouses for younger models.

I am intrigued to see Newt playing this card. His 12-part prescription for all that ails the country at his American Solutions organization is mostly about economic and fiscal issues, not family values stuff.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-06 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

It would be nice if somebody reminded Newt, Huckabee, Ollie North and the rest of these people that God is not a right-wing Republican. I'm beginning to think that they're dirving people away from the Gospel.

by spirowasright 2009-06-06 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

George Mitchell tried once. He said this to Ollie during the Iran-Contra hearings:

"please remember, that it is possible for an American to disagree with you on aid to the Contras and still love God, and still love this country, just as much as you do. Although He is regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in American politics."

The whole speech is incredible (Michell talks about having sworn in new Americans as a federal judge), and worth a read.

(http://library.bowdoin.edu/arch/mitchell /speeches/ic2.htm)

by vadasz 2009-06-07 10:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Newt may not be the best person to throw the first stone. But he has a point. Moral standards need to be upheld and religion is the best way to achieve that.
by lavalwong 2009-06-06 09:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

nb: not for content, for "bangkok house rentals bangkok house rentals"

by Jess81 2009-06-06 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Wrong:  i.e.  David Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Mark Foley, Larry Craig.  All religious, all morally corrupt.  I could give a million more examples.  How about this:  Atheists make up approximately 10-12% of the US population, but less than 3/10 of 1% of the prison population.

by lojasmo 2009-06-07 03:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Why is religion the best way?  It may be the most common in many societies, but to some extent it's tautological; much of what is of interest to specific religions gets inculcated as "morality", whether it meets any objective test of merit outside the faithful.

Take for example Sabbath observance.  A Christian will tell you that not working on Sunday is moral.  An observant Jew will tell you that not working on Saturday is moral.  An atheist like me will tell you that working until your responsibilities are met is moral.  Who's moral?  

Similarly, take alcohol.  For many liturgical Christians, the consumption of alcohol is considered mandatory as part of the holiest rite of the Church: the Eucharist.  For Jews, wine is an essential component of the Sabbath table, the Passover table, Purim observance and other rites.  For Muslims and Latter-Day Saints, alcohol is strictly prohibited as a beverage at all times.  For an atheist like me, alcohol is neither good nor evil, neither prohibited nor mandatory, unless it interferes with your fundamental responsibilities.  Who's moral?

Would we not do better to read Aesop's fables in our youth and remember their good counsel, than to waste time and money on religion, given religion's hideous "recessive genes" in terms of sectarian strife, mass murder, superstition, frequent oppression of women (talk about morality....) and theocratic oppressive impulses to the detriment of those outside the "flock" or the "tribe"?

Religiously-inspired hatred of Jews was a large component of the Holocaust; a secular Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Belarus, Russia, etc., would not have been so eager to kill the Christ-killers.  It was Martin Luther, not some atheist in some physics department, who screeched for the killing of Jews, the looting and burning of their synagogues in his infamous "On The Jews and Their Lies."  Yet the name of Luther adorns tens of thousands of churches in America in broad daylight.  Some fucking morality.

Why am I not religious, even though I like religious music and art?  It's because I am already enough of an asshole and fear religion might make me worse.  Staying out of the temptation to indulge sanctimonious self-satisfaction and religious bigotry worse than I already do - that's MY contribution to "morality."

by Bruce Godfrey 2009-06-07 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

It's an ever-evolving list of societal ills.  I notice I haven't heard much about the evils of divorce or teen pregnancy lately.   Or adultery for that matter.

by Jess81 2009-06-06 09:51PM | 0 recs
a gay Iowan wrote a great open letter

to his right-wing state senator, and one point he made was that adultery has been and continues to be the leading threat to marriages.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-06 10:14PM | 0 recs
Re: a gay Iowan wrote a great open letter

I think they've got their improved, 21st century list of sins down pat.  If they start in with adultery again it's just going to be a nightmare checking the guest list, making sure David Vitter's not invited and what about divorce?- then we have to disinvite Newt and oy vey it's just a mess.  Who needs the headaches?

by Jess81 2009-06-06 10:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

You do of course realize that many people who frequent MYDD do believe in what you called a "rather  bizarre god" right?

by JDF 2009-06-06 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

"Paganism, using its broadest definition, refers to ancient mostly polytheistic religions outside the traditions of Abraham and his rather bizarre God."

You assume they're using a textbook definition.  This is usually an error when dealing with wingnuts.

I believe that what they actually mean by "paganism" is "anything that doesn't fit into our own narrow view of Christianity."

by Shocker Jim 2009-06-06 10:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

"The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said

Yeah, who's buys that poppycock in the Declaration of Independence...  Balderdash!!!  Written by a bunch of phony "deists" with no idea what America is about...

by LordMike 2009-06-06 11:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Oh, well...  I guess Huckabee's not expecting an appointment as US ambassador to the UN anytime soon.  He's affable but mad as a hatter.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-07 12:59AM | 0 recs
Strictly speaking

Doesn't belief in Jesus as the embodiment of god on earth make you a polytheist?

by mydailydrunk 2009-06-07 03:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Strictly speaking

No.  The idea of the Trinity, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, is three in one.  So it still is worship of God even though Jesus goes to the head of the crowd and the Holy Spirit, well, noone can quite figure that out.

by Hammer1001 2009-06-07 04:18AM | 0 recs
homoiousias v homoousias

so much bloodshed over a single vowel.

I forgot to add /snark on my first post.

by mydailydrunk 2009-06-07 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

As a Christian, and a rather devoted one, I still have to say that the Old Testament really has some rather screwy ideas.  But they had an entirely different state of mind back then, so it makes sense if you try to put it into context...

Which leads me to MY favorite joke.  Where, exactly, did Abraham come from?  Ur.  He was a Urian.  Which makes me think that he ran across someone who asked him, "Hey Buddy, where you from?" and he said "Urrrrrrr....."

But anyway...this whole notion of being surrounded by pagans...fits into the strict views of the conservative evangelicals (I have seen posters in Baptist churches saying that the USA is mainly NON christian, more so than even Africa!) but this REALLY kill them with any "normal" American.  They really just don't get the idea of "live and let live" that the USA was founded on, (even if we have trouble acting it out).

I am sorry, I always had SOME admiration for Newt's intelligence, but either he is so hard up he is pandering for praise, or else he really is STUPID...ie, he is given the facts but ignores them for his own beliefs.

It is stuff like this 3hr conference that really is the cause of a lot of pain in the world...and from "devoted" christians...UGH...I am glad that God has to deal with that mess and not I.

(BTW I am in Assisi, Italy enjoying the sights and philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi.  Really stands out stark against that American Evangelical idiocy...)

by Hammer1001 2009-06-07 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

I think Mr. Lemos, that you owe those of us an apology for your comment regarding our "bizarre God" as you state it. I find your comment to be rather offensive to say the least and demand an apology.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-07 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Well, isn't it a fair comment?  We generally would regard someone who commanded the sacrifice of a child, then seemingly on a whim reversed himself, as indulging bizarre behavior.  It's not particularly polite, but "bizarre" seems like a fair comment.

This identified creator of the Universe seems to have a strong emotional investment in small things - the timing of a day of rest, eating some fish and quadripeds but not others, etc.  We have to believe that the creator and designer of the ENTIRE Universe - of every star, planet, meteor, subterranean fish, amoeba, scorpion, igneous rock, cosmic ray, ape, worm, penguin, platypus, supernova, waterfall, moon dust particle, partridge and penis - cares so much about small things.  It seems a bit bizarre.

It seems a bit bizarre that Christians would worship a God who, in essence, committed suicide as a man - with the help of the Roman soldiers on duty that day in Jerusalem under Imperial occupation - because He demanded a blood sacrifice for humanity's sins.  He was angry with us, so he angered the local authorities into killing him, so that he would not - have to? - send human beings to Hell.  If he wanted to forgive humanity, he could have done so without arranging a killing spectacle under color of Roman law; after all, God's omnipotent, right?  Seems a little bizarre.

It only seems less bizarre because the stories are so familiar.  Millions of Hindus polluting the Ganges and then bathing in it - sounds bizarre, but only for the first 100 times you read about it.  Then it's, "oh of course."

by Bruce Godfrey 2009-06-07 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Your grasp of the reasons for Jesus death are ignorant at best. Its amazing how atheists are so threatened by the idea of a greater power that is the Lord, that they find it necessary to insult and attempt to ridicule those who do. In fact those who have no faith have no real understanding of the bible because they havenever spent time to learn or study it or study with those who are educated in it.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-07 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Actually my response is well within traditional interpretations of Jesus' death within Western Christianity.  It's not a matter of "threat"; when I see something truly bizarre that strains my intelligence and credulity, my temptation is to call it bizarre.

Even Tertullian claimed that he believed because it was absurd, impossible - "credo quia absurdum/impossibile" - i.e. bizarre.

As for your claim that those who have no faith have no real understanding of the Bible because they have never spent time to learn or study it, or study with the learned, that's a demonstrably false and breathtakingly uninformed comment.  Indeed, your entire comment is an ad hominem against those who find your bizarre religion bizarre and have the bluntness to say so, which means you have given up debating and instead have chosen to throw shitbombs.  It's tantamount to resigning at the chessboard, Buckeye.

by Bruce Godfrey 2009-06-07 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

And I would call your portrayal of judeo christianity as uninformed, uneducated and ultimately sad...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-08 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Bullshit. I'm an atheist, and neither I, nor any of the atheists I know, are "threatened by the idea of a greater power".   Some are respectful, others scoff, but none are threatened.  

I'm an anthropologist by training and education, and have studied world religions and religious beliefs as they apply to cultures and societies extensively in both modern and ancient contexts.  I've read every major religious text from the Old Testament to the writings of Starhawk.  I've read every single Volume of The Golden Bough for Pete's sake, and yet because I'm an atheist, I have no real understanding and am under-educated?

Speaking of ignorance:  Atheism requires faith too, but I'm sure you'd thought of that already when you typed all the stupid suppositional crap before, yes?  

by fogiv 2009-06-08 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

You say you have read and studied the bible but based upon your comments of a "bizarre God", its just points out to me that you dont really understand what you have read or understand what Jesus expects of Christians or what God expects of Jews. The story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac is pointed at as some sort of bizarre choice that Abraham is asked to make, when in fact its as simple as the Lord asking Abraham to show is loyalty and love to God first by forsaking his child. Its not bizarre, its based upon the need to put God before everything and everyone else, one's self included. You may not agree with that, but to cal it bizarre it nothing more than a lack of understanding of the story and the expecations that the Lord has for all of us who believe.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-08 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Some might find it bizarre that any diety would expect a parent to put anything before their children. Just because you disagree does not mean it is not a valid opinion.

by JDF 2009-06-09 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Can you read?  I made no comments whatsoever about a bizarre God.

by fogiv 2009-06-12 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Sounds like they are using the Courtier's Reply (by PZ Myers) on us again:

"I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk. Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity."

by Dirk Diggler 2009-06-08 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

You're also missing some of the historical contexts.  Almost every religion at the time of Abraham demanded sacrifices of children.  A number of them would require the sacrifice of the first born.  The point of the Abraham and Isaac story was that it ended the sacrifice of children.

Jesus actually follows a similar vein:  His death, among other things, marked the end of the need to perform animal sacrifices.

by anonevent 2009-06-07 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

I think if the god that Lemos refers to really is all-knowing and all-powerful, being called 'bizarre' by a political blogger during this brief moment in time, the early twenty-first century, probably isn't going to bother him all that much.

by vadasz 2009-06-07 11:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

I don't think Lemos meant to insult you.  I don't presume to speak for all atheists, but maybe my point of view can help provide some insight.  You've got to understand that the various rituals, traditions and beliefs religious people hold are often seen by outsiders as weird or bizarre.

I'm sure you probably think Mormons are a little whacky, no?  Golden plates, seer stones, no coffee, no tobacco, no alcohol, etc...  And I always laugh when I hear people say that Scientologists are weird.  From my perspective all religions are weird.  It's hard for me to imagine what would make someone believe in an all-knowing all-powerful being they've never seen.

Now try to look at Christianity from an outsiders perspective.  Virgin birth, resurrection, walking on water, water to wine...see what I mean?  There's some pretty incredible stuff there.  And then take communion.  Early Christians were rumored to be cannibals because they drank blood and ate flesh (metaphorically of course).  Anyway, like I said, I'm pretty sure Mr. Lemos meant no offense.

by Dirk Diggler 2009-06-08 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Okay, I can accept what your saying. However, its the undertone of his comments. I can see for example you and I sitting and having a conversation about this subject and you questioning all that, however typical of Mr. Lemos is his manner of finding a way to inject some subtle "your an idiot" undertone if your opinion or belief differs from his.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-06-08 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

You may be more familiar with Lemos' writing than I, because I only occasionally visit this blog.  Or, it's entirely possible, that the perceived slight was unintentional.  I've inadvertantly offended more people than I can possibly imagine on a plethora of topics.  Politics and religion tend to be the most sensitive of all.  That's why proper bar etiquette requires those subjects to be off limits.

Anyway, going back and re-reading the original post, I can see how there might be several interpretations of the way he used the word "bizarre".  I'd have to get more familiar with Lemos' writing style before I came to the conclusion that his intentions were indeed malicious.  And of course, it would've been nice if Lemos himself actually read the comments and declared what his intentions were since more than one reader took offense to the word.

by Dirk Diggler 2009-06-09 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

So let me get this straight.  Comparing the US to other countries is absurd and offensive.  But comparing Prop 8 to the American Revolution, that's, uh...

by Steve M 2009-06-07 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

This poisonous, deluded 'America is blessed by God' crap really does make me worry about the sanity of those who say it.  We've seen the effects of that kind of mind blowing hubris during the Bush Presidency, and yet still they want more. Huckabee is the scariest kind of maniac, he comes across as a nice, reasonable guy.

How Gingrich has the chutzpah to lecture about religion after his multiple marriages amazes me. And what amazes me more are the morons who sit there and lap it up.

I hope Republicans nominate Gingrich in '12. I find it difficult to think of a candidate more likely to lead them into the long, dark night of electoral oblivion.

by liberalj 2009-06-07 06:18AM | 0 recs
Sacrifice

I mean what sort of God asks you to sacrifice your only son.

I know you're just being facetious...but just to balance the thread (to add a dash of serious yang to complement your flippant yin) here's a rabbi's commentary on this famous conumdrum.

by Rob in Vermont 2009-06-07 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Sacrifice

Ooh, just realized too you mistakenly suggest Abraham had only one son: you really do want to ruffle feathers! ;-)

by Rob in Vermont 2009-06-07 07:26AM | 0 recs
the Christian interpretation

is even simpler: Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God foreshadows God's willingness to sacrifice his son to humanity.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-07 09:02AM | 0 recs
He forgot to mention adultry and divorce

I wonder why?

by Do Something 2009-06-07 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

I never shared the opinion some on the left had expressed for years that Newt Gingrich is one of the "brighter" bulbs in the Republican universe.  I always thought he was ignorant and peevish.  I could not see where the adulation came from, except that perhaps his educational achievements fostered certain impressions.  

I don't think anyone with a full set of brain cells would twitter to the world "Racist" about a high-profile Supreme Court nomination, at least not a former Speaker of the House who had to resign in disgrace but has expressed future aspirations for higher office.  This latest "surrounded by Paganism" bit is more of that same ignorance.  

It behooves to remember that in essence Newt Gingrich's ascent in 1994 and the subsequent full-tilt right-ward shift of the Republican party (architected by Gingrich and complete with eeking out and disdaining the many moderates who had felt home with the GOP theretofore) was ultimately responsible for the Republican party's current troubles and slow blood-letting.  Gingrich was the artist who painted the party into a corner that it likely can't get out from for some time.   Now, how short-sighted and ultimately stupid was that?  

by devilrays 2009-06-07 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

I followed some of Newt's college teachings...he was explaining concepts of foreign mind-sets back when noone else, with a public forum, was.  THAT was the only respect I really gave him and I thought that showed some intelligence.  Either age is addeling him, or he is pimping himself for the spotlight.  Sad either way, and he looses any shred of respect he may have earned before, in another time.

by Hammer1001 2009-06-07 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Newt on Paganism in America

Show Newt a little respect.  For two reasons:

1.  He wants to bring back the values of a well known bronze age war god.  Who can blame him?  It worked for Moses, Clovis, and Duke William.  Surely it can work for Newt.

Contrary to popular belief, Yahweh tolerates what is now derided as "adultery" and "pedophilia".  There has to be some reward for service to the Almighty.  Grow up people!

2.  He's probably just chanting off a few lines he partly believes in a little-watched forum.  Then he can raise shit loads of money off the true-believing morons, straddle the fence a while, and then be prepared to take a "principled" stand when puplic opinon solidifies four years later.  I can think of more than one cynic who took the White House by doing just that.

So to Newt, oh wise Newt, I have but three words---

"Good Luck, ASSHOLE!"

by SuperCameron 2009-06-07 11:03AM | 0 recs

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