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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Gingrich Goes Nuclear – Palin Joins – Shame on Both

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:49 pm, January 30th 2012     —    9 Comments »

Burns & Haberman:

Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of repeatedly disregarding the religious rights of Americans at a campaign stop in Tampa Monday, telling reporters that his opponent had a “lack of concern for religious liberty.”

When it comes to how they handle faith, Gingrich said, Romney and President Barack Obama are cut from the same cloth.

“You want a war on the Catholic Church by Obama? Guess what: Romney refused to allow Catholic hospitals to have conscience in their dealing with certain circumstances,” Gingrich said, apparently referring to the handling of emergency contraception in universal health care laws.

He went on, speaking to a CNN reporter as a pack of press surrounded him: “Romney cut off kosher food to elderly Jews on Medicare. Both of them have the same lack of concern for religious liberty.”

Gingrich escalated the attack in his remarks in an airplane hangar, saying Americans deserve a “government that respects our religions.”

“I’m a little bit tired of being lectured about respecting every … religion on the planet, I would like him to respect our religion,” he said. A campaign spokesman confirmed Gingrich was referring to Romney.

What?  I mean seriously – WHAT? The kosher meal crack has already been shown to be a lie.  Jennifer Rubin:

His attacks on Mitt Romney have gotten loonier by the day. The latest is that Romney denied kosher meals to Medicare patients while he was governor of Massachusetts. According to the Romney camp, he issued numerous vetoes during his tenure for cost-cutting measures and restored funding for the kosher meals. The New York Post backs up Romney’s account: “The Massachusetts Legislature approved an amendment to restore the $600,000 to finance the kosher meals allowing a ‘most vulnerable segment of our population’ to ‘enjoy a special dignity,’ according to the Jewish Community Council.”

OK – lying – that’s not new with Gingrich, but he usually reserves his lies for talking about himself.  Now he is lying about Romney and his record.  Rubin handled the kosher meal issue pretty well.  I am getting tired of people conflating Massachusetts healthcare with what Romney wanted to do.  Romney vetoed efforts by the Democrat legislature to do what Gingrich complains about, and the legislature overrode the veto.  There is no credible way to lay that one in Romney’s lap.

But all of that would have been just politics at their ugly usual save for that last crack by the Newtser:

“I’m a little bit tired of being lectured about respecting every … religion on the planet, I would like him to respect our religion,” he said. A campaign spokesman confirmed Gingrich was referring to Romney.

At a minimum that’s a dog whistle.  Look, I understand there is a significant group of people out there who do not want to vote for Romney because of his faith - and I am sure that they are upset that their argument has been shot down to the point that virtually all reasonable people feel it illegitimate.  But that does not change the facts.  Apparently, however, Gingrich is willing to change some other facts in order to get that religious argument back into the debate.

What is worst of all is that in the middle of a very serious war on religion in all its expressions from the government along precisely the lines that Gingrich outlines, he is willing to aim his barbs at others on his team rather than at those that deserve the fire.  Newt Gingrich clearly is about nothing but Newt Gingrich.

And He Has Help, from None Other Than…Sarah Palin

Everyone knows Sarah Palin, a noted Gingrich supporter, has a much-visited Facebook page.  It looks like any defense of Romney’s Mormonism on Palin’s page is promptly removed.  Consider these two screen shots:

See that middle post – with the girl’s picture beside it (we have erased the names for obvious reasons).  It reads:

I was told if we defend the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, we are then banned form your Facebook page.  I would hope “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM” is still part of your beliefs, and this is not true.  I am a catholic, yet I have researched hte LDS< visited their headquarters in SLC when there on vacation.  I have many firends who are members of the LDS, and a family member who converted to the Mormon Religion.  I am sick of the bashing of a religion by supposed Conservatives and Republicans.  It must end!

Now, take a look at the screenshot below.  It is taken from that same place on Palin’s Facebook page about 5 hours later; the comment just quoted is missing.  This blog does not provide room for us to reproduce these screenshots full size and maintain readability; just click the picture and it will come up full size.

These screenshots were sent to us by  loyal reader Chanelle Jones, who emailed us.  We’ll let her tell her own story:

Some one [ed. note: on the Facebook page] said that Romney was a Mormon that vowed to destroy America … which comment is still available BTW  – I can find it if you want … she said a couple other things that were pretty nasty towards our religion and Romney. My brother left a comment asking that the offensive comment  be removed and remember to keep Church and State seperate. His comment was deleted and then he was banned. He emailed me, frustrated, and out of couriosity I checked it out. I then left a comment pointing out that Sarah was censoring her comments and violating freedom of speech. I asked that she remember what our nation was founded on … freedom of religion … and also asked to have the offensive comments removed. One reader left a comment of “Wow … censorship?” His and my comments were then deleted and I was banned. BUT the same vile comment {and now many others} were left for all to see. I really wish I could have seen it coming and took a screen shot of it. That’s why when I saw the comment today I did and then watched it.

Well, that pretty much speaks for itself.  Sarah Palin is a private citizen and entitled to handle her Facebook page as she sees fit, but she is an influential private citizen and by defending Gingrich in this fashion, she paints him with the same bigoted brush she has painted herself.

Newt Gingrich and, sadly, Sarah Palin have just disqualified themselves from serious consideration for high office.


The Wall Street Journal gives us more on Gingrich’s statements:

“He has no understanding of the importance of conscience or the importance of religious liberty in this country,” said Mr. Gingrich of Mr. Romney, who is a Mormon. “I will make religious liberty your right, to go with God with no government interference.”

Now wait just a doggone minute.  I thought Newt Gingrich was an historian.  And yet saying that Mitt Romney, a Mormon, “has no understanding of the importance of conscience or the importance of religious liberty in this country,” may be one of the most historically ignorant statements made in this cycle.  A good deal of the religious liberty law that has been written or decided in this nation is a direct result of Mormons and their early practices.  I don’t think there is a religion in this nation that has more direct experience with religious liberty than the Mormons.

This nation now stands by silently while Islamic men practice polygamy in major urban centers.  Can you imagine what a different nation this would be if the same had been true for the Mormons practice?  The settling of the west and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad would be very different and less consequential stories than they actually are.  Some historian.

And then, the “importance of conscience.”  Well, Newt Gingrich followed his own conscience into serial adultery – ’nuff said.

Should Florida come out as the polls predict and Romney wins, we will be able to consider Gingrich’s downward spiral into this sort of ignorant pathetic tripe pitiable, but humorous.  But for the next few hours at least it’s just wrong, nasty and ugly.

Lowell adds . . .

As to John’s comments above I’ll just note that in 2008 Mitt Romney shared the Canterbury Medal for religious freedom with Elie Wiesel and a few others.

The Canterbury Medal is the Becket Fund’s highest honor. It recognizes courage in the defense of religious liberty and is named for Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas à Becket was martyred by the knights of King Henry II for his own defense of religious freedom. The Canterbury Medal is thus given annually to one “who has resolutely and publicly refused to render to Caesar that which is God’s.”

Gingrich’s criticism of Romney is absurd and embarrassing.  A “lack of concern for religious liberty?” Oh, please.


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