Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plagues and Famine Next? Gingrich and Huckabee Warn of Paganism, Abortion, and Same-Sex Marriage

Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee have been busy lately. Both men recently made the headlines after Gingrich called Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" and Huckabee said "Maria" Sotomayor would make the Supreme Court "extreme." Now, the two have turned to other evils (literally). At a 3-hour event held yesterday, Gingrich, Huckabee and other speakers condemned paganism, abortion, same-sex marriage, and (of course) President Obama.

Highlights and Commentary

* Paganism??? Yes! Gingrich: "I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history. . .We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism."

* Miracle from God's Hand = American Revolution = Proposition 8? Yes!
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," Huckabe 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.
* Thomas Jefferson wanted "God" in government? Yes!
Gingrich . . . said the ties to religion in American government date to the Declaration of Independence, when Thomas Jefferson wrote
that men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights.
Jefferson's reference to "inalienable rights" does not describe a government that enforces religious doctrine, which Jefferson did not endorse. Instead, Jefferson used that language to invoke the concept of "natural rights," which posits that certain rights exist outside of any constitutional or legislative instrument.

Conservatives, however, say they abhor the recognition of rights that do not arise from a "strict" interpretation of the Constitution or narrow understanding of "the" intent of the Framers (as if they left a paper trail of complete agreement). Using Jefferson's broad language and his embrace of natural rights, one could reasonably argue that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" encompasses things like same-sex marriage, abortion, and paganism, regardless of the text of the Constitution or the framers' intent. In addition, the Constitution itself contains several important provisions that protect the generalized concept of "liberty" from infringement. This constitutional text supports recognition of a broader set of rights and liberties than conservatives usually acknowledge.

* God "Hearts" the USA more than any other place on the Earth? Yes! Huckabee: "I am not a citizen of the world . . . I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator."

That's pretty powerful stuff, especially considering that "God is not a respector of persons." For purposes of law, the Constitution extends citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Neither the citizenship clause nor the Constitution mentions God or the "Creator."

By the way, the citizenship clause reverses the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, which held that whether "slave" or "free" blacks were not "citizens" of the United States. Was this ruling divinely inspired?


Anonymous said...

It always sickens me when know-nothing politicians/citizens say something to the effect of "only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator." There is a great video of Christopher Hitchens debating this ignorant pundit somewhere on this point where he says 'The United States was founded as a secular nation, the first nation to have an explicit separation between Church and State. If you don't know that, you don't know anything.'

andgarden said...


liberal dissent said...

The founding fathers tended to be deists; the brand of protestant evangelism that dominates religious discourse in this country didn't show up until a 100 years after the signing of the Constitution. It is interesting that Article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli--stating explicitly that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion" was signed by the President, ratified by Congress, and published in newspapers of the day without public outcry. Nowadays we would see demonstrations in the streets.

Anonymous said...

Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote this "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."

Anonymous said...

Joh Jay our First Court Justice said:
He stated that when we select our national leaders, if we are to preserve our Nation, we must select Christians. "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

Anonymous said...

Consider these words that Thomas Jefferson wrote on the front of his well- worn Bible: "I am a Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also."

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Thanks for the posts.

Anonymous (quotations): These quotes do not disturb the text of the Constitution. Notice that the Constitution does not flowery commentary about religion (or much language on the subject at all).

Anonymous said...

The Constitution doesn't say anything about "separation of church and state" either. The Establishment clause is something else entirely, and the Free Exercise clause too often subordinated.

You don't get to protest that something isn't specifically in the Constitution when it suits, and add in your own text at the margins when that becomes the more convenient option.

Cato Renasci said...

If idiots like Huckabooboo and the Grinch would have stuck to their knitting with issues of strong defense, small, honest, government, federalism -- let abortion, gay marraige, etc. be decided at the state level -- and let religion worry about itself, the Republicans would still be in control of the White House and Congress.

If they care about cultural matters, let the Grinch set a personal example of probity and fidelity, and let Huckabooboo live his religion instead of preaching it.

I've long felt the decline of Christianity was mostly the result of sensible people put off by the behavior of hypocritical and hectoring control freaks who have insinuated themselves into and sometimes control the brand.

Citizen Grim said...

The wildly absurd notion that the founding fathers were Deists is revisionist history, and it's as laughable as the myth of the "noble savage," that before the Europeans arrived, the Indians were living in peaceful harmony with one another and the environment. The only founder who one could reasonably describe as a Deist is Benjamin Franklin, but it should have been fairly obvious from his lifestyle that he wasn't a confessing Christian, anyway.

Meanwhile, to disprove the assertion that "the brand of protestant evangelism that dominates religious discourse in this country didn't show up until a 100 years after the signing of the Constitution," one needs only point out that the First Great Awakening took place a full 50 years BEFORE the Constitution. Jonathan Edwards (the greatest evangelical Protestant theologian America has ever produced) was firing up New England for decades before the revolution, and is still widely read and admired by many evangelical protestants today, especially in both the Reformed and Baptist evangelical traditions.

Heck, the Puritans themselves were such committed Reformation Protestants that they ditched civilization to settle in an unexplored wilderness on the other side of the ocean. It's cognitive dissonance to assume these early Americans were burning witches at the stake, but by the time the Revolution took place, they were disenchanted Deist sophists.

Roux said...

Hey, We know we are not a Christian nation because Obama said so. We may be one of the largest Muslim nations because... Obama said so.

Him and his Muslim past. Ya know I was thinking Obama's Daddy was an avowed atheist. Hmmmm, I wonder what they'd(Muslims) would do to him in those peace loving Muslim nations. Probably just cut his head off.

Mike in Buffalo said...

It frustrates me to read some of these comments. Is religion, in any way, shape or form, the business of government; the same government that can exert any and all amount of command and control over us that it deems necessary?

Philnick said...

Jefferson was such a Deist that he created his own version of the bible by excluding all references to Jesus' divinity, miracles, and signs, leaving only Jesus' moral teachings - like the Golden Rule.

Steven Waldman, who runs, a site that has sections for most religions, appeared on Fresh Air in March 2008 to promote his book "Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America." In his interview he told about Jefferson's Bible, and about the extremes of intolerance that led to the protection of religious freedom in the Constitution.

Here's a link to the page at that describes that broadcast and lets you download a podcast:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hutchinson,
Why yes, Dred Scott was inspired, same as Roe vs. Wade was. Both treat people as property, and are defended by reactionary elements on the Supreme Court, and make a lot of money for their supporters.

But the key point is this: Both were supported by the Democratic Party and fought by the Republicans. And we KNOW that all Democrats are holy, and all Republicans are evil. Thus, by simple logic, slavery=good.

Or you could join us Conservatives in standing for true morality.

Mike in Buffalo said...

"Or you could join us Conservatives in standing for true morality."

*eye roll*

Anonymous said...

As a conservative and an evangelical Christian, I'm appalled by such statements as Darren notes above and, at least in my circles, while this kind of stuff makes the most noise, it is not as common as you might think (though, granted, if you paint it with a broad enough brush or if you are focused on a hot-button issue or two it can seem so).


I guess, then, I'd like to refer to a few things in the comments. First, modern evangelicalism does have its roots in the first Great Awekening, prior to the writing on the Constitution, though to call Edwards an evangelical is an anachronism. Modern evangelicalism has its roots, primarily, in the second Great Awakening, starting roughly contemporaneous to the Constitution. Further, to deny that Deism did not have a significant impact on the founding fathers is practicing revisionist history of the sort that the poster would no doubt scream over if done to his/her posiitons. Third, the final paragraph appears utterly ignorant of any aspect of history it deems to reference. I don't imagine it would do any good to try to point to evidence in this instance. Two questions: When did Deism arise? What was the controlling philosophy in Pennsylvania in, say, 1670?

To another comment, if "sensible people" are put off by hypocrites who turn into control freaks, then sensible people either live lives totally alone or are themselves hyporcrites. No religion or philosophy has a corner on hypocrisy or in trying to control others, something to which I would have thought "sensible people" would be aware. Glass houses and all that. Put your belief/philosophy out here and see how long it would take to find examples of atrocity by people who "control the brand." At it's root, to tar one movement/sect/religion that way is ad hominem that may make you feel better about yourself but has little to do with reality.

I am also rolling my eyes at conservative "true morality."

Other than the "scare quotes" in the first paragraph, as a conservative, I felt this was a great post, as usual, Darren (I hope you don't mind the first-name familiarity). I wish I knew how to make conservatives make a stronger stand against this kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

Gingrich is completely correct.

His obeservation should be discussed and appreciated, not dismissed.

The derisive dismissal is but another sign of just how bad things are, intellectually and therefore ethically speaking.

You seem to be not clever enough to have figured that out.

FLRN said...

Professor - Take a peek at what is happening at home - Like finds Like....

Anonymous said...

I think they are rolling their eyes because they've just been knocked out. The knees go rubbery, and that sweet, sweet mat rushes up to smack them in the face.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Now just a cotton-pickin' minute, here. I could take either side of that "Is America a Christian Nation?" argument if I wanted to choose my sources carefully. That alone should tell you something - that categories were different then, and trying to fit them to our current structures is foolish.

As this site seems to be leaning more to the "Don't be ridiculous, America wasn't a Christian nation in the sense you mean" side of things, I feel obliged to smack that side more. (At other sites I might smack the evangelicals). While it is true that the highly evangelising, literalist come-to-Jesus attitude is more properly associated with the American frontier, the majority of the signers of the Declaration and approvers of the Constitution were, in the main, a lot more like modern evangelicals than they were like modern secularists. Jefferson and Franklin would have represented the farthest astray from orthodox Christian teaching, not the mainstream at the time.

As to your other headings - "Miracle =," "God in government," and "God Hearts," you are simply misrepresenting what they are saying. This is very much a "well, Idaho is close to Wyoming so they're all California" sort of argument. Have some rigor, dammit.

Doug Indeap said...

The United States was founded as a secular government, as is clear from the Constitution which expressly founds the government on the power of the people and says nothing substantive of god(s) or religion except in the First Amendment where the point is to confirm that each person enjoys religious liberty and that the government is not to establish an official religion and another provision precluding any religious test for public office.

Lest there be any doubt, shortly after the founding, President George Washington (a founder) drafted and President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Note too that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land. So—as a matter of law as well as history—”the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

The Declaration of Independence is an important document in the history preceding the founding of the United States; by that document, the people of the several colonies declared their independence from Great Britain; they did not, by that document, found a government. That came years later--in the Constitution. The Constitution does not somehow draw its authority from the Declaration or any other document; rather, by its very terms, it draws its authority directly from the people.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I have responded to most of the comments below.

Anonymous (re "Free Exercise"): I have never claimed that rights are limited to the specific text of the Constitution. But there is far more support in both the text and the history surrounding the Constitution to support the "separation of church and state" than to support the transformation of the Constitution into the Bible.

Anonymous (conservative defending this blog entry): Thanks! I have been called worse things than "Darren."

Anonymous (who said that Roe and Dred Scott were "inspired"): Were they "divinely inspired"? That's the original question. Also, your arguments regarding political parties severely butcher the concept of "historical context." Obviously, I am familiar with US history and know that the Republican Party fought for abolition, and the Democrats fought for slavery. But the parties have evolved over time and embraced issues for their own political survival. The abolitionist Republican Party was concentrated in the North.
After Reconstruction, the Republican Party was driven out of the South. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Republicans embraced the South and it has been a "red" zone since that time. Now, the "Massachusetts liberals" are Democrats. During Reconstruction, they were Republicans. Your argument does not consider that political platforms shift and evolve over time.

Village Idiot: You demand that I show rigor -- but not Gingrich and Huckabee? I actually held back. Their arguments were pretty baseless - even Glenn Reynolds had fun with them. People really do not want to codify the Bible - especially people who believe in freedom of speech and sexual privacy.

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