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MacCallum Fails to Challenge Gospel According to Gingrich

Reported by Judy - October 23, 2006 -

With conservative Christians angry at Republicans over the Mark Foley page scandal, Fox News decided to try to help the GOP lure them back into the fold Monday (October 23, 2006) with a little of the old time religion, with Newt Gingrich doing the preaching.

The former Republican House Speaker appeared on "Live Desk" with Martha MacCallum touting his book which tries to claim that the nation's founders were a bunch of devout Christians who set about creating a nation founded on Christian principles. The book, Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History, presents as fact a claim that is not at all accepted by historians.

Gingrich cherry-picks examples of quotations from American documents and monuments to try to prove his point. He claims, for example, that the Declaration of Independence says our rights come from God. (Actually, it says people are endowed by their "Creator" with certain rights.) If one visits all the monuments in Washington, D.C., that reference God, Gingrich claimed, "you have a sense that America had leaders who really saw themselves as trying to understand what God wanted.”

Rather than challenge Gingrich, MacCallum accepted his premise and then gave him an opportunity to further promote conservative views on the relationship between church and state, asking, "So why do you think it is that over the last 30 years or so there has been a sort of, in some circles, a pulling away, a not wanting mention God, wanting to remove the Ten Commandments from different places, not say the pledge of allegiance in schools, Why?" (Translation: those "some circles" are made up of secular humanist Democratic liberals, you know.)

Gingrich blamed the French Revolution and "European secularism." Actually, I think European secularlism started a lot sooner than that -- with, say, Martin Luther and the Protestant Revolution, which split the church and state, but you know how Republicans like to blame the French for everything.

“All of our major political leaders saw God as being integregal to explaining America and seeing American rights as being directly coming from God and that the modern court decisions have been fundamentally wrong. They’re historically wrong, and they represent a European secularism rather than the American historic tradition," Gingrich claimed.

Gingrich is flat out wrong. Thomas Jefferson had no interest in founding a Christian nation. He and the nation's other principal founders were people of the Enlightenment who rejected religious explanations for the world and praised science and reason as the path to progress.

MacCallum would not have had to look very hard to find a way to challenge Gingrich, had she any desire to do so. She could have invited to appear with Gingrich the author of another new book, Brooke Allen, whose Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers, presents a historically accurate discussion of the founders' irreligious, and in many ways, anti-Christian views. Allen's book was reviewed in the Sunday New York Times by none other than conservative George Will.

Had MacCallum been interested in a fair discussion of the issue, she might at least have read the review and asked Gingrich about some of the items in Will's review.

I like this paragraph:

"In 1781, the Articles of Confederation acknowledged 'the Great Governor of the World,' but six years later the Constitution made no mention of God. When Hamilton was asked why, he jauntily said, 'We forgot.' Ten years after the Constitutional Convention, the Senate unanimously ratified a treaty with Islamic Tripoli that declared the United States government 'is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.'”

Thanks to MacCallum's lazy or biased (or both) reporting, we'll never know what Gingrich would have said to that.