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One Nation under Newt

Reported by Ellen - December 24, 2006 -

As John Kasich was unavailable, my attention turned to Newt Gingrich’s special Fox report, “One Nation under God.” (Comment: as the “church lady” would say, “isn’t that special” that Fox would provide this possible presidential candidate with his own pre campaign infomercial!). Yes, Newt Gingrich, that man of “moral compass” was on God’s network to show those SP skeptics that the Founding Fathers were men of faith and to correct the historical accounts “which leave out God.”


Gingrich began his homily by citing the references to God in the Declaration of Independence. University of Tennessee historian Wilfred McClay noted that “all the founders were men of religious faith whose beliefs rested on the notion that the public mainly depended on the flourishing of religion.” Historian Daniel Dreisbach of American University asserted that it was in the interests of the state to have a “vibrant religious culture.” (Comment: Dreisbach has written that the modern “wall of separation” between Church and State is not what Jefferson envisioned.) Not surprisingly, Gingrich attempted to rebut those “people who want God out of the public square and who point to Jefferson as a patron saint.” We were taken to the Jefferson Memorial (the architecture of which is patterned after the Roman Pantheon) and shown Jefferson’s godly quotes inscribed on the walls. Gingrich told us, with dismay, that the exhibit in the memorial’s basement has few references to God. (Comment: Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, founded the secular University of Virginia, and edited the gospels by removing the miracles that he found unbelievable – not mentioned by Gingrich).

The second stop on our tour was the Lincoln Memorial which Gingrich used as a backdrop to his description of Lincoln as a man of faith. Gingrich’s comment about Union soldiers singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, as they were marching to battle, was followed by a stirring rendition of same and no mention of the fact that its creator, Julia Ward Howe, was a Unitarian pacifist who advocated women’s suffrage. Gingrich showed clips of Martin Luther King’s speeches, which referenced God and Lincoln, without referencing those on the other side of the aisle who used religion to support segregation. Gingrich said, in reference to the new MLK memorial, that “it would be a shame if it fails to convey his place in the great tradition of praising God.” During this segment, Mark Steyn (who, according to Wikipedia, was “born in Toronto, educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, England, but dropped out of education at 16 and returned to Canada to work as a disc jockey” and who now is a columnist living in New Hampshire because of the “low taxes and no curbs on gun ownership”) commented that “confident, martial, Christianity has all but vanished.” (Comment: right, things like crusades and colonial wars of imperialism were not cool).

Gingrich took us to the FDR Memorial which, he claimed, was done under pressure from the “politically correct” crowd who insisted that Eleanor not be shown with her furs, FDR without his cigarette and in (gasp) a wheelchair. Steyn commented that FDR would not have been happy with that design.

In describing the Vietnam Memorial, Gingrich recounted the criticisms of the design which “had no soaring quotations, and no references to the righteousness of the cause for which the soldiers fought.” (Comment – righteousness isn’t the right word here) Steyn said that the Memorial portrayed “soldiers as victims.” But according to Gingrich, the Memorial was redeemed when people started bringing religious items to it and when Reagan spoke of the “sacredness” of the Memorial – a speech that Gingrich felt demonstrated Reagan’s “faith.”

The program would not have been complete without Gingrich saying that certain people are trying to take the 10 Commandments out of the public square. Our tour included the Supreme Court building where we were shown the wall frieze which include representations of law related figures in history of which Moses is “above all.” (Comment: he was standing between Hammurabai and some Greek guy). Charles Kessler, from the right wing Claremont Institute claimed that the “Supreme Court is the branch of government that has done the most to drive religion from life” with their “relatively radical decisions.”

Gingrich ended the show by saying that “as everyone knows, there’s intolerance in the world, shutting people up isn’t the answer, allowing them to express themselves is.” (Comment: only if you’re on the “right” side)

Comment: This “documentary” was typical of what is shown on Fox - information with a decidedly rightward/ Christian tilt. While Rob Boston, from Americans United For the Separation of Church and State spoke twice, the majority of the “commentary” came from Steyn and Kessler. While Gingrich spoke of those who seek to remove “under God” from the Pledge, he didn’t note that is was included in 1954 at the behest of the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus. In showing the Capitol’s Painting of Pochantas’ Baptism, he didn’t mention that it was painted in 1837. The discussion of the 10 Commandments didn’t include the fact that the Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic versions are different. He did not note that the Constitution has no reference to God. The graphic for the show was a cross and the capitol dome. The Founders were products of the Enlightenment – Fox’s mind set is more akin to the “dark ages.”