Gingrich’s nightmare is my dream

From Politico:

Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer breakfast, Newt Gingrich on Wednesday warned Catholics that Europe’s “crisis of secularism” — spawning a “government-favored culture to replace Christianity” — has seized the United States.

“The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites and, as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media and judicial class in America,” he said in Washington.

Gingrich lashed out against the “secular pressures” that have led scientific publications to replace Anno Domini (A.D.) with the Common Era (C.E.), banned school prayer and struck out “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Aaaanndddd the problem is what exactly? Sounds fabulous to me!

Religious paranoia that they’re losing the battle: a sure sign the secular movement is doing something right.


  1. asonge says

    Beneath the fight against health care and just social services in general is a fight to keep people dependent on churches as a primary means for social assistance.

  2. Mark says

    I’m constantly amazed at the ability of a religious group, which can claim a 3/4ths supermajority of the population, to sustain the narrative that it’s “under attack” and in danger of extinction.

  3. says

    I agree, yes yes yes! sounds great to me. Although the BC/AD vs BCE/CE seems a little silly to me. I always marked things BCE and CE until I had a history professor talk about how we’re marking our time based on it, we might as well label it the way we’re actually marking time (BC/AD) and BCE and CE are just silly labels to make us feel better about the whole thing.

  4. bitguru says

    If only “under god” had been removed from the pledge. I’m still waiting. While we’re at it, let’s get “in god we trust” off our currency.

  5. says

    being jewish/agnostic, I don’t think of jesus as “our lord.” If I could have a way to say “years since an inaccurate estimation of jesus’s birth,” I’d be happy to use that. until then, I’ll stick with BCE/CE

  6. says

    I have to endorse this. This is not a fight worth having since BCE is an AD euphemism. Well, unless you want to have a beef with “Thursday” etc as well and who doesn’t love Thursdays?

  7. Alt+3 says

    “Gingrich lashed out against the “secular pressures” that have… banned school prayer…” Ugh, prayer isn’t banned in schools. Government mandated prayer has been banned, as it should have been. Trust me, the minute they try to impose a blanket ban on prayer in schools I’ll fight it tooth and nail. When are these idiots going to learn the difference between secularism and atheistic dictatorship?

  8. The Artful Nudger says

    But YSAIEJB just doesn’t roll off the tongue. (I imagine it as being pronounced “Eesai-eejib”.)

  9. WingedBeast says

    Remember, for the rest of us it’s oppression if we’re ostricized, physically attacked, denied job opportunities in favor of less qualified Christians. For Christians like Newt, it’s oppression if they’re not held on a pedestal sufficiently above the rest of us.

  10. Jackhuskey says

    I’ll disagree with Newt with everything except the government favored culture warning. We don’t need a culture that favors government any more than we need one that favors Christianity. We need a culture that favors freedom. But churches don’t grow if we don’t give em money and governments don’t grow if we don’t give them money. It comes down to, Everyone wants our money.

  11. Peppe says

    To be fair, Catholics are not 3/4ths of the population in the US. Many protestants, for instance, believe BC is okay, whereas the Catholic Church doesn’t like concoms. So from Newt being a Catholic, the narrative that his christianity is “under attack” (in the US) is fairly legitimate. It is under attack from all quarters, secular and ‘other’ Christianities. I vaguely remember the Catholic Church being known as the whore of babylon in numerous Christian circles.In danger of extinction? Not so much. That’d be like saying cockroaches are in danger of extinction. No matter how many you kill, they’ll always find a way.

  12. says

    This moderately conservative Christian says that Newt Gingrich is a moron and wonders why you people listen to him. I’m serious — you know that he’s a windbag and you seem to be taking him seriously. Is it possible to just roll your eyes?”CE” has replaced “BC” and “AD” in most academic institutions including the seminary I attended. It’s been 10 years — why are people still harping about this?

  13. says

    Seriously, I’m not trying to be a troll here. Why are you reacting to a guy who most of the country has written off as a blowhard?

  14. Brry_flynn says

    I think it should be CD (Counting Down to the mythological birth of Jesus) and CU (Counting Up from the mythological birth of Jesus)

  15. says

    It surprises me that Newt is considered Catholic for a variety of reasons including divorcing his wife on her deathbed.

  16. says

    Actually, the churches are totally in favor of the government helping out in the social services category because we’re kind of depleted as well. (Speaking as a pastor’s wife…) If the morons fighting healthcare and social services actually READ the parts of the Bible that they’re using to condemn homosexuality, they might find that we’re commanded to take care of each other.

  17. asonge says

    I only included those fighting healthcare, but I also don’t think you can extend your perception of your own church upon all churches. I’m sure very few church-goers would admit to themselves that they belong to a church where this is the position, as there is a code-language to it all: “Government should not replace God”. I’ve heard this from many religious leaders, including a friend’s father who is an Orthodox priest.

  18. asonge says

    No one says “This is a Viking nation, it’s Thor’s day after all.” Status quo religions get different treatment then extinct ones.

  19. JM says

    I remember being in primary grades when “under god” was added. I thought it was wrong then and haven’t said it since. Somehow, the teachers never objected, if they even noticed.

  20. jose says

    Am I my brother’s keeper? Hell no. If he can’t take care of himself by paying $15,000 a year to help some insurance company CEO buy some islands in the Pacific Ocean, then he deserves to starve and die! That’s what Jesus wants. He told me!By the way, those European elitists pay $0 a year to insurance companies. The working class pay about 6% of their monthly paycheck to social security, which includes unemployment benefits, pensions, and health insurance. So much for ‘elitism’, right?

  21. Georgia Sam says

    To exactly what “elites” was Newt referring? I live in one of the most highly educated, highest income regions of the country & I do not know a single openly atheist, agnostic, or humanist elected official at the local, state, or national level. On the contrary, most of them say something about God or faith at every public appearance. The council chair of the county in which I live is often seen with a cross pin on the lapel of his jacket. Nor do I detect any anti-religious trend among the financial elite. The Donald, for example, proclaims himself a Christian (although his credentials look a little thin to me), & if there are any unbelieving American billionaires, they are very quiet about it as far as I can tell.

  22. Charles says

    The conservatives of this nation cannot maintain their police-state crap without some straw man to attack. Can’t justify TSA sex abuse, Patriot Act wiretaps, and all that jazz if there’s no evil villain out there to make those heinous acts look okay by comparison. Ditto the “attack on Christianity.” No one will rush out and vote for the far right nutjobs, unless there’s some far-left nutjob (real or fake) who is demonstrably worse in their eyes.See also: McCarthyism and the Red Scare…

  23. quantheory says

    Well, I think that a comment that runs along the lines of “This is silly and you shouldn’t bother talking about it.” by default gets seen as a tad trollish. It’s also weird when you reply to yourself solely because you didn’t get any obvious attention with your first comment. I don’t think that you’re a troll, looking at your other comments on this thread which are more interesting, but these two taken in isolation do give the impression that you’re fishing for attention.As for why we react to him? *shrug* Sometimes he’s actually worrying, because he has had quite a measure of political power in the past, and it’s not out of the question that he still has significant influence on Republicans. Aside from that, though, he’s really just kind of funny with all these paranoid predictions. I don’t think that atheist blogs are having huge effects on his popularity, so why not talk about him if he’s being kind of funny and stupid?He’s not exactly the only person with these views either. He’s sort of an extreme case, but he’s not the only person stirring up anxiety about secularism and atheists. Certainly creationism is on-topic for this blog, and a lot of creationists use the same sort of rhetoric.

  24. quantheory says

    “anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, [that started decades ago, buddy] news media [HA! I wish.] and judicial class [*cough*CatholicmajorityinSCOTUS*cough*]”As for A.D. vs. C.E.? I never cared much, but I’m going to make sure I use C.E. all the time now, just to counteract this stupid objection.

  25. says

    I know that my perception is not the same for all churches — I don’t expect religion to take the place of government in terms of providing services. I would just really like people who claim to be followers of Christ to take their duties seriously instead of finding things to nitpick about. :)

  26. Hans says

    XKCD summarizes it well: of the matter is, Gingrich still a voice of some influence among conservatives. He’s rumored to be considering a 2012 presidential run. We don’t listen because he’s well reasoned and thoughtful, we listen because other people are listening and believing his nonsense.

  27. says

    I agree baby steps are important but this case seems like wasted energy to me. Mostly because BCE is still based on the same exact point in “history.”

  28. says

    So the level a religion is accepted is your measure of how much it has to be covered up? Not disagreeing exactly but that seems like how you defined it. I am going to think about that though.This fight just seems so fruitless without changing the actual point in history we are referring to in my eyes. If it changed it would seem like a hollow “victory” to me.

  29. asonge says

    I didn’t quite say that.We live in a world where we have limited resources, chiefly among them time and money. I don’t have to spend time learning about Christianity (I was one for a very long time and invested enough time to read the bible a dozen times by the time I was 16), and I don’t have to spend money to buy books to tell me about Christian theology. I assume this is the case for most people. Add to this the fact that Christian white-supremacy militias (religion is tied heavily into the racism realm) are a much bigger threat than any other religion in the US (yes, even Islam). But even forgetting this, the generic Abrahamic monotheisms are what people think about when they think of God.That said, the BCE/CE thing borders a line where religion is ingrained into culture, but I don’t know what value BC/AD really has compared to the walloping apologists citing this as evidence that the west is “Christian”. I could honestly go either way on the issue. Norse mythology, like Greco-Roman and many other polytheisms, is an extant religion. There is no danger there and the cultural value is greater than any potential harm anyone can find. But the popularity of a religion has a factor on how much resources you spend;dr: The popularity of a religion should be a factor (among many) that determines the amount of resources spent in arguing about it.

  30. neapel says

    I don’t know what Europe Gingrich is speaking of, but it’s not one I live in… the most “secular” thing we’re currently doing is being awkward around muslims (usually denouncing them as terrorists and at the same time doing round tables with other religious groups, to talk about society. Because Any Religion is better than No Religion, they can all at least agree on that much)Take Germany for instance, our two choices for President last year were a catholic who supports evangelist groups, and a christian theologian, who lost. The good thing is, you’ve never heard of them because the President has no useful functions and everytime a new one has to be elected everybody talks about getting rid of the presidency completely, instead :)

  31. says

    I hate to put a damper on your optimism, but religious paranoia has nothing to do with the “secular movement doing something right”. There is a level of paranoia in religion even when they are at the height of power. They always feel threatened.

  32. says

    Quick question… How many people know what AD even stands for? A lot of countries just use it. Hell in India people still use BC despite not believing in “him”. Or believing in some very weird things about him (did you know Jesus visited Kashmir??? And Thomas the Apostle got killed by Kali for throwing stuff at her statues?)CE makes sense, but it’s usage will be slow. Newt Gingrich is filled with so much shite that it’s a wonder he doesn’t explode. Oh wait he is at the National Catholic prayer breakfast. Considering Bill O Reilley may be there he probably is the voice of reason.

  33. says

    You know I was going to argue with the first paragraph but I think your tl;dr makes a good and concise point. There are many factors to consider and we all pick our own secular fights to fight. I don’t care about the BCE/BC part of the culture but the “In God We Trust” is one I focus on and I have to confess it isn’t our most pressing issue either.

  34. Rollingforest says

    Actually, we need a culture that favors raising standards of living. That can be done through increasing freedom, but it should also be done by helping those in need.

  35. Rollingforest says

    People might not know the literal translation of AD, but they know what it means, the birth of Christ. Even if CE is marked at the same date, it still adds a bit of non-partisanship to the historical studies.

  36. Rollingforest says

    I think it is symbolically important because it shows that historians can base their findings on data rather than a particular religious belief.

  37. says

    Indeedy, but it won’t be adopted across the board soon. A lot of people use the BC moniker. Even I feel that it’s a bit silly trying to change it. If I were Gingrich I would be complaining about the lack of ethics amongst religious people as the main driving force for the resurgence of atheism. It’s a lot easier to defend a position in atheism when your opponents are amoral child molestors or are greedy or are terrorists or are just plain hypocrites.

  38. Jackhuskey says

    And how do you increase the standard of living? With extra jobs. Where do jobs come from? (srry, wrong debate, searching, searching… right topic, go). Who defines who is in need? Do we differentiate between those who are in need due to acts of god (born blind) and someone who is in need due to exceptionally poor judgement (got drunk, drank wrong kind of alcohol, went blind from it)? If you give people freedom they will support the charitys they choose.

  39. Erp says

    Not on her deathbed but reportedly while she was under treatment for cancer. Also he wasn’t Catholic then, he converted after marrying his third and current wife.Note that once you are in the Catholic church you are in for life. They might consider you a bad Catholic or an excommunicated Catholic or a heretical Catholic but you are still Catholic.

  40. Erp says

    Oddly enough CE can stand for either Christian Era or Common Era (and I believe the former is earlier). One common early area of use was by Jewish scholars who for understandable reasons didn’t want to indicate that their lord was Jesus.

  41. Rollingforest says

    “Who defines who is in need?”The voters.”Do we differentiate between those who are in need due to acts of god [ironic term for this blog, but okay] (born blind) and someone who is in need due to exceptionally poor judgement (got drunk, drank wrong kind of alcohol, went blind from it)?”Let’s take a less extreme example. If a person got cancer through no fault of their own, then I think we should have the government chip in to help them. If, however, they got cancer because they smoked all their life, I think that their government assistance should be greatly decreased. “If you give people freedom they will support the charitys they choose.”You are assuming that everyone will donate to somewhere. The truth of the matter is that a large percentage of the population won’t donate hardly anything at all if left to their own devices. The generous people will then feel cheated that they are forced to shoulder the entire burden of the charity while these freeloaders get to enjoy a world with less problems because of the financial assistance of the generous people. It is far better to take a vote and decide what the community is going to do and then have everyone chip in.

  42. Rollingforest says

    I agree that the CE/BCE is not our most important fight and neither is the pledge of alliegence issue. One of the most important issues, I think, is increasing tolerance for Atheists in the community and making it okay to openly atheist people to run for office (as well as the general goal of convincing more people to abandon their religion)

  43. says

    I would be happy if people stopped assuming that I eat babies and murder prostitutes because I don’t believe in any gods. But I am from the UK, we do have atheists running for power. For us religion is less of an issue than in the USA.

  44. Jackhuskey says

    According to ABC news 75% of american families donate to charity. (2007 so this was during the good ole bush years of prosperity, never thought I would say that). And Conservativs give more than liberals according to an experiment conducted by 20/20 comparing the anonamos (pardon my spelling I just got off a 12 hour shift at the prison I work at) donations in liberal, higher income higher population San Francisco and religious, conservative, lower income, lower population Sioux Falls SD. It kinda proved a point that conservativs have been making for years, Liberals just want to donate other peoples money to the causes they choose.But hell, just looking at the numbers, if 75% of americans donate to charity? 45% of americans don’t pay any income tax so there is at a mathmatical minimum of 20% of the people who are too poor to pay income taxes but donate to charity anyway. So no, I reject your premise that if people were not compelled to donate to charity by taxation that there would be less assistance for those in need. There would just be less goverment beauracrats with 6 figure incomes and political baggage/favors to pay back overseeing the charity work.

  45. Jackhuskey says

    Hehe, I am tickled. You being from the UK where religion is less of an issue than in the USA is exactly the point that Newt is trying to make. In Europe religion IS less of an issue and he doesn’t want America to follow that path. Personaly I am not religious (I am conservative so I don’t really have a dog in the “keep America religious” fight but I have a very vested intrest in the “Keep America conservative fight. If doing the former will lead to the latter I am willing to make that compromise)

  46. says

    But that’s a incredibly daft way to vote. That’s like saying I am anti smoking, and if the KKK are anti smoking then I will vote for them. The enemy of my enemy voting is rather silly. And do you really think pandering the religious nutcases will guarantee conservative power or just produce a world where people do things because a 2000 year old book tells them to and it’s okay to say that without being outright laughed at. As it is the USA’s education system consistently lags behind the rest of the world. Selling out Women, the Future and indeed the american advantage in science for the sake of you earning a few more quid is rather short sighted.

  47. Jackhuskey says

    All politcal systems involve some deals with the devil. Parlimentary systems like the UK & Austraulia involve coalition governments. The US’s “winner take all” electoral college has created the 2 party system we have and in it we frequently find we have to vote for a guy we don’t like just to keep a guy we really hate out of office. That is why I voted for George W. Bush. The left side of American politcs embraces this reality alot better than the right. The right is constantly rife with people threatening to go/run independant ticket canidates which will do nothing but split the conservative vote and ensure a democrat wins elections. Ross Perot did that in the 1990’s twice and created a situation where the winner of the election didn’t have a majority of the popular votes but since the right was split his pluraity was SOLID.But the short story is our pandering to religious nutcases is our version of letting the BNP have council seats and letting the green/socialist/communist MP’s into a coalition government. They are all deals with the devil, just a diffrent flavor of it.And our education system is taking hit after hit because we put people who can’tteach/ never have taught in charge of it. Federal beuracrats are telling teachers what they can and cannot teach since the 1980’s and it is dragging us down. We put men on the moon & built the space shuttle all without a Department of Education but since it was re-created in 1980 (thanks Jimmy) we have been on a downhill slope ever since.Maybe someday education will eliminate christianity? That would be nice. But till then, they are here & they vote and not dealing with that reality would just be sticking our heads in the sand.

  48. Rollingforest says

    Well, first it should be noted that the “Bush years of Prosperity” ended on September 15th, 2008, which was, we should remember, still under the Bush Presidency and after 8 years of Bush in the White House.Secondly, Conservatives assume that if we stopped paying taxes to support those in need then everyone would donate the same amount of money to charity. This, I think, is unlikely, especially given the fact that 25% aren’t giving anything at all. Charities have to spend a chunk of their money on fundraising in order to plead with people to give them more funds. This is because people find it easier to ignore a problem rather than do anything about it (look how many people join facebook groups to help stop rape and murder in Darfur but otherwise do nothing to help). So even if 75% of people donate to charity, if you had them stop paying taxes to help the community, their charity would likely increase, but not nearly enough to make up the difference, especially since 25% of the people are starting at 0% charity donations as it is.As for the study that Conservatives donate more than Progressives, I looked it up on Google. I did find the ABC site. However, I noticed that the article was by John Stossel, a Libertarian commentator famous for mixing in his political views with his reporting, most famously in his “Give Me a Break” segment. Thus I think it is fair to ask for a second opinion on this matter, given his history (Also given the fact that the experiment that he did was done on a small scale without a large enough sample size and the fact that it wasn’t peer reviewed). I looked through the other Google hits on the subject and every single post on the first five pages of highest linked sites were all from Conservative blogs or Conservative editorialists. There was no news article from a newscaster who even pretended to be nonpartisan. This leads me to be skeptical to the theory since even Fox News (which says that it is “fair and balanced” as if they are trying to convince themselves of it) didn’t want to get involved. If you read the blog posts, it seems that everyone got their information from one book, “Who Really Cares” by Arthur Brooks. The fact that the entire theory is based on just one publication also raises red flags and makes me question it. If I could find a more widely respected source that said the same, then I might give the idea more thought.

  49. Rollingforest says

    Yes, politics involves compromise. But Libertarians should keep in mind that Conservatives wish to pass regulations limiting what you can do in your own bedroom and attack gay rights and that NeoConservatives wish to increase government oversight of the population through the Patriot Act and similar laws. When you vote, be sure to factor those facts in.

  50. Jackhuskey says

    Yeah Forest, you don’t have to convince me. The Republicans are aweful. They are only less bad than the democrats.

  51. biblebeltatheist says

    IMHO, not surprising. There’s two sets of rules-one for the rich and the powerful, and one for everyone else. Sen. Tom Coburn is but another example, sterilized a patientw/o her consent or knowledge, then tried to bill Medicare. Fundies in OK have known about this since he began his political career in 1980’s but they vote for him anyway because he supports fundie agenda. Neutron and the catholics are no different.BTY,ex-mormon friend has observed same phenomenon in Mormon churchMachiavelli would love the fundies today

  52. says

    I wonder what Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about this stuff… oh, wait, he’d be in favor of it!In a 1965 interview with Playboy magazine, MLK said of the Supreme Court’s decision to ban prayer in schools, “I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in god. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right.”Perhaps all these “religious” wingnuts shoul go back and listen to what a true man of the cloth had to say about such things!

  53. says

    It’s interesting to break down Arthur Brooks’s claims further.The most generous conservatives  are the religious ones, and their generosity is responsible for conservatives scoring high.Secular conservatives turn out to be the least generous of all, and I suspect that they loudly advertise Arthur Brooks’s findings to cover up their lack of generosity.

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