Sunday, May 20, 2007

two georgians seeing things differently

Two formerly politically prominent Georgians discussed religion on Saturday and came up with two different views.

Newt Gingrich, former GOP Speaker of the House and potential presidential candidate, gave an address to the graduating students at Falwell's Liberty University. And Newt, he of the cheesy science fiction novels with the steamy sex scenes, he of the multiple divorces, said "Basic fairness demands that religious beliefs deserve a chance to be heard. It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet, today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers."

Apparently, it IS impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers, because damned if I can see it. Last I checked, 534 of the 535 members of Congress professed to believe in various religions (all but Pete Stark who has publicly copped to being an atheist) ranging from Islam to Orthodox Judaism to Mormonism to a whole range of Christian sects, large and small. We get Christmas as a holiday. People can to go whatever church they want to. Televangelists are free to spout their lines on TV and radio.

Given the audience, what Newt REALLY meant was that fundamentalist Christians were being discriminated against in that they were not free to foist their religion upon the schools and government. But even THAT isn't discriminatory, since Catholics and Orthodox Jews and Mormons and snake-handlers are also not allowed to do so in most cases.

I doubt Newt really believes what he said. He's just shoring up his support among the theocratic wing of the GOP as he prepares a late run at the presidency.

Meanwhile, in a newspaper interview on Saturday former President Jimmy Carter, in addition to trashing the foreign policy record of de facto President George W. Bush, also criticized Bush's policy of giving federal grants to religious charities. In Carter's words, "As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."

Gingrich sees discrimination against believers. Carter sees this de facto Administration not observing the separation of church and state. I see in Gingrich a person who wants to return to the political sphere and will say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear to gain their support.



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