Political Animal

Blog

January 27, 2012 4:00 PM The “War On Christianity”

By Ed Kilgore

Sorry to write so much about Newt Gingrich today, but I don’t know exactly how long we will have him to kick around, and he made some remarks near the end of last night’s debate that really call for a non-Kabuki response.

When an audience member asked the candidates how their religious beliefs would affect the decisions they made as president, Newt’s answer included this:

[O]ne of the reasons I am running is there has been an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country, largely by…
(APPLAUSE)
… largely by a secular elite and the academic news media and judicial areas. And I frankly believe it’s important to have some leadership that stands up and says, enough; we are truly guaranteed the right of religious freedom, not religious suppression by the state.

Now when a politician says something like this, they are obviously not being literal. No one is keeping Christians from attending church. No one is censoring sermons. No one is being jailed for espousing their faith. This is worth remembering, of course, because there have been more than a few times in history when Christians were persecuted actively for their faith—often by each other—and it is happening today in some parts of the world.

At the other extreme, some religious conservatives seem to feel that anything anyone says or does to offend their sensibilities qualifies as persecution. That is the idiotic essence of the annual “War on Christmas” brouhaha, in which some Christians profess martyrdom at the hands of department stores displaying “Happy Holidays” signs. (Ah, the saints weep!).

Sometimes “war on Christians” rhetoric means conservative Christians who oppose same-sex relationships, abortion or contraception, or full rights for women, feel entitled to receive government funds, or government jobs, or judicial appointments, without anyone questioning the impact of those beliefs on the discharge of the official duties that justify the grant or the job or the appointment. According to this twisted point of view, the right of religious expression carries with it the right to disobey uncongenial laws or even oaths of office, even while enjoying public support. So if there is a “war” going on, such Christians are definitely active combatants, not innocent victims.

And sometimes, especially during the last couple of years, the “war on Christians” involves the complex idea whereby the “Christian” foundations of the nation are being denied by secularists, in turn denying Christians—or more specifically, a particular brand of Christians—their natural dominion over public policy. This is a particular rich vein of delusion in the Christian Right wing of the Tea Party movement, which often argues that the Declaration of Independence—frequently conflated with the Constitution—enthrones not only Christianity but such “divine” and “natural” laws as the Right to Life for the Unborn, the Right to Discriminate Against the Ungodly, or even the Right to Enjoy Private Property Without Taxation or Regulation. These, it is asserted, are all part of the Founders’ design which cannot be abrogated by Congress or courts or any popular majority. You will note that in answering the debate question, both Romney and Santorum made elaborate references to the Declaration, which has become a major dog-whistle to the Christian Right for Republican politicians.

Now everything I know about Newt Gingrich suggests he subscribes to a considerable degree to all three of the above meanings of the “war on Christians.” He has fulminated against the imaginary “War on Christmas,” he has denounced enforcement of non-descrimination laws as religious persecution, and he has made a virtual cottage industry out of Christian-nationalist attacks on the very idea of church-state separation, up to and including his 2011 book pledging to stop Obama and his “secular-socialist machine.”

So when Newt Gingrich tosses out a term like “war on Christians,” he is packing an awful lot of ideological dynamite, much of it of a nature that an awful lot of Christians—myself included—find abhorrent. Since Newt is just one of the most proficient of many conservative pols who are deploying this sort of language, it will not go away even if he retires from the campaign trail and returns to his various money-making ventures.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • chopin on January 27, 2012 4:21 PM:

    Brilliantly put!!!! I shall print and file a hard copy of this under my Attack of the Xtians folder. Thanks Ed.

  • Danp on January 27, 2012 4:31 PM:

    I hope there are no Jewish people in American who don't feel threatened by this rhetoric. First they came for communists...

  • CJ on January 27, 2012 4:33 PM:

    Great piece!

    The "War on Christianity" is but another case of the right projecting their foibles onto everybody else.

    They went on offense decades ago by adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, "in God We Trust" to our currency, and they continue to this day by holding public high school graduation ceremonies in churches where the pastor invites all attendance to his Sunday services (I attended one such graduation recently), hang prayers on the wall of the schools (just read about that in the NY Times) and then cry foul when somebody objects (big shout out to the ACLU).

    In another case, they go on offense with their double-taxation and job creator bullshit to justify lower or nonexistent taxes on the rich, and when anybody fights back against their bogus arguments (big shout out to the Occupy movement), they accuse their opponent of class warfare.

    Again, the right has mastered the science of manipulating the masses, and the question I have is, what is the antidote, if any?

  • nerd on January 27, 2012 4:34 PM:

    I am someone who the Right would have you believe does not exist: I am a liberal who goes to church.

    Thank you for calling Newt's use of "war on Christianity" for what it is, abhorrent.

    It is amazing that so many people don't realize that the only times the Constitution mentions religion is to say that government should have nothing to do with it. The founders were wise indeed.

  • ManOutOfTime on January 27, 2012 4:34 PM:

    I do not believe for a minute, by the way, that Gingrich believes in a real and personal god. I know a brownshirt when I see one: pro-Xtian rhetoric goes to the same anti-democratic instincts that inspires the masses to raise up any fascist movement. It's not a coincidence it's so close, linguistically and sociographically, to white supremacy and other bigoted tendencies. Very simply put, the lowest follower gets to feel above the secular state and therefore can pick an choose which laws s/he is bound to obey ... and so limiting believers who wish to oppress becomes a usurpation of their "god-given rights" and the oppressor becomes the victim. Just another feature that puts Xtianity on the list with every other crap mythology humans have cooked up over the millennia.

    Now I suppose that kind of rhetoric by a non-believer -- putting Xtianity in the same crap pile with Islam and Scientology -- contributes to the feeling that we are "at war." Well, maybe, guilty as charged. I would love to see the state doing more to shore up the wall of separation. Get out of our bedrooms, get out of the science classroom, and go babble to your imaginary friend wherever the First Amendment otherwise permits.

  • DAY on January 27, 2012 4:40 PM:

    Newt joined the Catholic church for the same reasons businessmen join the Lions, the Optimists, the Rotary Club.

  • K in VA on January 27, 2012 4:40 PM:

    WE should all have freedom OF religion. We should also have freedom FROM religion.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 27, 2012 4:46 PM:

    It's amazing how similar in belief fundamentalist so-called Christians are to the fundamentalist Muslims they claim are trying to take over western Christendom...

    And the sad part is that none of this "war on Christians" rhetoric is going to solve one damn problem that is facing this mighty nation... other than the rampant eating of fetal matter, perhaps.

    And the other sad part is that with the Barnum and Bailey event promotors, otherwise known as the Mainstream Media, no reasonably sane Christian will ever get the platform to challenge the twisted woe-is-we-xtians narrative from the far-far-far-gone-down-the-rabbit-hole right, even if they wanted to.

    But I do good to go to bed every night (hopefully) knowing that not all Christians are this nasty and ugly. I think Christianity, and religion in general, is such a good thing when it moves people to make peace and do good deeds instead of start wars.

  • James on January 27, 2012 4:47 PM:

    Never, never apologize for any Newt-kicking you might want to do. I'm all in.

  • Rabbler on January 27, 2012 4:50 PM:

    Newt is standing tall for Christian bullies. They are being oppressed.

  • T2 on January 27, 2012 5:03 PM:

    What you were hearing, Ed, was a loud Dog Whistle directed at LDS big wig Mitt Romney.
    Most Evangelical Christians do not consider Mormons to be Christians, rather cultists.
    Evangelical votes are key to Newt in the Deep South and the Deep South is his final hope. Truth be known, if I was a fire-breathing Evangelical Republican I'd be scared to death of a National Government run from a Mormon point of view. I'm not so sure I'm cool with it either.

  • Jon on January 27, 2012 5:14 PM:

    I don't know, there's a little intellectual dishonesty in this piece because, after all, we will not allow Christians to practice their faith in a manner that is perfectly consistent with a valid albeit strict interpretation of the Bible. Same for the Koran. Some Democrat leader needs to point out that just as we place limits on speech so we must place limits on religious practices. Sorry, I'm running out of patience with Democrats who won't confront the phony outrage head on.

  • ManOutOfTime on January 27, 2012 5:14 PM:

    @T2 - Evangelicals are right; LDS is a cult. But then, Evangelical Xtianity is a cult, too, so ... there's that.

  • Ron Byers on January 27, 2012 5:19 PM:

    Let's face it Newt is complaining that Fundamentalist Christians are being denied the "right" to persecute anybody who doesn't believe in Christianity and, if you listen to them talk about the Mormons, anybody who doesn't believe in their brand of Christianity.

    Sometime in the 10th century a Christian king killed thousands of pagan chiefs in an effort to spread Christianity. Actually he was trying to subdue his kingdom. I suspect our would be Historian/King would be happy to repeat the process if it helped him consolidate power.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on January 27, 2012 5:20 PM:

    Why were comments stopped in the WSJ post? I really wanted to slay some idiot wingnuts and their ignorance.

    [Have at it, they're back on. I'll come back and do cleanup on aisles one - twelve later. I turned them off because there is only one moderator right now, and one thread infested with Real Clear Politics types makes the job a bit more than a single mod can handle.]

  • T2 on January 27, 2012 5:28 PM:

    manoutoftime...yep...having a raving Evangelical in the WH would be a horror...can you imagine Rick Santorum- he would be unbearable. Fortunately we don't have to worry about that.

  • Dave on January 27, 2012 5:29 PM:

    He may be the "most proficient" of the practitioners of this brand of demagoguery, but that quoted statement is just a word salad with all the right buzzwords in a meaningless jumble. Just count the number of boogeymen in "secular elite and the academic news media and judicial..." I get 5, and it's only 9 words! Maybe that is proficient. Eventually the candidates won't need whole sentences to communicate with the teapublican id. Oh, wait...

  • SKM on January 27, 2012 5:30 PM:

    I'm against all this religious crap being thrown into politics as well. Again, I will not be voting for either of these candidates.

    As for Newt, I wish he'd stay all the way to the end. It's fun hearing about the aftermath, as I don't watch the debates because I feel they are rigged. This is because, it appears that Santorum and Paul are just almost standing there, with not much to say.

    As far as 'brownshirts' and 'white supremacy,' I have been thinking that Willard has been using the subtle way of saying the exact same things. For instance, at his first campaign stop, dealing with a 99%, Willard told him to 'go back to Russia, he was un-American...' Then just on Sunday, at another speech in Florida, he again told another guy, to 'go to Russia, China, Cuba...' In other words, to me he is calling them socialist and communist - and as a way to make it more subtle than calling them a 'commie,' he says go to Russia, China, Cuba...interestingly enough, this past Sunday, the 99%/OWS kids drowned him out by yelling, "USA, USA, USA."

    One thing Willard is not taking into consideration, these kids have parents, siblings, and other relatives that may not vote for him if he is talking to their 'kin' this way.

    With suppression of religion, it kinda is happening here. Sarah Palin took backlash with the guy that was pointed out as a witchdoctor. There is backlash against Muslims. And recent problems as Synagogues and black churches.

  • MonkeyBoy on January 27, 2012 5:35 PM:

    If a religion holds that

    1) Everybody should be a member of that religion and outsiders should convert (Evangelism)
    2) Everybody should live by the rules of that religion
    3) That religion is the one true one.

    Then anything that interferes with these required beliefs is an attack on the religion. If people won't voluntarily convert then that itself is an affront.

  • Mitch on January 27, 2012 6:01 PM:

    As the child of Fundamentalist Southern Baptists, I spent the first twenty years of my life listening to this garbage (I am only 31 today). I was told, three times a week, that we Christians were a persecuted minority, one step away from being thrown to the lions.

    I was raised to believe that non-Christians are servants of Satan who conspire to destroy everything good in the world. And not only non-Christians like Muslims, no; nor even just the usual supects like Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses; other Christian denominations (Catholics in particular) were heaped with scorn for various forms of idolatry or blasphemy. Moderate and Liberal Christians are the most hated of all.

    I realize that not every denomination is as closed-minded or thuggish as Fundies like you find all over the Bible Belt. But I also realize that this bizarre persecution complex is spreading among Christians, and some old enemies (Catholics & Protestants of various sorts) are finding enough common ground to unite against the heathens.

    Scariest part: they don't really need a numerical majority to win. All they need is a compliant political party (check), a passionate base of believers (check) and Big Money supporters who would use the ignorance of the faithful to gain even more money (check). Enough people would fall in line to avoid persecution to ensure their success.

    This frightens me more than anything else in the world. I am not exagerrating. When religion and government combine, the worst is brought out of both. History has shown us this again and again. And with the savage nature expressed by today's "conservatives" I have no doubt that a modern theocracy based in America would become one of the true horrors of history. What do they cheer at debates? Torture and arrogance and ignorance and greed.

    The enemies of Reason grow stronger all of the time. Education is scorned, science is laughed off of the stage, the Culture War trumps every other cause and all of it is paid for and led by modern Nobility who seldom follow any of the teachings of Christ. All they have to do is talk the talk, though, and they have the support of the Faithful.

    Thankfully, I don't think they will win this year, but I do fear for the future. History tends to follow cycles; boom-and-bust. If the faithful become desparate enough, it wouldn't take much to plung us into another Dark Age. And I know better than to think Humanity has moved beyond that point.

    People like Newt are playing with Fire. Let's hope we don't get burned.

  • schtick on January 27, 2012 6:40 PM:

    I personally believe that all religions are looking to preach like a republican and take as much of your money as possible so they can live high off the hog and make you feel guilty you didn't give them enough money by telling you want a sinner you are. They all make me sick. I'll stay home and read my bible without their interpretations, thank you very much.
    I also don't believe they should be tax-exempt. They live in mansions, drive around in big cars or limos, have maids, lawncare provided all the while the poor slobs dropping their pay in the basket is footing the bill. The only thing that should be tax-exempt is the physical church and nothing else. They stick their nose in politics, let them pay to do so. They are NOT preaching the bible, they are preaching politics and in some cases, pouring money into that effort.

  • Dredd on January 27, 2012 7:05 PM:

    There is a far greater and measurable danger to the free press than there is to religion.

  • Cheryl on January 27, 2012 7:27 PM:

    This IS the WORST site on the WEB! The amount of LIES and false stories are amazing on here! I think Washigton Monthly NEEDS FACT CHECK on EVERY LINE they write. I seriously HOPE that those reading it ARE NOT BUYING IT.

  • Rose on January 27, 2012 7:30 PM:

    Can I get an Amen for all Ed's post and all the commenters?

  • Rose on January 27, 2012 7:34 PM:

    Well oops, not to TheZeitgeist and Cheryl.

  • Anonymous on January 27, 2012 8:11 PM:

    Wow, schtick, generalizing much? I'd be offended, but since you appear to be ignorant of what many denominations and many churches do to help others, not for their own glory or wealth, but because they actually follow the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    But you would do well to open your eyes to how people of faith help so many who are now fed (food banks, soup kitchens, garden space, backpacks for kids filled with food for the weekends), housed (homeless shelters), clothed (donations), provided space for education (Head Start & other preschools, Scouts), provided space for help and healing (for AA, NA, PFLAG, etc. meetings), relief from disasters from the national church organizations (thru donations and volunteers), and so on. This, while their pastors drive economy cars, are not paid a lot, live in average houses, and most of all, lead by example.

    Please consider that not all "religions" are on the take. Thanks.

  • Lolly on January 27, 2012 8:20 PM:

    The Amish wear "funny" clothes and nobody stops them or files lawsuits against them.

    I don't see why protesting against the imposition of the dominant religion here (Christianity) on non-Christians is seen as proof that we're happy with radical Islamic theocracy. Why would anyone infer that? But a teenage girl wearing a headscarf isn't imposing on anyone.

    I would of course object (or support a resister) if a public high school posted and endorsed Islamic prayers.

    Is it really that hard to see the difference between governmental agencies endorsing and promoting one religion, and individuals exercising that religion as a private matter?

  • Texas Aggie on January 27, 2012 9:04 PM:

    Saw something that directly pertains to this article and the feelings of the radical religionists.

    "If we were a genuinely Christian nation, we ... would forgive our enemies, speak truth to power, and go forth to serve and to sacrifice, not to rule" - Tom Ehrich, former WSJ reporter

    Lolly, while it may not be all that difficult to see the difference between individuals exercising a religion and the government promoting that religion, the basic problem comes when that religion can't stand on its own legs and needs some other agency to promote it. Otherwise it would be relegated to some backwater. The adherents can't allow that.

  • golack on January 27, 2012 9:09 PM:

    Yeah--If I don't get my way and force everyone to accept my beliefs, then I'm persecuted....


    Anonymous at 8:11 pm does raise a few valid points. There are some religious organizations that truly help the poor out of their beliefs, and even do it with gov't help without directly seeking converts. That's very much a win-win for religious organizations, but now it's not enough.

    Unfortunately, dealing with child sexual abuse is considered an attack on religion, pointing out that those railing against homosexuality are themselves in homosexual relationship is some sort of MSM/liberal conspiracy, and let's not get to serial adulterers amongst the "defenders of marriage", since that's always ok if you just ask forgiveness (not like you'd just do it again).

    There are truly holy and inspired people--but those are the ones lost in the political battles. When it becomes better to let a women stroke out and die along with her fetus, rather than tolerate an abortion, then there is no moral high ground. It's easier to let the putative mother die for your principle than it is to face reality. Sorry if pointing that out is now taken as an attack on religion than an attack on religious hypocrisy.

    p.s. 8 to almost 6-dude don't burn yourself out. Glad tosee you'll have a pinch hitter for weekends. Steve really was a set of identical septuplets, so don't keep that pace.

    p.p.s. Do keep taps on Wired.com. (ok, maybe leave that for twin #8)

  • Savsma18 on January 27, 2012 9:16 PM:

    Maybe when these candidates start acting like Christians people will stop hating them. You can't practice Christianity by spouting hate against other people, taking benefits from the poor & giving to the rich, taking healthcare from the elderly & education away from children. You, mr. Gingrich are a corporate whore looking out for only yourself & bank account. Nobody hates your religion we just hate you.

  • Texas Aggie on January 27, 2012 9:20 PM:

    Rose, here's an Amen. The two, Zeitgeist and Cheryl, don't seem to be really clued into reality, sort of like the right wing in general whose whole concept of "reality" is faith based, and not religiously faith based, either. They have their dogma and they're going to stick to it come hell or high water.

    It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. - Robert A. Heinlein

    Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. - Philip Pullman

  • rrk1 on January 27, 2012 9:48 PM:

    BRAVO!! An eloquent rebuttal to the faux victimization the right-wing loonies constantly foist off on us. Turning themselves in victims seems to be trademark of Republicans these days, and Gingrich knows how to pull out all the stops on that organ. His wind chests are clearly over-pressurized. Hopefully he springs a big leak soon.

    But where are the reasonable and intelligent Christian leaders? Why isn't there any pushback from the non-looney-tunes? The last brave one seems to have been William Sloan Coffin, now unfortunately gone. Mainline Protestant Christians seem to be an endangered species these days. Or at least a frightened one.

  • beejeez on January 27, 2012 10:33 PM:

    Uh-oh. Sounds like Zeitgeist is on to Ed's plan to muzzle him for fear his dazzling polemics will deter us from our mission to establish Sharia law.

  • Anonymous on January 27, 2012 10:33 PM:

    Just count the number of boogeymen in "secular elite and the academic news media and judicial..." I get 5, and it's only 9 words!

    Every word that Newt utters is a buzzword, including "and" and "the".

  • pjcamp on January 27, 2012 10:59 PM:

    ' “natural” laws as the Right to Life for the Unborn, the Right to Discriminate Against the Ungodly, or even the Right to Enjoy Private Property Without Taxation or Regulation. '

    Don't forget the right to keep the nigras down.

  • Rick Massimo on January 27, 2012 11:50 PM:

    By the way, Ed, don't ever apologize for writing about Newt Gingrich. The Republican Party is the way it is more because of him than any other single person. They are trying to run away from him - they have denied him three times (see what I did there?) - and we should not let them. Heck, we should have been writing about New Gingrich every single day since 1995. He's never left, and he's been the de facto leader of the Republican party (along with Rush Limbaugh) the entire time.

  • Ron on January 28, 2012 12:53 AM:

    It's amazing that the Religious Right should trace its cause to the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was a Deist. When he was elected president, religious New Englanders publicly asked whether they should bury their Bibles!

  • RT on January 28, 2012 2:02 AM:

    Some folks aren't happy to be free to like what they like; they're only happy when everybody likes what they like. They want to use the power of the state to stop people from liking what they don't like.

    Which is to say, religion is only part of it.

    [Captcha: DISRATING, vellini!]

  • Cal Gal on January 28, 2012 4:08 AM:

    Every SINGLE candidate for President this year is a Christian (assuming you grant Mormon's "Christian" status to which I'll just quote John Boehner and "take them at their word" that they're Christian.)

    Want to see some religious backlash? Just wait until a Presidential candidate says they are an atheist.

  • mr. irony on January 28, 2012 5:57 AM:

    congrats newt..

    its not every man who can credit his religious conversion to his long-time mistress...

  • low-tech cyclist on January 28, 2012 6:05 AM:

    I am someone who the Right would have you believe does not exist: I am a liberal who goes to church.

    With all due respect, nerd, they've never claimed people like you don't exist. They've always said that there are plenty of churches filled with people who have no idea what Christianity's really supposed to be about. As the ancient line goes, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than joining the Lion's Club makes you a lion!"

    Yeah, I know, a real knee-slapper, that. But my point is that they agree that there are liberals who go to church; they'd just say liberal churchgoers go to fake churches that preach some liberal claptrap in place of the Gospel.

    In my experience, they have a harder time explaining away liberals who are born-again Christians: in their worldview, it seems next to impossible that someone who carries the fire of the Lord in his or her heart could possibly be on what they regard as the Dark Side politically. But Aslan isn't a tame lion, and Jesus Christ isn't their household god.

  • low-tech cyclist on January 28, 2012 6:13 AM:

    I'll confess that the idea of the Declaration of Independence as a dog-whistle to evangelicals makes my head spin just a bit.

    It's the document where Jefferson invokes "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," a formulation that's about as deist as you can get, with possibly a touch of pantheism thrown in. This is the language of believers in a watchmaker God who set the whole thing in motion, and pretty much left it alone after that.

    And didn't Jefferson take a Bible and cut out the parts that he regarded as bogus? You'd think that would disqualify him and his writings from being any sort of evangelical dog-whistle.

  • low-tech cyclist on January 28, 2012 6:17 AM:

    When evangelicals complain about how unfair it is that we're not letting them use the government to their own ends in various ways, I just tell them that while I don't know about their god, mine is a big boy who doesn't need a handout from the government to get by.

  • jhm on January 28, 2012 7:41 AM:

    It is the sine qua non, if not the thing in toto, for a religion's tenets to be in the main indefensible. Faith is not faith with proof. All other ideas are either philosophies or other empirical theories which can withstand (and often welcome) criticism—mainly by offering the ability to conform to new data—an option unavailable to received doctrines (barring new revelations, a la the latest LDS ones on polygamy and dark skin). An unavoidable consequence of the above is that much of a sustainable religious creed must consist of a blanket proscription of doubt or the introduction of factors which would tend to condone same.

    Therefore, I would posit that is fundamentally at odds with the history of human beliefs classified as religion, to say that the persecution complex is an aberration of any of these creeds. It is the normal state of affairs, and twas ever thus.

  • Ted Frier on January 28, 2012 8:34 AM:

    Authoritarian movements or mindsets exploiting the freedoms they are given in open, liberal societies are nothing new. Nor are conservative criticisms that liberals are hypocrites harboring double standards because they cannot find room in their open-minded tolerance for conservative bigotries and intolerance.

    A perfect example occurred when National Review's Catholic conservative Kathyrn Jean Lopez attempted to defend uber-Catholic Rick Santorum for his belief that restricting contraceptives, even for married couples, was a legitimate power of the democratic state.

    Lopez chose her words carefully since her aim, like Santorum’s, is to insinuate Catholic social doctrine into the Public Square in order to change American culture and politics -- but in ways that do not scare away her audience.

    So she tried to have it both ways. First, to reassure liberals, she laughed away the idea that Santorum wants to ban condoms. Instead, she said, his only concerns, as a lawyer, were the serious problems with the Court’s reasoning in a Griswold case that made contraceptives legal – especially since that case articulated a “right to privacy” that was central to the Court's ruling in Roe eight years later.

    But then Lopez also wanted to reassure social conservatives that Santorum is still one of them -- someone with the “courage of his convictions” to give “public witness” to the ideals of social conservatism able to take on the “over-hyped faux tolerance” of a liberal culture which she says has no tolerance at all for socially conservative belief systems like hers that think tolerance of non-conformity to religious dogma is culturally suicidal.

    In a similar vein, not long ago there was a concerted effort by certain conservative intellectuals like George Will and Charles Krauthammer to convince us that liberals were just condescending snobs who refused to take conservative ideas seriously. But in neither case did these conservatives present actual conservative ideas which liberals had allegedly dismissed out of hand so that their audiences might judge for themselves whether the ideas were risible. In a particularly laughable example, George Will both dismissed Sarah Palin's populism as not ready for prime time and at the same time accused liberals of snobbery for the way they treated Palin -- leading one to conclude that George Will thinks Sarah Palin is a fool and anyone who agrees with him is just a condescending liberal elitist snob.

  • navamske on January 28, 2012 12:45 PM:

    @Anonymous at 10:33 pm

    McCarthyism, eh? I like it.

  • the zen diaper on January 28, 2012 3:39 PM:

    WAR??n What war? There's virtually a church on every corner in America. The right's presumed war is they are not being allowed to force their beliefs down everyone else's throat. Bring back the Sunday Blue laws? Ha. Force students to pray in school? Ha. Don't even get me started about sex vs religion. Western guilt runs these distorted fanatics who condescend to anyone who rejects their nonsense.

    No more debates in megachurches or moderated by preachers please. Our country is founded on religious TOLERANCE not DOMINANCE. Religion has no place in the public square but note how every republican candidate tries so desperately to parade it around as a means to condemn and judge and shame opponents or out-christian them. Ha. It's a belief system not reality. Newt is just a bomb thrower who condescends to everyone. He has no place in government and never has had.

  • Drinking Jim Crow on January 29, 2012 12:45 PM:

    I wish God did exist if only to use his/her/it's super powers to show these professionally aggrieved Christians what it's really like to be marginalized and discriminated against for one's personal religious views.

    It would be easy enough to do; just switch all the Christians with the atheists so they can experience what a real "war" on their beliefs feels like.

    [captcha: onternte united]