Southern Religion

Will Gingrich surf his way of the cross to the White House?

Newt Gingrich is on a spiritual journey back to power in the Republican Party and perhaps a run for president.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes about Gingrich’s conversion Catholicism, noting that it “says much about the transformation of the Republican Party that even Newt Gingrich is now carrying the cross.” Milbank says that even though Gingrich has never been close to the religion right, former speaker “is calculating that everything will get easier for him politically as a religious conservative.”

Gingrich was a Southern Baptist, but had previously followed a brand of New Age philosophy, according to Milbank.

“But as his presidential aspirations swelled in recent years, Gingrich took the road to Damascus. He went on James Dobson‘s radio show to talk about his adultery. He spoke at Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University. He appeared on GodTV. He converted to Catholicism. He wrote a book, “Rediscovering God in America,” and produced two related films. He’s at work on a documentary about Pope John Paul II‘s role in defeating communism.”

Matt Bai looked at Gingrich’s resurgence in New York Times Magazine.

Bai describes a Republican retreat for congressmen in Virginia earlier this year, where Gingrich was the keynote speaker. Gingrich told inspiring stories from history and sports and even lightheartedly referred to himself as Moses, saying he’d help the GOP cross the Red Sea again only if it stayed on the other side.

Bai notes that Gingrich has “gone to great lengths to placate Christian conservatives.”

“The family-values crowd has never completely embraced Newt, probably because he has been married three times, most recently to a former Hill staff member, Callista Bisek. In 2006, though, Gingrich wrote a book called “Rediscovering God in America” — part of a new canon of work he has done reaffirming the role of religion in public life.”

Gingrich spoke at a conference in June that shares the book’s name, according to a post by Dan Gilgoff in the U.S. News and World Report’s God & Country blog.

Gingrich told the conference attendees that the nation’s “first great challenge is spiritual.”

“This is a country in hunger for another Great Awakening, a wave of belief which has again and again swept this country and fundamentally changed us.”

Gingrich is positioning himself to ride that wave.


November 12, 2009 - Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , ,

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