07 June 2009

The citizenship of Newt Gingrich

Drat. And I thought he was one of the less crazy ones.

Gingrich was on hand recently in Virginia for some anti-abortion anti-gay anti-secularism nutjobfest called "Rediscovering God in America", a title suggesting that its sponsors think the country hasn't been pestered about religion enough over the last thirty years, where he said, "I am not a citizen of the world.....I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator."

The fact that an American -- a former Congressman, no less -- could say this, even casually in passing, does not speak well of the state of civics education when he was attending school. The reason why Gingrich is a US citizen is the same as the reason why I (an atheist) am one -- he was born here. The US is actually unusual in that the First Amendment to its Constitution would prohibit any linkage between citizenship and a partictular religious belief. In fact, the only country I can think of where citizenship is explicitly tied to religious belief is Saudi Arabia, where citizens are required to be Muslims. If Gingrich really believes, as his statement implies, that he chose his citizenship because he prefers a country where "citizenship starts with our creator", perhaps he should consider moving there.

Gingrich also complained that "we are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism." "Paganism" in common usage refers to polytheistic religions, as opposed to the stripped-down one-god models such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The only major polytheistic religion today is Hinduism, the traditional religion of India, which is the world's largest democracy, a secular state like the US, and an ally in the war against jihadism. Some American citizens are Hindus, or adherents of smaller pagan religions such as Wicca or Asatru. None of these people have been shooting doctors or flying airplanes into skyscrapers. Personally I would feel safer being "surrounded by paganism" than by overly-fervent Christians or Muslims.

Found via Nancy.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Nick M said...

My US ex once met Newt Gingrich in DC. Her greatest regret (other than dumping me, natch) was not shoving him down the steps of The Capitol.

What a staggeringly pig-ignorant thing for Newt to say (even by his own standards).

I have a (not especially original) theory. The GOP's orgy of idiocy over abortion and gay-marriage is political suicide. I mean lots of folks in the US don't like either but I think very few actually see them as burning iussues compared to the economy, healthcare or the war and sundry mere bagatelles like those three.

I have never heard a single coherent argument as to how gay marriage "weakens" straight marriage. And abortion... Let's not go there. It inevitably invokes Godwin at the speed of heat and descends into histrionics about murdering bay-bees.

Infidel, I have a fair bit of time for your theory that the European Muslim "right" is the mirror-image of the US Christian "right" but there are certain differences. One of the most notable is that we actually have a dramatic rise in the UK (at least) of US style born-again types. Our traditional churches (Anglican, Catholic etc) are on the wane but the guys with $2000 suits and $3000 wigs are doing rather well here filling the vacuum.

There are also profound differences between the Islamists and Christianists (let us hope they never bury the hatchet and hook-up) but that is an essay question in itself.

07 June, 2009 07:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick, thanks for the thoughtful comment. The Republican party does seem to be trapped in a death spiral of kowtowing to its fundamentalist base's obsession with fighting abortion and gays while most of the country has moved on. I think the abortion "debate" is pretty much over, regardless of what people tell opinion pollsters. If an anti-abortion law can't win a referendum in South Dakota, it can't win anywhere.

I certainly would not claim that the Christian Right and Islam are so similar as to be mirror images. The American Christian Right is much less violent than the jihadists (despite the recent murder of Dr. Tiller), and significantly less extreme in its social goals; even a society fully in conformity with the Christian Right agenda would be less ghastly to live in than Saudi Arabia. But it would still be ghastly. I make this analogy because, by and large, it fits -- and it's the obvious way of getting across the real issues around Islam in Europe to Americans who usually know little about it but who understand other socoieties most easily by analogy with our own.

One of the most notable is that we actually have a dramatic rise in the UK (at least) of US style born-again types.

Disappointing. Well, here in the US they are much less numerous than the amount of noise they make would suggest. Hopefully the same is true there as well.

07 June, 2009 08:31  
Anonymous Nick M said...

It is true that they are not numerous. We are a pretty irreligious nation but they do make an increasing ammount of noise.

One of the problems is every time the Muslims wangle some "right" the likes of the Christian Institute (alas located in my home town of Newcastle) kick-up a stink because they see it as a precedent for similar "protection" of Christianity.

I guess my point was that due to the complete ineptitude of the likes of the CofE we have a rise in religious mentalists rather than the quiet faith some of us used to have. It's a polarization really.

The big difference I see between the Islamists and the Christianists is that the Christianists think they are actually speaking for "our" society and the Islamists wanna destroy it and/or enslave the rest.

We can only keep plugging away against idiocies like "a belief in evolution leads inexorably to homosexuality". I forget where I read that stormer but I did read it.

Personally I worry that the rise of fundamentalist religions, new-age quackery and all sorts of assorted idiocy is harming science. Otherwise I'd be more than happy to allow these loons to wallow in their comfortable idiocy.

Well, that and as a former astrophysicist who knows geologists and biologists I find it an affront.

07 June, 2009 09:11  

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