To the surprise of nobody, Mitt Romney is ignoring an invitation to participate in the presidential candidate forum at Liberty Counsel’s Florida Awake! conference on Saturday. So far, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted the invitation, while Ron Paul respectfully declined because he will be outside of Florida at the time. Romney has already skipped the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Iowa and two Personhood USA forums, and his decision to skip the Liberty Counsel debate earned him a rebuke from Personhood USA, even though Romney at one point endorsed the group’s extreme anti-choice legislation. The slam from Personhood USA, a cosponsor of the forum, implied that he wouldn’t be a strong opponent of abortion rights:
Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Rick Santorum are confirmed to participate in Florida Awake! Congressman Ron Paul regretfully declined, as he is not scheduled to be campaigning in Florida at that time. The event is already sold out, with over 1800 tickets reserved.
Governor Romney, again expressly invited, has again neglected to notify organizers of his willingness or disinclination to participate.
"Following President Obama's statement celebrating the Roe v. Wade decision -- effectively celebrating the deliberate killing of 54 million innocent American citizens -- Personhood USA recognizes the urgency of ensuring that we know where our candidates stand," stated Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. "We need a president who values life, and will defend the innocent in word and in deed. We certainly don't need a candidate who cares nothing for the Sanctity of Life, nor one who will join President Obama in celebrating the deaths of millions.'
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Newt Gingrich picked up where Rick Perry left off and said that he will fight the “war on religion.” Gingrich, as usual, attacked the media and the judiciary, two of the Religious Right’s biggest enemies, and derided them for promoting secularism. “I understand that there’s a war against religion,” Gingrich said, “and I am prepared to actually fight back for the first time in their lifetime and take on the judiciary when it’s overreaching and when it’s trying to drive God out of life.”
He went on to claim that his past affairs and divorces “make me more normal than somebody who wanders around seeming perfect” and promised social conservative voters that he would promote federal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortion “in parallel with an effort to abolish Obamacare and an effort to cut taxes and create jobs.”
With news that gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife have now both contributed $5 million each to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC Winning Our Future, on top of the millions of dollars the Adelson’s have contributed to Gingrich’s organizations before he entered the presidential race, Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton is wondering if social conservatives know—or care—about Gingrich’s close ties to the “billionaire casino owner.” Adelson, who is believed to be worth $26.5 billion, made his money through casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau, China, and is one of Gingrich’s longtime financers.
Ironically, members of Gingrich’s Faith Leaders Coalition have strongly denounced the gambling industry.
One of Gingrich’s first Religious Right endorsers and a coalition co-chair, American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, is also an outspoken opponent of the gambling industry. In his native Mississippi, Wildmon condemned then-governor Haley Barbour for betraying the “moral people” who voted for him by siding with the “money people” in his move to liberalize gambling laws. The AFA has consistently opposed the legalization of casinos and said [pdf] that “a federal commission to study the impact of gambling in America” should only include “people with sound Judeo-Christian values and no ties to the gambling industry,” while attacking congressmen who have taken “big gambling bucks.” In fact, that was the very same commission Gingrich tried to weaken to the chagrin of gambling opponents and AFA Journal noted that Gingrich “used one of his two choices to appoint the chairman and CEO of a Las Vegas casino company” to the commission. Wildmon himself wrote in 2005:
But the truth is that all our fine talk about personal freedoms in the U.S. can be nullified by the freedom we take with the moral laws of God. … Our consciences have become blunted and dulled with an overdose of pseudosophistication and broad-mindedness. We have become so tolerant of sin and sinfulness that we have lost our capacity to protest and rebel against plain indecency and moral rottenness. In many quarters we are so accustomed to violence, licentiousness, the glorification of sex, the shady deal, and the fast dollar — to say nothing of the gambler’s passion for something for nothing — that old-fashioned righteous indignation is regarded as a corny exercise for squares.
The tragedy is that modern Christians too often go along with the tide. We try to convince ourselves that drunkenness is illness, that filthy writing is realism, that obscenity is social comment, that perversion, adultery, cynicism, and gambling are the folkways of our time. … The cause of our problem does not lie altogether in poverty or slums or ignorance. … The truth is, the human mind is being poisoned, not by common immorality, but by an amoral, humanistic, nihilistic, cynical outlook on human behavior, wholly divorced from any concept of right or wrong.
Seeing as that Ralph Reed continues to be a leading Religious Right figure despite his past funding from casinos, Gingrich may still be able to balance his campaign focus on attracting “values voters” while his Super PAC is bankrolled with casino money.
Life inside the beltway is intimidating. I am becoming less convinced that electing an “outsider” is all that wise. I think I prefer an “insider” who truly understands how things work, and who is right on the issues. Mr. Gingrich is both of those. Mr. Gingrich will not allow the radical secularist to “out - parliamentarian” him. That is desperately needed. It is possible to have a solid, constitutional, pro-life, pro-marriage Christian president in the White House, but unable to move legislation. We need someone who cannot be “bullied” by the system.
Pastor Jim Garlow, the Proposition 8 campaign organizer and now co-chair of Newt Gingrich’s Faith Leaders Coalition, appeared on The Steve Deace Show Friday, where he argued that Gingrich is the only candidate in a position to stop President Obama and “the radical homosexual agenda” from causing the imminent “destruction of the definition of marriage.”Garlow appeared on the show to defend the twice-divorced Gingrich, whose second wife last week claimed that he wanted an open marriage with his then-mistress and now-third wife Callista, and described Gingrich as the savior of marriage and Western civilization. He said that Obama is “going to destroy America as we know it and eventually bring a halt to Western civilization as we know it” and soon it will be “virtually illegal to say the name Jesus”:
Garlow: We have got to get Romney stopped because of his policies and we must get Obama stopped if we’re going to save this nation. Obama may be a nice guy, I have no problem with that, but his ideology is going to destroy America as we know it and eventually bring a halt to Western civilization as we know it. It’s not melodramatic language, it’s not flamboyant, it’s where we are right now. We cannot economically and morally survive any more of Obama’s leadership and his ideology, therefore, we need the powerhouse of Gingrich coming in with that intellectually bandwidth to take him on and bring a halt to it.
We have come to a posture where I am absolutely astounded at the spiritual damage that Barack Obama’s ideology has done to this nation; I would never have believed three years ago he could’ve done this much in terms of moral and economic damage. Our religious liberties are evaporating at a pace—it’s going to be virtually illegal to say the name Jesus before long at the rate they’re going, or stand for any kind of authentic, biblical, historic Christianity.
Where we’re seeing it the most is we have two locomotives on the same track going at each other with full speed and one of them is going to be left standing when this day is over, it’s either going to be the radical homosexual agenda or it’s going to be religious liberty. They cannot both coexist in the same nation at the same time. Then you add in the dimension the destruction of the definition of marriage itself. I was in the auditorium at the Saddleback Civil Forum when candidate Obama said marriage is one man, one woman, people clapped and cheered, we didn’t believe him then, our concerns proved to be exactly right, and now President Obama is destroying, decimating 5,000 years’ worth of history.
Focus on the Family founder and Family Talk host James Dobson endorsed Rick Santorum today, which comes as no surprise as Dobson advocated for Santorum behind closed doors at a meeting with fellow Religious Right leaders in Texas. According to reports, Dobson feared the repercussions of electing Newt Gingrich and having “a woman who was a man’s mistress for eight years” as First Lady.
Dr. Dobson, well-known radio broadcaster, psychologist and author of 35 best selling books, and consultant to three U.S. Presidents, said today, "The institution of the family is the key issue facing this great nation. It is the foundation, the bedrock, upon which every dimension of Western Civilization rests. If it is undermined or weakened by cultural and governmental forces, the entire superstructure will collapse in short order. And indeed, today it is in serious jeopardy. The very definition of marriage is threatened, which has implications for the next generation and the stability of society itself.
"Of all the Republican candidates who are vying for the presidency, former Sen. Santorum is the one who has spoken passionately in every debate about this concern. He has pleaded with the nation and its leaders to come to the aid of marriages, parents, and their children. What a refreshing message. The Congress voted in 1969 to impose a marriage penalty tax on husbands and wives who were struggling to raise their children. That unfair tax continued for 32 years, until George W. Bush rolled it back. Now, if Democrats and some Republicans have their way, the marriage penalty tax will be re-imposed in 2013. We desperately need a president who will intercede on behalf of those who are caring for the next generation and working to build this nation.
"While there are other GOP candidates who are worthy of our support, Sen. Santorum is the man of the hour. His knowledge of international politics, especially Israel and the turmoil in the Middle East, is highly relevant to the dangerous world in which we live. This is why I am endorsing former Senator Rick Santorum for president of the United States, and urge my countrymen to join us in this campaign."
UPDATE: Rick Santorum thanked Dobson in a statement and hoped his endorsement would help “build upon our momentum generated from our Iowa Caucus win”:
I am truly honored to receive Dr. Dobson's endorsement today. Dr. Dobson has been a light for conservative movement, an unwavering leader in the face of forces both within and outside our Party to call a truce on the foundational principles that make our nation the greatest in the history of the world, but he knows that calling a truce is nothing more than surrendering. I commit to never surrender our principles, our foundational values, and the moral enterprise that is America. I am excited to work with Dr. Dobson in the weeks to come as we build upon our momentum generated from our Iowa Caucus win.
Meanwhile, the Red White and Blue Fund, a pro-Santorum Super PAC, is airing a new ad in South Carolina narrated by Bauer, who helped found the Family Research Council with Dobson, calling Santorum an opponent of “liberal elites and those who seek to undermine the nation’s freedoms and moral fabric”:
Leading The Way ministries pastor Michael Youssef is endorsing Newt Gingrich, whom he once compared to King David. He claims that only Gingrich “truly understands” the “threat to Western civilization, threat to our way of life, threat to the American Constitution.”
A fierce critic of gay rights, he said that America is going to have “the same fate as that of Sodom and Gomorrah” because of “homosexual lobbyists,” whom he claims “know deep down that homosexuality is contrary to God’s creator order.” He contends that America is removing “the land of God’s blessing and protection” by legalizing same-sex marriage, telling Charisma News that “it is very disturbing to see the greatest nation leading the world in abomination”:
Charisma News: What are some of your thoughts on this gay marriage law passing in New York?
Youssef: Here is another one that goes down the tubes. The stats say one in nine Americans are living in states where gay marriage is legal and it’s not going to stop there.
Let’s go to the beginning. When we begin to be immoral people we will cease to be blessed people. God blessed us as a nation through the years because of the faithfulness of the Founding Fathers to God’s Word. It might not be explicit but implicit in every action of their deliberation. Now we come to a time where we are removing the boundaries of our forefathers and as we remove these boundaries we are removing ourselves from the hand of God’s blessing and protection.
It is very disturbing to see the greatest nation leading the world in this abomination. It is very, very sad. This is a group of Republicans that made this happen. This is not a Republican-Democrat issue anymore. It is a moral issue. Those who love the Scripture and God’s ideal for our society must be very repulsed and speak against it. We need to examine every candidate for office from now on—to check not how he is going to help the economy, but how he is going to uphold God’s moral standard.
Newt 2012 today announced that Dr. Michael Youssef has endorsed Newt Gingrich, and Dr. Youssef will be joining the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition as a National Co-Chair.
“I’m couldn’t be happier in having Dr. Youssef on board,” said Newt Gingrich. “Our Faith Leaders Coalition will benefit tremendously from his leadership as a Pastor, a communicator, and an immigrant to the U.S.”
Remember that “game-changing” endorsement of Rick Santorum by a group of evangelical leaders desperate to deny the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney? As Brian reports, there wasn’t really that much of a consensus in Texas. And it certainly didn’t make it to South Carolina, where Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry all paraded before a gathering convened by Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” just hours before the latest debate. All had their fans in the crowd, and Gingrich seemed to have more, or at least more vocal, backers, than Santorum.
“We are here today because we say unapologetically and unequivocally that there cannot be true freedom without faith in almighty God,” announced the disgraced-and-rebounding Reed, who led the Christian Coalition to prominence in the 1990s and launched the Faith & Freedom coalition in 2009 as a voter turnout machine for conservative evangelicals. He claims that he is going to register 2 million new voters on his way to compiling a database of 27 million voters who will be contacted over and over up and through Election Day. “If you thought we turned out in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned Democratic leaders. Reed said “in 2012 we’re going to stand up and be counted and we’re going to say that people with faith in God aren’t what’s wrong with America, they’re what’s right with America and we need more of them engaged and more of them involved.”
The audience may not have been united on a candidate, but the candidates were unanimous in their avowed devotion to the Religious Right’s anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda, and their promises to fight “secularism” and the Obama administration’s alleged love affair with European-style “socialism” and its supposed “war on religion.” Also on the list: promises to repeal “Obamacare,” appoint right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, and shrink government. Reed promised that a Republican Congress and president would “dramatically slash” the corporate tax rate and take the capital gains tax to zero.
Rick Perry, whose once-mighty support has virtually evaporated in recent months, promised to set the audience on fire. His rambling remarks – punctuated with fist-pumping exclamations like “God and country!” – were well received, but South Carolina doesn’t seem likely to resurrect his candidacy.
The Supreme Court
Several candidates and their backers talked about the importance of the next president’s ability to appoint Supreme Court justices. Jay Sekulow, head of the Religious Right legal group American Center for Law & Justice, is one of Romney’s most prominent Religious Right backers. Sekulow talked about counting to five when he prepares Supreme Court cases, and said he was confident that with a President Romney making appointments in the mold of Justices Roberts and Alito, “I’m not going to have to worry about my math skills.” Reed, who introduced Gingrich, cited Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito as the kind of justices he was looking forward to – and not someone like Sotomayor. The Obama administration’s Justice Department also came in for sharp criticism, with Reed saying that Attorney General Eric Holder needs to “go back to where he came from.”
Pursuit of Happiness: The Gay Exception
One candidate after another cited the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” -- and then went on to call for a constitutional amendment that would prevent any state from allowing same-sex couples to get married. Romney said he would defend the Defense of Marriage Act and called for a constitutional amendment on marriage. Santorum said government based on the principles of strong faith and strong families was needed to constrain bad behavior and immoral activity. Perry dropped his voice to a dramatic whisper to assure gay people that “I love you regardless of what you’ve done. I hate your sin, but I love you.”
Threats to “Religious Liberty”
Many speakers argued that Christians in America are besieged by rampaging secularists. Romney said President Obama had put America on a path to being “more and more of a secular nation.” Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) asserted, “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians – no doubt about it.” Rick Perry decried liberals in Congress and on the courts who he said wanted to “whitewash the public square of all spiritual references” and “sanitize from our history books our Judeo-Christian roots.” “If I am president of the United States, I will not allow them to do it! I will welcome people of faith to the public arena!” said Perry. “This is our country, ladies and gentlemen. This is our time. And it is time for people of faith to take this country back!” Romney and Reed promised that 2012 would bring more than political victory; it will bring spiritual awakening and renewal to America.
Ron Paul’s Biblical Economics
Journalist Adele Stan has reported on Ron Paul’s ties to Christian Reconstructionists and their religious view of limited government. Paul cited the Bible to support his monetary policies, saying “The Bible says we’re supposed to have honest currency and we’re not supposed to print the money.” He also cited Biblical stories from Isaiah and Elijah about the importance of the “remnant” – the small number of people who could be counted on to hear the word of God. The portrayal of conservative Christians as the righteous remnant is a popular theme at Religious Right gatherings.
Romney v (Gingrich v Santorum)
The current story of the GOP primary seems to be whether Santorum or Gingrich can rally enough conservatives who distrust Romney to wrest the nomination away from him. On one South Carolina radio station, Gingrich and Santorum ads ran back to back on Monday, each making the “electability” case. Santorum and Gingrich both attacked Romney’s ability to challenge “Obamacare,” and each used their remarks to argue that they could best carry the banner of unapologetic conservatism. Santorum bragged that he opposed the Wall Street bailouts while Romney, Gingrich, and Perry supported them. He claimed that he was the only one whose economic plan was grounded in building strong families. Gingrich pledged that he would challenge Obama to seven 3-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, even offering to let Obama use a teleprompter (those jokes never go out of style at GOP gatherings), saying, “I think I can tell the truth without notes better than he can lie with a teleprompter.” Gingrich’s brashness was mirrored in the comments of Rep. Trent Franks, who once called President Obama an “enemy of humanity,” told the Faith & Freedom crowd that in a debate with President Obama, Gingrich “will eat Mr. Obama’s cookies and all accoutrements thereto.”
Appropriating a Sanitized MLK
Several speakers noted that the Faith & Freedom rally and GOP debate were taking place on Martin Luther King Day. Romney expressed admiration for King, who he referred to as “a great man.” But King’s Poor People’s Campaign and demand for government help in finding people jobs would not have won any praise from Romney or others at this event. Neither would Jesus’ teaching that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Building on the backlash against Gingrich and Perry’s criticism of Romney’s record as a “vulture capitalist,” Romney denounced “class warfare” and charged that Obama wants to create an “entitlement society.” Obama, he said, wants to replace ambition with envy, and “poison the American spirit by replacing a sense of unity with a sense of class warfare.” According to Romney, believing “one nation under God” means not noticing economic inequality. Others took the same line. Santorum, who says it’s un-American to even talk about a “middle class,” said Obama “wants to rule us” and thinks he can win by “dividing America up.” He said that Obama is destroying the incentive to create wealth.
In his eagerness to rally the Founding Fathers to his side, Romney mangled history in a way that called attention to the importance of MLK Day being more about learning and less about empty platitudes. According to Romney, the Founders’ choice of words about the unalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence indicated that they meant to create an opportunity society. “This would be a nation where people would pursue happiness according to their dreams,” said Romney. “We would not be limited by the circumstances of our birth, we would not be limited by our race or gender…” Well, Mr. Romney, we’re closer to that ideal, thanks to the work of Martin Luther King and countless others, but the founders were quite willing to limit people’s opportunities based on race and gender. And they weren’t the last.
Did social conservative leaders come together and jointly endorse Rick Santorum at the Texas retreat over the weekend? That is the way Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and many in the media interpreted the meeting of leading Religious Right luminaries, where on the second ballot Santorum led Gingrich 70 to 49, and on the third ballot 85 to 29. Perkins claimed there was a “strong consensus” behind Santorum, who has won the backing of Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Young Nance, former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher, American Values president Gary Bauer and the expected endorsement of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
But have Religious Right leaders really coalesced around Santorum?
Gingrich has locked in the support of prominent social conservative leaders: Concerned Women for America founder and chairman Beverly LaHaye; Council for National Policy founder and author Tim LaHaye; American Family Association founder and chairman Don Wildmon; Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver; California pastor and Proposition 8 organizer Jim Garlow; evangelical pollster George Barna; Restoration Project organizer David Lane and pastor and former congressman J.C. Watts.
Gingrich supporters have even claimed that the third ballot, which showed Santorum winning handling, occurred after many leaders left the meeting and that some Santorum boosters were involved with “ballot-box stuffing.” Bob Vander Plaats, an early Santorum endorser, told Bryan Fischer on Focal Point that the Texas gathering only showed “divided support” between Santorum and Gingrich, and Red State’s Erick Erickson, who attended the meeting, said that “it was divided with many thinking Gingrich is the only one who can win.”
While it remains to be seen if social conservatives will really “coalesce” behind Santorum, it is clear that the Religious Right leadership that begged Perry to enter the race has now utterly abandoned him.
“Liberal secularists had brought our nation to the verge of maylieze [sic] and stagnation because over half the Christians in America didn’t even bother to vote,” LaHaye writes, “Please payerfully [sic] onsider going to the polls and help elect Newt Gingrich, a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House with a man with a proven record of appointing conservatives to office that can return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years”:
The reason I am writing you is because as a South Carolinian, you are in a strategic position to help America at this historic time in our nation’s history. During the last three years our nation has been led by liberal secularists who have tried their best to remove God from our public square and the elimination of the Biblical principles our founding fathers built this nation on. Their financial policies have already brought us to the brink of bankruptcy and their government policies of over regulation has prolonged our recession and will, if continued for four more years, destroy this country as we know it. Some in this government want to tell churches who they can hire or fire to run their church, which is the very thing our forefathers wanted to keep the King and his government from doing. If we do not change our leaders in the next election we will end up being like the godless socialist countries of Europe. That will so destroy our country in four years that many experts believe we will never be able to reclaim it for moral and physical sanity.
That is where you come in! As a voter you can go to the polls and elect the one man in the up coming primary with the intelligence, conservative philosophy and hands on experience in government that is so needed today to return our country to the God honoring principles that made our nation the greatest country in world history. That man is our personal friend, Speaker Newt Gingrich. My wife Beverly, the Founder and Chairman of Concerned Women For America based in Washington D.C., and I believe he is the only man running for the office of President of America who shares our conservative principles who can beat the present leader in open debate and win! As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States. We agree!
In 1980, America was on a decline not unlike our country is today. Liberal secularists had brought our nation to the verge of maylieze [sic] and stagnation because over half the Christians in America didn’t even bother to vote. That’s why we started the Moral Majority that helped elect conservative Ronald Regan and with God’s help he changed the direction of our country. I am one of the two minister board members still living who helped Jerry get that majority started. Today we have no regrets!
Now it is your turn. It seems apparent the Republican candidates have come down to two possible winners. Please payerfully [sic] consider going to the polls and help elect Newt Gingrich, a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House with a man with a proven record of appointing conservatives to office that can return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years. Not just for ourselves, but for our children and to maintain the religious [sic] freedom thais [sic] so important today in preserving our nation’s future.
Is the Religious Right beginning to coalesce behind Newt Gingrich? Yesterday, the former Speaker hosted a conference call with the members of his Faith Leaders Coalition: American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, Religious Right pollster George Barna and pastor Jim Garlow. Now, Gingrich is racking up additional endorsements from Religious Right figures just days before conservative activists are set to meet in Texas to see if they can get behind one of the presidential candidates.
Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind series on the End Times and founder of the Council for National Policy, and his wife Beverly, the founder and chairman of Concerned Women for America, endorsed Gingrich, warning that America may “end up being like the godless socialist countries of Europe,” as did Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, one of the country’s most stridently anti-gay groups, and the dean of the Liberty University School of Law. “America will be unrecognizable if Obama is elected for four more years,” Staver said. “We need a strong leader with domestic, international and political experience who can inspire a new conservative resurgence in the line of Ronald Reagan. Speaker Gingrich is the clear choice.”
UPDATE: The Gingrich campaign released this statement from Tim LaHaye:
“During the last three years our nation has been led by liberal secularists who have tried their best to remove God from our public square and the elimination of the Biblical principles our founding fathers built this nation on” said LaHaye.
“Please prayerfully consider going to the polls on January 21 and help elect Newt Gingrich, a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House with a man with a proven record of appointing conservatives to office that can return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years” he said.
Pastor LaHaye also pointed to Speaker Gingrich’s qualifications as the best candidate to defeat President Obama as one of the reasons for his endorsement.
“It seems apparent the Republican candidates have come down to two possible winners,” LaHaye said. “As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, ‘Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States”… We agree!’”
"I am honored to have Tim's endorsement. His work as both a minister and author is truly unmatched," said Gingrich. "Tim will be a terrific partner for the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition as we work to combat the influence of radical secularism and activist judges."
Newt Gingrich today joined a conference call with members of his campaign’s Faith Leaders Coalition including Pastor Jim Garlow, American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, and Religious Right pollster George Barna where he urged social conservative voters to coalesce behind his candidacy. During the call, Gingrich repeated his claim that religious charities are losing their rights because they refuse to follow codes that prevent taxpayer-funded services from discriminating against people such as married same-sex couples. He even warned that America might go the way of Europe where Gingrich claimed that reading parts of the Bible regarding homosexuality would be a “hate crime”:
Gingrich: The state governments, for example in Massachusetts, which has literally driven Catholic adoption services out of the state, the District of Columbia, which has literally driven Catholic services out of taking care of the poor, the degree to which if you aren’t pro-gay, pro-abortion and pro-secular, you don’t have any rights. If you watch Europe right now, there is an increasing risk of speech becoming illegal, there are sections of the Bible you can’t read anymore in some European countries because it involves homosexuality and the act of reading it from the pulpit would be considered a hate crime.
As he told John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church that America may soon become “a secular country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” Gingrich argued that atheists and Islamists are both waging war against Western civilization by trying to “drive God out of our lives” and “make America safe for Islam and militant religion.” He went on to call for the restoration of the “Church Militant” so civilization can “survive”:
Gingrich: We’re in a two front war for our civilization. At one front are the secular atheists who would seek to drive God out of our lives, and on the other front are radical Islamists who would seek to make America safe for Islam and militant religion. I think that we have to recognize how truly serious a crisis this is for our civilization, I find when I talk that there is a need for the Church Militant once again if we are going to survive. I really do believe that we are in a two front war over the very potential of our society being preserved.
Later, Garlow and Wildmon ended the call by warning that Mitt Romney would inevitably lose to President Obama if nominated because he would have lukewarm support among evangelical voters, which would doom America and “be the beginning of the end for Western civilization as we know it”:
Garlow: I really, truly believe that this nation is on a very short fuse and the reason I threw my lot in beside, behind Newt Gingrich is that I believe what he brings in the table is what is needed in this particular moment to break through and to be able to keep us from having a candidate like Romney. If we have a candidate like Romney, the evangelical participation will drop, probably from a 2010 level to a 2008 level, that would be from 28 percent to 23 percent, and that would result in the reelection of President Obama and our country cannot possibly, morally and economically, survive that. It would spell, in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as we have known her and consequently the end of Western civilization. Don Wildmon, you’ve heard me say these words, am I overstating the case Don Wildmon or do you believe that is within the range of accuracy?
Wildmon: Jim, I’ve been thinking in the last few weeks, about forty years ago I’ve became travelling a good bit in Europe and I saw what was happening in Europe and the shape that they’re in now and that’s where we’re headed. Let me say this, this is not just another election, and I’m not one to try to blow things out just to get attention. If we lose this election, then it will be the beginning of the end for Western civilization as we know it.
Yesterday, leading Religious Right activist and Gingrich-surrogate Jim Garlow appeared on The Steve Deace Show, where he joined former congressman J.C. Watts in praising Gingrich. Deace, who recently endorsed Gingrich, asked Garlow why evangelical voters should back Gingrich when many feel there are candidates who are more ideologically pure and do not have Gingrich’s personal baggage. Garlow commented that Religious Right voters continue to be “defeated and frankly humiliated” by “hyper-spiritualizing” elections, when they should be backing candidates who have a chance at winning. He said Bachmann, Perry and Santorum do not stand a chance against “the Romney machine,” and that Christians need to start using a “healthy, biblical, biblically-founded pragmatism” and that “the Holy Spirit can show us” in order to win political fights:
Garlow: The second component is that we do not as Christians assess the problem quickly enough with a healthy, biblical, biblically-founded pragmatism. For example, I see people hyper-spiritualizing this election, they say, ‘well God parted the Red Sea,’ well he did it once! But he told Noah to build a boat, in other words, get in there and float on this thing. So we’re being out-fought, unfortunately, because we hyper-spiritualize way too much. Let me make it real, ground-tested and practical, and this will probably disturb some people. Michele Bachmann is wonderful but she has no cash and no traction; Rick Perry is wonderful, I think he’s absolutely fabulous, I hope he has strong influence in the nation in the future along with Michele Bachmann, he has lots of cash but his articulation skills have harmed him seriously and he cannot overcome them, not now; Rick Santorum is wonderful but he has no cash and no machinery, if he wins Iowa he needs to be spending $3 million a week minimum to carry him through to try keep up with the Romney machine, so Romney’s best interest is to land Rick Santorum right up there at the top. People are not thinking through a strategy and by lack of a biblically-founded pragmatism that the Holy Spirit can show us, the lack of a strategy, we are being defeated and frankly humiliated and our biblical rights are being robbed from us.
Last week, Garlow interviewed Gingrich on a conference call with Iowa pastors that also featured American Family Association founder Don Wildmon and “Restoration Project” organizer David Lane, both of whom previously supported Rick Perry but have since endorsed Gingrich. On the call, Wildmon warned conservatives against splitting their vote (2:45). Gingrich criticized abortion rights (8:15), marriage equality, which he called “a violation of the core framework of our civilization” (9:20), and the judiciary (10:50), warning that “the Obama, European secular socialism is fundamentally different and in a key way threatens our rights as citizens” by turning Americans into subjects of the state:
I am inviting you (and select Christian Iowa Leaders) to join me on a Conference Call with Former Speaker Newt Gingrich this Friday, December 30, 12 Noon (CST).
Dr. Jim Garlow will emcee the call, pastor Skyline Church San-Diego, founder of the California Pastors Rapid Response Team, a group of several thousand pastors who led the successful charge for Prop. 8 in 2008, a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage in California.
These are important and critical days in which to live and serve the Lord. I'm praying that the Lord is doing something dramatic in our time, and Iowa is leading the way on January 3rd.
Newt is leading the thrust to remove elitist judges who ignore the American people, like the 3 Iowa Supreme Court Justices who voted in 2009 to impose homosexual marriage on all Iowans.
On the call we will hear directly from Newt about this historic undertaking and hopefully have a chance to ask him about his plans for his "21st Century Contract With America."
I have been impressed with Newt and have come to the conclusion that Newt is the one person who can lead us out of the awful environment created by the present occupant in the White House. As Newt has expressed it, "America’s exceptional nature is based on the self-evident truths contained in the Declaration of Independence. Our rights are endowed by our Creator and they are unalienable." This is the type of understanding and strong leadership America needs.
Our Nation requires courageous, principled conservative leadership now more than ever.....from someone who understands that our rights as Americans are a gift from God, not government.
Please join me on this conference call with Newt Gingrich. Your participation is important to our future.
Thank you for your active participation in these critically important times.
Last night during a tele-town hall hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, a caller asked Newt Gingrich if he would consider choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate if he wins the Republican nomination. Gingrich responded that Palin “is certainly one of the people you would look at” and told the caller that he is “a great admirer of hers,” saying “she was a remarkable reform governor of Alaska.” He also floated appointing Palin to a Cabinet position such as Energy Secretary because he “can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin.” Earlier this week, Gingrich pledged to fill the judiciary with graduates of the far-right Liberty and Regent University.
Caller: If you’re fortunate enough to be nominated, would you consider having Sarah Palin as your running mate?
Gingrich: She is certainly one of the people you would look at. I am a great admirer of hers and she was a remarkable reform governor of Alaska, she’s somebody who I think brings a great deal to the possibility of helping in government and that would be one of the possibilities. There are also some very important Cabinet positions that she could fill very, very well. I can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin, for example. Tell her that she would certainly be on the list of one of the people we would consider.
Newt Gingrich appeared on Monday’s program of WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green, where Gingrich once again praised Barton’s right-wing pseudo-history and activism. In fact, Gingrich gave Barton credit for helping him develop his plan to assault the “judicial dictatorship” if elected president. He told Barton and Green that his plan is sending shockwaves through the “the secular left, which has been using the courts to replace the America we grew up in” by legalizing abortion, “driving God out of public life” and making same-sex marriages become “legitimized as if they were the same between traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
Gingrich added that he would appoint judges in the mold of Robert George, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and a drafter of the Manhattan Declaration who has called people to defy Supreme Court decisions on issues like marriage that they disagree with, and graduates of Regent University and Liberty University, the schools founded by the far-right televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, respectively. Regent University absorbed the Oral Roberts University law program and teaches conservative Christian interpretations of the law, and the Liberty University School of Law even pressured students to disobey U.S. law if it conflicts with what they believe is “God’s law” in situations such as the Lisa Miller kidnapping case. Gingrich also pointed to the right-wing Federalist Society as a source for judicial appointments
Gingrich: What you have is, the secular left, which has been using the courts to replace the America we grew up in, the secular left which is desperately committed to Roe v. Wade and abortion, desperately committed to marriage between same-sex couples becoming legitimized as if they were the same between traditional marriage between a man and a woman, desperately committed to driving God out of public life, and they are suddenly faced with the possibility that we the people are going to take back our authority, that we are going to take back our rights, that we are going to redress the balance. The level of hysteria, I predict, will grow as they come to realize at the American Bar Association and elsewhere that this really is an effort to limit the power of lawyers to redesign America.
Green: Should you become president, is there a crop of attorneys and judges out there that understand history and understand originalism that you would have to choose from, in other words it’s got to be more than just you and Congress, what about good judges?
Gingrich: You start looking at people of the caliber of Robbie George of Princeton, you look at Regent University, you look at Liberty University, you start looking around and realizing there is a whole crop - Vince Haley of University of Virginia graduate who is a deeply, deeply committed Christian who clearly understands these kinds of issues - I think people would be surprised that the Federalist Society has many members who agree that we need a balance of power between the three, not a judicial dictatorship.
On Tuesday, the founder of the far-right American Family Association Don Wildmon endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, citing Gingrich’s stringent attacks against the judiciary and the need to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination as reasons for his endorsement. Wildmon told AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, who has harshly criticized Gingrich, that he was originally “ecstatic” about Rick Perry but decided against supporting him due to his poor debate performances and said that only Gingrich can stop “the homosexuals and the liberals” from their plot to “destroy the family” and “the whole of Western Civilization.”
Deace: Newt, tell me what you think this endorsement means and what you want this endorsement to say to undecided voters out there?
Gingrich: No one has been a more consistent fighter for Christian freedom to actually practice our religion, for the right to life, stopping abortion, for the protection of marriage between a man and a woman, and I think the degree to which the Rev. Wildmon has been a national leader in these areas, the 2.5 million people who recognize his leadership through his association, this is a very important signal that if you are a social conservative and you’re interest is making sure that we have a social conservative as the Republican nominee, the Rev. Wildmon from his many years of experience is telling you that Newt Gingrich is the one candidate who could potentially stop Mitt Romney. I think that is a very, very powerful and a very important message, and I think it will make a big impact not just in Iowa but across the country. Having watched his work for a number of years, I am very grateful for this kind of support and the courage he’s shown standing up in the public arena for the values that we believe in.
Wildmon said that the election is so serious that if either President Obama or Mitt Romney wins we will “lose this country”:
Wildmon: If we don’t have a strong leadership that knows and believes in maintaining our Judeo-Christian heritage, we’re going to lose it. And let me tell you, don’t load up any buses because there’s nowhere else in the world that what we have can be replicated. It’s gone and it is gone forever if Obama or Romney wins the presidency, it’s gone and it’s gone forever. That’s a strong statement, I’m not trying to scare anybody, I’m not trying to say I got any kind of intellect, but I just see it and it’s there and if we lose this country, it’s gone and it can never again be replicated.
When Deace asked Wildmon how the Religious Right leader came to terms with a supporting a candidate whose last two marriages ended following extramarital affairs, Wildmon pointed to his own conversations with Gingrich where he repented for his past indiscretions and to California pastor Jim Garlow, who has pressed evangelicals to forgive and support Gingrich. Wildmon also reminded Deace that “Paul was a murderer, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and for all intents and purposes a murderer,” and were still forgiven and lifted up by God:
Deace: I keep getting questions about someone that has had the past on a personal level that Newt has had, with even Newt has himself described as moral failings in his past, and whether or not we as evangelicals can support somebody like that and do we look hypocritical, I know you obviously wrestled with this, so let me ask you that question.
Wildmon: Yes I think that is a legitimate question, my friend Jim Garlow could answer that more in depth, but let me answer what I can. Go back four years ago, I was sitting in a room in Washington and we asked Newt to come out and discuss the situation, and we did and he said that he had repented, at that time this was four years ago now and if I remember there was a tear or two, I think the man was genuine, I think he was honest, I think he meant what it said. Now and I say this with Newt sitting there, only Newt knows Newt’s heart other than God, I think that he has paid his dues, I think he has accepted his forgiveness, God has forgiven him, I forgive him, let’s go on to do what’s best for the country.
I am supporting Newt because I think he’s the best fellow for the job, as far as sin, we know what’s in Newt’s past, Paul was a murderer, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and for all intents and purposes a murderer, the man has paid his dues, he’s been forgiven by God. Am I supporting him? Yes I am. Why? I’ll say it again; I think that everything considered he is the best candidate for the office. Look—I’m taking a lot of heat, a lot of people already tell me ‘I’m not going to support you anymore’—you only live once and you got to do what you believe to be right and best, and you suffer the consequences thereof, and I think this is the right and best what I did. I hope some of my influence in the state of Iowa will help the Speaker carry the state.
Three Republican candidates for the nation’s high office including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Senator Rick Santorum, and Speaker Newt Gingrich have confirmed their participation in the Presidential Pro-Life Forum on Tuesday, December 27, from 8:00 to 9:30 pm CST. The national tele-town hall and radio simulcast will be hosted by Personhood USA and their partner organizations: National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, Liberty Counsel, Bott Radio Network, Freedom Federation, Frederick Douglass Foundation, Champion the Vote, Oak Initiative, The Call, Georgia Right to Life, Rock for Life, and Iowa Right to Life. An invitation has been extended to the remaining GOP presidential candidates.
The 90-minute pro-life tele-town hall will feature the candidates discussing their views on the rights of the preborn and other issues of great importance to pro-life voters. Pro-life groups around the nation are inviting their members to attend. Callers will have an opportunity to ask questions via email and give instant feedback to thoughts and ideas shared.
Nationally-syndicated radio host Steve Deace, whose influence in the Iowa Caucuses has been highlighted by numerous national media outlets, will broadcast the event live on his Salem Network program. Last week, four candidates, Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, and Gov. Rick Perry, signed Personhood USA’s Personhood Republican Candidate Pledge, declaring their intentions to stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death.”
“We’re pleased to see the candidates standing for the rights of every person to live, love, and be loved. The time has come to end the 40-year reign of the abortion industry, once and for all,” said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. “This is an opportunity for everyone who understands that ‘all men are created equal’ to hear from the candidates their plans to recognize the most fundamental rights of every human being, no matter their age. Come, take advantage of this interactive and important event, and be a voice for the voiceless.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has been busy spinning bizarre theories about how the media will have to try to make voters uncomfortable with Mitt Romney's faith in order to help President Obama because Evangelical Christian voters would have no qualms about voting for a Mormon.
The only problem with Land's conspiracy theory is that it is constantly being undermined by others, like the new president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Brad Atkins, who says that Christians would have a much easier time voting for a thrice-married serial adulterer like Newt Gingrich before ever voting for a Mormon like Romney:
The Rev. Brad Atkins, tabbed in November to lead the group for the coming year, told Patch on Friday that while Gingrich's infidelities may represent a major obstacle for some Christian voters, it isn't an issue that necessarily excludes the former speaker from consideration. Rather, it's an issue that calls for prayerful consideration of Gingrich's numerous public confessions to his wrongdoings.
The issue presented by Romney's faith may be more deeply rooted to South Carolinians.
"In South Carolina, Romney's Mormonism will be more of a cause of concern than Gingrich's infidelity," said Atkins, the pastor at Powdersville First Baptist Church in the Upstate.
"Conservatives can process and pray their way through the issue of forgiveness toward a Christian that has had infidelity in their life, but will struggle to understand how anyone could be a Mormon and call themselves 'Christian.'"
Newt Gingrich today nabbed the endorsement of Don Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association, which is now under the leadership of his son, Tim. Wildmon praised Gingrich’s aggressive attacks on the judiciary, saying, “Newt Gingrich recognizes the threat to our country posed by judges and lawyers imposing values upon the country inconsistent with our religious heritage, and has proposed constitutional steps to bring the courts back in balance under the constitution,” and Gingrich welcomed the endorsement by calling Wildmon “one of the most important leaders in the country in the battle to uphold our founding principles.”
Wildmon endorsed Gingrich, who has admitted that extramarital affairs were reasons that ended his first two marriages, despite previously arguing that “adultery is destructive to relationships, to families, and to society.”
After founding the National Federation for Decency, which later became the AFA, Wildmon led censorship campaigns against shows like Seinfeld and Murphy Brown, along with other movies, television programs and music he found objectionable.
Wildmon also has claimed that “liberals” and those who support the “homosexual agenda” all “hate Christians,” and in his recent book Speechless, he claimed that “homosecularists” are trying to “persecute Christians” and “insert homosexual propaganda into the schools.” He warned that the “homosecularist elite” is using “the schools to indoctrinate children” through “pro-homosexual and anti-Christian” programs to combat school bullying. Wildmon also praised the Boy Scouts for not wanting to “expose its young members to lonely sodomites.”
But Wildmon’s endorsement doesn’t mean others in the AFA have had less than kind words for Gingrich.
Recently in a phone interview I challenged former Speaker Newt Gingrich with the query If the men of the Republican Revolution and their Speaker couldn't keep their marriage vows why should we now entrust, say, that Speaker who looks to be making a run for the presidency?
It wasn't much of an answer he gave. Evangelicals in power must do better in the future, and cultural conservatives in particular must surely know that the public will hold them to higher standards.
John the Baptist famously rebuked a politician of his day for his problematic marital history, and Mr. Gingrich rightly comes in for similar censure.
King David of the ancient kingdom of Israel kept his throne after his adulterous liaison with the beautiful Bathsheba, but a consequence of his unfaithfulness was that the sword never left his house, never left the dynasty he left behind nor the nation his descendants ruled. There were lasting consequences to the body politic for his moral failures, no matter how repentant he was and no matter how forgiven by God.
A candidate or president with such a troubled past would have little or no credibility in talking about the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity and importance of the intact family unit. “Who are you,” folks would say, “to be lecturing us about the importance of family?”
And there certainly would be fallout for the American family and the institution of marriage if such a flawed individual served as our nation’s leader.
UPDATE: Wildmon today appeared on Focal Pointwith Bryan Fischer where he explained that while he was initially “ecstatic” about Rick Perry’s candidacy, he decided that because of the Texas governor's disastrous debate appearances his candidacy “cannot recover.” Wildmon said that electability matters because “we are facing the most critical election this nation has ever seen, the stake in this election is Western civilization.”
When discussing Gingrich’s extramarital affairs, he said that Gingrich “seemed genuinely repentant,” telling Fischer, “we are voting for a president, not a pope, and there is a difference.” He added that his endorsement was personal and does not reflect an endorsement by the American Family Association.
Later in the show, Wildmon and Fischer praised Gingrich’s fight against “judicial tyranny” and Wildmon cited Gingrich’s attacks on judges as one of the major reasons he endorsed him: Wildmon said “the whole of Western Civilization” is in jeopardy because “when you destroy the family, which the homosexuals and the liberals now are trying to do, then you've destroyed the foundation here. All of this business about homosexual marriage, well let’s go to Massachusetts where it started, did the people vote on it? No they didn’t. What happened? Judges, judges, liberal judges passed the law, made the legalization of homosexual marriage in Massachusetts.”