October 19, 2017

Daniel Jepsen on Newt Gingrich, the Religious Right, and Rank Hypocrisy

NOTE FROM CM: Oh boy, another presidential election year is upon us in the good ol’ US of A!

Here at Internet Monk, we don’t usually talk much about politics. It was the Apostle Paul who warned us, “Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge…” (1Tim 6:20). It seems to me that whenever we take up the topic of US politics, we are at best walking close to the edge of that, inviting a lot of useless controversy and opinionated ranting that, in the end, serves little purpose.

However, against my better judgment, we will feature more articles on various aspects of the subject this year. I’ll hold my nose with one hand and keep another finger on the “moderate” button, and we’ll try to host a few political conversations. Since this is primarily a religious blog, we will limit our subject matter to material that speaks to the intersection of faith and public affairs.

We begin today, with a piece by my good friend and colleague, Rev. Daniel Jepsen, a pastor here in central Indiana. Dan has helped us with our Liturgical Gangsta posts, and he blogs regularly at Daniel Jepsen: Random Musings on Life, the Universe, and Everything. Like me, Dan is usually a pretty low-key, laid-back kind of guy. On this occasion, however, the Christian Right set him to ranting…

• • •

Newt Gingrich, the Religious Right, and Rank Hypocrisy
by Daniel Jepsen

I am not a political person. Though there was a time when I felt very adamantly that one party was right, and the other wrong, three decades of adulthood have taught me the wisdom of the biblical admonition, “Don’t put your trust in men”. Frankly, I don’t care as much about politics as I used to because I don’t think politicians can solve our deepest problems.

I am a little hacked off right now, however. I just read that the American Family Association’s founder and chairman, Rev. Don Wildmon, has endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, and will be campaining for him. The AFA is one of the most hardline religious right organizations in the country. Their webiste lists their mission statement as:

The mission of the American Family Association is to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission. Beneath this they list action steps, the first two of which are:

  1. Restrain evil by exposing the works of darkness;
  2. Promote virtue by upholding in culture that which is right, true and good according to Scripture;

This group has now endorsed as our country’s leader a man who has perhaps the worst record of personal sexual morality of any presidential candidate in the last 50 years (and yes, I am including Slick Willy). And the AFA is far from alone. A recent CBS News poll shows Gingrich has the support of 34 percent of white evangelicals in Iowa, while the next highest candidate is at 17 percent.

Donald Wildmon, AFA

If you are unfamiliar with Newt’s (not-so-distant) past, here is a brief summary. It is taken from The Politial Guide, and I don’t think the facts listed are disputed by anyone:

Congressman Newt Gingrich has been married three times. His first and second marriages ended because he began relationships with the women who would later become his second and third wives. He has been accused of having multiple additional affairs. While Congressman Gingrich was leading this private lifestyle, he publicly campaigned on family values, publicly shamed other representatives who were caught in similar behavior, and led the charge to impeach President Clinton for matters relating to his affairs.

Newt began a relationship with his first wife, Jackie, when he was 16 and she was his geometry teacher. He married her after high school, they had children shortly thereafter, and were married for roughly 18 years. During that time Jackie supported Newt while in College and during two unsuccessful Congressional campaigns. His campaign staff has stated that Newt carried out multiple affairs during this time. After a successful 1978 campaign, Congressman Gingrich moved to D.C..

In 1980, Newt began a relationship with a woman he met at a political fundraiser, Marianne. Newt divorced Jackie in February of 1981 and married Marianne in August. Congressman Gingrich was accused of negotiating divorce details while his wife was recovering from surgery, and then refusing to pay child support and alimony to speed up the divorce process.

Although she was active in his political career, Newt and Marianne separated from his second wife around 1988 and then reconciled around 1994. At that time, Congressman Gingrich became Speaker of the House and began a relationship with a congressional intern, Calista. After a six year affair, Congressman Gingrich divorced his second wife and months later married Calista in 2000. Newt was 57 and Calista was 34. During the divorce proceedings, Congressman Gingrich refused to participate in the discovery process and finally claimed that he and Marianne had an “understanding” about his affairs. Marianne denied this claim, and in a subsequent interview stated that she could end Newt’s political career in a single interview.

At the end of both his marriages, Congressman Gingrich proposed to his new wife before asking his current wife for a divorce. Marianne stated that this was very telling of Congressman Gingrich’s character. Before marrying Calista, Congressman Gingrich asked the Catholic Church to annul his 18 year marriage to Marianne.

There have been numerous accussations of additional affairs during all phases of Congressman Gingrich’s life, including a woman who claimed she had a relationship in the 1970′s with Gingrich before he was a Congressman. Strangley enough, this woman states that Gingrich sought oral sex only so that he could later deny sexual relations if they were discovered. This was the same tactic used by President Clinton when he was accused of adultery.

As Speaker of the House, Congressman Gingrich led the charge to impeach President Clinton. He has acknowledged that while he was doing this, he was carrying out an affair with his current wife. When asked about the hypocrisy of these actions, he has noted that President Clinton committed perjury to cover the affair and this was what he was impeached for and not the affair itself.

You can read a more detailed description of this history HERE, which includes quotes and footnotes.

This is the man the American Family Association Chairman has endorsed. What is his rationale?

“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,” Wildmon said in a statement. “We need someone in the White House who can balance the budget and get the economy moving again. Newt has done it before and I believe he can do it again.”

In other words, Wildmon believes he would appoint good judges and help the economy.

So, that’s it? As long as a person is a skilled advocate of small government and a certain judicial view we should let him off the hook for abandoning two wives (in their illnesses) and for a lifetime of immorality? Even if Newt had the mind and mouth of Lincoln we cannot overlook such things. The president is not simply another government official. He is the face of the country, the symbol of our aspirations, an exemplar for our youth. In a democratic society, executive authority depends to a great degree on moral authority.

I realize many will say that these things are in the past, and that Newt has sought forgiveness. Therefore, it may be argued, should forgive him fully, for that is what the cross is for. I have two responses to this.

First, Newt was in his fifties when having the six-year affair with Callista. We are not talking of “youthful indescretions” here. Secondly, and more importantly, we must guard ourselves against sloppy thinking that would equate “forgiveness” with “supporting and voting for him as President”. Yes, we are called to forgive, and as a pastor I would certainly welcome someone with Newt’s past and repentance as a full member of my church. But that does not mean I would trust his character to lead, especially with these stakes. If I ever cheated on my wife, I would hope that my church would fully forgive me (assuming my repentence), but they should not keep me as their pastor. Forgiveness is a personal virtue, but does not remove the consequences of the action for a leader, nor does it magically erase the character flaws which led to the immorality. Those character flaws are deeply ingrained in a man by his late 50′s, and only hopeless naivety would lead one to think they will not appear in the pressure cauldron of the presidency.

Rev. Wildmon has lost my respect. He cannot head an organization dedicated to promoting personal morality while endorsing and campaigning for Newt Gingrich. To do so is to expose himself, his organization, and even the Religious Right as a whole to charges of rank hypocrisy.

Comments

  1. Daniel,

    Good to read this post. As a Catholic Christian, I certainly give Mr. Gingrich the benefit of the doubt with regard to repentance, but like you I don’t think we write a blank check and ask him to be our next president. Virtue takes time to grow into and only happens by God’s grace. Better if he focused on learning more about his faith and practicing it before trying to win the seat of the most powerful person in the world (which is rife no doubt with temptations).

    • Dang, Devin, we agree again. One of us is going to have to convert. 🙂

    • Daniel, whenever I read accounts of the run-up to the American elections for President, it makes me profoundly grateful that we don’t have a similar system in Ireland.

      You’re all still only at the stage of selecting candidates, then there’s another year of campaigning????

      Good news: Newt isn’t an Irish politician!

      Not-so-good news: He’s now one of my co-religionists, which makes him my brother-in-Christ, even closer than if he were to be my public representative (then again, if Mr. Gingrich knew me and my failings were as public, he would probably have much the same opinion in my regard).

      Proof once again, if ever it were needed, that anyone can become a Catholic 🙂

    • packeryman says:

      Well, I hope you now have a better understanding of this con man, huckster, charlatan ego maniac. The guy declared himself the nominee after riding high for a few short days. He returnen to the old Newt full of hate and anger.He left Iowa a loser with no delegates and in his departing speech he vowed to take down another Republican on national TV, The self righteous religiosity have to stop covering and supporting the worst of the pac. This guy is an all around loser. Look at the hate and vengeance he is exhibiting in SC. He lost in NH as he should there were no evangelicals to support him with their hypocrisy . Try supporting a good man like Romney, family man , has been a pastor, missionary , has business experience along with having been a governor, with a Dem house and senate.I Don’t understand why you religious people are against Romney unless its bigotry against Mormons.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I Don’t understand why you religious people are against Romney unless its bigotry against Mormons.

        That’s exactly it.

  2. Dan Crawford says:

    Yeah, Newt has his problems. On the other hand, one of the candidates in his party worships at the altar of Ayn Rand, one of the most virulently social darwinist and anti-Christian “philosophers” of the 20th century. He says we should vote for him because he is “pro-life”. Another candidate believes he is a good Christian because he holds “prayer rallies” while trumpeting the number of executions he has presided over. Still another proclaims he deserves Christian votes even though he stands in opposition to the social teachings of his church about economic justice, caring for immigrants, the rights of citizens to health care and a whole host of other concerns.

    Sadly, the leading Protestant journal offers a series of powder puff “interviews” which don’t even begin to explore how the candidates’ public policy positions reflect their “deeply held” beliefs and are consistent with the religions they claim influence their lives. No wonder politicians stimulate the gag reflex in so many people.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Indeed a very sad state of affairs. Our country, in the past, had a few “statesmen” who stood out above the pack. Now they are few and far between.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Don’t you know, Dan, that Ayn Rand has become a de facto Fourth Person of the Trinity? So many Christian Activists these days are Objectivists in all but name, making the Sign of the Dollar over the land.

      “Who is John Galt?” I don’t know, but since 2008 the guy’s got more Celebrity Impersonators than Elvis. (And they’re all after me to Accept Ron Paul as My Personal LORD and Savior! Just like my parents did Ross Perot back in ’92! Did I go crazy or did everybody else?)

      • David Cornwell says:

        But Rand IS leading us into the kingdom.

        • Dan Crawford says:

          I guess the Sign of the Dollar ($) is preferable to the Sign of the Cross (+) these days since it leads us into the Kingdom of Wealth and Health.

      • What worries me, Headless, is that your admitted nutter candidate (Ron Paul) on a lot of topics sounds saner and more thoughtful than the mainstream candidates thrusting themselves forward selflessly for public office.

        Me, I thought the Democrats should have gone with Hillary, or failing that, Obama should have offered her the Vice-Presidency. I’m fairly sure they’ll put her forward as a candidate next time round.

        This is not to be taken as me endorsing anyone, because Irish or American, they’re all equally useless.

        • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

          Aye, that’s what’s kinda scared me too. When Ron Paul sounds the sanest, things are getting problematic.

          • Just like my reaction when I realized the candidate that sounded least interested in establishing a theocracy was the Mormon …

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And that the Mormon was the one who’s had only one wife.

          • The thing is, whoever gets into power (Republican, Democrat, Monster Raving Loony Party) is going to face the current economic situation, where there is not a whole lot he or she can do about it except to tough it out for the next few years.

            Over here, we’ve had an economist warning that Ireland faces a further ten years of austerity budgets just to get back on track. The current Government (which got into power on a basis of campaign promises about being tough and standing up to our overlords regarding the repayment of loans) is doing what Angela Merket tells them, because they can’t refuse to pay up and risk having the rug pulled out from under them.

            So candidates huffing and puffing about how tough on this they are, or how strong on that they are, are all just emitting hot air. When it comes down to it, no-one on either side of the Atlantic had the guts to tell the big banks and investment firms that sorry, they weren’t ‘too big to fail’ and if they had to sink, then so be it: the taxpayer was not going to bail out private firms.

    • I presume that the man you refer to is Rep. Ron Paul?

      I disagree with many of Dr. Paul’s unrealistic libertarian ideas about government’s role in social policy. Yet I support Dr. Paul because he’s 1) an independent thinker 2) believes in the Constitution and 3) he’s genuinely pro-life because he’s also against the death penalty and unnecessary wars.

      I don’t expect politics to save us so I make compromises with who I see as agreeing with me the most. It really bothers me that Christians are refusing to support Ron Paul primarily because they really want to bomb countries with lots of Muslims! This from the pro-life crowd!

      They can’t take a peace candidate but they’ll support a serial adulterer instead? What’s going on here?!

      • Dan Crawford says:

        I guess you’re “pro-life” when you state that if you don’t have health insurance and have cancer, you should be prepared to die lest you force a wealthy person to pay a few pence more in taxes. Interesting definition of prolife.

        • Michael A says:

          Dan,

          This will be my only post in this thread, so you will get the last word if you respond. I don’t intend to turn this into yet another blog comment debate and simply will make my statement and leave peacefully.

          To define “prolife” in terms of forcing another person’s labor to benefit you is…well, I was going to use an adjective that would be hyperbolic, but I’ll just say wrong. In fact, the issue of forcing another’s labor to benefit you was settled, over 100 years ago. Somehow, it has become cool once again to define my “rights” in terms of what I can extract from someone else. I’m not sure how this became the new trend, but I hope it dies before the country does.

          Aside from all that, it really waters-down the deaths of millions of unborn children whose true right to be alive was taken from them. I don’t post here much, but this one gets me going a bit. Hopefully, I made sense to those who read after me.

          • Dan Crawford says:

            I only wish to point out that one of the best “pro-life” pieces of legislation in the past 20 years was the CHIP program (Children’s Health Insurance) which provides medical coverage for expectant mothers and their children is they are unable to purchase health insurance. It has done more good and saved more lives than any proposed anti-abortion legislation. Most of the candidates in Iowa either voted against it or would vote against it. Abortion is a horror in this country, but those who claim they are against it, don’t have the imagination to do anything to preserve the life of a child once its born.

        • The wording of that debate question was dubious: if a man is diagnosed with cancer after freely choosing to drop his healthcare insurance, is the government responsible to help? The question seemed to obligate the answer, a la “Do you still beat your wife?”. This is the question that SHOULD have been asked: if a man is diagnosed with cancer after being laid off from his job through no fault of his own and as a result loses his healthcare insurance (or cannot afford to extend benefits via COBRA), is the government obligated to help? Paul may have still given the same answer, but I think this is more representative of what many Americans are facing right now.

      • Donalbain says:

        Ron Paul is not opposed to the death penalty. He is opposed to the FEDERAL death penalty. His opposition is not to any specific policy, but to the federal government itself. He is not in favour of liberty for people, but rather in favour of states rights.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It really bothers me that Christians are refusing to support Ron Paul primarily because they really want to bomb countries with lots of Muslims! This from the pro-life crowd!

        Muslims don’t count. Since the Second Russian Revolution, they’ve become the Orcs in Antichrist’s horde. Just pieces to move around on the End Time Prophecy gameboard, nothing more.

    • +1

      There are Republican candidates whose ideology scare me far worse than Gingrich’s, who seems centrist compared to many of them. That doesn’t mean I would vote for him, but it does show how messed up the election process is this year.

      • Ron Paul is I believe the only candidate to oppose the National Defense Authorization Act.

        Ron Paul is not the worse in my opinion. The problem with Paul’s libertarian ideals is the deception that democracy works better when government and regulations are eliminated. What he doesn’t understand is that democracy quickly disintegrates into tyranny if the wealthy and powerful are allowed to control the system; democracies then become controlled by the wealthy minority. Regulation is necessary to prevent this. I heard someone mention recently that democratic constitutions have existed in fascist states throughout history, but they become meaningless pieces of paper once the powerful take over the system and reduce the majority to serfs.

        • BTW, I agree with Paul’s opposition to NDA, which is consistent with his libertarian views. I admit that libertarians have some good points. Everyone derides centrists and moderates as cop-outs, but extremism never works – in politics or theology.

        • But who names his kid “Rand”? An Ayn Rand zealot?

          • Could be short for Randall, you never know. I’m not going to point fingers at anyone’s name, since over here a perfectly cromulent surname is “Looney”, and I used to go into fits of giggles (back when I was younger and foolish) when first seeing the name of the American journalist Wolf Blitzer. I had to repress strong inclinations to ask did his parents name him after the Jack London character Wolf Larsen and if so, had he an older brother named Death?

          • His name is short for Randall.

          • Naturally I am just guessing, but I doubt Rand Paul is named after Ayn Rand. If Ron Paul were naming a child after political philosophy, I suspect he would tip his hat to Austrian School of economics.

            Rand likely named to mirror his father’s name, Ron. I also suspect Randall is indeed the long form.

          • Obviously, he was named after Rand al’ Thor from the Wheel of Time series.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      Economic justice? When did it become “justice” to pay for your giving by lifting money from another person’s wallet? The Bible I read ascribes virtue to opening your own wallet, not someone else’s. Sorry but the whole idea of economic justice through taxation is a pet peeve of mine.

  3. What does Newt’s adultery have to do with hisqualifications for the presidency? I don’t see any correlation in history between competence and chastity. Jepson has no understanding of two kingdoms. I’d vote for a muslim with 4 wives who was a capable administrator before I’d vote for an incompetent LCMS member of my own congregation.

    • Also, Wildmon’s endorsement makes me respect Wildmon and AFA a lot more. He doesn’t make a crass endorsement of the politician who pandered the most to the religious right (Perry & Bachmann); instead, he looked at their records and platforms, and recommended the politician he thought would do the most to advance conservative values. It’s perfectly defensible.

    • What does Newt’s adultery have to do with hisqualifications for the presidency?

      To me, it speaks of his credibility. If he had just had affairs, I might be willing to let it pass. However,Gingrich was very vocal about other’s affairs. My feelings come down to this:

      1) He (Gingrich) had 2 adulterous affairs that were almost identical.
      2) He took to public venues to excoriate those who committed adultery, while he was committing adultery.
      3) I’m glad that he has repented, however, that doesn’t mean that he should be President. You accuse Perry and Bachmann of pandering, I haven’t seen Gingrich do anything BUT pander.
      4) Wildmon can endorse whomever he pleases. It does bring into question his bona fides on the subject of family values.

      • Dan Crawford says:

        The essence of adultery is lying. Newt has mastered the art like most of the politicians of this generation.

      • Boaz said, “What does Newt’s adultery have to do with his qualifications for the presidency?”

        And then Steve D said in response, “To me, it speaks of his credibility.” [and lists examples of Gingrich’s behavior]

        Gingrich’s credibility is not the question here. We all know that adultery has been a large part of his adult and professional life. We also know that if he’s not a hypocrite about that, he sure is acting like one.

        No, the question of credibility is not about Mr. Gingrich; that’s old news. The credibilty crisis is on the American Family Association.

        Current AFA credibility score: ZERO

        • I’m not trying to be snarky but if the person being endorsed has no credibility, then the group that is endorsing him/her has no credibility either. Needless to say I agree that the AFA has no credibility.

          • We agree, Steve.

          • The AFA has lost credibility and respect long ago…..

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Years ago, I was getting hit up for money by AFA junk mail. Back then, the AFA was all about “Family Values” (with an emphasis on homosexuality) and logging every Un-Christian word and act in movies and TV. And mass-mailings asking for money or God Will Hold You Accountable.

      • packeryman says:

        You are right on point about Gingrich and the issues you mentioned. Newt carries much more baggage than what you stated. It has been said that when Newt went to Washington as house leader he took his ego with him. He and that ego rode a high until he left in disgrace with ethic violations, he and has his ego rode the bubble(declared himself the nominee) until it burst, then left Iowa a defeated man with no delegates. In the style of the old Newt in his departing speech he vows to take another Republican down with him on national TY. This was a poor loser ,an angry, man filled with hate and vengeance. He lost NH and headed for self destruction an destruction of another individual.Many big time Republicans have asked him to stop, he refuses.This man could never become president , he does not have the mental stability to have his hand on the button. There are two very honest men that live good lives with their only wife, Romney, and Ron Paul, exactly opposite of Newt. I have followed Newt’s career and knew he never had the temperament to be president along with his negative baggage.What I don’t understand is this continued support for him by the evangelicals after the shenanigans he is pulling in SC against another Republican out of hate and vengeance. he has a vendetta going.

    • I think the point is more about Mr. Wildmon and the hypocrisy of the Christian Right than it is about Mr. Gingrich himself.

    • I agree with you on this point. Therefore, you and I would be consistent in supporting Gingrich (if we agreed with his policies). But Wildmon and other leaders of the Religious Right make vastly different claims about the links between politics, religion, and morality. Thus their enthusiastic support of candidates like Gingrich is entirely inconsistent with their ideology.

    • Hi Boaz,

      I disagree that this has anything to do with the two kingdoms. I did not advocate a religious test for secular candidates. At most I promoted a simple criteria of common decency, honesty and character.

    • Donalbain says:

      It is not a matter of competency, but of hypocrisy.

  4. I too was shocked when I learned that Mr. Gingrich served his first wife divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer treatment at a hospital.

    On a far more minor note, the week before Christmas there was a big hub-hub over Congress agreeing or not agreeing to a payroll tax cut deal that included a bunch of other stuff like unemployment benefit extensions and an oil pipeline authorization, etc. Rush Limbaugh (whom I don’t normally listen to) declared that he was against a compromise deal with Democrats on the matter as his show began. Newt had said earlier that he favored the compromise and Rush quoted Newt on his show and lambasted him for being part of the “establishment Republicans” who wanted a compromise with the dastardly Democrats.

    Barely two hours into his show, Newt sent Rush a personal email in which he reversed his statement and said he was not with Rush and against the compromise. Rush read it aloud and announced that he was now A-Okay with Newt.

    A man who panders that cynically is not fit to be president, or lead anything.

    At one time, maybe 30-40 years ago, conservatism actually meant something. There were serious conservatives who criticized the status quo, disagreed with one another and had some intellectual independence and courage. Today, conservatism is what liberalism was circa 1972: they’re in power, and they’ll do whatever they can to stay in power. They aren’t interested in principle, only keeping with the Party line, whatever that is. It’s a terrible thing to see conservative Christians doing it too.

    If you want real independent thought on the political end, you’ve got to hang around with leftists, greens or libertarian types. The conservative “establishment” is a lost cause.

    • *meant to say “reversed his statement and said he was NOW with Rush” Sorry

    • I too was shocked when I learned that Mr. Gingrich served his first wife divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer treatment at a hospital.

      You drank the Kool-Aid. Your statements are untrue. Not only has Mr. Gingrich said so, his daughter says so, and his first wife, Jackie, who is still alive, says so.

      No matter. The mainstream media have spoken and it must be so.

    • I know a lot of Christians who love Rush Limbaugh as well.He’s had his own share of problems and I am amazed that many Christians support him. In addition given his difficulties I am amazed that he could still be so harsh as well to those who have had problems.

      • I used to listen to Rush, until I realized that he was the drug addict he railed against and was laughing all the way to the bank. I used to be very conservative as well, until I saw through people like Wildmon who aren’t really for “family values” but for power, and people like Bill Bennet who aren’t all that great in the family department but a divorced gambling addict, or the Congressman in our area who ran on family values, but was caught in a delicate situation in the back seat of a car with the female staffer that helped him make abstinence videos (and then blamed it on Washington). I’m done with them. If you preach family values, you better have them. I won’t vote on family values issues unless the candidate makes it an issue.

        • Suzanne, I realized quite a while ago that “family values” was nothing but a smoke screen for political power. The whole “culture war” schtick is just a ruse to create an “enemy” to motivate certain Conservative voters.AFA like some other “family” organizations stir the pot to get donations as well.

        • Bill Bennett was NOT a “gambling addict.” That is as egregious a slander as the “Newt served divorce papers to his dying wife” meme. Bennett is a millionaire who used to do a lot of high-stakes gambling and lost a lot of money at it. He didn’t reduce his family to penury doing so and he never spent a minute in rehab to stop gambling. When it became a public embarassment, he stopped doing it. Bill Bennett never preached against gambling, and neither the government of the U.S. nor the Catholic Church forbid gambling. The hypocrisy in Bill Bennett’s case is all on the side of his critics, who have an aneurysm every time a Democrat seems to have his privacy invaded, yet would attempt to smear a Republican for participating in a legal form of entertainment. This is a real, actual case of people prying into someone’s private life and making it a point to criticize them for participating in a legal activity.

          • Gambling addict or not, I don’t think high stakes gambling with huge money losses had a chapter in his “Book of Virtues”. Huge gambling losses from the money made in great part by promoting a life of virtue puts him in line with all the others.

          • “The Book Of Virtues” isn’t a book about how good Bill Bennett is. EIther the lessons in the book are valuable or they are not. Having actually read the book, I can attest that they are. In any case, he was not a gambling addict and his gambling had no deleterious effect on his family. Whether or not the money losses involved were “huge” depends on perspective. A very rich man can lose an awful lot of money, or spend it on other extravagences. Many people I know spend hundreds of dollars a month on eating at restaurants and other entertainments. I don’t. Do I get to wag a finger in their face? Again, the story of Bill Bennett’s gambling is simply busybodies creating scandal for political purposes and you bought it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I used to listen occasionally to Rush Limbaugh, back around 20 years ago when he first hit the big time. A year or two ago, I caught some snippets of his show. He’s deteriorated. Those 20 years ago, Rush had a somewhat mean sense of humor, but now he has none. At all. And he’s become much more in-your-face Only I Am Right. I think he’s been listening to his own PR for too long; I keep expecting him to Proclaim Himself God one of these days.

        As for the drug habit, it was a prescription painkiller addiction after some surgery — not an uncommon story. But while secretly fighting this Oxycontin addiction, he became the Numbah-One Fanboy of the War on Drugs. This also fits a pattern — like Mark Driscoll, he’s Rush Limbaugh, superhero and god-figure, and cannot be seen to have any weakness whatsoever. The War On Drugs fanboying was probably an attempt at self-treatment without admitting his deep dark secret, self-motivation rhetoric for his own “secret sip”.

        • I would have been quite sympathetic with the pain killer addiction if he hadn’t been so vocal about throwing every other drug addict into the slammer and tossing away the key. His shtick had always been that he pulled himself up with his own bootstraps and everybody else should be able to as well. I think his pain killer problem proved that theory had holes in it.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Oh boy, another presidential election year is upon us in the good ol’ US of A!

    You mean the last election year ever ended? If anyone knows of a portal to Ponyville, let me know; I need a hideout where I can get away from Politics Politics Politics Politics Politics.

    Bad enough we’ve got John Galt Celebrity Impersonators evangelizing for Ron Paul, and a weirder and weirder selection of “God’s Choice for President” popping up among the chaos of the GOP campaigns, but “Godly Gingrich”?

    This is the man the American Family Association Chairman has endorsed. What is his rationale?

    “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,” Wildmon said in a statement. “We need someone in the White House who can balance the budget and get the economy moving again. Newt has done it before and I believe he can do it again.”

    What, no “God Hath Revealed Unto Me”?

    In other words, Wildmon believes he would appoint good judges and help the economy.

    Well, You DO Know That Appointing Supreme Court Judges Who WILL Outlaw Abortion and Bring Back School Prayer has been Christianese Political Party Line since Roe v Wade, don’t you? And Newt WILL Take Back America from the Obamanation of Desolation and establish A Christian Nation (TM)… Just like Sarah Palin and whats-her-face and Perry and all the other God’s Anointed Presidents.

    As for the Economy, well making the Sign of the Dollar with John Galt DOES mean more Tithes…

    And the Iowa Caucus and Primaries (inching earlier and earlier every election cycle) are now upon us. Politics Politics Politics Politics Politics…

    • I’ve watched my in-laws and my family of origin as well as so many people who attend “fundamentalist, independent, baptist churches” be led around by the one issue of abortion. No matter anything else the candidate was pro-life. This guy must be right. It is sickening that only one piece of puzzle that is the “value and dignity of human life” can demand a vote from the Christian right.

      • I’ve known Catholics growing up who were single issue people as well when it came to abortion. That’s all that mattered….

        • Eagle, it is a fairly huge issue for many, many people, myself included. I am not stuck on that one issue, due to the many others that harm and kill others in this world, but I could never vote for a candidate who was PRO-abortion. in deed and word. To me (and this is MY take on MY actions) this would be akin to turning a Jew over to the SS or holding torches for a KKK lynching.

    • Ponyville? Princess Celestia is a dictator. Be careful what you wish for.

  6. “Rev. Wildmon has lost my respect.”

    Welcome to the club. I joined about 12 years ago when I realized that they spent more time on the air complaining about the marriage tax penalty than on Teaching and Scripture.

    Like Michael once said, we’ve got a generation of Christians that knows little about Scripture and Spirituality, but can quote Glen Beck’s opinion on most anything. This is poison. (and for those interested, it takes little effort to find John Edwards berating Bush from the pulpit of a church in the 04 and 08 campaigns. The poison is party agnostic.)

    I’m also happy to hear that Gingrich is repentant and apparently in a church. But that doesn’t mean I think he should be President. His hypocrisy during the 90s run to oust Clinton should have ended his political aspirations.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Romney is poison because he’s MORMON. (Godless/Satanic Cult bla bla bla…)

      Yet weird-ass Mormon Glenn Beck is the de facto Fourth Person of the Trinity.

      What’s wrong with this picture?

  7. I’m a bit torn on this issue. On one hand, I could care less what he does with his sex life. My concern is, can he do the job of President and do it well? I’d rather have a good Muslim president than a bad Christian one. Agreement on ALL political, theological, and ethical issues is not a pre-requisite for my vote. On the other hand, how someone manages their personal affairs is a significant reflection of their character. I doubt a person of low character will do a good job in the White House. The question is, have we ever even seen one before? Politics is a dirty game, and the most morally upstanding will be forced to make many compromises if he expects to make a utilitarian dent in the bucket. What turns me off the most, however, is this ethos of “He’s a licentious heathen! He doesn’t wear a ‘Jesus is my homeboy’ T-Shirt! Therefore, voting for him is a sin against Gawd!”

  8. “Here at Internet Monk, we don’t usually talk much about politics.” any more. Michael Spencer was very political in his early years as a perusal of the archives will reveal.

  9. I will not meddle in the presidential elections as I am not a US of A citizen, so I don’t have a clue what would be best for you and whom should/could qualify for president. (Interesting question though: it’s easy to disqualify someone, but as there are no faultless candidates/humans who would qualify? I am always a bit worried that the most prefect candidate would not be interested at all to be president)

    What I would like to state is that a post like this makes my eyes burn and heart cry. This ‘biography’ is now on the web and will be there for a long time. This is indeed very close to condemning and speaking evil of someone.

    I know, when someone chooses to live a public life and aspires to become a leading figure it is not just a given, it is also needed to publish this kind of information.

    On the other hand, this ruins lives. Not just of the candidates but also of their spouses, children and relatives. It is one of the reasons why I try to stay out of public life. Not because I do not want to be accountable but because the media have a relentless and very long lasting memory for slander.

  10. King David was an adulterer and a murderer. Yet He was “a man after God’s own heart”….

    I am disappointed in both Chaplain Mike and his good friend and colleague Dan Jepsen.

    Perhaps if you now savage all of the Republican candidates, one by one, in turn, and also President Obama, and get it all out of your system, you can get back to what Intermonk should be about (if you have any readers left)….

    If Michael Spencer is not spinning in his grave, he should be.

    • Bob, if you go back and read the archives, you will find many instances of political pontificating by Michael Spencer.

      Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that Daniel is not so much pointing a finger at Newt Gingrich as expressing disappointment at Donald Wildmon for his hypocrisy.

      And that kind of focus is my intention as we proceed. As we go forward this year, we will be talking much more about the church and how Christians are dealing with politics than with the politics themselves.

      • He has a strange way of doing it…

        • Bob, if you go back and read the archives, you will find many instances of political pontificating by Michael Spencer.

          So if everybody else (including even Michael Spencer) jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump off a cliff too? (wisdom from my parents)

          • I’m just saying talking about such things is not as foreign to the spirit of Internet Monk as you imply. And once again, the focus will be on Christianity, not politics.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      I guess, Bob, he was a man after God’s own heart because he murdered Uriah and had sex with Bathsheba, to say nothing of his other sins? Maybe you’re reading a different Bible, but my understanding is that he was a man after God’s own heart because he acknowledged his sinfulness (Psalm 51).

      I am always amazed at the way we can rationalize just about anything if we chase power, especially in this country.

      • Dan, you’re putting words in my mouth. You know what I meant. Surely you’re not that dumb.

        • Dan Crawford says:

          I guess I’m dumb, Bob. Unfortunately, not having the ability to read your mind, I had to content myself with reading your words.

      • By the way, “a man after God’s own heart” is often misunderstood. It means a man upon whom God set his heart, not a man who has a heart like God’s or a man who is seeking God from his heart. The focus is on God’s choice, not David’s character.

        • I agree. And I believe the focus of American Christians during this election cycle should be on God’s choice, not on the candidates’ characters.

          What a concept!

          • cermak_rd says:

            And, err, umm, how do you expect the Almighty to make Her choice known?

            I mean, normally we just do it by throwing an odd assortment of people into the meat grinder known as election season and seeing what comes out the other end.

          • Wow, yeah. How exactly are we supposed to go about finding God’s choice here? Did He tell you? He forgot to tell me.

          • Well, Rick Perry is the self-proclaimed “Tebow” candidate. Case closed, I guess.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            How exactly are we supposed to go about finding God’s choice here? Did He tell you? He forgot to tell me.

            Apparently He did tell Palin.
            And Bachmann…
            And Perry…
            And now Gingrich…

            Clop these horseapples. I’m heading for Ponyville until it all blows over.

    • Hay carumba dude! The old “Spencer is spinning in his grave” schtick never dies, does it. I think Mike and Jeff have proven themselves. They’re not Spencer, but they are continuing the ethos. Every time someone uses that line, it really means, “I personally do not like this, so I will project my disdain onto the original as a way of appeal.” It’s pretty much meaningless: Spencer received just as much negative reaction. The fickle and easily offended rarely stick around long anyways. There’s a different blogsphere where they all get together and exchange rotten fruit.

  11. “There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.” – Niccolò Machiavelli.

  12. I have read that the driving force behind the Clinton impeachment was Tom Delay and not Gingrich. Gingrich was actually criticized for not being more aggressive on the matter. Delay is another unsavory character loved and defended by religious conservatives.

  13. Good article…..and yet disastrous. I’ve noticed a couple of old Fundy friends on Facebook have commented in support of Newt Gingrich while claiming to go to a Bible based church and support the culture war. I was confused… 😯 Bill Clinton got oral sex from an intern and that disqualified him from office, yet Newt Gingrich can get one and that qualifies him for office. When the stakes are the Supreme Court, etc.. than I guess anything goes. Of course you know that if some of these folks who the culture warriors support (like Newt) get someone pregnant they will still find a way to pay for an abortion after they successfully make abortion illegal.

    The anger that seethes really drives me nuts.

    This is the “Good News?” THIS is Christianity? No this is part of the reason why I am agnostic and why I view Christianity to be a cancer. I can’t believe many Christians would fall for something like this and throw their own weight beyond someone like this…

    There is a strange irony that should make many people livid. ESPECIALLY if you were disciplined by the church, confessed sin, were open about one’s own demons, etc… How many people here at IMONK have been on the receiving end of that? As a guy plugged into Christian ministry you confess your difficulties with lust, you get hammered, you go through THEIR requirements, you continued to get hammered and then “Christian” ministries rob your joy, steal one’s life and threaten one’s future.

    It’s one of the reasons why I burned out. Its why my stomach is in knots as I read this post. Having dealt with the church when I believed and been at receiving end; watching aspects of that same church turn around and ENDORSE someone for stuff that you never committed; but were pounded for much less makes me sick. I feel sick…

    This is why Christianity is a cancer. This is why Christianity needs to disappear off the face of the earth. I don’t want anything to do with a faith like this…. not one bit.

    • Eagle, don’t let that seething anger drive you nuts. Get above it and stay sane.

      And no, this isn’t Christianity; or if it is, you’re right, along with Nietzsche: it is a cancer and does need to disappear off the face of the earth.

      But this isn’t Christianity any more than those hypocrites among the Jews, that Jesus railed against (calling them cancer? No, but close enough: whitewashed tombs), were truly Judaism.

      Don’t let yourself get baited into that.

      • Eagle, listen to Ted. You are starting to confuse politics and all its hypocrisy and posturing with the real faith brought to us by Christ. I am a sinner, and know it, so please remember many of these clanging voices whould not know the Voice of God in Jesus if it hit them over the head with boon microphone at a press conference.

  14. Not only Wildmon, but the whole business is literally overflowing with ironies. I’m going to take the bait, but only to help those who perhaps mistake this embarrassing religio-political melodrama for true Christianity. Many years ago, a Soviet friend gave me his opinion that Marxism-Leninism would have been okay if it hadn’t turned into Geriatricism. When you think of some now-elderly legacy-era evangelical grandmasters, perhaps this admission has a faintly familiar ring. It would be funny as an episode of Gilligan’s Island, but it is such a heartbreakingly, dreadfully real example of accommodating the culture in the area of sexual morality. Here’s some of the worst:

    Wildmon: “I’ll do all I can to see this man elected”, he said before changing his mind to throw Perry under the bus. Evangelicals had no high cards left in their deck and a fit of religious nationalist panic set in. Instead, Wildmon ironically chose someone who took a fourth ‘no-adultery pledge’; someone that his own mouthpiece, Bryan Fischer had been vilifying for months as the antithesis of a pro-family candidate. But Gingrich seemed electable at the time, pragmatic political expedience as usual trumped family values and Godly principles, and Fischer grew suddenly silent. They weren’t really looking for a Messiah anyway; only some wet clay they could form into their idolatrous worldly kingdom of

    Newt: “I don’t think of myself as intensely religious”, he told a reporter, who couldn’t help notice he was preoccupied with reading a novel during mass. Makes one wonder why he went to the trouble of converting. Gingrich sought an annulment on the grounds that his former wife had previously been married. In what seems like circular logic, her previous marriage was presumed to be still valid at the time Gingrich married her. Consequently, their marriage could not have been a true union according to canon law doctrine of ligamen. Because his prior marriage was invalid ab initio, he could not have been guilty of adultery – only the lesser sin of fornication. Under a Decree of Nullity, a marriage cannot be violated because there was nothing to be destroyed.

    Richard Land: Sends out an open letter, more “for” Gingrich than “to”. Land says a majority of male evangelicals “are willing to cut you some slack”. Boys will be boys, after all. He delivers the bad news: “Evangelical women are far less willing to forgive and let bygones be bygones”. Always Eve’s fault; it is those angry, spiteful females who are Gingrich’s problem; stubbornly locked into a destructive unforgiving and unforgetting spirit.

    Dobson: Condemned McCain as involved with other women while married and implicated in a scandal. The characterization applies to Clinton, likewise Gingrich. But with a generous amount of on-air coaching- offers a mea culpa Christianese enough for Dobson. Believed Clinton’s infidelities disqualified him from the Presidency, but not Gingrich. Saw no dilemma in launching a new radio ministry, discussing moral issues together with his divorced and remarried son as co-host.

    Tony Perkins: Quoted as saying “under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community. But these aren’t normal circumstances.” Add Jerry Falwell, Jr’s more general observation: “I mean, that’s what my father believed when he formed Moral Majority, was an organization of Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, people of no faith. And there are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”

    Callista: It takes two consenting adults to soil the marriage bed. With all the focus on Newt, one never mentions the shared guilt of his current wife; the hussy whose charms took him away from his marital vows. A man and woman consenting to adultery are equally guilty. Has she made a similar public profession of her repentance?

    • “under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community. But these aren’t normal circumstances.”

      I have heard others say the same thing, that anyone would be a choice between lesser evils. I even read it in an article just today.

      I try to explain another story of choosing between lesser evils, where Christians of the Weimar Republic had to choose between their incompetent liberal bureaucrats, the communists, and the funny looking guy with the mustache, who promised jobs, to support religious and family values, and to make their nation great again in the eyes of the world. I guess the choice seemed obvious.

      • I actually did my Grad Paper on the Dawes Plan and spent a lot of time reading up on Weimar. The biggest lesson of the Weimar Republic is how people can use democracy to destroy democracy. But the CDU if I remember correctly consisted of groups who resisted the NSDAP…

        • I’d love to hear more on the subject. I believe the CDU was formed after WW II. There were efforts to form Christian democratic parties prior to the rise of the National Socialists. Tillich was part of those efforts, but was expelled from the country by Hitler. A biography on the life of Bonhoeffer indicated that many Christians were duped by Hitler’s promises, including re-establishing the bishop’s throne next to that of the Kaiser. I hate using the “h” word, because it is so inflammatory, but there is a lesson there that we are simply failing to learn, or selectively choosing to forget.

          Perhaps another lesson to be learned is that when a politician, an athlete, a celebrity, or corporate tycoon claims to be a friend of religion and the faith, our criticism and concern should be elevated rather than disarmed, which is what seems to be what typically happens (of course we can trust him; he’s on of US!).

    • Stuart, we should try to keep families out of this. Callista isn’t running for president; Newt is.

      • I could agree on privacy grounds if she did not exercise such overt influence over his political career. After his campaign staff quit en mass because of it, Newt said “we make decisions as a couple”. Seems to be signalling reserved seating for her at the policy table like another two-fer.

    • Wow, hussy? Really? And while it does take two, I maintain that the one who was actually married (not to mention older and in a position of power) shares a larger portion of the blame.

      • Sorry, about the inference because we’re of course not privy to the details. Clearly the married one commits adultery while the other, the lesser crime of fornication. In some historical instances, the adulterer was charged with both (i.e- .-as well as an accessory to another’s fornication). The moral culpability is not one-sided; I don’t buy into the traditional gender treatment that considers women strictly as passive and subordinate. Although I would say traditionally a woman’s moral dignity was derived more from chastity than a man’s honor is. The woman of John 8 caught in flagrante delicto kept her life but had publically lost her honor; it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for her to retrieve it. Times have changed.

        • When I mentioned the difference in power I meant that she was his intern, not that she was a woman. She does share some of the blame, but less. And it doesn’t mean she was a hussy. People make mistakes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Instead, Wildmon ironically chose someone who took a fourth ‘no-adultery pledge’; someone that his own mouthpiece, Bryan Fischer had been vilifying for months as the antithesis of a pro-family candidate. But Gingrich seemed electable at the time, pragmatic political expedience as usual trumped family values and Godly principles, and Fischer grew suddenly silent.

      Oceania has ALWAYS been at Peace with Eurasia, Comrade.

  15. Bill Metzger says:

    Remember what the Apostle Paul said concerning government in Romans 13. And the government in power at the time of the writing of this epistle (Romans) was Nero.

    • Nero wasn’t an elected official, and Paul didn’t endorse him as a candidate for emperor. He did say honor him as leader just the same. That’s the one thing conservative evangelicals seem to fail to do: honor the elected officials they did not endorse once they are elected.

    • There is a lot of irony in what Paul said in Romans 13, especially if you consider that he knew all about Herod the Great and Nero, to name just a few. Do these qualifications from Romans 13 describe those guys?

      — “For there is no authority except from God…”
      — “… [Rulers] have been instituted by God.”
      — “…what God has appointed…”
      — “…rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.”
      — “…he [the ruler] is God’s servant…”
      — “…he is the servant of God…”

      Paul may have also been warning the rulers as well as advising the church at Rome–that power comes from God, and if a ruler should become “a terror to good conduct” or fail to act as a “servant of God”, that God can boot them out (and perhaps Paul was hinting that people can become instruments of God’s will).

      Mark Antony said over and over that Brutus was “an honourable man” for having assassinated Caesar, and after hearing this enough the mob lynched Brutus. Not sayin’ that’s what Paul had in mind, but it could have worked if they had taken it that way.

  16. ‘NO POLITICAL GOSPELS!’.

    Clergy ought concentrate on handing over Christ, and not polarizing their congrgations.

    Our congregation is roughly divided 50/50. Very liberal to staunch conservative. (I’ve been there a long time, so I know).

    A preacher’s job is to place a pox on both their houses (as far as what their promises are worth in the long run) and hand over Christ to sinners in need of a REAL SAVIOR.

    • Steve, that’s fine. But I am not your pastor and IM is not a congregation. As Christians and as neighbors, we can talk about these things.

      • Not you, Chaplain Mike…the good Reverend.

        Politics all day long if you want to. But pastors and preacher have a much more important task to accomplish. When they opine abput politics then a certain amount of people can be alienated from hearing the Word.

        A good preacher ought keep his politics to him/herself, especially in the context of their title.

        • My blog is not associated with my church or pastoral role, nor are most of its readers in my church. It is a way for me to express my non-pastoral side. And this post is less about politics than it is about hypocrisy.

          • Daniel,

            One can easily find hypocrisy on the both sides of the political arena.

            If I were a pastor and my parishoners saw me criticizing just one side then I am in danger of losing the other side. By that I mean they will not give me credence when I am preaching. You’ll end up with either the Democratic Party at prayer…or the Republican Party at prayer.

            Hit them both and hit them hard as to why the promises of politicians are not kept, and why there is no lasting peace, no rest, and no lasting victory in what these government officials do…and then hand over Christ.

            Politics in life is important and we ought do what we feel is best there. But pastors have a special and higher calling which is to shepherd with respect to the gospel. Mixing politics and pastoral care can be dangerous to your flock.

            Thanks for your consideration, Daniel.

          • Fair enough, Steve, thanks.

      • But IM is a congregation of sorts, albeit a virtual one, and you, Chaplain Mike. are our pastor. Out here in the post-evangelical wilderness, we take what we can get. You may not have chosen us, but we have chosen you.

  17. Bill Metzger says:

    Amen! As Eugene Peterson loves to say, the Kingdom of God is subversive; it deals with Christ crucified for sinners, something that affluent, success-oriented Americans (and American churches) have a tough time dealing with. I have paraphrased Peterson, and I hope that I did justice to his thoughts on the subject. Pastors: preach Jesus and the Cross as the ultimate gift for sinners and the ultimate “solution” to our deepest problem-something politics could never touch.

    • Agree.

      T

    • David Cornwell says:

      “the Kingdom of God is subversive”

      And will be subversive regardless of which party is in power. And come what may, His is the Kingdom to which we must give our allegiance. Most earthly rulers will disappoint us at one level or another. Yet we pray for them regardless of who is in power.

  18. One thing I think needs to be noted here is there is a difference between voting for a candidate and endorsing him. Even if someone felt they would hold their nose and vote for Newt Gingrich as the the lesser of however many evils (I don’t know if I would, but I might consider it), it is different from publicly endorsing him as the right man for the job.

  19. Gingrich is famous for hating the poor. Santorum is famous for hating gays. Perry and Bachman are famous for being stupid. Ron Paul is famous for voting “no” on everything, Cain didn’t know that China had nuclear weapons (and anyway, he’s out now). Romney is the only Republican candidate that there’s nothing obviously wrong with.

    (Who was it who said they’d rather have a polygamist who doesn’t polyg, than a monogamist who doesn’t monog?)

    • cermak_rd says:

      I think Romney’s only problem is the unctuous way he tries to sell himself. He gives the impression he would say or do ANYTHING for the job.

      Other than that he did OK as gov of Mass and head of the Utah Olympics. I think he’d be capable of compromise with Congress.

      I wouldn’t refer to Perry or Bachman as stupid, as much as invincibly ignorant.

      • I wouldn’t refer to Perry or Bachman as stupid, as much as invincibly ignorant.

        Love that line!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        For two election cycles, Romney has been considered the most electable Republican candidate.

        But Romney is (cue sinister music) MORMON!!!!!

        Back in 2008, there was this interview in Christianity Today regarding Romney, by some radio talk-show host who was very much pro-Romney. The comment thread in the online version was Bible-quote-laced denunciations of the Godless Cult of Mormonism. Anyone — even a “Godly Gingrich” — was preferable to a (cue sinister music) MORMON among the GOP’s Christianese base. (Remember when Republican presidential candidates had to kick off their campaigns with pilgrimages to Bob Jones University and endorsements from Jerry Falwell?)

        A year later, the Obamanation of Desolation was enthroned in the White House. Christians kept themselves Pure and rejected the (cue sinister music) MORMON.

  20. I think there are several distinct issues going on here.

    1) The fact that Gingrich had affairs
    2) The way Gingrich had affairs
    3) The hypocricy of Gingrich during and after the affairs
    4) The hypocricy of the religious right in their endorsement

    #s 3 and 4 bother me immensely and are definitely relevant to Gingrich’s candidacy, #2 bothers me very much on a personal level and give me pause when I imagine Gingrich as president, but I don’t think #1 is all that relevant to the presidency.

    I think our expectation that political candidates appear sqeaky clean in areas that do not relate to their duties as elected officials is a bit silly and encourages candidates who are either A) more willing to lie or B) have been planning their entire lives for a public run for office. I don’t mind a flawed candidate and I think we’d see some better candidates if we didn’t force them to play such a silly game. However, if you demand a squeaky clean exterior from your opponents and don’t live up to that standard yourself, you’re done. I have no sympathy for that.

    I would respect Jespen’s statement if it were in the context of a larger speech announcing the end of the religious right movement, arguing that what really matters is policy. But then how would he keep milking money out of his religious followers?

    I’m still not holding my breath for the day when the religious right realizes that one of the candidates living the best example of a Christian with strong family values is in fact, Obama.

    • Marie, it’s #4 that’s the most troubling, because it’s a pox on our whole house. The rest of it is merely Gingrich, and we’re already supposed to know this.

    • “i would respect Jespen’s statement if it were in the context of a larger speech announcing the end of the religious right movement, arguing that what really matters is policy”.

      I assume you mean Wildmon’s statement?

    • Marie: I’ll say a big “amen” to your last sentence.

  21. Randy Thompson says:

    Until Christians start reading their Bibles and think about what it teaches about political leaders, they’re going to be stuck with a parade of characters whose chief skill seems to be hogging media attention and filling half-wit reporters, bloggers and radio commentators with half-truths.

    I wish Christians would meditate on Psalm 72 (and passages like it) and let it influence how they vote.

    Psalm 72 highlights:

    “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
    May he he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. . .
    May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the children of the needy,
    and crush the oppressor. . .
    In his days may the righteous flourish,
    and peace abound, till he moon be no more. . .
    For he delivers the needy when he calls,
    the poor and him who has no helper.
    He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
    From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
    and precious is their blood in his sight.
    Long may he live. . .
    May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all the day!”

    Of course, even the Bible can be partisan, as Psalm 72:9 suggests. Speaking of the righteous king, it says: “May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!” Maybe this will serve as a guide as to how to pray about the governments of places like North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe! Nevertheless, I think I could pray this way for someone for whom the blood of the weak and the needy is “precious in his [or her] sight.”

  22. Matt Purdum says:

    Just as NOW and similar groups finally lost all credibility when they supported Clinton, the Christian Right groups lost any remaining credibility in this run-up to Iowa. It’s all about money and power … period.

  23. Does this article have anything to do with the following quote from an older IM post?

    “Here’s one always sure to get a rise out of evangelicals. “Once you are justified by faith, you can do what you want. And if you want to do all the things you did before you knew Jesus, then you just don’t get it.” The idea that we can do what we want just gets everyone nervous. But what is the alternative? Being somehow forced to do what we don’t want to do? I sin because parts of me still want to sin. I obey Jesus because parts of me really want to do that. It’s a bummer. (Read Romans 7) I believe there is some hope the situation will change, but not until I’m dead! The prodigal came home and did what he wanted. So did the woman in John 8 who Jesus said he didn’t condemn. So did Peter when he denied Jesus and then repented.”

    Never understood the quote but thought it might apply here.

  24. So…no one else thinks Newt and Mitt worked out a deal for Newt to be the lightning rod while they work together to knock all the other candidates out of the race? Or as Philip Yancey said, we don’t really hear anything from Jesus in the NT about His selection for “God’s man for Rome”.

  25. Look on the bright side. A year ago, Donald Trump was a viable candidate. The system may work in the end.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And this time in 2008, everybody KNEW the November election would be between Hillary and Giuliani.

  26. A quote from Jepsen which seems bothersome to me;

    If I ever cheated on my wife, I would hope that my church would fully forgive me (assuming my repentence), but they should not keep me as their pastor. Forgiveness is a personal virtue, but does not remove the consequences of the action for a leader, nor does it magically erase the character flaws which led to the immorality.

    Forgiveness means that we no longer hold a debt over a person. What Jepsen is describing is not forgiveness, but rather distrust cloaked in “forgiveness”. Hell, just come out and say it; “I and my church cannot trust a man who’s cheated on his wife.” And then admit that it’s very likely that the church hasn’t forgiven the man in question either. I’m also inclined to think that the same distrustful, unforgiving attitude would not be applied to a man who is overbearing, distainful, prideful, un-loving, covetous, etc.In other words–a “goal orriented go-getter”.

    What Jepsen is expressing is an institutional mindset. Quote from Robert Capon on this issue;

    …the church in short order became an institution. But if there was much that was either good or harmless in this development, there was still a very large aspect of it that introduced a danger into the church’s life. By now, its existence over a period of time as the same entity that had gotten rolling at Pentecost quite naturally led it to pattern itself after other institutions that endured despite the departure of some of their human components. But when it chose such institutional models, it chose entities that were seriously less than human — that were, for all the world, indistinguishable from angels. For institutions are precisely angelic. Corporations, kingships, courts, voluntary societies, and even families are not simply human beings doing x, y, or z; they are great, ethereal egos in their own right who are not only more important than the people under their patronage but who can also lead those who fall under their sway to do sometimes quite inhuman, not to mention un-Christian, things…

    All across the institutional board, the same angelic tyranny prevails. Children are disinherited by the angel of the Family, presidents are under judgment by the angel of the Presidency, romantic lovers who stray are condemned by the angel of Romance — and so on and on, into the dark night of angelic institutional perfection that makes mincemeat of flesh and blood. And nowhere is that night darker or more dangerous than in the institutional church. Nowhere is it more destructive of the people and purposes for which the institution supposedly exists. Our two-thousand-year love affair with excommunication — with the expulsion of sinners, heretics, and other troublemakers — has been a disaster for the Good News of free grace. I think the real reason why God saved the world by becoming human rather than sending some angel to do the job was that, as incarnate in our flesh, he could simply lay down his life for sinners, whereas any angel he might have sent, precisely because it couldn’t lay down its life for a soul, would never have shut up on the subject of sin.

    Waayy back in the 90’s I was enamoured with Newt. I’ve grown up. I ain’t ‘namoured with no one in politics now.

    Do you know how to tell when a politician is lyin’?

    Tom

    • Tom, I understand your viewpoint. But I was not trying to make a statement that a fallen pastor (or other leader) can never be restored. Rather, my point is that personal forgiveness and restoration to leadership are two separate issues.

      I do believe a pastor or other leader can be restored, but it will depend on the circumstances involved. Here are some of the things I would look at for leadership restoration:

      1. How severe was the sin?
      2. How many people were impacted by the sin, and at what level?
      3. How long did it occur? Was it a season of weakness or a pattern over many years?
      4. Has the person made a full and public repentance?
      5. Has the person shown the fruits of repentance, especially in making it right with those most injured by the sin?

      Obviously, these are going to be somewhat subjective, and people may disagree. In a church situation, I would probably try to error on the side of grace. Not so when it comes to a president.

      Your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

      • Daniel,

        My exception was more with Jepsen than you ;o)

        However, the problem of the Angel of institutionalized church still stands. The issue remains that people, Christians included, really don’t like grace and would rather hire sin accountants than trust the extravagantly wasteful sovereignty of grace in Christ.

        The publican went home justified not because he reformed, but because he admitted his deadness in sin. In our minds if that loser of a tax collector/extortioner comes back to the temple the next week we expect to see at least some degree of reformation. Jesus doesn’t allow for that interpolation.

        If we insist on having a system where one person is put on the pedestal of perfection then let’s admit that when that person is proven imperfect that we (the system) neither forgives or trust that person henceforth. The Gospel is not about “accountability” but it is about God going out of the accounting business. If we create systems that require accountability then let’s stop calling it the ekklesia of Christ.

        This is why Eagle (above) is so torqued about Christianity; he easily sees the contradictions the system has created.

        T

    • cermak_rd says:

      I think there’s a difference between forgiveness of sin from the Almighty and forgiveness of sins from those who were wronged by the sin. God can forgive the adulterer, but his wife may not. It is her choice, she can’t be compelled by the Almighty to forgive. Nor can a congregation, which in the case of pastoral adultery, I would think would also be a victim of the sin along with the wronged spouse.

      In my tradition, it is necessary to seek forgiveness from the victims of my sin (to the extend possible) before I seek forgiveness from the Almighty.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My only direct experience with Newt Gingrich is that he is an okay (not memorable, but okay) science-fiction writer. Several years ago, he did an alternate-history WW2 novel that was “just okay”.

  27. I think the hypocrisy is clearly on the side of evangelicals. First, we had the recommendation from Pat Robertson for a husband to divorce his wife who is suffering from Alzheimers. Then, we had the Driscoll sex book recommending that wives need to be sexy to keep their husbands from looking elsewhere for satisfaction. So, when I hear that Gingrich allegedly said that his ex-wife was not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a president, he seems to fit right in. How has he violated the macho, alpha-male evangelical world view which treats women as expendable hormone fixes and mother proxies? Maybe Gingrich truly represents evangelical family “values” after all.

    • Politicians on all sides are pretty much hypocrites. Yeah, it’s more fun to point out moral failing of those who supposedly stand for “family values”, but I don’t know that if that’s any more hypocritical than a Democrat railing against the power of banks and corporations in one breath while gladly accepting their campaign donations in the other. As one songwriter I like, Justin McRoberts put it, “you’re only picking sides in a war between two fools.”

  28. I don’t have the words to telll you how glad I was to read this article. These are some questions for White evangelical Christians that I most dearly wish to see them honestly answer…

    • Um, what does the fact that they’re white have anything to do with anything?

      • cermak_rd says:

        The religious right, is mostly white. It seems that black evangelicals (as well as Chinese evangelicals) have other things on their agendas and rarely interact with the religious right. There are exceptions, such as Alan Keyes, but they are usually not a big part of the black evangelical scene.

  29. We should not be surprised that the AFA endorsed Gingrich. Dismayed, yes. Human being have a long history of ignoring the sins of those who agree with their faith and/or ideology. It takes a real prophetic voice, so absent these days, to stand for what is right against ones political allies.

  30. Reading this has shown me how off the mark I was in regard to politics. Especially, on the character of Gingrich. I like Gingrich and you revealed his profiled in a way I have not known of him. You are so right! He has never been accountable for his adulteries! Its true what Mr. Jensen said, “We are not talking of “youthful indescretions” here. Secondly, and more importantly, we must guard ourselves against sloppy thinking that would equate “forgiveness” with “supporting and voting for him as President”. Gingrich has no character to lead as a President.If I ever cheated on my wife, Forgiveness is a personal virtue, but does not remove the consequences of the action for a leader, nor does it magically erase the character flaws which led to the immorality. Those character flaws are deeply ingrained in a man by his late 50?s, and only hopeless naivety would lead one to think they will not appear in the pressure cauldron of the presidency.

    This is an insightful truth that has me thinking about politics myself. Thank you Chaplain Mike and Mr. Jensen to have the courage to write this. This has transformed my way of thinking about many this to regard to politics.

  31. Reading this has shown me how off the mark I was in regard to politics. Especially, on the character of Gingrich. I like Gingrich and you revealed his profiled in a way I have not known of him. You are so right! He has never been accountable for his adulteries! Its true what Mr. Jensen said, “We are not talking of “youthful indescretions” here. Secondly, and more importantly, we must guard ourselves against sloppy thinking that would equate “forgiveness” with “supporting and voting for him as President”. Gingrich has no character to lead as a President.If I ever cheated on my wife, Forgiveness is a personal virtue, but does not remove the consequences of the action for a leader, nor does it magically erase the character flaws which led to the immorality. Those character flaws are deeply ingrained in a man by his late 50?s, and only hopeless naivety would lead one to think they will not appear in the pressure cauldron of the presidency.

    This is an insightful truth that has me thinking about politics myself. Thank you Chaplain Mike and Mr. Jensen to have the courage to write this. This has transformed my way of thinking about many this to regard to politics.