Former Speaker Newt Gingrich likens attacks on religious tradition to American R
Posted on November 2, 2016 07:25 am CDT
By Will Schmitt- Springfield News Leader
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — For Newt Gingrich, there are parallels with the struggle for religious liberty in the contemporary U.S. and how Americans in the 18th century battled British rule.
Gingrich, the former U.S. Speaker of the House, spoke for about an hour Tuesday evening at the convocation of College of the Ozark's 2016 Fall Citizenship Forum. The audience contained several hundred people, for whom he wove tales of the Revolutionary War and the country's formation with calls for stronger emphases on God and traditional American values.
He concluded his speech with a direct appeal to the audience's spiritual sensibilities.
"This isn't about whether Hillary Clinton's gonna save America, or whether Donald Trump's gonna save America," Gingrich told the crowd. "This is about you. Each of you has in you the spark from God to be the best version of you you can be. ..."
"If every American took seriously that they were endowed by their creator, and therefore when they waste their life, they're wasting an endowment from God, we wouldn't have to worry about all this other junk."
In a news release, the college touted the Georgia Republican's Congressional achievements, such as the "Contract with America." Gingrich, 73, is now a Fox News contributor and senior advisor at Dentons, the world's largest law firm.
Among those in attendance Tuesday was U.S. Rep. Billy Long, whom Gingrich praised for showing "enormous courage" in Congress. Gingrich also had good things to say about the Missouri Republican in the Senate, calling U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt "a great, great human being."
The House Speaker's address was entitled "A Republic, If You Can Keep It," drawn from a quip made by Benjamin Franklin when asked whether the country was a monarchy or a republic of the people. Gingrich made reference to Franklin, George Washington and other pioneering U.S. figures throughout his talk.
One such moment when Gingrich unified God and the actions of an American hero was his recounting of the Battle of Long Island, where Washington's army was being badly beaten by British troops. Fortunately for the American rebels, a fog arose and hid them from sight as they escaped.
"Anybody who believes we became a free country without the divine hand of providence totally misunderstands what happens," Gingrich said, pointing to the fog that allowed Washington's troops to escape from almost certain annihilation.
He also likened attempts to throw off British taxation without representation with struggles to fight for religious liberty.
Gingrich went on to discuss how the Federalist Papers — essays meant to convince the American people that the Constitution was the most sensible plan for government — were essentially "campaign brochures" written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.
These essays won't be read in contemporary universities, Gingrich said, because the authors "were probably slave owners, or if not slave owners they were males, and they were white, and there were a couple other things wrong with them. They probably spoke English."
He also repudiated his "favorite scientific baloney": use of "Before Common Era" to mark time, as opposed to "Before Christ." Gingrich criticized this dating practice because different cultures have different understandings of what constitutes the "common era."
"This requires a secular, anti-religious mindset so narrowly stupid, that you have to have a Ph.D. at a fancy university to sustain it," Gingrich said.
At the beginning and end of his speech, Gingrich spoke with alarm of a cultural crisis apparent to him in numerous ways including:
- "All the driving elements of the elites are trying to break down the structural inhibition against dictatorship, and that's why you get into fights over things like religious liberty."
- "... And on another front, we're under siege by Islamic supremacists who try to make clear every single week that they would like to kill us."
- He cited a commission of "really whacked out people" in Massachusetts discussing appropriate language to use when referring to transgender people.
He also trashed liberal policies that would restrict firearms ownership. "If you had what the left wants, the farmers would not have had any weapons in Concord and Lexington," where Revolutionary War battles were fought, "and you wouldn't have been free," he said.
Gingrich was the second Republican presidential candidate to speak at College of the Ozarks in less than a month. His speech came on the heels of neurosurgeon Ben Carson, whose own speech implied that legalizing gay marriage would lead to "mass killings" and "utter chaos."
College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis praised Gingrich and acknowledged with humor the comments the former House Speaker made to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly last week. Referring to Kelly's reporting on the allegations of sexual misconduct by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Gingrich told Kelly, "You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy."
Davis told the crowd he just about drove off the road upon hearing Gingrich's remark replayed on the radio, and Gingrich deadpanned an apology to any other drivers he might have misled.
College of the Ozarks is a familiar talking point for Gingrich, who for years has praised the college's model of having its students work part-time while earning a degree.
Tuesday night, Gingrich said the college is "one of the great models for America's future — and if we're going to win the culture war, it'll be done here."