Monday, January 10, 2005

Gingrich on God

Also in today's Washington Post is this short article about Newt Gingrich's forthcoming book. This paragraph caught my eye:


Former House speaker Newt Gingrich says he “got fed up with people who argue that somehow the concept of the creator wasn't central to how the Founding Fathers understood America.” So in a book being published today, he includes a 19-page “Walking Tour of God in Washington, D.C.,” cataloging references to the Bible, Moses and a heavenly father on the Capitol, monuments and memorials.

“In the last 30 years, you had this politically correct delegitimizing of God in American public life, which I think is a denial of the core of American civilization,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.


I am certainly persuaded that many of the Founding Fathers believed in God, and viewed the world in a way that was influenced by that belief. But the fact remains that they did not include a single reference to God in the constitution, and mentioned religion only in the context of not imposing religious tests on people. Had they wanted to make America a Christian nation, they had their chance.

Describing theism as the core of American civilization is the sort of delusional overstatement that really ought to relegate Gingrich to Cranksville. Surely the ideas of representative democracy and individual freedom have far more to do with American civilization than does God-belief.

And please do not tell me that it was their deep Christian faith that led them to realize the importance of representative democracy and indivudal freedom. The fact is that every Christian government that preceded them thought that Christianity implied tyranny, despotism, and the oppression of non-Christians. The Founding Fathers chose to create a representative democracy because a few moment's thought shows that such a system provides the best hope for creating a stable, just society. They had seen the alternatives and did not like them.

6 Comments:

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It's still not too late. I'll post it about midnight EST. It's been four weeks, so you may want to submit something from that period to Tangled Bank:

http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2005/01/next-tangled-bank.html

 
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