At the beginning of December I wrote about Rick Perry’s claim that Obama is waging war on religion. I thought we were done with this nonsense when Perry dropped out of the race to be the Republican nominee for President, but I have noticed that Newt Gingrich has picked up this line in the past few days (even applying it to Mitt Romney in the last 48 hours!). Apparently someone’s dial testing has proven this to be a line that a very conservative base loves.
For all his talk of loving the Constitution, Gingrich showed an immense lack of knowledge about what it actually says (or a lack of concern). He had this to say at a campaign stop yesterday afternoon here in FL (ThinkProgress has the video up):
GINGRICH: Now, I think we need to have a government that respects our religions.I’m a little bit tired of being lectured about respecting every religion on the planet. I’d like them to respect our religion.
Apparently for Newt Gingrich a religion only deserves respect if it’s one we adhere too. Certainly all religions should not be respected.
Members of the Southern Baptist Convention leadership have (unsurprisingly) jumped on board with this divisive and deceitful rhetoric. Here’s what Richard Land had to say a few days ago:
Land said the Obama administration “has shown from the very beginning that it is hostile to free religious expression.”
“There’s no question about that,” he said. “They have done thing after thing after thing after thing.”
“This is really serious,” Land said. “You’ll hear the Obama administration; they are disciplined in their talking about this. They talk about freedom of worship. They talk about freedom of worship overseas and they talk about freedom of worship at home. We do not have a guarantee of freedom of worship. We have a guarantee to freedom of religion.”
Land said the free-exercise of religion protected by the Constitution “will involve us in much more than just worship.”
“And the government under the Obama administration wants to curtail that and to restrict it to the private sector only,” Land said. “There can be no other explanation for what they have done the last three and a half years.”
It seems that Land and Gingrich are confused about what freedom of religion actually is. They cannot seem to fathom that religions other than Christianity deserve any rights and to them any move by the Obama administration to be more compliant with the Establishment Clause is somehow a violation of the Free Exercise Clause. Both exhibit a serious misunderstanding of the spirit of religious freedom and both are using tactics of fear and xenophobia to stir up their base.