I received an email that referenced a Newt Gingrich Statement on Cordoba House; the proposed Mosque/Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. The email sender believed the statement was a reasonable approach.
Gingrich is a former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives. He served as Speaker for a time and authored the “Contract with America” that was used as the Republican Manifesto during the 1994 elections.
Gingrich resigned from Congress after a loss of Republican majority in the Clinton second-term midterm elections of 1998. He has since tried to position himself as a conservative Republican spokesman.
Gingrich’s approach was that since Saudi Arabia does not allow churches or synagogues, mosques should not be allowed in the United States.
Newt made some basic errors in arriving at his claim.
The first error that Gingrich makes is that this is the United States, not Saudi Arabia. We have a Constitution for our rules, not a monarch. Those of us who have sworn an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution, with our lives if necessary, take that document seriously. That document is protection of the Republic against demagogues.
Another error ignoring that all citizens of Saudi Arabia are Moslem. That is the law of that land. There is no purpose in building a Christian church in a land where there are no Christians except in the compounds where foreign workers are housed. Those compounds do allow religious meetings to take place. So Newt is misleading the argument by his premise.
Saudi Arabia does have thugs known as religious police who can practice their brutality inside the workers enclaves as well as the rest of the country. Fortunately, we do not have this kind of ignorant and arbitrary religious police. The Saudi version of Islam is very narrow and unforgiving.
There are those Americans who believe that the State has the right to coerce the recitation of prayer, preferably a narrow type predicated upon whatever version of Christian does the coercing. I have heard false claims that the country has gone downhill since prayer was not allowed in schools, but my public school did not have that unAmerican practice and I cannot find that attendees of the Pembine School were any worse than the schools where prayer was shoved down the gullets on unwary students.
And, we had this bigot in Alabama who insisted on his right as a judge to impose his version of the Ten Commandments on all who were to expect blind justice in his courtrooms. We should not forget when the self-appointed righteous took action in this country is was usually in the European tradition of acting against other Christians.
Gingrich is representative of ignorant religious extremists who hijacked the Republican party. The shallowness of his reasoning to block mosques is evident in his statement as well as other statements he has made. Gingrich is one of those who would be happy to coerce public prayer, providing it reflects his own denominational beliefs.
In another section of Gingrich’s website, he claims that Sharia law is infiltrating the United States, It is not clear where he gets his basis for this claim, but it is not unique to him.
People who claim this takeover of American law are dishonest. In this country, the concept of separation of church and state allows religions to make their own rules on how the organization operates. If a religion, church, or faith decides that membership can exclude unmarried persons, that is allowable. If adherence to the Westminster Confession is a requirement for membership that is allowable. If the rules of a church marriage exclude persons who are infertile that is allowable.
There are limits; of course. We don’t allow real human sacrifice. Some of the practices of the Greater Signs Followers have been declared illegal because the State doesn’t want to lose taxpayers to death by snakebite or drinking poison. But, when the State of New York awarded the property of the Russian Orthodox Church to a US counterpart, the attempt was ruled unconstitutional. The claim of the New York Legislature was a fear that Atheistic communism would infiltrate American churches. That bit of silliness is a monument to the thinking of conservatives like Gingrich.
Sharia law as applied to mosques is legal within the same limitations that apply to churches and faiths. Persons who apply sharia to their daily lives are no different from people who claim to walk daily with Jesus.
And, just as there are substantial differences in church law among the different Christian faiths, there are substantial differences in branches of Sharia law. We Americans hear of the most extreme versions. The press and media in our country are incapable of reporting that most Moslems would rather not face the extremist variety of the kind practiced in Saudi Arabia or by the Taliban. I suspect that a substantial number of Moslems would practice a very enlightened variety if given the chance.
Finally, there is the matter that Saudi Arabia is considered to be an American ally. I am bemused when I see politicians attack the Republic of China over human rights violations. Yet, the terrible injustices that are wielded through the Saudi religious police and judiciary receive hardly any notice. Occasionally a feminist issue will briefly capture attention. Usually, the US government ignores the bad convictions and atrocious behaviors, even when applied toward American citizens.
Gingrich has not proposed cutting alliance with Saudi Arabia.
Newt Gingrich and fellow bigots babble about generalities and ignore reality. We have a Constitution that is responsible for the greatness of the United States. It is not God nor any particular variety of Christianity that allows the kind of freedoms that protect individuals. It could be much better if the right wingers like Gingrich would give more allegiance to that Document.
A Moslem community center is no more harmful than a Jewish community center or a Baptist community center. Any religion or faith can have extremists among its membership.
Meanwhile, I hope the America citizens who believe in our Constitution will speak out against the bigoted among us.
in category Rants