Newt Gingrich talks of Catholic faith, lambasts secularism
In what may be preparation for a 2012 bid for the White House, Newt Gingrich talked recently about his Catholic conversion to an audience in Washington.
Gingrich, 67, told participants of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington about his Catholic conversion after being a Southern Baptist for 65 years, ABC News said.
The former House speaker said, “It would be more accurate to say that I gradually became Catholic and then realized one day that I should accept the faith that surrounded me,” according to ABC News.
Gingrich said the main impetus for his conversion was the time he and wife Callista spent at her Washington D.C. church, and the inspiration he got from the way the Catholic Church in Europe waged war against a “crisis of secularism” in that continent that he says is now taking place in the U.S., ABC News said.
Gingrich said, “The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites, and as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media and judicial class in America,” ABC News reported.
One example cited by Gingrich of the “crisis of secularism” is pressure from secularists to replace the phrase ‘Anno Domini’ or A.D. with ‘Common Era,’ or C.E., Fox News said.
The former Georgia congressman stressed, “There is no ‘Common Era,’ adding, “The year 2011 is a Christian date,” according to Fox News.
Gingrich also lashed at “coercive secularism dominating our courts,” ABC News said. Citing ‘activist judges,’ he said, “The courts have been especially powerful engines of coerced secularization, from the 1962 school prayer decision on,” Fox News reported.
Gingrich added, “There has been a decisive break with the essentially religious nature of historic American civilization,” according to Fox News.
During the Catholic breakfast, Gingrich talked about the documentary, Nine Days That Changed The World, which he co-produced with his wife Calista. The film is about Pope John Paul II’s trip to Poland in 1979, Fox News said.
Poland, then under the communist Soviet Union, did not have any freedom of religion. However, after the late pope’s visit, the country stood up to the Soviet Union and became independent. Eventually, there followed the Soviet Union’s downfall, Fox News reported.
Gingrich said, “Imagine how hard it must have been for the Polish people, with a government that would not allow school prayer and kept tearing down crosses. It’s hard to imagine that kind of government in a free society,” according to Fox News.
Gingrich told the audience, “The more I looked at this historic phenomenon, the more I had to come to grips with my own beliefs and my own tolerance of the increasingly aggressive secularization of our country,” ABC News reported.
Critics see Gingrich’s change of faith as a way to seek public clemency after two failed marriages and an admission of having an affair with a Capital Hill staffer, Callista Bisek, who is now his third wife, ABC News said.
Sources close to Gingrich say he may soon reach a decision about running for president. He is slated to visit Iowa and South Carolina, where religious conservatives are influential, ABC News said.