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Newt and the Loony Religious Fringe That Now Runs the Republican Party

By       Message Frank Schaeffer     Permalink
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Crossposted at the Huffington Post

Every single one of the sops Newt Gingrich is throwing the far right has been scripted for him by generations of far right so-called Reconstructionist "thinkers" and far right Roman Catholic ideologues that have been pushing the religious community -- and America -- steadily in the direction of overthrowing democracy and replacing it with some version of an Americanized theocracy.

Newt Gingrich has been making a series of outrageous statements in ascending rhetorical volume as a means to throw the religious right scraps of validation that he is "one of us." What Gingrich has done is to sign on to the extremist Dominionist/Roman Catholic agenda. Since I used to be a leader and the son of a leader on the Religious Right (in the 1970s and 80s) what Gingrich is saying invokes a bad case of dejà vu for me

What he's really doing is sending signals to 3 overlapping constituencies that now control the Republican Party: The "Pro-Israel" Lobby; The Reconstructionist/Dominionist Lobby and The Conservative Roman Catholic Lobby. We'll look at these groups and their influence one at a time.

The Gingrich Context

Wanting to outdo the rest of the Republican field on support for the hardliners in the State of Israel Gingrich told America that the Palestinian people are really a fiction an "invented people," illegitimate and don't actually exist.

Not wanting to let the far right down on his purity when it comes to abortion politics, Gingrich corrected himself on when "life begins" and got his "position" in line with the American Roman Catholic bishops and declared that when he said it "begins" with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall, what he really meant was that it begins with fertilization, thus putting himself squarely in the corner with the extremist bishops who would like to lump the pill in with abortion as a means that "destroys a life."

And when it comes to the rule of law, Gingrich advocates the arrest of judges that rule against "Christian values."

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So much for the separation of powers let alone the separation of church and state. And now Gingrich wants to further expand protection for religion and its meddling in politics saying that as president he'd roll back, examine and generally bulk up the rights of believers -- rather, the rights of far right believers -- to flout the law when it comes to gay rights, abortion, stem cell research and so on.

The "Pro-Israel" Lobby

Re: Gingrich's support for the State of Israel, call this the Gingrich/Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye Left Behind "foreign policy," based on the series of sixteen novels that represents everything that is most deranged about religion.

The evangelicals/fundamentalists -- and hence, from the early 1980s until the election of President Obama in 2008, the Religious Right as it informed U.S. policy through the the dominant Republican Party -- are in the grip of an apocalyptic Rapture cult centered on revenge and vindication. This End Times death wish is built on a literalist interpretation of the book of Revelation.

The Left Behind series is really just recycled evangelical/fundamentalist profit taking from scraps of "prophecy" left over from an earlier commercial effort to mine the vein of fearsome End Times gold. A book called The Late Great Planet Earth was the 1970s incarnation of this nonsense.

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It was written by Hal Lindsey, a "writer" who dropped by my evangelical leader parents' ministry of L'Abri several times. Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth interpreted Revelation for a generation of paranoid evangelicals who were terrified of the Soviet Union and communism and were convinced that the existence of the modern State of Israel was the sign that Jesus was on the way in our lifetimes, as Lindsey claimed. According to Lindsey, Revelation was "speaking" about the Soviet Union and imminent nuclear attacks between the Soviet Union and the United States. When Mikhail Gorbachev became president of the U.S.S.R., Planet Earth groupies claimed Gorbachev was the Antichrist, citing the references in Revelation to the "mark of the beast" as proof because Gorbachev had a birthmark on his forehead!

According to Jenkins and LaHaye, who have taken over the Hal Lindsey franchise of apocalypse-for-fun-and-profit and expanded it into a vast industry, the "chosen" will soon be airlifted to safety. And all this "fulfillment" of prophecy depends on Israel "reclaiming" (stealing) all the land of Samaria and Judea, in other words the West Bank.

The focus on the "signs" leading up to this hoped-for aeronautical excursion is understandably no longer the defunct U.S.S.R. but the ripped-from-the-headlines gift that keeps on giving: the Middle East.

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Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times best selling author. He is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a (more...)
 

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