I recently watched a fascinating documentary on Netflix entitled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers. In it, Christian filmmaker Dan Merchant strives to understand the divide between Christians and everyone else and why religious faith has become so divisive. If it has an agenda, it's about trying to actually live the teachings of Jesus and bring people together rather than tearing them apart by using their religion as a weapon. It's the first documantary I've seen where a Christian filmmaker criticizes the actions of the most divisive "Christians" (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc.). The film is entertaining, fair, moving and actually made me want to try to be be a more forgiving person.
But there are limits to what one can forgive. Case in point: Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich opened the South Carolina debate gong show by screaming at CNN's John King for daring to ask a question about his ex-wife, Marianne, and her contention that Newt had asked for an "open marriage" so he could carry on with his adulterous homewrecker mistress and current wife. He harrumphed that he was "appalled" and that King's asking the question was "as close to despicable as anything I can imagine."
The crowd, a conclave of South Carolina conservatives who have been schooled since kindergarten to hate everyone to the left of Mussolini, went nuts, as if to say, "You go get them librul bastards, Newt baby!!!" Some even gave a standing ovation worthy of a Wayne Newton concert.
I'll give Gingrich this: he knows what political porn buttons to push to give the hardcore GOP raging erections, those good old boys who imagine their cherished God-fearing, heterosexual, minority-free Amurrica is slipping away into the hands of sissies, darkies and Commie journalists. They accept no responsibility for the state of the nation; they instead act the victims of an "elite" media, "religious bigotry" and liberal immorality that won't allow prayer in schools, allows gay rights, ruins the culture, and on and on.
Gingrich, growling like a rabid hamster, brilliantly turned a negative into a positive for himself, blaming the media and playing the victim of a destructive press hell-bent on destroying Republicans, and as a result won the primary. The GOP right wants a warrior who takes no prisoners, and they have one in Newt. He doesn't care who he offends, what lies he tells or what facts he mangles, and he does it with a highfalutin' air of know-it-all superiority, condescension and a hubris that goes through the roof.
Gingrich, whose past indiscretions and political obscenities are well known and shall not be named here because the list would be longer than Obama's health care act, claimed that his conversion to Catholicism has made him a better person and he has asked God, and the electorate, for forgiveness. The Christian base has evidently fallen for this nonsense, their hatred of Obama so toxic that they are willing to forgive a serial adulterer and political death squad leader whose blinding hypocrisy would give Moliere's Tartuffe an aneurysm.
Christians may be able to forgive Gingrich, but I will not. I will not forgive him for carrying on an affair while trying to get Clinton impeached for an affair, while calling Clinton "the enemy of normal Americans." I will not forgive him for calling marriage equality a "temporary aberration" and preaching family values and morality while exhibiting none of his own. I will not forgive him for the Contract With America, shutting the government down, violating the ethics of Congress, or complaining about his seating on Air Force One. I will not forgive him for his revolting tendency to tell people how to live their lives. I will not forgive him for having a lesbian sister and not even allowing her the decency of equality under the law.
If he has indeed accepted Christ and begged God for forgiveness, good for him. But so has John Hinckley, and we're not letting him out of prison. Using this alleged conversion as a political weapon and cynical vote-grabbing tool is emblematic of the cheapest, most corrupt backwoods tent show preacher, and represents the very divisiveness that Dan Merchant tries to save people from in his documentary. Gingrich isn't stupid, but he sure thinks we are. The South Carolina victory has proven that, in that state at least, Gingrich is correct.
Lord, save us from Newt Gingrich.
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