Newt Gingrich: Americans Must Fight Hostility to Christianity Growing in Schools
Newsmax (Link) - Newt Gingrich (October 4, 2009)
A virulent hostility toward religion is threatening the very fabric of American liberty and prosperity: That's the alarm former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, are sounding in their thought-provoking new documentary, �Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage."
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, the former House speaker contends that American culture has been marked by "a steady increase in hostility to religion over the last 70 or 80 years, in ways that are a profound challenge, both to Western Civilization and to America as we know it."
Christianity appears to be the primary target of the attacks, Gingrich says.
Gingrich says, "When you look at efforts to drive the cross off of public lands, efforts to drive [out] Nativity scenes. . . there are a number of places in America now where there is a great bias in favor of teaching children about Islam than there is about Christianity. You actually have schools today that will have a class on Islam but refuse to have a class on Christianity. I'll let you decide whether that's a bias."
With top-drawer cinematography complementing the real story of democracy's birth pangs, the DVD manages to avoid sounding the drumbeat of religiosity or politics.
"What we try to do is really put America in a historic setting," says Gingrich, himself a former college history professor. "These movies are not theological, they're not ideological."
The new DVD takes off where Gingrich's New York Times best-selling book �Rediscovering God in America� and its companion DVD by the same name left off.
That earlier effort presented a walking tour of the nation's capital. Much to the ire of hard-core secularists intent on driving faith out of the public square, it documented the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of the nation that are so clearly evident in the tableau of monuments, memorials, and federal buildings seen throughout Washington, D.C.
The new DVD uses the same concepts and techniques. But this time, they follow the birth of democracy across the entire United States, from the spot where the first English settlers landed near Jamestown in 1607, to the cradles of liberty in Philadelphia and Boston, to George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation manse on the shores of the Potomac, to the Gettysburg battlefield where Lincoln honored the men who gave "the last full measure of devotion," and pledged "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."
The narrative begins with the landing of the first permanent English settlers in 1607.
Speaker Gingrich explains: "Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage begins with the first English-speaking settlers at Cape Henry, Virginia raising a cross, and thanking God for getting them across the Atlantic � their very first act.
"I would challenge any viewer to go check your child's textbook, and see whether or not that is in the textbook at the beginning of English-speaking colonization," he says.
"Our very basic document, the Declaration of Independence, said that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Gingrich says. "Yet how many schools today teach children what 'our Creator' means, and why our Founding Fathers wrote that?"
Highlights of the DVD include:
The struggles of many religions to find a home on America's shores. "We do talk about the various religious groups that settled in early America," wife and DVD co-host Callista Gingrich tells Newsmax. "The Catholics did have a difficult time because the Church of England had no time for them initially. They lived in Maryland and Philadelphia, and we do talk about that in our movie."
The historical impact of pacifist Quaker and Pennsylvania founder William Penn. "Quakerism was a very different sect at that time," Newt Gingrich says. "It was Protestant, but it was very different from the other sects. In fact, the first generation of Quakers had no hierarchical structure at all. And that was seen by all the traditional churches, particularly the hierarchical churches like the Church of England and the Catholic Church, as a very strange and radical doctrine. Penn actually went to Pennsylvania � Penn's wood as it was called � to seek religious refuge. And many Americans did: It's amazing how many Americans came to this country seeking the right to worship God in their own way."
The influence of Christianity on the American Revolution. "I think the whole sense of religious belief led them to be prepared to stand separately from the British Empire," the former House speaker, often mentioned as a leading GOP presidential candidate, tells Newsmax. "It was very telling to me for example that when you see the famous scene where Patrick Henry says, 'As for me, give me liberty or give me death,' he's actually speaking in a church in Richmond, because that's where people came. In that period, it was very common to have public meetings in churches."
The enduring effect of America's great revivals. Speaking of the Second Great Awakening that began in the 1790s, which spread evangelical Christianity across the nation, Gingrich says: "It represents a very uniquely American dedication to God," Newt Gingrich says. "This has been historically a country of people who really do believe in a Supreme Being, who really do believe in the importance of religion in their lives and that culture, and overwhelmingly � much more than in Europe � we remained a country dedicated to the idea that our rights come from God, and that we have obligations to God."
Produced in association with David N. Bossie's Citizens United Productions, �Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage� brings to mind the words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. . . "
The American Revolution also involved a revolutionary change in man's relationship to Providence, Gingrich suggests.
"It becomes very clear they relied very heavily on God, and consistently praised God for their survival and their freedom," says the former Georgia congressman.
The Gingriches tell Newsmax that America's Judeo-Christian traditions are in danger of being redacted from its textbooks and media.
"You see it everywhere," Callista says. "You see it in our schools, which refuse to teach accurately the role of God in America. You see it in some of the media, who refuse to cover our religious heritage. And you see it in many of our courts, who have real contempt for God in the public square."
The good news, Newt says, is that America remains a place where revivals can occur � religious as well as political.
"Citizens can complain to their congressmen," he says. "They can replace the congressmen, if they don't get it. They can insist on changing the courts. The American people in the end are sovereign. They have every right to take back power, and to insist on changes in things that are fundamentally destroying America."