On the Hypocrisy of the Evangelical Right Toward Newt Gingrich (Miniblog #97)
1.Merriam-Webster defines hypocrisy as, “A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.”
I was a regular ol’ Alex P. Keaton–a right-wing, adolescent political junkie. Parroting the stances of many of the adults around me, I defended Newt and the GOP, condemned the Democrats, and decried the media’s liberal bias. During the Monica Lewinky scandal I denounced president Clinton in the most passionate terms possible, saying that a man who was that immoral has no business being president. What’s disconcerting is that I see many of these same persons now blithely defending Newt in my facebook newsfeed, agreeing with him that it’s “despicable” that he should have to answer questions about his own infidelity at the very same time and that these issues have nothing to do with one’s ability to run the country. It’s the essence of hypocrisy. Look, my eyes are not selectively blind. I see that the epidemic of hypocrisy across the political spectrum in this election year. Yet what I will say is this: As one who was then and remains an evangelical Christian, my belief is that we who made this moral argument should now be held to the higher standard we invoked.22.Lest some of these folks try to use the avoidance tactic by saying, “No, my real concern was that the president of the United States lied under oath,” that’s just a bunch of bologna. I remember having the conversations and hearing the sermons. The oath issue actually was a pretty solid legal argument, but they definitively, intentionally, and explicitly placed the emphasis on the prerequisite moral and spiritual character of our leader. Also, let me be clear that I’m not simply Newt-bashing. As one aspiring to the priesthood, I’m more than open to grace and forgiveness. Imagine if Newt had answered John King’s question by saying,
As a Christian I humbly confess my wickedness. I sinned against my former wife and against God, and have tried to turn from the error of my ways. Was I a hypocrite? Yes. Did I decry President Clinton’s actions at the very same time that I committed the same reprehensible acts? Yes. Do I have questions about this story’s timing and the appropriateness of that discussion at this debate? Yes. But I cannot take back what I’ve done. All I can do is say I’m sorry, I’ve repented, and I ask for your forgiveness and a chance to change.
What a powerful testimony that would’ve been! Unfortunately, what he did instead was bust out a red herring from his bully pulpit because humility rarely scores you political points. As a professing devout Catholic now, he should know better. I don’t know what’s more tragic, the fact that the devout Mormon is the man of integrity in this race or that Newt’s refusal to humbly die to self galvanized South Carolina’s evangelicals to vote for him.33.Neither speaks well for the condition of American Christianity.
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