Religion Front And Center In Iowa
December 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich Now Embraces Catholicism

News organizations are jumping on Newt Gingrich today, but not for his history with women, or his controversial leadership on Capitol Hill.  Now the latest attack is on Newt Gingrich as a believer.  Few are familiar with his transitions, but  Newt Gingrich has changed from identifying as a Lutheran, to a Southern Baptist, to now a Catholic.

CNN’s religion blog reveals that part of Newt Gingrich’s energy about being a Baptist coincided with his hunger to be elected Speaker Of The House:

“After Tulane, Gingrich took a job as a history professor outside Atlanta and almost immediately began running for Congress, losing two races in the mid-’70s.

Around that time he joined New Hope Baptist Church, a 100-year old congregation south of Atlanta where Ike Reighard had recently arrived as the senior pastor.

“He had just lost for the second time and he came in and said, ‘I need your help,’” says Reighard. “I said, ‘What did you want to do in politics?’ He said he wanted to be Speaker Of The House.”

Gingrich won his next race for Congress in 1978. That year also marked the birth of the modern Christian Right.”

Gingrich may have to explain his development as a believer as he begins to travel in Iowa, because religion is once again front and center in that heartland state.  Mitt Romney is now talking about his LDS mission as a young man and his lifelong commitment to the faith of his family, perhaps to draw contrast with Gingrich. Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are also on the faith “train.”

Another quiet dynamic emerging in Iowa are rumors that Evangelicals are again organizing to shut down Mitt Romney’s chances by lining up behind virtually anyone else.  There is no question that Mitt Romney learned a 20 million dollar lesson in Iowa during the 2008 Primary Caucus.  Romney was handed a sure defeat by Mike Huckabee and his Christian supporters and Mitt Romney learned that no amount of money spent in the state would make him welcome.

Romneys Join Harry Reid and former Interior Secretary Mike Leavitt At Church

Still in 2012, Iowa women who work inside and outside of the home know that their farms, their houses, their jobs, and their retirements are all on the line.  In such dire times, conservative women may have patience for little else, and be focused on electing someone with the skills to protect their economic futures.  Particularly, after watching Herman Cain drag his family and the Party through a national drama of extracurricular exploits, Iowa women might be hungry for Mitt Romney’s brand of devotion to family and faith. Bachmann, Perry, Paul, Santorum and even Jon Huntsman all have much to offer in the area of commitment to their beliefs and their families as well.

Newt Gingrich meanwhile, is still forced to answer for decades of bad behaviors which seem inconsistent with his spiritual hungers.  Most supporters accept Gingrich’s admissions of new maturity and spirituality since meeting and marrying Calista Gingrich.  Even so, Calista was the subject of his affair during his second marriage and her presence is still a reminder of the old days, as well as the present.

On this stage of human behaviors, Mitt Romney may be discovering that now more than ever, he need not apologize for his faith or his committed marriage.  Despite the wild rumors and misinformation which always circle his Mormon beliefs, Mitt Romney joins the rest of the GOP field in staying close to home.



4 Responses to “Religion Front And Center In Iowa
December 13, 2011

  1. I had hoped to see Herman Cain become the nominee because I believed he would be able to defeat Obama. But Rahm Emanuel  took credit for bringing out information about Cain’s sexual harassment charges and the campaign unraveled. I think it was Axelrod who said of Newt Gingrich “the higher a monkey climbs the more you can see of his behind”, meaning they intend to dig deep to bring out negative information on him.
    Now I’m behind Michelle Bachmann although she is far down in the polls. My wife and I intend to vote for her in our primary in January in hopes she can win. If the nominee turns out to be either Mitt or News I’ll likely just hold my nose, as they say, and vote for the nominee. This election will determine the direction of our nation the next four years and we need to turn our moral, spiritual, and fiscal decline around. The spiritual part is up to the churches but the rest is up to the voters.

  2. Sorry I had a typo in my posting. I meant to write Newt, not News, as the nominee. 

  3. Wish people would keep their private affairs private.  Its their struggle and really has nothing to do with the position they are trying to achieve!  Throughout history, Presidents have often had other women in their lives.  They still held their offices.

  4. Our problem with it? If a man is casual with his commitment to his wife, how serious is he about other commitments? The problem for women with Herman Cain is that he was willing to lie about something important. It’s not the stupidity of his acts. Even though, we would prefer to elect and pay representatives and especially Presidents who are willing to keep their FOCUS on the People’s business, and not women. If they have a penchant for women, fine. But don’t ask for the People’s trust. We need serious people working for us, in these serious times. Private lives are private, if you’re smart enough to stay out of the LIMELIGHT.