For Christians and Jews, this week is among the most important of the religious calendar. In my personal faith tradition, we call the week leading up to Easter, Holy Week.
One would think that this week, of all weeks, politicians would have the grace not to use religious issues as a wedge. This should be a time for Christians, in particular, to come together and focuses on what unites them, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the abundant life He offers us.
Apparently, Newt Gingrich, despite his new found religion, missed that memo.
On Tuesday in an interview with Fox News, Gingrich criticized Obama’s decision to name gay rights activist Harry Knox to be one of 25 members of the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.
After calling Mr. Knox an “anti-religious, left-wing zealot,” Gingrich went on to describe the Obama administration as “intensely secular” and “anti-religious”. The administration, according to Gingrich, seems intent on going, “down in history as a consistently anti-religious, secular group of people who are consciously trying to drive things out.”
In my Bible, Jesus never said a word about sexual orientation. In fact, Jesus sought out and welcomed the most reviled people in society into his inner circle. He healed the lepers, befriended the tax collectors and the prostitutes. He was very much a radical and someone who challenged the status quo and religious establishment. It’s my view that the gay community has been shut out by the Church, but not by Jesus.
What’s so pathetic about Mr. Gingrich’s attack is that it’s simply ill-informed. Does he not recognize that President Obama has sought out a wide diversity of opinions on religious issues? Does he forget the heat that the gay community gave Obama for inviting Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church to offer a prayer at the inauguration? Doesn’t he know that many gay Americans are also religious, church goers? I know it kills him, but doesn’t he know that some gay Americans are Republican voters?
The reality is, Mr. Obama’s approach recognizes that there is a wide diversity of opinions on religious issues in the U.S. Apparently in Mr. Gingrich’s world, if you don’t share his religious views, you are to be condemned.
And since Gingrich seems intent on casting stones, I have to wonder about his own faith. He recently announced he was converting to Catholicism. So how often does he go to Mass? Does he tithe? Does he accept the Catholic church’s teaching on capital punishment? What about social justice? The Catholic Church is much more complex than the anti-gay, anti abortion views Gingrich embraces. Perhaps the thrice divorced Gingrich is unable to see the timber in his own eye.
Tonight at my church’s Maundy Thursday services, I will pray for him.