Justin Bieber (from Shutterstock)

Justin Bieber … The Islamist

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest weapon for the Muslim take…over…of…the world: Justin Bieber. In a recent concert in Istanbul, Justin Bieber stopped his concert twice for the Islamic call to prayer (adhan/azan).

Photo courtesy Brett Davis/Flickr.

Mainline Protestants up for grabs heading into November

WASHINGTON (RNS) In a matchup between Obama and GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, mainline Protestant voters are nearly evenly divided, with 41 percent supporting Obama and 43 percent for Romney. The same holds true between Obama and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — each is the choice of 41 percent of white mainline Protestants. By Lauren Markoe.

Gingrich stumbling in Iowa

The latest Iowa polls show Newt Gingrich losing ground to Ron Paul–up by 10 points (27-17) over Paul according to InsiderAdvantage and by just one (22-21) according to PPP. Meanwhile, Gingrich’s new political director, Des Moines political consultant Craig Bergman, has left the campaign allegedly for making anti-Mormon remarks at a GOP focus group just before he joined the Gingrich campaign.Bergman got into trouble yesterday when the Iowa Republican website ran a story on a focus group, which had been assembled to assess the field of GOP presidential aspirants. Bergman’s statement regarding Mormonism went as follows:”There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney
bandwagon,” Craig Bergman said. “A lot of the evangelicals believe God
would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to
expose the cult of Mormon…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”I’m a little dubious that this is why the under-equipped Gingrich campaign, which can ill afford to lose experienced Iowa political operatives, dropped Bergman like a hot potato. I’d say it had more to do with what he told the focus group about Gingrich himself:Craig Bergman, a Tea Party activist and campaign veteran called Gingrich
“the smartest unwise man in America.

Gingrich and the Evangelicals

With the Gingrich Bubble frothing away and the Iowa caucuses just around the corner, TPM asks if the all-important evangelical voting bloc (like, half of all GOP caucus-goers) will move into Newt’s camp. The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs has done her interviews and thinks it’s split. A mysterious group called Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government has released a letter whomping on Christian leader in government wannabe Bob Vander Plaats for allegedly supporting Gingrich. Meanwhile, Doctor Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention has written an open Dear Newt letter urging the Thrice Married One to give a big speech to persuade evangelical women that he has cured his cheatin’ heart.On the basis of 200 informal SBC focus groups, Land thinks Gingrich has an evangelical gender problem. The latest Insider Advantage Iowa poll suggests otherwise; Newt’s got three Republican women supporting him for every two Republican men.

Newt, Culture Warrior

Newt Gingrich is so given to rhetorical hyperbole that you’re tempted just to quote it, roll your eyes, and move on. A case in point is this remark from Saturday’s Mormon-deprived Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines:The degree to which the left is prepared to impose intolerance and to drive out of existence traditional religion is a mortal threat to our civilization and deserves to be taken head on and described as what it is which is the use of government to repress the American people against their own values. But it’s worth recognizing that this is not just random red meat tossed into an evangelical barbecue pit. It’s part of a kulturkämpfliche weltanshauung that the card-carrying historian expects will see him all the way to the leadership of the Judeo-Christian World.Asked by moderator Bob Vander Plaats for a single value to instill into the American public, Gingrich launched into a riff on the Declaration of Independence’s declaration that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights”:





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…secular, a term that comes actually from the Latin seculare, meaning century, and it basically says, “Life is very limited, so
you might as well get the most you can now.” A belief in God is the precise

The Threat to Religious Liberty

With Newt Gingrich now perched atop at least one national poll, it seems like a good time to check out what the man has to say about religion in his latest book, A Nation Like No other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters. It turns out there’s a certain amount of Bartonish huffing about the Christianism of the Founding Fathers but the basic message is well within the standard view that the U.S. started off pretty exceptionally by prohibiting Congress from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.Within a few pages, however, Gingrich is on the warpath against “radical secularists” for attacking “Judeo-Christian morality” and seeking to “banish our Judeo-Christian heritage from public life altogether.” And from the list of Supreme Court decisions on pages 86 and 87 you’d think the secularists were succeeding. Thus, Gingrich points to the 1993 case (Lamb’s Chapel) permitting a Christian club to be barred from using public school facilities but fails to mention subsequent decisions allowing such access. And he notes the Court’s ruling that displays of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses were unconstitutional but neglects to mention the Texas display that was deemed OK.You’d never know that in recent years Court has gone a good way towards opening the door to religious establishments long regarded as unconstitutional–by permitting public funding of religious schools by way of vouchers, allowing subsidization of such schools through tax credits, and denying individuals the right to bring Establishment Clause cases to court.