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High Infidelity: Falwell Invites Gingrich to Give Commencement

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Yesterday Newt Gingrich admitted to having an affair while leading the Clinton impeachment. If this struck you as disingenuous, hypocritical, or unethical you’re probably not a conservative Christian. Today Gingrich was invited by the Reverend Jerry Falwell to give the commencement address at Liberty University. Falwell, a large, toad-like creature, effectively laying waste to any whiff of Christian integrity, is the president of the Christian school, and a well-funded representative of Christians across the country.

The story of Gingrich’s infidelity was revealed in an interview by James Dobson (who else?). Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, seems to have a penchant for spotlighting people with a penchant for destroying their families (see: Ted Haggard), living vicariously through their sexual exploits. I’ll give Gingrich a little credit, at least he fully been spread around as wreckage and a warning: abandon all hope, ye who enter here.picked a woman, a former congressional aide, to cheat on his wife with. The silver lining? He dumped his wife and married that girl (wife number three if you’re scoring at home). Maybe it’s love.

Gingrich’s affairs have been well-known for years, but his recent admission (what some would call “honesty”) has led to a well-spring of support among powerful Christian leaders because, well, they don’t give a shit anymore and most Christians can’t tell the difference. Falwell had this to say about Gingrich: “He has admitted his moral shortcomings to me, as well, in private conversations. And he has also told me that he has, in recent years, come to grips with his personal failures and sought God’s forgiveness.”

I’ve had conversations with conservative Christians and I am seriously trying to figure this movement out. They say they are sick of traditional Christian values being under attack, they want kids to have the right to pray in school, and put the 10 Commandments up on the walls, and they don’t want to have to explain why two men are holding hands walking down the street. In short: they want to live a sort of sheltered existence and so they seek their warm fuzzies in church where leaders have trouble keeping their hands off little kids, where unfaithfulness is not only common but embraced, and where duplicity is the first rule of law. It’s…complex.

I get strange looks when I admit I used to think of the church as a sort of spiritual health-club — you get in shape by attending and applying what you’ve learned as a functional exercise. But now I seriously wonder what is being learned. Christians say the church is a “hospital for sinners” but any hospital that rewards its patients with this kind of “care” would find its employees jailed for negligence. The success rate is abysmal, the love is Walter-Reed-like. They treat their patients with so much contempt it borders on spiritual euthanasia, but the real genius is to keep them sedated enough so they don’t riot but conscious enough so they turn their money over each week.

They seek power by aligning themselves with a “form of religion” and find shelter in a party that promises to empower them and, in a nice catch-22, protect them at the same time. The symbiosis continues as the hallowed-out and discontent then turn their frustration outward and try to deny people rights based on an array of behaviors their own leaders commit right before their eyes. They are told they are defending marriage while reports flow in of yet another who thinks faithfulness is an option, while a housewife role plays Donna Reed. Subjugated and lied to, their lives a living metaphor, once in a while one of their women snaps and takes a shotgun to the offending male.

I grew up saying the pledge in school and I learned to believe. Behold, I give to you the new American dream: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of fruitless and riddled living, as long as you’re a Bible believing Christian. The rest of you can only dream of such blatant debauchery. But have no fear, their profane lives have dutifully been spread around as wreckage betraying the rocky shoals of their shallow and dangerous belief, and giving to you a warning: abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

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  • Interesting and well-done piece. You’d think such ‘loose and liberal’ behavior would garner more from Falwell & Dobson than a nod and a wink, if they were sincerely interested in anything except money and power;certainly they seem to preach a double standard of morality for Republicans and Democrats.

    I certainly believe–along with Bush, Gingrich, Falewell, Dobson and others–that we need more of their faith-based influence in the White House, congress and the Supreme Court–don’t you?

  • Lee, as the article points out so well, their ‘faith’ is like a coat to be put on and taken off as needed.

    As for Gingrich outing himself on Dobson’s show, that suggests that Dobson’s listeners are under 12 years old or lived under a rock throughout the 90s, since Gingrich’s reprehensible behavior towards his wife was fully chronicled in the media at the time.


  • Dr Dreadful

    Strange, Clinton also admitted to and expressed remorse for his extramarital misdemeanors, but I don’t recall Falwell falling over himself to forgive HIM.

    Perhaps the qualifier in the last paragraph of Fred’s article should have included the word ‘Republican’.

  • Sisyphus

    Good article. My sister is a conservative Christian and I’ll be damned if I can figure out her logic in such matters as you cite. As near as I can tell, if the sinner is one of their own, he or she has the ability to ask and receive God’s forgiveness, whereas people not-of-the-flock remain in the darkness because God only forgives true believers. At least that is how my sister explains it.

    I reckon if you’re a conservative Christian, you can rationalize just about anything you’re told to believe.

  • I would guess your sister sees sin in Christian circles as further proof for the integral need for Christ. Having no evidence for the transforming power of Jesus among them, they view their on-going sin as further evidence that they need Jesus. Fascinating.

    Like most other contradictions, this one is already called out in the Bible. Paul debunked this one 2000 years ago in Romans 6.

    Certainly no one is surprised that Christians sin. They’re people too, they make mistakes. What people do find interesting is that Christians and non-Christians commit infractions at the same, alarming rate and so at ease with it. This begs some obvious questions.

  • Zedd


    I get where you are going and have had contempt for these “Christian’s” manner of behavior before they hit the major spotlight.

    I don’t think however that you understand what Christianity is. It is a religion for imperfect people. It states as a premise that we all are flawed and cant judge anyone as a result.

    What these guys do is unchristian. They are scene stealers, power hungry and need to be reprimanded publicly. They have hijacked the religion and have applied their own twisted perspectives and political views into the religion. The truth is that they were/are used by Republicans. They are courted and wooed by these guys, made to feel important then raped for their influenced. Their followers (the real problem) hang on every word they say because they want to be right with God and end up getting duped.

  • Unfortunately, organized religion is almost totally a “do as we say” rather than a “think for yourself” business.

  • Methuselah

    Religionists almost always succumb to the lust for power, IMO. They tend to become worshipful towards the rich and powerful, supposing, I suspect, that they will buy some of that power with their subservience.

  • Nancy

    Or, that by pretending to be ‘umble, they can weasel into that social stratum themselves, or steal enough from their endlessly gullible followers to buy themselves in. I’m never sure which Dickensian character is more prevalent: the Uriah Heeps or the Seth Pecksniffs. They all sort of morph into each other, don’t they.

  • Zedd

    Lee Unfortunately, organized religion is almost totally a “do as we say” rather than a “think for yourself” business.

    That is not true. In order to be truly “religious” YOU have to ponder on the divine. In order to grow spiritually YOU have to endevor to understand or expand your vision of that relm. Those who rely on being told what to do are not really religious. They are performers or drones for that matter. Religion is personal. While I suppose one can act religious, he is not religious if he isn’t (internally).