Q & A: Newt Gingrich
Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson recently left the GOP to become a Democrat because he felt the Republican Party was too focused on reducing taxes.
I'm curious how he could possibly rationalize that as a values decision. If he decided he didn't care about his religious belief, that would make some sense. The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage, it's been the active instrument of a pro-abortion movement, it's been the active instrument for creating a more secular America. The current administration asked Georgetown University to cover up the symbol of Christ so that President Obama could speak without it in the background. I can understand being unhappy with Republicans. I can't understand comparatively then deciding to become a Democrat.
Is it a good idea for the Republican Party's main message, its uniting message at least, to be simply, "no more taxes"?
I don't think that is its only main message. It has a strong national security message. It's going to have some very strong messages on strong core issues. It's pretty hard for me to imagine if you look at the voting pattern and you look at the general speech pattern. You have Obama nominating Judge Hamilton, who said in his ruling that saying the words Jesus Christ in a prayer is a sign of inappropriate behavior, but saying Allah would be okay. You'll find most Republican Senators voting against a judge who is confused about whether you can say Jesus Christ in a prayer, particularly one who is pro-Muslim being able to say Allah.
You recently started an organization called Renewing American Leadership. What gave you this interest in religious liberty?
I think it's at the heart of America's system. If you start with the first great document that made us a country, it is the Declaration of Independence, which says that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The very founding of the country had in its initial belief that God grants us certain rights, they are unalienable, and that no one can take them from us.
How does your faith impact your policies?
I have always believed that faith is a matter, and in my case, does go through your whole being, and it's hard for me to imagine as a person of faith how it would not impact your policies. In the end, if you truly try to understand what God wants, and truly try to do what God wants, that has to impact how you behave.
It's undoubtedly made me much more pro-life. It's undoubtedly made me more concerned about young people learning about God, learning a sense of being part of an extended world. I think that it makes me much more concerned about helping the poor.
I know you recently converted to Catholicism.
All I can tell you is that for a decade I went to the basilica where my wife sings in the choir. I found myself growing more and more comfortable and more and more accepting. The head of the basilica began the conversation four years ago, and I found myself being a part of the Catholic community and being a part of the Catholic faith.
Where do you see your future headed? What issues do you want to champion in the coming years?
The central activity I'm engaged in is the proposition that my two grandchildren can live in the most prosperous and successful and productive country in the world when they're in their 40s. We have to have fundamental, deep reform of our institutions. That's why I created American solutions. My goal is to create a nationwide tri-partisan movement of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents that seeks to change America, and I think it's going to take that level of change for us to be successful over the next 30 years.
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