I, for one, don’t care at all whether or not Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich cut some kind of special deal with Tiffany’s in order to deck his wife with diamonds. What I care about is why, when Newt’s always going on about being “pro classical Christianity,” buying diamonds occurred to him in the first place
Poking around in polling data, it appears that a hefty majority of Americans still link themselves to Christianity. So if that particular religion is so important to so many of us this country, when are we going to demand our presidential candidates live the Christianity they purport to espouse? And if we’re not going to demand this of them, why? What does that say about us?
Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich is easy pickings for anyone who wants to write about Christian inconsistency. Newt’s so prone to lecture and moralize, and yet will brush aside such personal Christian peccadillos as affairs and divorces by saying (as he did during a 2011 interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network), “There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
I ask you! What kind of hornswoggle is that? Uttered by someone who claims to have gone from being a devout Southern Baptist to being a devout Catholic? If Newton Leroy’s that charitable toward himself, where’s his charity toward all those other people whose behavior he’s pretty quick to disparage?
As I’ve said before in On Faith, I am a person of faith who is not religious. As I’ve also said before, I am a complete fan of Jesus Christ, largely because, according to the Gospels, the guy was so not a hypocrite. He flat-out lived his faith, putting into practice all those inconvenient rantings about inclusiveness and giving a damn about the poor; gunking things up for the rest of us with bothersome statements about rich men, needle eyes and camels.
At no point did Jesus say thou shalt covet diamonds that cost more than the houses a lot of Americans are losing.
Of course, Newt’s not the only politician who exudes the toxic glow of Christian hypocrisy. Almost all American presidential candidates claim to be fans of Jesus. So what are they fans of? The man’s outfits? His hairstyle? His commitment to walking everywhere and thus getting regular exercise?
It’s obviously not his selfless poverty, which, to me, non-Christian admirer of Jesus that I am, appears to be the heart of his message.
So, my fellow Americans, when are those of us who are either Christians or admirers of Jesus going to hold Newt – and all other presidential candidates – accountable for living the faith they talk about so much?
Do we shy away from doing this because then, we too, would have to follow Jesus a bit more scrupulously? Are we secretly reasoning that if we cut Newt some slack in the diamond-purchasing department, then someday when we, too, have finagled access to a half-million or so, we’ll feel free to by diamonds ourselves instead of using our shekels to help those just struggling to survive?
Martha’s note: This essay is a feature of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the website), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.