The headline for this post is not Gingrich's own. But the sentiment certainly is.
The sounds coming from the GOP - particularly the segment of the GOP still appealing to the XtianFundie set - are not new. We heard them in every philosophical debate that came to blows: the Christianity/Judaism split, the Catholic/Orthodox split, the Russian Orthodox on watching the fall of first Constantinople and then Kiev, the Cathars, the Papal Schism, the Reformation,... the list goes on. One of the reasons the Enlightenment was so powerful was that it ended the wars of the Reformation with the insistence that individual conscience was a private matter not worth warring over. It may not have stopped the Irish quite so quickly, but it certainly drowned the flames of religious conflict in Europe rather thoroughly.
Part of the Right's tactical playbook is Othering the opposition. If they can make otherwise reasonable policy proposals appear to be put forward by forces unlike the Good Americans they claim to represent, those proposals can be more easily dismissed. National health care? It's a wishy-washy quiche-eating European thing, not something a good red-blooded American would want. Environmental protection policies? They're a scam foisted on us by tree-huggers and foreign agents all out to destroy the US economy. Civil rights? They're a means for illegal immigrants and social deviants to overthrow American society. Every issue the Right sees comes complete in their eyes with an Other foisting it on the US.
Now Gingrich has given voice to a position the Xtian Right put forward some months back: Liberalism is not only UnAmerican, but UnChristian as well. The "Rediscovering God in America" tour is the means to the message.
I am not a citizen of the world. I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator. [...] I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history. We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism.
The only thing that saves Gingrich's bloviating from outright insanity is that, for many of the XtianFundie sects, only their particular flavor of Xtianity is "true," which conveniently disavows all of the mainstream Christian churches and effectively creates the impression of oppressed minority. But in holding that, these same sects relinquish any claim to spiritual community with the rest, and cannot claim "oppression of Christians" when those other denominations face adversity. Those not admitted by the Xtians in good times cannot be counted as in the fold in bad times.
Calling up paganism, however, as the demon for the new age, is simply preposterous. Paganism may be more visible today than fifty years ago, but most pagans are peaceful, live-and-let-live types disinterested in converting the planet, and resisting only the missionary zeal of the Xtians and not Xtianity itself. An organised pagan opposition to the other major faiths on the planet is a fantasy.
On the other hand, for a political philosophy that demands an organised intentional opponent, GOP-Xtianity is running out of forces to fight. Catholicism as an evil on a Protestant Earth went out the door ages ago, and Kennedy's election only nailed that coffin shut. The Eastern faiths - Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and the others - never presented much threat, as the early Asian American communities kept to themselves, and newer immigrants are as likely to be Christian as anything else. Shinto got spanked in World War II. Opposition to Judaism became nearly unspeakable after Nazi Germany. And Islam, long a favourite whipping boy of Christianity, has proved a poor choice of evils, as the resistance to US policies abroad have grown due to the prior [mal]administration's denunciation of Islam in the same breath as terrorism (as if the two were interchangeable), and as domestic flavours of Islam have proven to be far more mild-mannered than is necessary to brand them the Ultimate Evil. Even the no-faith-at-all Socialist label is failing to stick to the GOP's opponents as the ideals of a moderately socialist state become less unacceptable in the current economic climate.
So as the Xtian-Fundie subset of RightWingnuttia sets its sights on long-dead Druids or some other Great New Satan, the language it uses to incite the following shows just how its base has shrunk and how outdated its propaganda has become.
* H/T ThinkProgress and Washington Monthly, and to WM commenter Norwood Woman for the title.