Dear Candidate Gingrich, Are We Still “Surrounded By Paganism”?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 2, 2011 — 32 Comments

It’s been a crazy year so-far in the race to see who will become the Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2012. It seems like just about every candidate, with a few notable exceptions, is getting their 15 minutes of “frontrunner” status before the seeming inevitability of Mitt Romney reasserts itself again. I’ve covered some of these candidates (and potential candidates) here, particularly when I’ve felt their flirtations with certain pernicious elements of the Religious Right had become problematic, and now its former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s turn.

Gingrich is currently enjoying some time in the sun, after a period when many (from across the political spectrum) thought his candidacy was doomed. While it remains to be seen if this latest “not-Mitt” will manage to stay afloat, an issue I’ll leave to the political pundit class, I do have one question for the former Speaker: are we still surrounded by “paganism”?


You see, back in 2009, Gingrich gave a speech to the Rock Church congregation in Virginia on “Rediscovering God in America,” it was there he gave the grim news for conservative-minded Christians.

“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.”

Oh, and he invoked St. Paul during the speech to make sure we understood what he was talking about. These comments caused quite a  bit of conversation at the time, and I even wondered if Newt knew with whom he was getting into bed with.

“Maybe Gingrich, a recently converted Catholic, doesn’t realize the dog-whistle language he’s using. When you say “paganism” to these folks, it doesn’t merely mean secularists, or modern Pagans, or atheists, it also means Catholics, and any Christian who isn’t fully on-board with their mission of ‘religious supremacy’.”

There’s been some articles recently about how conservative Christians are now flocking to Gingrich, so will this mean he’ll double down on this kind of rhetoric, or will he maintain his largely secular-ish brand of conservatism? All I want to know is, are we still surrounded?

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Tara

    I wish.

  • Dea Syria

    Maybe we are. here is a card for the Saturnalia with Deus Sol Invictus.

  • Anonymous

    I am laughing at the fact that social conservatives are flocking to Newt, considering that he cheated on his wives (yes, plural, multiple times – including while prosecuting Clinton for less than what he was doing), was investigated for ethics scandals and reprimanded, was one of the architects of the deregulation of the financial industry, worked as a lobbyist for the corporations that got us into this mess, and yet somehow he is still considered a conservative. Myopic much?

    • Yeah, though it does raise an interesting point. Newt cheated on his wife, and no one is making a big deal about it, but Cain “harassed” (still not proven :P) and had an “affair” (also not fully proven) and yet both the conservative and the liberal media have torn Cain apart. It’s kinda messed up, especially on what is basically still a “he said she said” situation, as best I can tell.

      • Poor Mr. Cain, for his campaign, is down the drain. Welcome to American journalism, where when Mr. Clinton or Mr. Edwards get caught breaking their marriage vows, it’s considered a privacy issue, but when a conservative businessman with an actual financial plan for saving this country is merely accused of misconduct, his career is over. At risk of being censored again, here is the truth about the chronically unemployed woman with one libel lawsuit under her belt already, who accused Mr. Cain:

        • Are you kidding me? Edwards can’t get elected dog catcher now, and is almost universally reviled. His affair killed his career. Clinton survived impeachment (yet Bush never got impeached or even censured for lying about WMDs), and conservatives are STILL spinning conspiracy theories about him. So please, spare me the “conservatives get it worse” line.

          Cain’s problem isn’t that he might have had one affair, its that several women have come forward claiming impropriety, and a pattern has emerged, and he had no good answer for the accusations.

          Also, I didn’t “censor” you, I asked you to not derail a comment thread. If I wanted you to not post here, you’d know it (also, censorship is what governments do, I own The Wild Hunt, and you are all guests here).

          • True, it’s your blog, Jason, and you can do and say as you wish. It just seems as though rudeness and personal attacks by other commentators sometimes go unchecked…

            Mr. Edwards recently was in the spotlight again during his daughter’s wedding, and there seemed to be a media love-fest surrounding him… except for a brief mention of his campaign finance impropriety and looming indictments. I found no mention of his adultery and illegitimate child, conceived while his poor wife was battling fatal cancer.

            Yes, Mr. Bush was incorrect about WMD… he was a few years late. However, as anyone with Gulf War Illness will tell you, Saddam actually did possess WMD just a few years earlier. This is not some crackpot conspiracy theory, as it has been confirmed by veterans’ groups and journalists who found the bills of sale for Sarin gas. The Veterans of Foreign Wars service organization has announced that GWI was likely caused by those WMD (poison gasses) that some liberals claim never existed at all. A subject that for my family is very unfortunately close to home. So please don’t tell me that Mr. Bush was lying, but yes, he was misinformed that WMD still existed in 2002.

          • ” It just seems as though rudeness and personal attacks by other commentators sometimes go unchecked…”

            Alice, if you can’t own up to your own pot-stirring I’m not sure what to tell you. The misbehavior of others doesn’t excuse the fact that you’ve often used my comments section as a platform for your own take on politics. Sometimes, when the post is only tangentially connected to what you’re writing.

            Maybe you don’t notice this, but your strident tone on a variety of issues instigates the very “rudeness” you complain of. This isn’t to excuse them, but it takes two to tango. If asking you to be the bigger person seems unfair, I’m sure I can think of other arrangements.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            It’s Curveball who was lying. Having the ear of Bush II Admin nabobs he’s admitted he fabricated Saddam’s nukes to trigger an overthrow; he’s admitted this. I hope he’s happy.

          • Jason, yes, Alice has used the comments to comment from her political view point. So have I. So has Kenneth, and Byron, and P. Sufenas, and dozens upon dozens of others. Indeed, the Wild Hunt is essentially you putting forth news from your political view point. So really, I’m not sure it’s right to jump on her for doing what you and so many others do. Alice isn’t the only one that stirs the pot here. This is a site that is praised for bringing out Pagan news and that includes politics. Ostensibly, this is supposed to be impartial. As that is impossible, one must settle for allowing as many possible points of view to occur in the comments section.

            In short, I don’t see why or where Alice needs to “excuse” her using the comments to put forth her political view. I was under the impression that the comments section was to, you know, comment from your point of view. Not to be a sound off for a bunch of “yes men” of a certain political ideology.

            As for strident tone and “rudeness” well I can think of a couple people who are regular commentators that are even more strident and far, far more “rude” than Alice.

            Now, Jason, it is your site and you can run it how you want. That said, you have presented this site as a News Site. Not as a Personal Blog. That is how it is seen in the larger Pagan community. You’re considered one of the Top People when it comes to the growing Pagan News set. So you are setting an example to a lot of people. Do you want to be known as a man who when at the top of his field, reaches down from on high to verbally smack his readers for sharing their views (even when different from his own), seeking discourse with fellow pagans, and hoping to better their community, or do you want to be the man who sits upon his high place and use the power he has been given to foster those things?

            If you seek to rule all who cause trouble, then go after everyone, not just the “conservatives” Jason. If you, however, wish to be truly admired, foster freedom of speech amongst your readers, and do not pick sides or chastise those different from you.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Alice, you and Norse Alchemist on your behalf have raised a “tu quoque” (you’re another) defense, to the effect that you are not the only abrasive writer who promotes his or her political agenda here.

            The fact is that you are outstandingly good at being abrasive. You have a gift for getting under the skin without use of personalizing insults or naughty words.

            Please do not take this as praise. I have this ability myself but have the sense not to use it under most circumstances. It’s not the only way I know how to write.

            Because of your outstanding abrasion your comments trigger hot exchanges that get into narrow-column territory and derail the discussion from actual topics. It is this effect that Jason, as listowner, is perfectly appropriate in curbing.

            If this is the only way you know how to write I suggest you either learn new skills or resign yourself to being selected for discipline for what, in your eyes, “everybody else is doing.”

          • Baruch, I get your point, however there are a few issues.

            Yes, we raise the “there are others” defense. And while perhaps this doesn’t excuse our actions, neither does it negate the actions of others, nor excuse their actions. There’s been plenty of times when I haven’t said anything inflammatory, but certain people have latched onto something and run from it (often later dodging and latching onto something else when holes are pointed out in their reasoning)

            Also, I don’t recall really pushing much in the way of a political agenda. I like to think that I push against political agendas, by questioning the sometimes dogmatically held views of others. I like to think of it as “corrupting the youth” so to speak. 😉 And sorry, but I am going to have to take it as praise, because like many an alchemist before me, first one must deconstruct a thing before one can create something anew, and this is often an “abrasive” process.

            As for the narrow comment territory, yeah, I don’t like that either. It’s a serious downside to the comment section under the new system. The old one was much more user and posting friendly. But I would remind you, Baruch, that it isn’t just me and Alice that bring it here. And my issue isn’t with Jason curbing stuff. It’s when he does so in a partisan manner. Hence the “tu quoque” defense. IF five people do a thing, but only one or two are punished, and those who are punished differ clearly in a certain respect from those who are not punished…well, this doesn’t seem a just thing to do.

            It’s not the only style of writing I know, and I respect your choice to use some other style. But the question in my mind at the moment is this: Is what is really needed the blunting of words so that the “sensitive” do not have their “Feelings” and “views” hurt? Ir is it that they need to have thicker skin (or perhaps a stronger resolve in their views that can withstand people believing differently from them)?

  • Bill_Baar

    The fallen-then-redeemed-preacher narrative is a staple for American Evangelicals. It won’t be an obstacle for Newt getting their votes. It won’t be an obstalce for the neo-pagan in me either. I’m voting for a Leader, not a prospect for my daughter.

    • Alex Pendragon

      Redeemed? Really? ahhhhhh….yea…..right…….

    • Anonymous
    • Veracity

      I hear ya Bill, but I can’t call Newt “redeemed”, even in the sarcastic manner of “he says he’s sorry but I don’t believe he’s sincere” since I have yet to hear the man say he’s sorry for ANY of his behavior – toward his wives or towards his country. The scariest thing is that everyone knows this, yet apparently the conservatives, especially the Christian conservatives are flocking to him?? He’s acting as if he’s God Almighty (I’m waiting for him to say he’s bigger than the Beatles ever were) and worse, he’s getting everyone to treat him as is he were God Almighty!

      Personally, I don’t give a damn what goes on in his personal life, except that he lies about it. And he has lied about his dealings as a politician. So this inclines me to be less than assured that he will be honest or upstanding in his future dealings on any subject, which does not make me want to vote for the man. I can’t believe anything he says, including how he stands on issues and since he is an habitual liar, he may end up flipflopping more than Romney.

      Our local Congressional representative lied during his campaign and everyone in the district knew it. He was openly confronted about it. His response was that he would not discuss it until after the election. At which point he still did not discuss it and it took an FEC investigation to prove openly that he was indeed lying. Now having the lie proven on the books, he took advantage of the fact that the FEC could not come to a conclusion about how to punish him by claiming that because they did not punish him he was not guilty of lying (his guilt was not in doubt, the best method of punishing him deadlocked along party lines). Yet he still claims to be a good upstanding Christian and people are still buying his fertilizer.

      The world is crazy.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The path to being “not Mitt” successfully this campaign year runs through the Christian right, among other conservative places, and Newt’s surrounded-by-Paganism remark would do him no harm there whatsoever. I too would like to know if he stands by his words but, alas, we are not a big enough cohort to pressure him for an answer.

  • kenneth

    Newt is playing conservatives like a Wal-Mart beginner’s guitar! He’s a self-aggrandizing hustler whose only core agenda is getting paid. If the political climate were right for it, he’d be wearing a Mao suit. If secular Pan-Arab nationalism was in right now, he’d be a Baathist….

    • Veracity

      Concise and precise. You nailed it to the wall, Kenneth.

  • Anonymous

    I think this article in Der Spiegel sums it all up nicely:,1518,800850,00.html

  • Kilmrnock

    Yes Newt, you are still surrounded by Pagans[paganism] , but quess what your new friends are alot more dangerous to American freedom than we are , we are no threat at all .If your new Relgiuos supremist freinds have their way you won’t recognise the nation they envision. And it will be minus alot of it’s citizens .Those of us freedom loving Non Christian Americans will be forced to leave of homeland . A Christian Theocracy won’t be very welcoming to us pagans , jews , athiests , muslims etc .Not to mention any Christian that doesn’t fit their idea of what a Christian should be , including Catholics and level headed moderates. All i want to say to the Republican Candidates for President is , is this the America you want ?Not me, an American Pagan Patriot. Kilm

  • Charles Cosimano

    It’s all politics.

    And some of us are old enough to remember that in 1962 people thought that Richard Nixon’s career was over.

  • Akashasmiles

    My poor boyfriend is! Me, the kids, and almost all of our friends are pagans, but he isn’t. 🙂

  • You know, I’m still thinking Ron Paul is going to have the best chance. Why? because he’s been forced to the background, ignored, and soon it will be him and Mitt, and they’ll say “screw it, let’s go with the old guy.”

    Which might not turn out so bad for us, really.

    • EmeraldTX

      Im a Huge longtime Dr. Ron Paul supporter.
      This man stands apart from the rest of the status quo
      He has sincere principles and he is extremely smart
      He is the only one who actually plans on balancing the budget!

    • It’s really quite amazing to watch these debates and hear the applause and cheers when Ron Paul criticizes the drug war, calls for withdrawal from Iraq and Afganistan, and condemns the Patriot Act.

      • Not that surprising.

        Most conservatives hated the Patriot Act, even if it was Bush that did put it into place. Then, Obama said he’d get rid of it, but he’s only made it more powerful. So a lot of people wanna see it gone.

        As for the war on drugs, well, we’ve been fighting it for what, twenty, thirty years? We haven’t won, all we’ve done is spend a crap ton of money for what? Last anyone checked, the “drug war” was kinda helping the cartels. That whole “fast and furious” gun scandal that was trying to stop guns getting to the drug cartels, got even more guns to the drug cartels. And attitudes towards things like Marijuana have changed, with people seeing it as less harmful than booze and cigs at this point.

        As for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, well, that’s a different bag. We entered those wars to go after the Islamic Terrorists that sought to destroy us, and their supporters. We went in there, but we kinda flubbed the job. Yes, we’ve managed to prevent more attacks (but don’t fool yourself, there will be more even after we pull out, and we’re as likely to get dragged back in as anything), but we didn’t really address the problem or treat the source. The Obama comes in, (how many generals, good men of good service, has he fired for simply saying things he didn’t like? 2 or more, last I heard) and instead of furthering the war, or consolidating the war, he gives up on the war. And if there’s one thing worse that not going to war when you need to, it’s mismanaging that war. So even some of the conservatives who initially supported the war want out because all we’re doing is wasting money and lives, without making us any safer. The other part of that is that part of why he gets cheers about shrinking down the military is not because he’s wanting to pull out of the Middle East, but because he says it’s time to shut down all or most of our bases in places that don’t need them. We’ve provided the military for pretty much all of Europe and Japan since WW2. Over half of our military budget goes to funding bases in places that haven’t seen combat since the 90’s and the fall of the Soviet Union. The reason Europe is in the state it is now is partially because they took the money they’d normally put towards their military and shoved to other things, that ended up backfiring on them. So he gets cheers for saying, America for America, let the rest of the world fund it’s own fights.

  • When you read mainstream Catholic news and literature from around the world, there are a lot of mentions of “Paganism” and “Heathenry” and “Godlessness”, which they define as anti-religious behavior.

    Rest assured that your boogeymen, Mr. Gengrich, Mrs. Bachmann, and Mr. Perry, do not have a prayer of winning this election. They keep hanging themselves during debates… not about disliking Pagans, about which (sorry) most Americans could not care less, but on social and fiscal issues at the forefront of most citizens’ minds. For instance, Mr. Perry wants to hand a college education to the children of illegal immigrants. You could hear the trapdoor opening beneath his feet, as American citzens who are working two jobs to support their youngsters’ education, whose kids are eating Ramen noodles, threw the lever.

    However, Mr. Gengrich has a very real chance of becoming Secretary of State again. Which means, perhaps he needs to be educated about what Paganism really is, and is not. Letters? Diplomatic mission?

    • Letters? Diplomatic mission? Sound like a good job for you, Alice. I trust you will report back to us the reactions you receive from such efforts.

  • My immediate reaction to that headline was, “Oh, really! How cool is that?”

  • Anonymous

    ‎”If Newt Gingrich can have a comeback in 2012, by 2028 we will be looking at President Anthony Weiner.” — Andy Borowitz