Richard Land, president of the (it turns out) ironically named Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has released an open letter to Newt Gingrich. Land is concerned that Gingrich is not polling well among evangelicals. I assume he really means Southern Baptists with whom he comes in contact, but he says evangelicals. Fair enough. He tells the former Speaker that based upon the informal polls Land takes as he travels the country, Newt polls well with evangelical men and terribly with evangelical women. What's the solution?
Land wants Newt to pick a "pro-family venue" (maybe a Southern Baptist affiliated university?) and address his marital history. See, evangelical women aren't supporting Newt because he divorced his bed-ridden first wife to marry a mistress, whom he subsequently divorced to marry his second mistress (but we don't really have the enumeration down with any degree of certainty). Land wants Newt to totally come clean. Evangelical women, Land says using his mother as an example, are reticent to vote for a cheater unless the cheater comes clean. (I'm doing my best to play it straight at this point, folks.) He concludes with this exhortation.
Such a speech would not convince everyone to vote for you, but it might surprise you how many Evangelicals, immersed in a spiritual tradition of confession, redemption, forgiveness and second and third chances, might.
You're probably wondering why I'm even posting this. It's just Land being Land, after all. Nothing to see here, folks. Right? When evangelicals, especially of the conservative variety, wonder why I don't take them seriously when it comes to ethical talk, this will be one of the examples that I use. There are (at least) three points at which Land's thinking and writing border on idiotic.
- A pro-family venue? Why would that make the slightest difference? More pro-family mojo there? Who gives two shits what venue he chooses? This just seems to be Land shilling for an appearance at a major Baptist institution.
- All Newt has to do is give a "speech" about his past infidelities and Baptists will rush to forgive him. What the fuck? No repentance. No reformed life. No demonstration of character. Nope. Just say the right words and it's all forgiven. After all, we have to get that Kenyan, socialist, Muslim interloper out of the White House, and right now, our great white hope is a boring Mormon, so pretty much say the sinner's prayer, Mister Speaker, and we'll vote for you. Hell, we'd vote for Klansman at this point. They're a Christian group, right? Words are magic, right, Mr. Land? They make the old new. They bring about a new creation. They convert a career politician with hands so dirty I can't believe anyone is taking him seriously into a serious contender for the Republican party's nomination. And this is the party of principles? That you participate in the destruction of the meaning of important words is disturbing, Mr. Land. What's that Bible verse? Oh yeah, "Woe to them who call evil good."
- That Land fails even to mention the "professional historian's" work for Freddie Mac is an egregious oversight for the president of an ethical advising organization. The inference here is that Newt can take $1.6 million from a mortgage company while the mortgage industry melts down, he can lie about his affiliation with a straight face, and then he can treat us all like idiots by insisting they hired him for his history expertise, but he can't fuck the wrong person. Un-fucking-believable. Mr. Land, might I suggest you actually find a coherent system of ethics at some point in your tenure as the president of the SBC's ethical body? I'd also appreciate it if you'd ensure it's not based on political expediency, and if it's not too much to ask, maybe work a little Jesus talk in there.