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Gingrich Unveils Faith Leaders Coalition

From Newt 2012:

 Several prominent Christian leaders from across the country have signed on to lead the official pastors and leaders faith coalition for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

The Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition will be led by George Barna who has been hailed as “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today” having founded one of the country’s preeminent Christian polling and market research firms.

…Barna will lead a team of 4 national co-chairs, including Dr. Jim Garlow, the California pastor behind the Proposition 8 Battle, Congressman J.C. Watts, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, and Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

… “For me and the people of faith joining this coalition, this is not a political move; it is a spiritual one” [Garlow said].

Also on board are Tim LaHaye and – from beyond the grave – Jerry Falwell:

Pastor Tim LaHaye has endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, and will be joining his Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition as a national co-chair.

…”Please prayerfully consider going to the polls on January 21 and help elect Newt Gingrich, a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House with a man with a proven record of appointing conservatives to office that can return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years” he said.

…”It seems apparent the Republican candidates have come down to two possible winners,” LaHaye said. “As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, ‘Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States”… We agree!'”

Falwell’s announced his enthusiasm for Gingrich in 2007, following Gingrich’s admission of an affair:

I have been very impressed with the spiritual maturity of this man and am convinced that he has been honest and forthright in clarifying his past failings and his quest, as a Christian, for God’s forgiveness.

…As a pastor with more than a half-century of experience of working with fallible people, I have ministered to a few men who have experienced moral collapse. I have usually been able to tell which of these men was genuinely seeking forgiveness for their actions. My sense tells me that Mr. Gingrich is such a man. He is today happily married to wife Callista, and committed to being the husband he should be.

…Consequently, I decided earlier this week to invite Mr. Gingrich to come to Liberty University on May 19 as our graduation speaker.

However:

As I stated last year when Sen. John McCain was our commencement speaker, I repeat this year: this is an invitation for Mr. Gingrich, not an endorsement.

Back in October, Liberty University announced a “new course designed by Newt Gingrich”, entitled American Exceptionalism. The course “explores America’s impact on global politics and the biblical foundation of her government”.

LaHaye’s admiration for Gingrich is apparently mutual; according to Newt 2012:

“I am honored to have Tim’s endorsement. His work as both a minister and author is truly unmatched,” said Gingrich. 

One wonders which of LaHaye’s many book Gingrich likes to curl up with: is it the apocalyptic Left Behind series, in which the anti-Christ takes over the UN before Jesus returns to massacre the unbelievers and their horses? Or perhaps Gingrich has skimmed through The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love, which has advice on “sex after sixty” (presumably using a desk is not advised).

George Barna is probably the most significant figure in this bunch – unlike most of the others he’s not a mere Christian Right ideologue, and while “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today” is probably something of an overstatement (has anyone told the Pope?), he enjoys respect across mainstream evangelicalism. The origin of the “most quoted person” quote is obscure – it appears, unsourced, in the blurb for Barna’s 2005 book Revolution. A profile in Christianity Today from 2002 goes for the rather more modest claim that he is “evangelicals’ most-quoted statistician”.

J.C. Watts, meanwhile, is actually a former Congressman, although he is well-known for having served four terms, and his Washington Speakers Bureau blurb describes him as a “visionary conservative leader”. In 2009 he was involved with the New Baptist Covenant alongside Jimmy Carter, although he and Carter later clashed; Watts, who is black, objected to Carter’s claim that opposition to Obama was based on racism.

UPDATE: Bruce Wilson has further background on Barna:

Given the secretive nature of the movement, documenting the involvement of public figures in C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation can be a time-consuming project. Over the last two years I’ve been piecing together evangelical pollster and author George Barna’s considerable involvement in the NAR. Now, as with many such projects long in the gestation, it’s become suddenly politically relevant – because Barna is one of three New Apostolic Reformation figures in Newt Gingrich’s recently created Faith Leaders Coalition.

Bruce draws attention to several suggestive links, including:

…Along with [David] Barton, George Barna shows up on the original Board of Reference of what is perhaps the signature public event of the New Apostolic Reformation, Lou Engle’s The Call [Barna was listed on the Reference Board of The Call International – along withPurpose Drive Life author Rick Warren].

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

5 Responses

  1. George Barna did some endorsing here, is this correct? How can he then do polling with any sort of honesty? Granted, it’s not directly political polling, but given how his polling constituency loves them some right-wing political candidates, to me, this compromises whatever else he might be doing. (Files this away for use the next time a Barna poll with stupid conclusions comes out, which should be in a few months.)

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