At a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich answered a question from a woman who was concerned that he supported the idea of religion imposing values on Americans.
“I’m very concerned that a branch of Christianity has gotten some of its tenets into our laws like stem cell research, linking foreign aid to reproductive issues and so forth,” she told the former House Speaker. “If you were president, would you work hard to make Christian social issues the law of the land?”
“I don’t know that the two you just cited are Christian social issues,” Gingrich replied. “I think Orthodox Jews probably have as profound a belief as Christians do on both those issues.”
“I don’t regard that as imposing a particular branch of Christianity. That’s an argument about what values do you have whatever your religion happens to be. My argument about religion is different. We said in our founding document, we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Now should we teach children that or not? Should they learn what the founding fathers meant or not?”
He continued: “The idea that taking school prayer out in 1963 made the country better, I don’t see any evidence that children who don’t spend a moment recognizing that they’re subservient to God let’s you approach God in anyway you want to. There is an enormous difference between a culture which believes that it is purely secular and a culture that believes that it is somehow empowered by our creator. And I always tell my friends who don’t believe in this stuff, “Fine, how do you think we came to — we’re randomly gathered protoplasm? We could have been rhinoceroses but we got lucky this week?'”
“Now, that is if you assume it is lucky to be human rather than rhinoceros. I don’t want — knowing the way the news media works, I do not want ‘Gingrich announces anti-rhinoceros hostility’ to come out of this meeting.”
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Sept. 29, 2011.