Newt vows: Opportunity to "convert all of America" did not die with Falwell

Maybe I’m misreading him. I hope I’m misreading him.

Gingrich said after his speech [at Liberty University] that Falwell’s death would not slow the Christian right’s efforts.

“Anybody on the left who hopes that when people like Reverend Falwell disappear that the opportunity to convert all of America has gone with them fundamentally misunderstands why institutions like this were created,” Gingrich said.

Does he mean “convert all of America” … to Christianity? All religions seek converts, but I’ve been assuming that the nonviolent ones, in modern times at least, try to limit themselves to people who are seeking spiritual fulfillment but haven’t found it yet. Supply meeting demand, in other words. I wasn’t aware that Christian conservatives had taken the entire body politic, seekers or not, as their quota. No doubt the response to that would be that we’re all seekers, even if we don’t know it yet, and thus we’re all fair game for proselyzation and persuasion. To which Richard Dawkins would surely say, on the contrary — we’re all non-seekers, even if most of us don’t know it yet.

Maybe I’ve misread him, or maybe Newt has misread Christian conservatives. Or maybe Hitchens was right when he complained in his book about religion always having designs on him and never being able to leave him alone. Any commenters able to help me figure this out? There’s always some bristling in the religion threads about Hitch and Dawkins and Sam Harris being “evangelical atheists” who can’t resist pushing their beliefs on people, so I’m sure there’ll be loads of outrage at Newt here. Or is Newt off the hook on grounds that “America’s always been a Christian country” and therefore Christians are especially entitled to be imperialistic in setting their goals?

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