Gingrich hops from religion to religion?

Just what we needed, another mainstream media controversy about who is a Christian and who is not. This is getting ugly. No, this is not another post about clashes between Mitt Romney insiders and the various brands of religious conservatives that are gathered, this time around, under the anybody-but-Mitt umbrella.

No, this time we have a problem out there at the very top of the journalistic food chain.

You see, it seems that there is at least one reporter and/or one copy editor at The New York Times who believes that Catholics are not Christians. Yes, you read that right.

Well, that's one option for an amazing statement of fact that made it into print the other day. There is also a chance that the Times believes that either Southern Baptists or United Methodists are not Christians.

Anyway, one thing is sure. Some professional journalists at the Times seem to think that the believers in these three large and influential flocks are not part of the same religion. This means that they are not all Christians.

What in the heckfire, you should be asking, is the picky one talking about this time?

Now, I know that the GOP primary in South Carolina usually produces some wild politics and wild journalism and that these shenanigans are often linked to religion. Trust me, I get that. This time, one early salvo in the Great Gray Lady's coverage of that political rodeo ran under the headline, "In South Carolina, Challenges Await on Ideology and Faith."

Yes, the emphasis is on Mitt and his struggles to reach the Tea Party and religious conservatives. That sounds like this, in a passage that the Times crew probably has stored in a macro file so that reporters can insert it with a click of a button:

With little left to lose, Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas are already assailing him as a heartless job killer in South Carolina, a state hit far harder by the economic downturn than Iowa and New Hampshire were.

But just fending off that attack may not be enough. He is also heading smack into an issue that has followed him through his national political career: his Mormon faith and the suspicion many evangelical Christians have of it.

This leads us to the pivotal, bizarre reference:

Mr. Perry made a point of appealing to evangelical voters with a giant prayer rally in Texas shortly before he announced his presidential campaign and has shown crosses in his advertisements; Mr. Gingrich, who is on his third marriage and third religion, has visited with pastors to assure them of his new but deep Roman Catholicism and his apologies to God.

OK, folks, it's time for Religion 101. Class is now in session.

Christianity is a religion.

Judaism is a religion.

Islam is a religion.

Hinduism is a religion.

This is rather obvious stuff. Right?

Catholicism is a church, the biggest church that is part of the ancient tap root of the religion that is Christianity.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a convention, an association of highly independent congregations that work together -- when they wish to do so -- at the local, associational, state and national levels. The United Methodist Church is the largest of the denominations that historians often call the "Seven Sisters" of liberal American Protestantism. Both of these huge flocks are also part of the religion that is Christianity.

Gingrich has changed pews three times, each time joining a larger branch of Christianity.

He has not changed religions three times. That is simply wrong.

This is the kind of issue that is so basic that it is not even covered in the Associated Press Stylebook. This fact is simply too basic for that.

Duh. Correction please?

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