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Norman Lear celebrated the 30th anniversary of People for the American Way by warning of the threat of the religious right in the 2012 presidential race, and he singled out current front runner Newt Gingrich.

“Newt Gingrich, like the others, cloaks everything he says today in a kind of bumper sticker religiosity,” Lear told the crowd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Monday.

He added, “We on the left have ceded the God and values talk to the Right and I think it’s been a big mistake.  The “What’s it all about, Alifie?” questions make for the best conversation going.  I consider myself as much a believer– as religious if you will,  as the next guy–  But it’s MY belief system.”

Lear was honored along with Alec Baldwin (pre-flight), with J.J. Abrams, Rob and Carl Reiner, Jane Lynch, Lisa Ling, Dolores Huerta, Ed Begley Jr. and Mary Kay Place offering tributes. Also attending were California Gov. Jerry Brown, Alan Horn. Bob Greenblatt, Phil Rosenthal, Dylan Ratigan and Mike Medavoy. Lear said that about $1.5 million was raised for the org, which was founded in 1981 to counter the rising influence of televangelists in politics.

Lear’s complete speech is below: