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Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?
February 27th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

There was one name on almost everyone's lips when I atteneded CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., four years ago: Newt Gingrich.

The man who engineered the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, ending two generations of Democratic control, didn't throw his hat into the ring for 2008, but there are signs he plans to do so for 2012.

And that raises a critical question: Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky and battled House ethics panel allegations throughout his four years as Speaker of the House?

John McCain proved in 2008 that a Republican can capture the party's nomination without religious conservative fervor at his back. He also showed how hard it is to win the White House without it.

Perhaps with that in mind, Gingrich is quietly emphasizing his 2009 conversion to Catholicism to certain voters, making appearances at right-to-life organizations, touring a film he produced about Pope John Paul II, and admitting there are things in his past he isn't proud of.

He's making headway with at least some potential supporters, such as veteran anti-abortion activist Jack Willke, the New York Times reports Sunday.

The money quote, from Willke's wife Barbara:  “His Catholicism certainly sounds legit, and even more so since (his wife) Callista is in the picture now.”

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • Newt Gingrich • Politics • United States

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. trumod

    Newt has already crashed the government once. He's been married and divorced how many times? How many extra marital affairs while persecuting Bill Clinton? One that we know of (tip of the iceberg). The late great Molly Ivins called him the "draft dodging, dope smoking, deadbeat dad" and seriously, fellow voters, it's time we demanded of our leaders and those who want to be our leaders, actual leadership. That means putting us and our needs ahead of their personal ones. That means a demonstrated track record of moral strength, of the ability to resist overwhelming temptation in favor of doing the right thing. Please. We deserve better. We should demand better.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  2. Oga

    Can religious conservatives learn to love?

    March 1, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  3. ProperVillain

    You mean love the guy who left his cancer stricken wife while he went off with wife #2, who he had an affair on with an aid then divorced wife #2 to make his new aide wife #3? That Newt?
    If anyone has a brain in their head, probably not. He's nothing more than a bag of hypocritical hot gas.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  4. Scott

    Please, oh please, as a democrat...run, Newt, run.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  5. texangod

    let's look at this a minute....
    "And that raises a critical question: Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky and battled House ethics panel allegations throughout his four years as Speaker of the House?"
    ok. he's already a total hypocrite. why WOULDN'T the republican/conservative/religious regime learn to love him? he's one of them already and now gets to wrap himself in his christian "morality" too.
    personally, if my choice were to vote for him or satan, i'd choose satan.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  6. Jackie Treehorn

    How does changing religions help him with religious conservatives? It just shows that he can ditch religions as flippantly as he ditches wives.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  7. Reality

    Hmmm, common sense, rational thinking and "Do No Harm" eliminate Newt as any kind of political leader:

    With respect to Abrahamic religions, an easy way to quickly remove the brainwashing:

    The saving of 1.5 billion lost Muslim souls:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

    The saving of 2 billion lost Christian souls:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

    The saving of 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Added details upon request.-–

    February 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Jorge

    Religious conservatives would cotton to the Devil himself, if he promised to push their agendas on the rest of the population and get them an upper hand in the White House...

    February 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  9. derp

    Newt, protecting traditional marriage, one divorce at a time.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  10. Mark from Middle River

    Now Obama is a Christian, Biden known Christian.... But Newt because he has this "R" behind his name some how is a different Christian? Post such as yours will always be flawed because it can't get past the Christian-D as good and the Christian-R argument. That Newt got a divorce or that Newt did or did not cheat is dealing with sins. If you feel that Obama and Biden or any of us of Faith have not sinned then you do not understand Faith and Religion.

    The wild thing will be to see the Saturday night live sketches of the Hollywood elite making jokes about a man who has cheated on his wife... Something that never ever happens on the Left. :)

    Roop, I fear the shame will be yours. Faith and religion does have a place in society. Just as if a woman declares that her being a Latina woman qualifies that her decisions on cases will influenced by such

    "First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.." Judge Sotomayor

    This is to help you out of your fear Roop. If I had a distrust of Latinos, I would wake up every morning just as you, scared that a Latina is setting on the Supreme court who might not have my devoted interest at the heart of her votes. What your post did was act just like the scared white males when Sotomayor was getting confirmed. You and a few others here have a fear of people of faith in power. The same fear that some had with the election of the first black president. "How can someone who does not look like me or talk like or or share my heritage represent me?"

    In the end its just simple hate. It flows through the democrats and through the republicans with great ease. This is why many are just tired of all of parties. If I go back over to Foxnews I will find your words Roop, they will just be pointed at someone or another group.

    Peace dude.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow , the chat moderation is horrible.

      sigh ... try again

      Roop – That you have tied Religion and greed together just shows that hate is easy to rationalize. That religion and faith are important parts of many Americans lives and they want it as part of society.

      Now Obama is a Christian, Biden known Christian.... But Newt because he has this "R" behind his name some how is a different Christian? Post such as yours will always be flawed because it can't get past the Christian-D as good and the Christian-R argument. That Newt got a divorce or that Newt did or did not cheat is dealing with sins. If you feel that Obama and Biden or any of us of Faith have not sinned then you do not understand Faith and Religion.

      The wild thing will be to see the Saturday night live sketches of the Hollywood elite making jokes about a man who has cheated on his wife... Something that never ever happens on the Left. :)

      Roop, I fear the shame will be yours. Faith and religion does have a place in society. Just as if a woman declares that her being a Latina woman qualifies that her decisions on cases will influenced by such

      "First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.." Judge Sotomayor

      This is to help you out of your fear Roop. If I had a distrust of Latinos, I would wake up every morning just as you, scared that a Latina is setting on the Supreme court who might not have my devoted interest at the heart of her votes. What your post did was act just like the scared white males when Sotomayor was getting confirmed. You and a few others here have a fear of people of faith in power. The same fear that some had with the election of the first black president. "How can someone who does not look like me or talk like or or share my heritage represent me?"

      In the end its just simple hate. It flows through the democrats and through the republicans with great ease. This is why many are just tired of all of parties. If I go back over to Foxnews I will find your words Roop, they will just be pointed at someone or another group.

      Peace dude.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  11. MaryLou

    No, I could not accept his bad behavior. However, I feel a majority of the people don't even care about bad behavior anymore.
    You can assault someone and say your sorry and that okay, you can make dogs fight each other, do some probation and that makes it okay. You can take a woman by force and say your sorry or do 90 days and that makes it okay because you are somebody. The world has changed and bad behavior is okay.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  12. clarke

    No vote for NEWT. He needs to go back into hiding.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  13. Tom

    Don't trust a man (or woman) who cheats – they've become used to and good at lying. If they can't be honest with their partner, how could they be honest to the nation. My vote definitely won't go to Newt and I'd advise against it to anyone else.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  14. Roop Gill

    TiAmo, Frankie, Carmen

    I'm afraid you have all missed the point. The Problem with the Republican right is their greed is stemmed to their religions. If you allow him to run for Office, then it is precisely because of all those things he did that religion must be eliminated from politics in order to allow him to run. I didn't say he should win, but the fact that he would be running would automatically tell everyone that their greed, and religion can't serve American interests.

    It's a shame that you three missed that, because that is exactly how the Left can put an end to a lot of debates that end up on the house and senate floors. I'm confident that you should see the point now. Thanks.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I don't know. According to most of the Religious Right, being a Roman Catholic is as bad as being an Athiest or a Mormon! His "conversion" could hurt more than help him.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • MaryLou

      I take offense to that it is not the religion but, the person. I know a lot of good Catholics including my mother.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      MaryLou, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was raised Catholic, myself. Unless you are in the Northeast US, most Republicans in some parts of the country give sidelong glances to Roman Catholic Republican candidates. According to many of these people, their candidates should all belong to the same Baptist or Evangelical Churches they belong to. And if you are out West, the Republican candidates are likely as not to be Mormon, but the last member of the LDS who was considered a legitimate Republican Presidential Candidate was Mitt Romney's father, George.
      The Republican "machine" went to great efforts to defeat Al Smith in his run for the Presidency in 1928, and again in 1960 against John Kennedy. In both cases, they argued Kennedy and Smith would be taking their orders from the Vatican. Luckily Kennedy's father had the money to fight these allegations. It would still be possible for them to work against Gingrich's candidacy for their nomination based on his Catholic faith. I have no doubt that his conversion is sincere, especially as conversion from Baptist to Roman Catholic is something to not be undertaken lightly. Unfortunately for him, this could work against his political career.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  16. Wayne Schmand

    Well they seem to overlook Sarah Palin's parenting skills and her kid being a teenage mother. Since she kept the kid the other sins seem to be OK? They'll find a way to rationalize if he hits the right notes.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • MaryLou

      If you read the bible it is not up us to judge. We can say we do not accept the behavior of others but, not to judge it. So if you don't like her behavior then don't give her a moment of your time. If everyone did that she would no longer be heard.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  17. Rob

    Does anyone else remember that time that Newt sponsored legislation giving the death penalty for drug dealers, effectively lowering the relative penalty for murder.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  18. kd

    How is it that Republicans seem to make so many gains yet have all of these absolute losers as leaders?!?

    February 28, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  19. Wes

    Newt is a dangerous person who lacks the understanding and compassion to govern this wonderful nation. He should like the rest of his goons go back to the wilderness and let the grown up deal with the problems we face as a nation.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:40 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.