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March 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Gingrich fears 'atheist country ... dominated by radical Islamists'

Newt Gingrich at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.

Gingrich was addressing Cornerstone Church, a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, led by the Rev. John Hagee, an influential leader among American evangelicals. Hagee's endorsement of then-presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 was plagued by controversy.

McCain ultimately rejected the endorsement over remarks Hagee had made about the Holocaust, in which he appeared to say that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel, in accordance with biblical prophecy.

"God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. ... Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.' That would be the Jews,” Hagee had said in an earlier sermon.

“Then God sent a hunter,” his sermon continued. “A hunter is someone who comes with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter."

McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement of his campaign after learning about the comments in May 2008. "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” McCain said at the time.

Hagee then withdrew his endorsement of the Arizona senator, which he had offered three months earlier.

One irony of McCain rejecting Hagee’s endorsement over his Holocaust remarks is that the Texas evangelist leads the Christian Zionist movement. Hagee is founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, which features Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors at its events.

Here’s what Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church on Sunday evening, according to Politico:

"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

The former House Speaker held up his own faith (he converted to Catholicism two years ago) as proof of his undying patriotism. He lashed out at the college professors and mainstream media he says are seeking to wipe out the Founding Fathers' Christian values. And he targeted the judges who he charges are effectively re-writing the Constitution.

But Gingrich was mum on his own controversial past, one of martial indiscretions and divorces that have made courting religious conservatives a tall task as he nears a likely presidential run.

Gingrich’s church appearance comes amid a broader campaign to court religious conservatives.

On Monday, Hagee released a statement praising Gingrich's appearance at Cornerstone. “It was such a great honor to welcome Mr. Gingrich to our church, and hear him describe the centrality of faith in our nation,” he said.

The statement also included praise for Hagee and his wife, Diana, from Gingrich.

“It was truly an honor to be with John and Diana at Cornerstone," Gingrich said. "Their dedication to serve is inspirational.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Faith Now • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Texas

soundoff (2,228 Responses)
  1. Bvalente0

    Whatever comes out of this man mouth is wrong, pointless and stupid.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  2. Phaedrus

    Which is it, Newt? Atheists or Islamists? Apparently you can't tell the difference. Who would have thought...?

    Here's my fear, Newt. That the U.S. will be taken over by blithering idiots like you and Hagee in the forseeable future. Give me the atheists any day...

    March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  3. Joshua Ludd

    Yep, no way is he running. This kind of theocratic talk will go over well with the base, but would alienate everyone else... so this isn't a play for votes. Its a play for dollars. How these people who claim to care so much about values don't see through this corrupt, philandering shyster is beyond me.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  4. chris

    Wow. Definition fail, Newt. If the country's dominated by "radical islam", then it's not atheist.

    "Atheist" does not mean "Not Christian".

    Though given Newt's brand of Christianity, I'll take atheism anyday.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  5. godisdead

    Someone should tell Newt that Jesus is a prophet in Islam.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  6. GetADictionary

    Atheists country dominated by Islamists?!? Yes, because everyone knows that atheists despise the Christian myths but will readily embrace the Islamic ones! Anyway, he has it all wrong, we're really plotting to put Santa Claus in charge...

    March 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  7. Louie

    Another Republican selling fear and ignorance. I'm not surprised.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  8. Newt Gingrich

    ATHEISTS AND ISLAM ! ! ! BE AFRAID ! ! ! GET ANGRY ! ! !

    SHARIA IN AMERICA ! ! ! CHRISTMAS OUTLAWED BY ISLAMIC ATHEISTS ! ! !

    FEEL FEAR ! ! ! FEEL RAGE ! ! ! GET SO ANGRY THAT YOU DO EXACTLY WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO ! ! !

    Conservative Rule #1: Fear brings us votes. Rage brings us money. That's why we keep chumming up you rubes into a constant fever pitch of fear and rage.

    Conservative Rule #2: Once the yokels are hooked, there is no statement that is too wild or absurd for them to believe.

    Conservative Rule #3: Villify everyone else and pretend they are barbarians at the gate, even if those people are Americans, indeed, half the country. Aggressively assert that you are the only true Americans and patriots, that everyone else are traitors, despite the fact that you are trying to alter the consti-tution every bit as much as the other side is.

    Conservative Rule #4: Our base is the stupid people. They are easily man-ipulated by fear and rage, and they will believe anything. They will vote opposite of their own best interests out of loyalty to conservatism and hatred towards the liberals who often better support their needs.

    Conservative Rule #5: Never compromise on anything at all, no matter how reasonable or necessary that compromise would be. We do NOT want what's best for America; we want what's best for our rich obeise elite.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  9. regertz

    How could it be Islamic and atheist? Tell us, oh Mullah Newt?

    Given how he dumped his wives when the going got tough, I imagine he'd dump Christianity for Islam in a heartbeat if he thought it would further his career.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  10. Skipper

    I fear a Gingrich United States.....

    March 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  11. Nobody Special

    What do Jeezus freaks fear?

    A) Athiests
    B) Islam

    What Newtie here did was combine the two things christians fear the most and present them BOTH as our potential future if he's not our next leader.

    Nevermind the fact that they are mutually exclusive....Those are facts, and therefore unnecessary for church going folk!

    March 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  12. KeithTexas

    Hagee is a fundamentalist and is just as dangerous as any other kind of fundamentalist.

    Gingrich is afraid of an Atheist America because he wouldn't have the sheep to lie to, who would take what ever he said as truth.

    A secular America is what we are supposed to have. Separation of Church and State. If you study your history instead of listening to your hillbilly preacher you would know that the churches are the ones that insisted on the separation of Church and State, especially the Baptist who were routinely persecuted in Pennsylvania. William Penn loved to hang Baptist every chance he got. He wasn't above eviscerating them on the town square either.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  13. Joshua Ludd

    Maybe Newt was a bit too busy cheating on his wives to notice... Atheism isn't related to Islam... and you would be hard pressed to find an atheist who would actually accept radical religion of any kind dominating their country in any meaningful way.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  14. Phillydan

    More fear-mongering by NEWT! Hey NEWT riddle me this you cheating sack of crap – it appears to me that all this fear talk is to take away from the fact that you are an immoral person who is nothing but a lying sack of hypocrite crap! Actually, I would love to see you run against Obama, because in the debates and campaign, he would rip your hypocrite butt a new one.

    In addition, there would be so many skeletons coming out of your closet, the media will have trouble keeping track. The bottom line your hypothesis is based on good old cow manure and has not one bit of fact or truth to back it up. Start sprouting this on the campaign trail and the men in white suits will be coming to take you away!!

    March 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  15. Sue

    What a pompous, arrogant, insincere fool. How many fear words can Gingrich use in one speech? He is so rightous with all his infidelities & marriages. How could any of his wives, let alone anyone in this country believe anything he says? He joined the Catholic church to prove his patriotism? What? Sounds sincere in his motives doesn't he? What a sleezy, self absorbed twit.
    How can you trust this snake or believe anything he says? He would be a shining example of America's values if elected president – Not! Does Newt do anything or say anything that isn't for his self-aggrandisement? Excuse me while I go throw up.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  16. ZJJ

    Organized religion may be dying but not faith. I think a distinction will be made by those who follow an organized religion run by the ideals of people and those who follow a faith inspired and motivated by the nature of God.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Colin

      I hope not. I would happilyu see every superst-ition, whether called religion, or its updated, but just as flwaed synonym, "faith" or "spirituality", consigned to the dustbion of history.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  17. skyjmpr

    More witless blather by a Repugnant-can wanna be.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  18. Jay

    A secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists?

    Good Lord, Republicans get dumber and dumber every day.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  19. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    A secular, atheist country? Really? Why, yes please!

    That would be a lot better than the theocracy envisioned by this hypocrite and his ilk. Good riddance.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  20. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    [Here we go again... Why is the CNN online censor rejecting my posts? I'm tired of spending time writing a response only to have it rejected without explanation. Either state the rules very clearly or stop blindly censoring. I really have no idea what I've done wrong this time.]

    March 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Michelle

      I hear ya! Thats why I don't bother to try posting anymore.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Michelle

      Do some research on who owns and decides things for cnn. Then research those peoples back grounds and you will see why. You have to go to non main stream media if you want the truth.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • zip

      paranoia runs deep

      March 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
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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.