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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. Nick

    If Harry Potter were written 2000 years ago, this guy would be up there swearing that dinosaur bones are actually dragons.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  2. George

    What an idiot–why are these people even given any public notice? Can politiicans please get there act together and help serve the country instead of tearing it apart? I've had enough of these guys. All of them!

    March 29, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  3. Jeannettelj

    Guess that we will all be exposed to this idiot every time he opens his mouth for the next year.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  4. Sgt M.

    Yes Newt...let's pander to audiences with RIDICULOUS fear mongering and at the same time undermine our higher education system, judicial system, and media. Let's become a xenophobic nation and pander to the lowest common denominator in our voting public, and see how strong our nation is when the grandchildren you speak of grow up.

    God I hate your kind (no pun intended).

    March 29, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  5. StoriedMuse

    http://storiedmuse.blogspot.com/

    March 29, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  6. Bryan

    "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists" is an oxymoron, and this guy is a fool.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • grammarlady

      I kept waiting for the reporting to comment on that, but it never happened. Which doesn't say much for the reporter.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • NL

      It's basic storytelling where 'show' is way more effective than 'tell'. Newt was shown to be an idiot, so there was no need to tell the reader what was so blatantly obvious.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. Da King

    Newt is losing his faith. The small percentage of born again (John 3) Christians in the world will remain the same and increase somewhat as the end nears. They won't be come un-born again because it is the truth the light and the way and they know it.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • ReligionHurts

      Well bully for them.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  8. Peter E

    A) Less than 2% of Americans profess themselves as atheists. No more than 10% profess themselves as atheist, agnostic, or just generic 'secular.'
    B) Radical Islam and atheism are mutually exclusive. Pick one or the other Newt!

    He is just trying to score points with the Christian right, trying to make them forget that he was a divorced, liberal republican from the 90s.
    But hey, he was just like Reagan! Reagan too was divorced and re-married! Oh gosh! I shouldn't have said that! How DARE I even remotely imply that Reagan was anything but what the Christian right is trying to make him out to be, a carbon-copy of Jesus Christ, by stating FACTS!

    March 29, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • NL

      What was the percentage of Jews in Hitler's Germany?

      March 29, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  9. ron

    This is so patently ridiculous that it is hard to believe someone who is running for President would say it. But here we go. Fear, fear, fear. That's all the Republicans know how to do. Lie to make people afraid. And repeat the lies over and over and over.
    BTW fundamentalist Protestants hate Catholics but are sure willing to go to bed with them for a common political objective.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  10. Peace2All

    From the Article, Newt Gingrich says: "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.)"

    So... just some of the *inferences* from Newt are:

    1)Secular Atheism=Bad

    2)Secular Atheism is somehow at a similar logical level = to 'radical Islamists'

    3)He knows what it once meant to be an American= His views of what it means to be an American...are the 'right' views.

    4)Radical Islamists will 'dominate' the U.S. somehow. Hmmm... Don't mind the 'radical evangelical Christians' though, apparently.

    5)And... I don't think it's too far of a stretch, that he is taking a swipe at Muslim's and Islam in general.

    There are a lot more 'inferences' and 'presuppositions' here to go over.

    But... I think it's safe to say that the 'radical right' extremist 'fear-mongering' and 'saber rattling' has started.

    Yes... great going Newt ! IMHO, you just made yourself look and sound like a moron.

    However, I'm sure the 'extreme right' are just lovin' you right now.

    Peace...

    March 29, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • James

      reposting isn't cool bro....

      March 29, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • NL

      When his grandkids grow up maybe they'll build their political careers around pointing their fingers at the conservative enemy de jure to the American way of life. The way Americans are turning secular the tables may be turned completely by then.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  11. Lucy

    I will eat your heat out

    March 29, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  12. Glenc

    He needs to change his meds ...... WOW this guy is a whole fruit cake.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  13. Gary

    If there's a god, please make Newt go away and then I'll believe. Can I get an "Amen"?

    March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • James

      Amen means I agree in Hebrew when talking to a male....so are you male or female?

      March 29, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Da King

      God will ignore Gary the nonbeliever and James, Amen "means may it be so" regardless of who is speaking.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Lynn

      Amen!!! But let this jerk waste his money running for President. I'd vote for Lindsey Lohan before I'd vote for him.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  14. eric

    Newt Gingrich...Fred Phelps. I can no longer tell the difference.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  15. BOB2

    The big question is how best the psychological games be played before the elections. Bashing Islam card is probably old, hardly any buyers are left for it. It is oversold. Palin tried it hard, but the masses were smart enough and she got negative publicity by it and she gave up. Any lessons learnt ... ???
    I would give it a thought if the statements were more intelligent and made on how to put our country back on track. and not this cheap politics.
    By the way, Obama is doing a good job though. Harvard graduate, what else we could ask for. very smart president. I doubt any of the new contenders x, y & z would do a better job then him. I don't really care what faith he is from.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  16. Criticallysane

    Just because a majority of Americans are Christian, does not mean this is a Christian nation. I'd like to remind people that there was about a 500 year stretch where Christianity ruled everything. From government, to daily life, it was revolving around Christianity. That period is called the Dark ages.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Zana

      Criticallysane: Amen to that!

      March 29, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Thinking mind of my own

      Well said.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  17. JJ

    I'm republican and an atheist. Who the hell am I going to vote for now? Surely not this nutcase.|!

    March 29, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • James

      *high fives*

      but I'm a Republican Jew.

      before hate, family grew up in the Democratic South, no way will Democrats EVER get my vote.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • BOB2

      If you really cared for our country, you would put much of your thought in blue or red. You would go by who is the best and the smartest. For now, all my votes are for Obama. I would care for the one who would work tirelessly for reducing our debt. stop foreign aid. this about us first. Obama couldn't really stand up for the special interests powerful groups thought, but comparatively he has done his best..

      March 29, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  18. NL

    Zana-
    Nobody expected these people to be logical for a long time now, so don't be too surprised.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  19. mh

    why MUST god enter this? What absolute nonsense. Repubs.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  20. Kevin

    We all ready are asking what it was like to be an American. This country has lost all of it's soul. We have lost civility, that is more than good manners. If Americans choose who was incarcerated or not, we would have a much smaller prison population. I hate to say it....... But wake up its all ready gone

    March 29, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Texagg

      What civility? At least we don't beat people half to death with a cane on the floor of the senate. Or have Civil Wars over the right to own another human being, or segregate part of the population from the other.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • NL

      Kevin-
      "We have lost civility, that is more than good manners."
      Civility like what Canadians are known for? You know, of course, that their civility has remained the same as their society became more secular, but levels of civility in the US seem to have dropped with the rise of evangelicalism during the same period. Funny how it worked out like that, isn't it?

      March 29, 2011 at 12:34 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.