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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 • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Texas

soundoff (2,228 Responses)
  1. Elfpower

    How can a country be "atheist" and "dominated by Islamists" at the same time. I know, from the musings of a man that three weeks ago said he would establish a no-fly zone "tonight," and then when the U.S. and a coalition of other countries establishes one he says that he thinks that intervention is a "mistake," three weeks later. When John Kerry was running for President, Gingrich stated: "Someone that flip-flops cannot be commander-in-chief." THAT is how our country can be "atheist" and "dominated by Islamists" at the same time.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  2. Brett

    This guy is a retard.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  3. francisco

    Thake God out of ur life and there no hope of anything.. No God no hope know God know hope

    March 29, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  4. Fred Barnett

    What a stupid old man .....or dangerous manipulator. Either way, the guy sucks the deceased.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  5. Herp Derp the idiots are in control

    Another reason to keep Newt out of office. It's idiots like him and the rest of the teabaggers that are causing the downfall of America. Pretty soon science will be outlawed and we will start the downfall back into the dark ages.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  6. Mike H.

    I fear a nation of infidelity where married men cheat on and leave their wives. That's certainly something that Gingrich knows more about than just about anyone.

    A man who is morally deficient, such as Gingrich, cannot be trusted. I couldn't care less what he believes or fears. He is less than a man as far as I'm concerned. A real man does not conduct himself in the manner he has.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • leogorky

      Unfortunately, none of these thugs have a moral compass. They only like to use their Bible (what I consider a weapon of mass destruction seeing how many have been persecuted, tortured, and murdered because of it) to beat other people over they head with. They pick out verses they like to support their lunacy and ignore everything else.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  7. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    What planet is Newt Gingrich, or any conservative that takes him seriously, living on?

    This country has never had an atheist President, and has exactly one atheist (who doesn't even refer to himself as such) among the roughly 530-something members of Congress.

    An atheist country? I wish.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  8. 4sanity

    If Newt is losing sleep fretting about atheists and radical Islamists taking over America, I'll sleep better tonight. What an overbloated hypocritical idiot. Heh, Newt what's that about smaller government ? Hope you act on that principle and stay out of it.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  9. Omnipius

    Beside Newt's blatantly contradictory statement, I would like to know where the myth that America was founded as a "Christian" nation came from. The founding fathers actually went to great lengths to make our nation a secular one. The words "under God" were not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s to differentiate ourselves from the Soviets and "In God We Trust" wasn't added to bills until our economy grew too large to back up every bill with cold hard bullion. And what's with the rush to demonize the most learned and informed of our society? Anyone who would treat the concept of our secular nation with disdain and seek to suppress the knowledge and opinions of others is no better than the radical Islamists they fear.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  10. Cindy

    I do hope it becomes a country of secular atheists. I am an atheist. A proud United States citizen and a patriot. However, I'm not stupid enough to believe in God or religion. I leave that to the uneducated fools. Gingrich doesn't know much about the founding fathers, especially for being House Speaker. The founding fathers were not all Christians, and in fact, some were atheists or agnostics. A lot of our famous founding fathers and scientists were not Christians at all. They advocated for no religion being set as the one. Newt, please do some reading.... this time with something other than the fairytale bible.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Krafty

      Where is the like button for this comment?

      March 29, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  11. 312139

    An Athiest country (Athiest as in those who don't believe in a God) dominated by Radical Islamists (fundamental religionists)? While it comes as no surprise, he is grasping at straws with this whole pandering thing.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  12. Jeff Cox

    Gaven says exactly what our founding fathgers said. He is speaking like a true American!

    March 29, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  13. DarkLogic

    So wait, let me get this straight Mr. Gingrich.

    You fear that America will become an atheist country ruled by a radical religion that still believes in a god?

    Oh, wait, you're a Teabagger. Now it makes sense.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  14. momo

    MUSLIM = 0.8% of usa population.

    how are they going to take over? seriously america, let us stop being ignorant. because the world is laughing at us.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  15. Popeye

    This white man speaks with forked tongue.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  16. Mom of Three

    How can it be both Islamic and Atheist??? This guy's jumped the shark big time.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  17. Rich

    So... does Newt think America is turning into an Atheist or an Islamic nation? Does he know they aren't the same thing? Does he think there are militant Atheists bombing things around the world? How about Agnostics, where do they fit in?

    March 29, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Krafty

      Most agnostics are wafflers and shouldn't even be considered in the argument or any argument for that matter.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  18. momo

    GEEEZ, People. Muslims are only about 0.8% of the usa population. how are they going to "take over".

    Please people, start using your brains.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • brad

      yeah, but you forgot about their top secret plan to all move to Urbana, Ill. and start their Sharia Law reign. "First Urbana, then Ipswich, South Dakota" is their saying, I think.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  19. Atheist

    Only Newt could connect atheists and radical Islamists. Two opposite ends of the religious spectrum. Let the fear mongering begin. What about zombies Newt? Won't America be overrun with zombies unless Republicans seize power again?

    March 29, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Atheist wrote: "Let the fear mongering begin."

      I'm sure you're aware that you ain't heard 'nutin yet... I wonder what Ann Coulter's up to these days...

      March 29, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Popeye

      The Zombies have formed a sub-political party and call themselves the Tea Party.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  20. David

    I wish they would build a temple to the Founding Fathers on the National Mall between the Capitol and Washington Monument so that the tea partiers and other Republicans will have a place to worship their favorite deity. It should have a sacrificial alter so that they can offer sacrifices to their Founding Father gods before and after they go into battle against the enemy Democrats in the Capitol just like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans did before them. It should also have statutes of each of the Founding Fathers (except Madison, Franklin and Adams who believed in a strong federal government and in the USA participating in world politics.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Krafty

      That would bring tears of laughter to my eyes because most of the founding fathers consider themselves secular if not atheist.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:24 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.