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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. Gaucho420

    I wonder what crazies would beleive this garbage and apparently, they're a few here. Its absolutly stunning how easily dupped by religion people can be and how easily evill men can manipulate these people.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  2. Karin

    It really does not matter what this man thinks about the U.S.A. populace in regards to the opposition of his (faith based) belief system. I for one require evidence in order to hold a belief of any kind!!! This man is attempting to force delusion on others. He is also displaying incredible stupidity, as atheism is the complete opposite of Islamic beliefs. Atheism has (1) meaning!!! It means; "(NO BELIEF) in a god". The day a religious individual presents evidence for their sky daddy/mommy, than I will consider the evidence at hand. Until than these people are barking up the wrong tree!

    March 29, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  3. Calypso

    "Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be 'a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.'"
    I think some wires got crossed there.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  4. Cody Lee Jefferson

    I wonder how Hagee views Newt's divorces and subsequent remarriages? She Newt be stoned to death?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  5. RichP, easton, pa

    Hagee is a whack job.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  6. Todd

    If I were a religious man (I'm one of those wacko atheists) I would be truly offended by the way these stupid politicians use religion. Wait a minute, I am offended by it. I love how he characterized our founding fathers as "religious". I thought he was supposed to know something about history. They were atheists you moron

    March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  7. Akira

    Apparently Gingrich doesn't realize his comments make no logical sense whatsoever. Atheism and Islamism are mutually exclusive terms.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  8. Dennis

    If you thought what Newt said was stupid then you're not his target audience. Newt doesn't sound stupid because he is stupid, Newt sounds stupid because he thinks his supporters are stupid.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  9. Jeff

    The Bible was written and re-written by man, as passed down from the ancient scrolls of man, unfortunately, man is the one who interprets the bible to read what they want, and not always what the bible is trying to convey. Idiots like Gringich and Hagee need to be put on an island where kool-aid is served regularly.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  10. jim

    I wish pols and actually everyone to just chill, live your lives and let other folks live theirs. Quit trying to mold everyone to a "one size fits all".

    March 29, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  11. Jorge

    At least he doesn't fear a two-bit-southern-snake-oil-hypocrite-good-ole'-boy country.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  12. Barking Alien

    Judgement day: And taking the lords name in vain, 1 million 6 hundred thousand. Oh Jesus!

    March 29, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  13. Matt

    Funny, I worry a lot more about Newt and his radical Christianist buddies; they're quite a few more of them, and they've already infiltrated our political system and much of the military.

    BTW, why exactly are we letting this "church" skip out on paying taxes – it's clearly become a political advocate...

    March 29, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  14. Attila

    Cuckoo bananas.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  15. Barking Alien

    I think he needs to fear things like sinking numbers in the polls, his moral hypocricy, and lack of support from the nutcases in his own party.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  16. Frank

    The U.S. will not be in any danger of becoming an Islamic country anytime soon. Muslims are a very small minority group in the U.S. same as the aetheists..

    March 29, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Gaucho420

      Muslims make up 0.6% of the population. Athiests make up 17% of the populaton and is the fastest growing "religious" group in the US (per the census). But don't fear atheists, we have no interest in shutting down churches and insisting you learn evolution in church...Christians on the other hand...

      March 29, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  17. erth

    religon is humans way of making themselves eternal. you/i will never be eternal, we have a life on earth. now use it for the better, not the worse. stop talking about religion and focus on the issues of life on earth.

    discuss.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  18. Eric

    Personally, I fear space aliens and monsters :P

    What's truly sad is not that Gingrich is saying such things, but that he seems to believe that middle America will gobble up such nonsense (or ignore it) in the general election.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  19. Len

    This country would be much better off without religion.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Geoiff

      ALL countries would be better off without religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  20. JasonB

    Our country can't be secular, atheist, and radical islamist. Those three don't go together. I hope he keeps saying stupid stuff like this.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • Miguel

      I was thinking the same thing...Gingritch is a fear monger. I hope he gets nominated as he'll never win the presidency.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Erik

      Exactly. He's being reactionary to court different voters. Moreover, the First Amendment specifically doesn't endorse any religion so why is he even going there? He'll garner votes but he can't win.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • mpouxesas

      ahaha indeed, they more the talk the greater the likelihood they'll say (another) stupid thing. The only problem is that the majority of people who vote for these bozos are not known for their intellect....

      March 29, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • George

      1st off, our founding fathers weren't all that Christian. There is a reason they specifically wanted separation of church and state. 2nd, this great Christian country that Newt thinks we will be fondly remembering is the one that kept slavery until 1863, didn't give blacks basic civil rights until the 1960's and still denies 10% of ouir population (gays and lesbians) many of their basic rights as US citizens.

      Meanwhile, 'secular' nations such as just about every one else in the western world, seem to be doing just fine, thank you .

      March 29, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • Bruce

      consider the source...then consider the audience

      March 29, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • hanoman

      I am waiting on Rudy to announce his run. All we'll hear from him will be blah blah 9/11..blah blah...Muslims...blah blah. 9/11...

      March 29, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • andy

      Brother Newt served one of his wives with divorce papers while she lay in her hospital bed, dying of cancer. What a fine Christian he is!

      March 29, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • actionjacks7

      it dosen't matter what hillbilly gingrich says, he'll never be president of the usa.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:07 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.