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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. Alan

    Children have Imaginary Friends when there 5 years old / Adults have Imaginery Friends too – it's called Religion – Also What happens to you when you die – the answer is – the same as what happened to you before you where Born !

    March 29, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  2. Tired of all this!

    And does anyone wonder how an athiest society would be run by Islamists (religious zealots)? One might say that what Mr. Gingrich is advocating is, in fact, a society run by religious zealots of the Christian persuasion. I will never understand how intelligent people (including Mr. Gingrich) allow themselves to manipulate or be manipulated by such idiocy!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  3. beez

    The saddest thing of all is that 50% of this country will hear what he says and believe it. The conservative sheep that listen to these idiots can still vote. I love this country, but we're not the brightest and 2012 is quickly approaching. Come on! Listen to what these people say!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Only 50% ?? I'd say you're an optimist...

      Look at how many people still believe that Obama's a Muslim...

      March 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  4. Sane Scott in Ohio

    Hey Newt, when was the last time an atheist started a war over their beliefs? When did the last group of ruling atheists start inquisitions to assert their beliefs? How many atheists have blown themselves and innocent bystanders up in praise of their beliefs? Which atheist groups sends uninvited missionaries to convert locals? Just asking.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  5. Brian

    Secular and athiest...dominated by Muslims? What? Do you even think before you speak Newt?

    March 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  6. Edian Tenan

    DO REPUBLICANS have SOMETHING ELSE to SAY about beside RELIGIONS and MORALITY they don't even do ?

    No OBAMACARE good....... What are your better options and solutions for example ?

    We're tired of these idiots trying to fool us over and over again.......

    March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  7. Tim59

    Many of our founding fathers were not Christians but Humanists. There is a very big difference.

    It doesn't sound to me like Gingrich is necessarily afraid of an atheist country so much as a non-Christian country. Guess what Newt, being a patriotic American has absolutely nothing to do with being a Christian. If this clown gets nominated for the Republican ticket we might as well save everyone the time of having an election and just give Obama his second term.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  8. feia

    he is an idiot...such a shame they let him speak in public

    March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  9. Walter

    While I am neither pro or con when it comes to religion; I am hopeful that if atheism does take over that people will give second thought to having kids. So many children in this and other countries grow up in (and spend their entire lives in) abject poverty. Often times they and their parents believe that even though they suffer here, they will get their "reward" later. If they start to believe there is no later "reward", and they will spend their sole existence in poverty, they may avoid having more kids. A cold cynical way of looking at things, but there are too many children who fit this category and it's not getting any better.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  10. gr345

    ii would be sad to see anyone voting for this moron

    March 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  11. MR

    I thought there was Separation of Church and STATE. Sounds like this dude is trying to scare us all.

    Whether he realizes it or not there are radicals in all walks of life. Well he will not be getting my vote

    March 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  12. krashundburn

    Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't mention the danger we face from atheist Islamic radical gay tree huggers. Now THERE's a menace.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  13. Toronto Guy

    To the contrary.

    atheist and anti-theists (as myself) are a rising voice around the world. I see more and more young people rejecting the absurd, illogical and without foundation notions of religious regressive thinking.

    We must denounce religious ideolgy and it's influence on public life everywhere.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  14. icharliem

    newt ... his name fits him ... living under a rock of ignorance ... even about the our founding fathers ... hey newt ... read some history ... you're emerging as a reflection of palin and bachman ... by the way, many of the founding fathers were "deists" (look it up newt ... they weren't interested in establishing a "religious" nation as they had had enough and wanted to go beyond of such narrow views and understanding ... guess what, newt ... some people in their day called them atheists ... hmmm ...

    March 29, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  15. sasss31

    What Newt the brainless and adulterer doesn't understand is that there is NO ONE IN THIS WORLD a BIGGER CRITIC OF ISLAM AND THE EVILS OF THAT NASTY RELIGION and I say this as an Iranian-American ATHEIST. ATHEISTS do not enjoy Islam or want to align with Muslims. Religious Muslims are against the basic fundamental values that we value as atheists: science, logic, rationality, and evidence. You think some Christians have a problem believing in the SCIENCE and FACT of human evolution?? Well, with Muslims it is 100x worse. In addition, what is Newt so scared of??? Does one wonder why the vast majority of physicists, biologists, and scientists are atheists?? We need to start living our lives on logic and raitonality away from this dogma Newt is spouting in order to try to get the religiosu right vote. NEWT: next time, don't cheat on your wife while preaching a so called moral "high ground"

    March 29, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  16. Fred

    America is supposed to be built on the freedom to have your own religious beliefs. So if he's elected President, what does he plan to do? Convert everyone to christianity? Hallowed are the Christians! LOL! Yeah right! I'm an atheist and find his whole speech offensive.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  17. EastCoastMike

    Wow! Between Palin and this lunatic, the GOP is putting together a real Murderer's Row for the primary. I think Obama can take a vacation during the election and still win in a landslide.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  18. Ken

    What Gingrich actually fears is that people who follow his brand of xtianity will become a small minority. Statistically there are very few people who actually aver that there is no god. Most people either align themselves with a specific religion or else follow a spiritual path that is not based on doctrine or dogma. But people like Gingrich would require that people align themselves with xtianity and give away their money to church leaders so that they can build big mega-churches and live in the lap of luxury. On top of that he surrounds himself with people who tell him how great he is and that he should run for president because they know they can make a fortune through political donations. We do not need radical xtians in the leadership of our country any more then we need the inquisition to return -- oh wait, those are both the same thing.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  19. diana Long

    For men such as Gingrich, God is a preferred weapon of control. Of course he fears an atheistic country.

    For the record, I am NOT and atheist.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Tim59

      Good point. Religion was invented by man as a means to control others.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  20. J C

    As the evangelicals become more and more removed from mainstream society they will then get more radical trying to save their religion, much like the Taliban. When only the most radical members have kept the "faith" then you will end up with a terrorist organization right here in America, we can refer to them as the Christian Taliban for easy reference. Only when all religions are disbanded and education is paramount will peace and tranquility prevail.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • gardengoddes46

      religion is truly the root of all evil...

      March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • GreyMatter

      I partially agree. Radicals from any religious group should be disregarded and/or downplayed. Their power comes from giving their views merit. Disbanding religions however is not a good idea. Just because some radicals smear the name of religion, it does not mean we should dispose of the rest of the religion. It would be like saying we should close all schools because of a few unruly children.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • The AntiChrist

      What we need here are "reverse crusades" to rid the world of religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:10 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.