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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. rplat

    Obama will soon drive this once great Republic into a godless slime pit with no redeeming values.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Colin

      Except for being godless, which would be a tremendous achievement of which we could all be proud. The first country on Earth to shake off Iron Age supersti-tions.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Duh, is that before or after Mortgage Backed Securities ?

      March 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • oh, brother!

      yeah, peg it all on Obama – it is your fault voting for corporate lackeys starting with Regan.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  2. no_newt_is_good_newt

    LMAO.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  3. keylargo

    I'd rather the US became a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists than have Gingrich as President. Actually, I doubt either is likely, but speaking hypothetically that would be my preference.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  4. Jason

    Sorry Newt, I don't think frothing out the mouth attempts to marginalize minorities plays too well with voters anymore. Not this one at least.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  5. BigBear

    I am extremely happy to see that so many people see through Newt's feeble efforts at trying to drum up xenophobic fear mongering among the populous. He is the last person who should be talking about cultural or religious issues. He is a hypocrite and lately I question his sanity. He might be regarded as the idea guy, but his thoughts are divisive and potentially destructive. A figure who should have faded from the spotlight years ago.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  6. Marge

    I believe that this country has become a corporation owned country. I believe that politicians and politicians want to be's like Newt are so full of "it" and so full of fraud that they will do anything ....anything at all to make money. I think Newt Toot my horn is the worst possible type of person this country has to offer. He is right up there with the rest of the tea bags and republicans who cut every single safety net, any and every thing needed to help the real people of this country, so they can give tax breaks and tax cuts to the corporations that own them. They are the most miserable examples of human waste you see in the world, no make that the universe.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  7. Usarnaem

    Dear Mr. Gingrich,

    The United States already is, and always has been a secular nation, you dopey theocrat.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  8. mike

    NEWT LIES/ NEWT LIES/ NEWT LIES

    March 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  9. shagadalic

    This dude newt never met a Muslim or even been to a mosque to listen to what they say. I been to a temple, church and synagogue. I am a muslim, therefore i KNow my religious brothers and sisters are not out there to hate me. Just stupid right wingers conservatives who want political gain will fear what they dont know.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  10. Observer

    Gingrich is probably one of the most hypocritical "Christians" in the world. He has zero credibilty.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Jillian

      I sopuprt your basic sentiments, but I don't quite agree with:(5) Find a way for politicians to run for office without paying anything. The ones who donate the most to politicians get the most back from them.The problem is that taxpayers would be subsidizing campaigns, and you can be sure that politicians would continually expand what campaign aid the taxpayers give. I would prefer to: Only allow campaign contributions by individual citizens. (Not corporations, special interest groups or political PAC's) Keep the current maximum campaign donation limit, (If campaign contributions are free speech the wealthy should not be able to use their free speech to buy a politician.)(8) A politician will be declared a business. They will pay their own expenses. They will be under the same regulations they make for businesses and have to pay unemployment, Social Security, and file the same paperwork the other businesses have to.Correction: Political Campaigns should be run as a business. We already have politicians operating their offices as a for profit semi-private business, with cushy business wheeling and dealing, while giving taxpayers the business.Reply

      March 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  11. someoneelse

    This same guy touts the founding fathers all the time and what they want. They made a secular country where every religion or lack thereof was accepted. In the future, Republicans will be listed as an example beside hypocrisy. Democrats may be dumb, but Republicans are evil hypocrites.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  12. David

    Don't worry newt, the Muslims will take over.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  13. LouAZ

    When Facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag carrying a cross. – Sinclair Lewis.
    This is a clear example of what Lewis stated. Goebells would be proud of Herr Gingrich.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • oh, brother!

      so, true! And I think we are already there...

      March 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  14. John

    Hey, Newt...this country was an "atheist" country...before your white ancestors slaughtered the original inhabitants.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Daniel

      Ummmm, most Native American tribes wouldn't be called 'Atheist'.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  15. Colin

    So, here is the most (only) interesting aspect of this to me. Whatever one thinks of their politics, politicians like Newt Gingrich, Jimmy Carter and Pat Buchanan are smart, articulate men. Smart enough to lead the US Congress, run for President, and, in Carter’s case, succeed in doing so. I doubt that any of these men would be easily fooled on most matters.

    Yet they are ardent god nuts, even creationists. Pandering to the christian right does not fully expain it. I believe these otherwise bright, articulate men have a true, meekly accepting, uncritical, belief in the Christian god as the creator of the Universe.

    What allows otherwsie smart men to have their inner skeptic totally neutered to the point that they accept the sheer nonsense required to believe in a god in the 21st Century?

    March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Aeria

      Sadly, I know first-hand that some people vote for politicians who are "true Christians" or "have faith in God" as their sole criteria. One of the people in this example had a Masters degree in English and was teaching classes on argument. Sooo total FAIL.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Colin

      Your point being.....

      March 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Daniel

      You make an interesting point, but I'll ask you to consider something:

      You say "What allows otherwsie smart men to have their inner skeptic totally neutered to the point that they accept the sheer nonsense required to believe in a god in the 21st Century?" But aren't you simply following the current popular trend by arguing that Creationism is nonsense? Have you actually researched the issue? I am not arguing for it, it's just funny to me when people call Christians blind followers of religion, when most non-religious people are blind followers of professors.

      If you do the actual research and wrestle with the questions and come to a conclusion, I will respect your conclusion. If you have done that, good for you, but most people who sound off against religions have not. If it were 100 years ago they would be on the side of those mocking evolution.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  16. fastball

    Fear-mongering...and pandering to the lowest intelligence-level individuals out there. Typical tactic by a politician who knows he has no hope of winning, but merely wants the dialogue to go his way.
    This country could do with a little LESS religion being crammed down our throats from the pulpit and from government leaders. I know I'm an American...and I don't need Jesus in my life to be one.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  17. mb914

    "secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists" makes no sense, since one has nothing to do with the other, except as fearmongering. As a Christian, I would rather have more secular humanism and a few more Muslims than people like him, who are the exact opposite of Jesus, yet use His Name.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  18. EricD

    I fear America becoming a hypocritical country dominated by sound bite machines without souls or sense of right and wrong who are only in government for the cashflow. oops...already there.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  19. ROM

    My opinion is that he is an idiot and trying to suck stupid persons money. He is about himself only and if you are dumb enough to listen to him then you have a problem also. Thank you

    March 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  20. NaytDawg

    Obviously, Mr. Gingrich is speaking with emotion and without rationale.
    As a secular humanist, I believe in freedom of religion and secular equality. I reject extremism in all it's forms, including those fometed by Mr. Gingrich.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Anonymous Al

      here here!

      March 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Amen to that!

      March 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • no_newt_is_good_newt

      ramen!

      March 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Jarrod

      yes, indeed. Religion and religious countries cause the wars of the world. The countries with the highest population of Atheism and non-denominational beliefs seem to be the most peaceful. But yet, we are told to be alarmed when our country is has a growing population of Atheism. As if they are trying to make some sort of correlation between an Atheist / Non-Denominational group/country and being uncivilized and barbaric, as if they people posses no morals and conscience. Complete propaganda.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • JAlexander

      i do not support Ginrich nor am i favour of anti-muslim rhetoric, but it would be imprudent to dismiss entirely Newt's fears....i believe the evidence of islamic fundamentalism having hijacked several countries overtime is solid grounds for his concerns...the people of some of those societies are now uprising against oppression underpinned by islam. Newt's fears are not baseless...

      March 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Lawrence

      Jesus Freaks and Holy Warriors on the Right, Banksters and their 'elected' government sock puppets in the Middle, and dead quiet on the Left, which Clinton buried and Obama is now paving over. The Jesus Freaks will get their way eventually simply because Americans get stupider by the day (nice feedback loop, eh?), and America will become unrecognizable to us secular humanists, while endless, Orwellian holy wars between Jesus and Mohammed will be all that remains of human civilization.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • oh, brother!

      Lawrence – I hope we never get to the picture you decribe, but I am NOT ready to say that it is totally unrealistic! :(

      March 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Dave

      Newt needs to get a life!

      April 25, 2011 at 9:54 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.