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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. Rodney Hinds

    Hello – is there anybody inside of that delusional mind – Islamists are not atheists. They want to assimilate the entire planet into their religious cult just like the Christians do. Keep your religious beliefs out of my government.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  2. Emmitt Langley

    Wow...I'm impressed that Gingrich sees this...the end goal of atheism is NOT secular humanism. People like Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, and others think so...in the REAL world, the end goal of atheism (whether intended or not) is Islam. Call me names...you know, the obligatory racist, kook, knuckle-dragger, etc, but then grow up and take a look at Europe. If nothing changes, many countries in western Europe will be Islamic in less than 50 years.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  3. Chris

    Dear Newt,
    You are an idiot. Pick one. Will we all be atheist or will we be dominated by Islam? You can't really have both.
    Also, our founding fathers, founded this nation on the idea that we would be free from religious persecution. Which means I have the right to be atheist, Muslim, Islamic, Buddhist or any other Dam# thing I want without worrying about you attacking me for it. THAT IS BEING AMERICAN!!

    YOUR vision of America is a nation of Nothing but "good" christian folk, which is really completely Against what it means to be American.

    Please go away and shut up.

    Sincerely,
    Reason

    March 29, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Emmitt Langley

      You're definitely not "Reason," because the real Reason understands Truth...and the truth is, atheism leads to Islam...it's already happening in Europe. Stop reveling in your own self-proclaimed brilliance and open your eyes. You must see Truth before you can understand Reason.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Atheism leads to Islam? Wow. It should really hurt to be that stupid...

      March 29, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  4. Alan

    Do you have any proof that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist – please enlighten us with your scientific evidence and rock solid logic that Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist. Hint...you can't. You can prove there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster about as much as I can prove to you there is. So there

    March 29, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  5. Tom

    Newt = Nutt

    Everyone look busy or the flying spaghetti monster will get you...

    March 29, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  6. BC in BA

    I've no problem with religious belief, but these clowns are all the same. "God told me to tell you what to do. God has put me in charge. Follow me – or DOOM will befall you all!" They want a religious populous for one simple reason. Power. Get real. Athiest, or not – if we don't all start being free-thinkers, we're screwed.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  7. John - Altanta

    How embarassing for the Republican party. This is how far they have fallen!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  8. Matty1138

    The "Founding Fathers Christian Values"?????/ The Founding Fathers weren't Christian per se. Gingrich is a rube. Also a "Secular Athiest Country potentially dominated by Radical Islamists? Which is it, Newt old boy?

    March 29, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  9. bob

    Nice political move, Newt, but you're too sinful for Hagee's endorsement.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  10. Kurt

    Religion, the greatest threat to the survival of mankind. Religion, the greatest killer of them all.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  11. ynmsid

    he's disgusting. he will say anything that will get votes from the religious right. how dare that church even let a politician talk in it.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Kurt

      What did you expect, he is a Republican, and the Republicans have consistently shown they have no morals.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  12. American Citizen

    Gingrich – out.

    And stay out.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  13. Bryon Morrigan

    What a bunch of nonsense. There is no correlation between "Atheists" and "Radical Islamists." Islamofascists, like their Christian counterparts in the Republican Party, are completely RIGHT-WING. The only difference between a gay-bashing, woman-hating, religiously-intolerant Muslim Extremist and a guy like Newt Gingrich is the name that he calls his "God" when he prays to him. And the idea that the Founding Fathers were all devout Christians is absurd. Read Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" if you doubt me. It's probably the most Anti-Christian book ever written. The Founding Fathers set up a secular society where there would be FREEDOM OF RELIGION...something that guys like Newt despise just as much as Osama bin Laden does...

    March 29, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  14. SCOTO

    Usual fear-moingering nonsense from this brainless party that has nothing else going for it. If we did have an atheist majority there would be less 'respect" for ANY religion so "radical islam" would probably be marginilized more so than it is now.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  15. Scott

    Uhhh.... an "atheist country dominated by Radical Islamists?" If it is an atheist country, how can it be dominated by any religious group?

    March 29, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  16. kip

    "A secular country dominated by radical Islamists'." ?????

    That's like saying a gay pride parade organized by Republicans.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  17. Socks

    The country is dominated by politicians and corporations, who does he think he`s fooling? Oh yeah, all of you people!! :)

    March 29, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  18. srik

    Um atheist AND radical islamist? contradiction anyone? Anything for a vote

    March 29, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Rick

      Yeah – atheist AND Islamic. Newt is a walking talking oxymoron! A career built upon doing whatever he can do to spread fear among the ignorant. Makes as much sense as Religious Right and philandering divorcee. Newt, please shut up and sit down.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  19. GoKa

    I fear the Christian Taliban taking over the US...they already started it

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

    It is funny, sad, and true at the same time that according to the quran and hadith, it is the obligation and duty of a true believing Muslim to kill any atheists on the spot.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Socks

      99% of muslims can see that following an ancient book is crazy. Why can't you? If a prominent Christian wrote a book in the 1930's, it would have "radical" viewpoints by today's standards, and following it would make you, crazy. Who pays you people?

      March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • John - Altanta

      It's just sad that you believe that nonsense.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:19 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.