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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. Bluesy

    John Hagee understands what is happening in our world. I hope America listens to him and wakes up.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  2. Shane

    Dear Newt: Shut your fascist, ignorant, dull, conservative mouth.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  3. Trevor

    Some of the greatest minds in human history were agnostic or atheist. You can't judge one group of people based on a few rotten apples. If we did that then all religious people are "evil." Religion will not win this battle.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  4. Slash

    Wait, will it be a scary atheist country or a scary Muslim country?

    Of course, since it's all not-Christian to him, it doesn't really matter.

    Also, OH NO, NOT ATHEISM! AHHHHH!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  5. Cynic

    Newt is trying to remake himself into a decent "God-fearing" man who wouldn't present his wife with divorce papers while she was being hospitalized for cancer.

    The man is a POS! And this is from a conservative.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  6. John

    How can you be worrying about A country predominantly being both atheist and Muslim? Thats like worrying about drowning in the desert.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  7. JJ

    Oh for crying out loud. Newt is a total retard. If the country were atheist, how could it be dominated by people following the religion of Islam.

    MORON!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  8. Joshua

    I am athiest. I'm still a nice person. Haven't killed anyone or even been arrested. Sorry I am not easily brainwashed and utilize commonsense to solve my problems instead of wishfulthinking. Nor do I blame my shortcomings on the will of the unknown.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  9. Libra Lisa

    Had to get my two cents in!

    Clearly, now that he has seen his alley cat in heat ways have voters running away from him and bad mouthing him, HE'S GOING TO TRY THIS!!!??? I love it! Get the Jesus Freaks scared! That's the ticket! OOOOHHHH, bad Atheisits!!

    I'll never forget when a "Christian" co-worker, we are friendly and in the same office, found out I was an Atheists, she said to me " But, you are so Christian, you are such a good person, generous to a fault" So, you see folks, like it or not, some people assume you are evil beacsue you don't believe. Newt, THAT is what is scary.

    Wow, is there any limit to the slime that oozzzeeeesssssss from the pores of Repugs?

    March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  10. GWOZWAZ

    What's he afraid of? Oh, that the population is finally figuring out what leaders have learned for centuries...that religion is a very powerful tool to keep the uneducated masses in check.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  11. Sgt. Moss

    Wow, I was a supporter of a Gingrich for President campaign, but I am having doubts. This country was not founded on christian beliefs. Most of our founding fathers were not christians. I am an atheist, but I support this country with everything I have. I have morals and values. He is saying that I am un-American because I don't believe in a deity? Not cool Newt! Not cool!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  12. Mark In PDX

    How can we become an atheist, non-secular country dominated by Islamists? That's nonsensical... but not surprising, coming from him.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  13. vegamaco

    I share the same feelings that Good atheist and Goodwin, I am also Agnostic, just because now we have the technology to put elements that make up the human body and still we can't give it life, there is an outside power, but is not God and following the bible is just as blind as following the yellow pages for guidance, both books have paid for having and add. I am a good American, I have served is the US ARMY for over 15 years, I dont believe in God,but I do believe in America. Seeing so many people give their lifes for nothing really opens your eyes, I can't think of any other cause that has killed so many other than religion.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  14. GodMan

    Newt. You are so weird.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  15. sasss31

    To reply to socks, you made the claim that "99% of <muslims take their ancient book as crazy"...sorry my friend, that is further from the truth. Thankfully in America most Muslims are assimilated into being American and are less religious but do you wonder why Muslims all around the world actl ike animals when a cartoon is drawn or if a pastor threatens to burn a copy of the quran?? Do Christians act like animals if a copy of the Bible is burned?? NO. They don't like it, it's offensive to them, but they are more civilized and for the most part LIVE LIFE IN THIS WORLD, NOT ANOTHER.

    To John: It is the truth. All apostates need to be killed and it is called upon in the quran and hadith. I am someone who is Iranian-American, atheist, and I have read the quran and understand Islam. In particular for me (since I was born "Muslim") I deserve the worst punishment and torture. Regardless, all atheists are apostates or "kafar" and deserve to be killed on the spot and it is the duty of every Muslim according to the quran. You want to be politically correct and deny the truth that is fine, staying illiterate and ignorant is your choice.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  16. Rick

    It's things like this that make me want to move to Europe. I mean let's just examine the headline .. "an atheist country dominated by radical Islamists" ... just .. wow. Hey Newt you do realize that if someone is an atheist they would definitely NOT believe in lslam? Right?

    /facepalm

    March 29, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • feedbacker

      absolutely correct; but, when dear Newt and those of his ilk say "atheist," they mean abstaining from Christianity.

      Christianity, of course, being the only religion worth having..

      /facepalm X2

      March 29, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  17. Ally Buster

    This butt-clown is answer-less, and is scratching for anything to get the geezer vote!

    Tea-bagger:

    T otally
    E nraged
    A bout

    B lacks
    A nd
    G ays
    G etting
    E qual
    R ights

    March 29, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  18. K3Citizen

    We should all follow his religion. That way, we can fornicate all we want and not worry about what others think. It is pretty hypocritical to bash another religion when you can't even follow your own religion's commandments.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  19. Dewey

    Newt claims to be such a Christian but he doesn't seem to know the meaning of the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery". After all Newt you have broken it three times that we know of.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  20. Some Guy

    So that's the most important thing to Gingrich? Let's not worry about the wars we've started in the Middle East or the umemployment rate. Let's just make sure those Muslims don't out pray us.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • sasss31

      I find it lame that some people try to throw out the wars in some type of argument in regards to this. As an atheist, I supported the wars and continue to feel it was not only necessary, but morally just. I think Bush's only mistake was that he should have gone to Iran instead of Iraq as the Iranian people are very pro-American and would have supported the American forces more and none of the nonsense Al Qaeda suicide bombing etc. would have resulted in the aftermath. I am not alone!!! The great Christopher Hitchens is a great spokesmen for atheism and the necessity of a strong and proactive foreign policy.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:43 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.