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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. Chrono

    Isn't being "worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,”" the same as being afraid your local Applebees is becoming a Vegetarian restaurant that will only serves steak???

    March 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  2. Beka

    The only thing consistant about this this man is his talking out of both sides of his mouth and his inability to speak anything close to resembling the truth in his personal life or American history. I wish these people would pay as much attention to their fellow Americans who are really real as they do for a God that could possibly be real. Its a real shame that they care more about a place that they arent at yet then the place they are at. Newt Gingrich is a perfect example of someone who needs a Jesus to make people believe he is a good person instead of actually just being a good person.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  3. Jimbo

    Using religion to get votes, just as pathetic as wanting to give illegal immigrants amnesty for more votes. The right needs to stop pandering to evangelicals and the left needs to stop trying every thing they can to give illegals the opportunities to vote.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  4. MomOf4

    Aetheists do not believe in God. Moslems, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Bahais – ALL believe in God – althought you can argue from your own religious platforms that your God is the one true God. Mr. Gingrich is confusing the facts here and his statement comes out as being utterly racists. This coming from the man who wants to lead America – a melting pot of diverse etchic groups and religions.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  5. Keegan

    While I see Newts contradiction here, most of the people who wrote comments are thinking out of context, (part of the reason Religious books are misinterpreted). Knowing that Newt is most likely a conservative and a Christian. Seeing a nation who's general population is become more Atheist/secular. Generally Conservatives like Newt have been known to have a higher standard of morals, (not saying Liberals don't, Conservatives just well care more about moral issues). He fears a time, when the general population will be more accepting others beliefs, and not having any moral backbone this will allow for the more opinionated politicians to be Muslims. (I don't think it will turn out like this, and he's over reacting by the way)

    March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  6. FSM

    Jesus, protect us from your followers.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  7. Diane

    There is a natural population growth. Duh.....Muslims in America will grow in number, as will the Spanish, Blacks AND Christians. As for world domination....the Evangelical Christians are the most proselytizing group of all religions with MISSIONARY work networking all over the world.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  8. Amazed

    The Quitter shuts up and now the Cheater won't shut up!

    Please GOP corrall your idiots.....

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  9. Heaven and Hell

    Oh the ironing! An fundie Christian can't tell the difference between atheism and it's polar opposite–fanatical theism. What makes it particularly amusing is that radical Islam is basically fundamentalist evangelical Christianity +1 new prophet. The only reason they don't get along is that they are too much alike.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  10. Ben Dover

    This unethical bas*ard is really desperate to become President, isn't he? It'll never happen. Signed, happy, educated, intelligent Atheist.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  11. allnightjohnson

    What a bunch of anti-Americans that have commented here. First and foremost , this country was founded by people who were for the most part fleeing RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. One of the founding principles was that our spirituality is our own personal business. For you Christians here, you are so wrong and should probably read what George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had to say about Christianity in relation to it's influence in politics. As for religion in general, their intent was that there be NO STATE RELIGION. As for you others attacking Christianity, your beliefs are yours and others have just as much right to their own. As for Newt Gingrich, he is just another part of the Right vs. Left dog and pony show that leads people to believe that we aren't controlled by the mega-wealthy corporations and banks.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Heaven and Hell

      No they were not fleeing religious persecution. The religious nuts colonized New England more than a century before the revolution. By the time 1775 rolled around, the Puritanical movement had already burned itself out (sometimes literally as with their witch hunts). Colonists had already mostly become the diverse entrepreneurial adventurers that would later characterize the nation-to-be.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  12. reed b

    Answer me this How does the Catholic church allow a divorcee into the church via conversion, yet excommunicate those Catholics who divorce? It wouldn't be the money or notoriety of the convert, would it? No, no, never. Just ask any Kennedy.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  13. Spellwizard

    Atheist – One who does not believe in any god(s) or supreme being(s). Radical Muslims belive in Allah.

    Gingrich is a contradiction waiting to happen!!!

    March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  14. Fred Evil

    Well wait a minute. Will America become a ATHEIST country, OR one dominated by extremist Muslims?
    It can't be both moron...

    March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  15. mark

    Newt truly is an idiot. I'm sure if he gets elected they'll make it a requirement to convert to catholicism to become an American citizen. Whats happening to our freedom of religion, to believe or not believe in the tooth fairy?

    March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  16. tdavid6

    Aren't athiests people who do not believe in God? Islam believes in God (they are not Christians, as they do not recognize Jesus Christ as the son of God). Jews also believe in God, but are not Christians (they also do not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God). Gingrich doesn't know the difference between athiests, wiccan, agnostics, and non-Christians. He lumps anyone that is not a Christian into one category... heathens.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • tdavid6

      Furthermore... A-THEISM (without theism, or the belief of God). Muslims are theists (they believe in Allah, or God). Therefore they are WITH THEISM, which makes them the opposite of A-THEISTS. I'll give you a few minutes to let that sink in, Newt. I'm sure it will take you several reads.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  17. Jess

    How the heck can you have an atheist country that is dominated by the followers of a particular RELIGION?? Atheist means "anyone without religion"; it DOES NOT mean "anyone that doesn't follow the Christian religion". So Newt, thanks for exposing yourself as both an islamophobe AND an idiot.

    On a side note, I AM an atheist and I am happy to know instill fear in New Gingrich!!

    March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Fred Evil

      Exactly. He is on Pander-thon 2011!!! Sucking up to ANYONE who will listen, because he knows in his heart of hearts he hasn't a chance. He has a better likelihood of winning a frontal lobotomy through the lottery, than he has of becoming President.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Jerry

      Its sad that people like you get to enjoy God's earth. The atheist can't find God for the same reason that a thief can't find a policeman.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  18. MiddleFinger

    Yes, Newt. What kind of Christian are you when you were banging your secretary while your wife lie dying of cancer in the hospital?

    Most expect this kind of rhetoric from the far right. What's so frightening is the number of people that believe this B.S.!

    March 29, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  19. irreligious

    No, Newt I rather have the extreme evangelicals and catholics taking care of the children. then they can have the huge payouts for being molested??

    March 29, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  20. EddyL

    So now after his whoring and adultery, this ugly fat slob is spouting bible verses at us? GO AWAY, FATSO

    March 29, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • America needs realists

      Very nice of you. I believe the Christian faith was built on forgiveness. I hope you have lead a perfect life and have done nothing that you would like to forget or take back.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • EddyL

      Christian faith is BALONEY. No one is perfect but who this this fat slob hypocrite lecturing us on morals? He should go back under his rock and pray some more.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:45 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.