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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. max

    I'm afraid that radical christians will take over the country a hell of a lot more than muslims.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  2. Stewel

    Poor Newt...So much to fear and so little time.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  3. EffortPA

    "Top Eleven Signs You're a Christian:"

    11- You believe in a book (New Testament) that was written 80 years after your Messiah died by men who never met him, but continuously deny modern science books.

    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Thankgodi'manatheist

      Copied. This is great. Thanks!

      March 29, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Nobody Special

      Awesome!

      March 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • EffortPA

      I copied it from somebody else a few weeks ago. I thought it was great too.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  4. willy

    So Newt's a catholic now? He should have become a Mormon cuz it's obvious one wife isn't enough for this guy. I'm just sayin'...

    March 29, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  5. adasher1

    Ain't he the one that cheated on his wife? Hmmmm.....was god watching out for the interests of his wife during that time? Or, was god watching out for the interest of newt during that time? Just like an Atheist nation can't be Islamic, god can't exist to protect peeps if he (or she) chooses to allow one to be cheated on while allowing the other one to cheat....it's not congruent.

    Newt needs to crawl back under a rock like newts do....

    March 29, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  6. Jesus milani

    This idiot clearly has no idea what an athiest is if he thinks radical muslims are at6hiests lol

    what an idiot... I would rather have a country that believe in no higher power just themselves rather than the America we have now,.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  7. Les

    I thought our Canadian politicians were insane but you guys have ours beat all to heck. This guy's nuttier than a fruitcake – obviously Presidential material. Ah the images he inspires as Commander in Chief. lol

    March 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  8. Mizzdirekt

    If there is any problem with America...this guy embodies it. he is counting on Ohio to pull him through.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  9. GoDestroy

    His words are clear "I am a racist fear-mongering hypocrite"

    March 29, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  10. D

    Well if it's dominated by Islamists, it won't be secular OR atheist.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  11. Not Funny

    It's 2011 and I can't belive Religion is still a campaign issue in the States.

    Here in Canada, we've been in a Federal election campaign and Religion hasn't come up one and will most likely never come up (I don't think I've ever seen Religion come into play in my 10+ years of voting)

    Get with the times Newt and company

    March 29, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  12. Ted Haines

    Jess made my point. A secular atheist nation wouldn't be run by Islamists. That's an oxy moron, moron. It's a shame that so many uneducated and brainwashed people still fall for this christian BS rhetoric. Our earth will not see true peace until the religious people get an education and realize that no one religious franchise is better than another. They're all just stories written out of ignorance thousands of years ago as an attempt to explain things we did not at the time understand. We're past that now, we don't need a god, or any other imaginary friends. It's time to evolve our own thinking.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  13. CAFloyd1

    There was a time when I held respect for Newt, that moment passed when he led the impeachment hearing against Bill Clinton. How can anyone pass judgement based on morales they themselves can't uphold. This man (Newt) turned his back on and was cheating on his wife while she was dying of cancer, but he can speak now of upstanding moral character?

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Suparag

      @CACloyd1, thank you for saying what everyone else is thinking. When a Christian gets married, he/she promises in front of God, family, & friends to stay with the spouse through thick and thin,HEALTH & SICKNESS. Obviously this man does not keep his own promises to his God. He is also a ignoramus, who does not know the difference between a atheist and a religious fanatic.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  14. TerryG

    I find it hard to believe that anyone buying what he's selling?? But then, look at all the people who are making Ms. Palin a mulit-millionaire.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  15. PastDM

    Too bad old Newt does not realize that it is "Christians" like himself that turn so many off to the real Christian message of love, compassion for all, acceptance of all. If he were to take off his political ambition glasses and actually look to read the Gospel for what it is – he would see that Jesus did not care what people were – he taught that we needed to love and help everyone – and that those who are rich have a duty to help the poor – not just with charity and handouts, but to really work to make life more fair for everyone. But then again – since Newt seems to equate Muslims with atheists – he seems to misunderstand so many things . . .

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Oh Yeah?

      What about the Poor also having to work to rise above poverty, doing their fair share ?? Why is it always "The Rich" who must pay ?? The answer is..... The majority of Poor (not those UNABLE to work) would rather F.O. than Work like the rest of us. When a person has "No Digity" it's easier to Beg now and then. Especially when Social Programs make it easy to kick back and let others suffer the burden for them. This Homey is DONE handing out to Slackers.... and according to the Changing shift in the Political Landscape (ie, myself going Republican after being Dem for 40 years) I'd say I'm not alone. We'll see in the coming elections.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  16. sandalista

    And it all started when two naked people took dietary advice from a talking snake....

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  17. Shawn

    So....ruled by secular Atheists or radical Islamic? Which one? Can't be both.

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

    The Islamic Atheist are coming! The Islamic Atheist are coming! AAAAAAHHH!
    What an idiot.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  19. cheetoh

    I would take an atheist's morality over Newt's morality any day...

    March 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Tonyd

      I would probably take anyone's morality over his... but how exactly does religion have anything to do with ones morality?

      You have Christian priests touching boys, radical Muslims calling for the death and destruction of anyone not a part of Islam, and you compared his morality to those that simply do not believe that a God exists? I don't understand.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • shannon

      Me, too.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Epidi

      If I'm Pagan does that mean I should fear a Christian leader? Of course not – the burning times are supposed to be over! I thought our country was a melting pot and that's what made it so strong. People of many different backgrounds, races, religions, all with a common cause. Freedom to be just who we are – not creating fear and doubt about ourselves as a nation by dividing us as a people. Newt should crawl back under a damp rock with the other amphibians. Perhaps they found his fear mongering about the flies possibly eating the frogs as repugnant as this drivle and banished him for it.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Carolyn

      Boy you assume that atheists are moral. They are just like Gingrich human and fallible.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Hobie

      You got that right. When will the politicians ever realize we don't need religious candidates running for office? Naybe in some respects Gingrich is right, but he cond\tradicts himself when he says we'll be atheists, but dominated by"radical Islamists"... Newt, Newt you hipocrite !

      March 29, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  20. Wonderer

    How can it be atheist if it's potentially dominated by Radical Islamist?

    Way to play the Bush fear card. Next week, he'll tell how the Mexicans are converting to Islam in a Ubber plot to enrich Uranium in Mexico city, so they can build a bomb to blow up states surrounding Mexico and Texas, and take back the property that belonged to the Islamic... I mean Spanish.... I mean Native American ancestors.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Bryan

      OMG! You're right! WAR ON MEXICO!

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

      Exactly my thought.

      Either Newt is ignorant about what atheism is, about what Islam is, or he knows what both are and is doing his usual cynical manipulation of people's fears with a total disdain for the underlying facts of the situation.

      As for sinners, Newt long ago lost the right to cast the first stone.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Andi

      LOL!......This guy needs drug re-hab.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Andi

      They are playing to the fear of those who really believe this crap. He is a total joke. He knows better. Trust me. And now Donald Trump's on the "Obama wasn't born in the U.S. crap". I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think all of them come from the town of Crazyville.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • VishaNu

      I think what he means is that Americans are becoming blase about their spirituality, but many will come to a point where they will, out of necessity for their mental and spiritual well-being, start grasping for something to believe in. At that point, they will start turning to the people who are most fervent and dominant in their faith. That would be radical Muslims.

      Who was it that said "You've got to stand for something or you're going to fall for anything?" I know a lot of atheists on here can't wait for the day the world is no longer dominated by the Christian right, but please be aware that the Christian right is liberal in comparison to what theocratic Muslim countries have.

      You will never have a world without religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Enough already

      Gingrish (sic) is just stamping his feet and throwing out his ideas as god's truth. The man doesn't even know his history of our founding fathers. Ignoring him is best.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:22 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.