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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. Chris

    It's amazing to me that so many religions believe the entire universe with all its complexity is centered around a deity who is solely focused on social morality which changes almost daily. Billions of stars, planets, plants, animals, sea creatures and they are all here to witness my JUDGEMENT DAY where god decides if I get in or not based on whether i sinned or not. Didn't god himself sin in the old testament by ordering the killing of the Canonites? People just believe because it's the social norm and that helps their family avoid chaos, being outcast, and generally prosper. That's evolution at it's finest, doing everything you can to ensure a prosperous, calm, chaos free life even if it means believing in a fairy tale.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Peggy Munro

      Chris, can you please spell God with a capital " G". About your fairy tale argument, maybe it is true but while there are many fairy tales this is the best of them all. Think of the alternative.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • realitybites

      Honestly, Peggy, it depends on the alternative. There could be various oneS. You seem to forget that people thrived happily and unhappily on the Earth before Monotheism existed AND during it. Still do and they didn'tand don't care about your alternative view.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  2. RobbyT

    How can it be atheist and Islamic at the same time?

    March 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  3. CNN Censors

    I wonder if this guy is looking forward to meeting God and trying to explain how he could serve his terminally ill wife divorce papers while she lay dying in the hospital.

    These people are a scary bunch - they want America to be just like Iran, but with Biblical Canon Law in the place of Sharia, and with 9 Southern Baptist religious judges in the place of the council of imams. The only thing worse than their vision is their hypocrisy - filled to the brim with adulterers, pedophiles, closeted self-hating hoomoseexuals, corporate criminals, and other "worst of the worst" types who pretend to be Christian in order to get ignorant people to vote for them.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  4. noel

    jefferson was a deist, washington a christian, as were the great majority of the founding fathers... as it says at the top of the washington monument... LAUS DEO... praise be to GOD!!!

    March 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • CNN Censors

      "God", which is the same God that Jews, Bahai, and yes - even MOOSLIMS - worship.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • realitybites

      Tell, oh wise one. When was the Washington Monument erected and by whome. The founding fathers cetainly didn't. Must have been God, huh? The same being who printed "In God We Trust" on our money and and inserted "under God" into the pledge of allegience in the 1950's. When you try to us our founding fathers as spokespeople for Christianity you fall into the same category of people who used the Bible to support slavery as good and moral.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  5. WVlady63

    19random35, you do know Hell does not give out asbestos suits don't you??????

    March 29, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  6. Oxymoronic

    Anybody else see anything wrong with this headline?

    March 29, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  7. Believe it or not

    Anyone who claims to know how God thinks or acts is probably a nonbeliever. Their comments are commonly fueled by fear and hate, contrary to their own religious texts. We're already a country of nonbeleivers.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  8. jeff george

    This is a pathetic bit of pandering by GIngrich. And as other posters have pointed out, this country was founded by people like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, all of whom specifically warned of religious fundamentalists. They did NOT found the country based on Christian values, but rather freedom from religious intolerance. For a guy who claims to be a student of history, Gingrich flunks badly.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  9. Johnny in queens

    Funny but I'm an atheist and never divorced my wife on her hospital bed. Nor cheated on my 2nd wife with an employee. Of course I've never had a second wife; I've been happily married and faithful for thirty years. And raised two wonderful kids who are also happily married and upstanding citizens. But I guess as long as you believe in some spirit you're allowed to misbehave as a human.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  10. DC2003

    So the adulterer is worried about everyone else being "Godless" ... Interesting!
    He should probably rewrite that speach, since technically Islamist are NOT atheist!

    March 29, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  11. MTGAL

    Among the many things I don’t understand is why people who label themselves “Christian” are generally among the most narrow-minded, least tolerant and most hate mongering people. If – and admittedly, this is a big IF – you believe in Jesus you must accept that he did not preach hatred, intolerance or exclusion. This is what gets to me about religion, just about any religion: the idea of there being only one pathway to God and the equally taxing idea that those who do not believe as we believe (“we” meaning any group of religious zealots) are inferior forms of life and should be treated as such. Personally, I am not an atheist, but I am also not fond of religion and believe most religion leads adherents away from the divine instead of bringing them closer. I also believe people such as Newt are extremely dangerous for they seek only to further their own messages of hatred, divisiveness and ignorance.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Peggy Munro

      To MTGAL

      More and more people, including myself have or are coming to the same conclusion that Religion could take away from the meaning of the message. My beliefs are comparable to yours.

      Blessings and happiness to you.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • realitybites

      Thank you.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  12. JD

    Hmmm. Well I fear any nation that puts all its eggs in one basket. We are not a Christian. Muslim, Athiest, Agnostic, Hindu or Buddist Nation. Forgive me if I left your faith out.

    We are Americans...period. Don't give in to the fear and hate people like Gingrich are slinging.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • sue

      Very well stated! We are (thankfully!!!) not all alike in this country. If I am not mistaken, that was the intent of our Founding Fathers and why we have become "The Melting Pot" of the world! Not everyone likes vanilla ice cream. We are all different and yet we are all God's children...whether you call him God, Allah, Muhammed, or whatever.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  13. zaNe

    He is preying on the general public's moronic fears to get votes...period.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  14. leokitty

    If Newt becomes president, I would have to kill myself! I would rather have that idiot Trump in the White House.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Nicole

      I am learning what it takes to be a Canadian, just in case... ;)

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

      @Nicole: LOL! I'm with you on this one! People are always saying "if you don't like it here, move" And I am wondering how one goes about and does that, really. I mean, we can't just pack up and decide to go live in Canada, can we? Because I am about ready to go. Too many NUTS in this country for me!!!

      March 29, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • SoS

      I'll provide the rope, free of charge.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • realitybites

      If there were only a NEW WORLD left to go to get away from them. Fortunately for our ancestors, this was an option. Now we have to fight the same insane religiopolitical thugs they tried to get get away from . Can't run away from trouble. Ain't nowhere that far.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  15. Andrew

    Newt looking to shore up the crazy vote, also known as the GOP base.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  16. TG

    Mr John Hagee has grossly distorted what was prophetically said through Jeremiah, for Jeremiah 16:16 that he quoted from the King James Bible, refers to the nation of Israel being repatriated back to their homeland in 537 B.C.E., seventy years after ancient Babylon had desolated the land of Judah in 607 B.C.E. and not about Hitler. Thus false religion continues to be spread.

    However, the days for false religion are numbered, for Revelation 16:12 gives a glimpse into the near future, when the symbolic "Euphrates" river, a water source that protected ancient Babylon, "dries up". Ancient Babylon was noted for being extremely religious and thus its counterpart Babylon the Great (Rev 17:5) that is supported by the symbolic Euphrates River, "peoples and crowds and nations and tongues"(Rev 17:15), is the world empire of false religion that will see its support 'dry up'. Many are leaving the churches and of others, religion is loosing ground. Ancient Babylon lost its protective boundary of the Euphrates River when Medo-Persian king Cyrus drained down the Euphrates River in order to expose Babylon and thus caused ancient Babylon's fall on the night of October 5/6, 539. B.C.E.

    This will to the eventual destruction of false religion in the near future at the hands of the "scarlet-colored wild beast" or the United Nations, because Revelation 17:17 says that God put his "thought" into their "hearts" to carry out his words until they are accomplished.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • realitybites

      And the old hermit came forth from his cave and spouted forth the ancinet prophecies and the people were awed by his insame rhetoric mixed in w/ history real or conjectured. There was none to opposed his as he slid back into his dark echo chamber and raved to himself about the end of as foretold in the book of the ancients.

      Thank you. I feel much dumber for reading your logic,

      Newt. Be careful. Evil has a way of making frineds w/ the Good and then drags them into the darkness.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Ed Gruberman

    I fear a country where idiots like Newt Gingrich are voted into office.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  18. Bob

    The founding father's were atheists. Gingrich is an idiot. If anyone with half a brain took the time to look up things like that they'd realize how stupid his remarks really are. America was founded based on the idea of individual freedom from tyranny, not on christian values.

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

      I think the founders mentioned the word "God" enough times in the Declaration to make them Atheists.

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

      Three or four times. Oh yeah, they were absolutely gushing about God. It was like going to a sermon.

      And Jefferson's original draft hardly had any reference at all.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • amanda14

      Jefferson was a Diest. He believed in God.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • jimbo jones

      They were Christian, then converted to DEISM probably to stop conflict like this. There are crazy atheists and crazy believers.

      Believers are trying to "spread the word" so i can see why they argue with atheists because they are trying to convince them.

      What is the atheist motivation for arguing with christians?

      Seems like both parties are throwing dirt at each other but all either side is doing is losing ground.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  19. vel

    "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." The only irony here is that this organization doesn't care about Jews at all and still sees them as people to hate. They only want a country of Israel so their supposed "prophecies" will come true and they can watch Jews be destroyed for daring not to believe in the Christian messiah. How sick and sad.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  20. Damien

    I feel sorry for you non-believers. On an unrelated note, when there's another 9/11 we'll see if you agree with Mr. Gingrich.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • vel

      "I feel sorry for you non-believers. On an unrelated note, when there's another 9/11 we'll see if you agree with Mr. Gingrich." Hmmm, another terrorist attack by religous zealots like those who fly planes into buildings or who murder people for legal actions in the name of their Christain God? That would make sure I wouldn't agree with such a man as Mr. Gingrich who thinks that religion should have any place in government.

      And feel sorry for us? Why? Is this one more impotent threat by a Christian? How cute!

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

      Thats OK... I feel sorry for you believers. You're all so weak minded you need an imaginary friend to make you feel better. way to go

      March 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Dumbest Comment Ever...

      Because Christianity certainly saved us from 9/11 before, it must be the only wall of defense against radical Islam. There isn't any way an atheist could fend off attacks as well as the Christians have...

      March 29, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Nicole

      If you are an atheist then you would not be a Muslim... If the country is secular then how could it be run by Islamic extremists? The man is nuts and it is scary anyone listens to him.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Andrew

      Will there be another Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by white christian zealots as well? It is funny that the evangelitards glaze over the terrorist groups who are not muslim. Americans are more likely to get killed in a shark attack or a lightning strike than the are to die by terrorist attack. Maybe we need a war on lightning.

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

      I won't. I can assure you. I doubt if Newt and I could agree on the time of day. And yet....you might find this surprising....I am a liberal, Christian AND patriotic American! Hard for GOP-ers to believe that there might be another way, huh?

      March 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Mark

      Here we go again with lumping a few terrorists into a larger group of religion that are mostly non-violent. I could answer your comment but listing a host of serial killers and violent men who have claimed "christianity" as their religion. Does that, therefore, mean that ALL Christians are the that way? Your logic is very flawed. One bad apple DOES NOT spoil the bunch. I am sick and tired of people equating all Mulsims as terrorists. It is ignorant and will only perpetaute more violence and backlash in this country. Where are the "Christian" values of love, forgivness, and turing-the-other-cheek?

      March 29, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Karloff

      I take issue with your use of the word "nonbeliever" in describing one who doesn't subscribe to the ridiculous belief in god. Atheists ARE believers–they BELIEVE in science, rational thought, and critical thinking, not religious mumbo jumbo.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • robert

      Newt Gingrich. Just another nobody

      March 29, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • amused720

      You do not feel sorry for anyone, like most Christians, you only say that to try and validate your own beliefs, pretending you know something that "they" do not. How comical. I was not blinded by irrational emotion and paranoia on the first 9/11, I would not be so again if there were another.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Joe in Colorado

      "Your comment is awaiting moderation".

      Why?

      And by whom?

      March 29, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Joe in Colorado

      Religious people scare me.

      Why do you guys care so much about eternal existence? Isn't the cycle of life beautiful enough as it is? You get 40, 60, 80 years and then you're done. And your atoms become again part of the earth. Ever looked at the skeletal structure of a dog, or a fish, or a dinosaur, and then compared that to yours? It's so obvious that we're all just animals. The earth under our feet is piled with the corpses of trillions of dead creatures since the dawn of time; and so will be yours and mine.

      I stopped believing the indoctrination of my youth when that little girl Jessica in Florida was stolen from her home, and then buried alive in a trash bag with her hands bound by speaker wire. If there were a god, and he loved us, he would've have intervened on that one. It is S-I-C-K to have the power to stop something like that, but instead just allow it to be. If I were a god, I'd have helped; I would interact with mankind and come visit. I would be a better and more loving god, and that makes this "perfect god" of yours then impossible.

      Oh, but god loves you? Yet he creates this place called "Hell" for anyone who doesn't do what he says? I'm a father, and let me say that no matter what my son ever did, I wouldn't torture him for eternity upon eternity because he didn't do what I said. Because I love my son. Again, I am more capable of love and forgiveness than this god of yours– which makes your god impossible.

      So religious people are scary to me, this belief they have.

      On top of that, religious people seem to side with the "right" (conservatives) politically and also with the State. Which makes zero sense at all. It's so bizarre, it's almost like a joke. The State killed Jesus, and yet religious people look at the State as their ally and friend. They love capital punishment. They flip flop between what was preached in the New Testament and what was taught in the Old Testament to suit themselves. It makes no sense at all.

      Religion should be banned. Stop hoping and praying and wishing for things to happen, and get off your hieneys and make them happen.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'I feel sorry for you non-believers. On an unrelated note, when there's another 9/11 we'll see if you agree with Mr. Gingrich.'
      Yeah beacause a terrorist attack in the name of religion will make us feel more sympathetic towards religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jason

      Trust me.. you don't have to feel sorry for us. You REALLY don't!!

      March 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • realitybites

      Nope. Didn't the 1st time and won't IF it happens again. By the way I believe in God but, don't begrudge anyone else for not believing. Their choice. Free country. Unbeliever gets used a lot by radicals to degrade those they don't agree with in regards to God. Not my place. That's God's.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:59 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.