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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. Aiwas

    So....Being an Atheist society, has only one way to go, and that's being dominated with radical muslims? What crap. Like the christians would ever let that happen.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  2. MrWhite820

    I guarantee you that as a non-drinking, non-smoking, abstinent atheist, I have lived a far more moral life than Newt Gingrich. I'd suggest he not throw stones, but there's not enough glass left in his house to break.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  3. Moogie713

    For all you religious nutjobs (Newt included); it is hard to understand how you live in such a delusional place. Living on false hopes and waiting for your precious "rapture" to show up. Atheist live morally, not under threat, but because that is their nature. We are realists too, and that is why over 20% of this nation does not believe in God. Someone get Newt a straight jacket before he hurts himself; and ignore the rest of the holy rollers.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  4. Flora

    We are aware of the danger of Zhiria law, and izlamic extremism. The L*D*S church is a greater danger. They, too, want a theocracy, but since they are home grown and claim to be kriztian we aren't as aware of the danger. I would rather live in an atheistic society that to;erates religions, than in a religious one that has a state religion thrust on everyone.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  5. Erky

    He forgot to add communists, vampires and demons. So he should have said "Atheist country dominated by communist vampire Muslim demons".
    Wow, what a moron

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  6. Shadysider

    An atheist country dominated by radical religious fanatics? Get the meds. He's off his rocker.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  7. juan solana

    OMG, with candidates like this, can expect the worst for the US, or for any other country by the way!!!

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  8. mrgmorgan56

    Gingrich fears 'atheist country ... dominated by radical Islamists'
    What a moronic notion. First, Islamist are not atheist. Second, our founding fathers hated religion an knew that it would corrupt government as it did in Europe. Third, anyone who believes in religion of any kind is a weak minded fool.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  9. Newt is BS

    Has Newt started working on his 4th wife yet? This could be the preview of his foreplay! :)

    March 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  10. Corey

    A country of rational, free-thinking secularists who do not believe in fairy tales... What a frightening concept.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • PulTab

      frighteningly appealing!

      March 29, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  11. fuzzynormal

    Let the fear mongering begin!

    March 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  12. Sari in Vegas

    Who cares what religion or lack of one that an American is? As long as we all do our best to obey the law, is it really going to matter? Isn't having the freedom to choose these things for ourselves a very important part of democracy?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  13. Newt is BS

    Has Newt started working on your 4th wife yet? This could be the preview of his foreplay! :)

    March 29, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  14. noel

    after all folks... washington dc intself was designed, intentionally, in the shape of a cross... look it up... you really think this was coincidence? uh huh, and i'm the easter bunny... get a clue america!!!

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Too funny a statement, has to be sarcasm.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • PulTab

      looks like a surfers cross to me.

      March 29, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  15. Laurie

    Finally someone gets it! When the US and Canada forfeited their faith in the melting pot plan....they did not realize they were making themselves vunerable. It is Christian charity that opened up the borders to welcome other cultures, but having tossed out the baby with the bathwater (that is, Christ our rock and foundation) we fail to even recognize the threat. Welcoming people from other nations for the sake of their fleeing persecution and dictatorship is a good thing. However, tossing prudence to the wind and ignoring an ominous threat from importing those dangerous ideals is folly.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • MindiK

      Yea, that's some wind your blowing there.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • PulTab

      hey laurie. religion sucks in all its forms!

      March 29, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  16. musician

    Gingrich uses a mix of fearmongering, conspiracy theory and wacko religion to entice his moronic following to jump on his bandwagon. It`s embarrassing at best and dangerously stupid at worst. May he fail, and quickly.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  17. Richxx

    We have wacko "religious nuts" on the right and "spend our grandchildren s money" socialist on the left. Who is there for a person to vote for in 2012? Anybody know of a conservative Deist running for Pres?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  18. DA

    We all do remember that for thousand of years, man believed in mythology and worship multiple gods. Also had multiple religions. We still have multiple religions. But we have got down to one god, at some point one will have to hope we can move pass all of this.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  19. oh, brother!

    Gingrich is pathtic.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  20. curt

    Gingrich fears an atheist nation dominated by radical islam? I fear two faced blowhards with no moral compass like him and the rabid right who foam at the mouth while passing their lies off as truth. The man left his first wife for another, then went to her as she was recovering from cancer and said he was leaving her for another affair. This was while he was talking about morality and saying a mother who murdered her children in South Carolina was an example of "liberal values". I'm sure he will conveniently find God in the next few months. Where do Republicans find these slimeballs?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:21 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.