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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. Cascadoux

    Newt needs to be fearful. He hasn't done anything, by example, to promote the religion and God of Love, claims to honor. He, like most Republicans, seeking to benefit their own status in this world, have not an ounce of sincerity in their speech. They are spiteful and venomous in their speech and slurs. They illicit, from me, equal, if not more, hopelessness. I feel like they are eroding every thing good about America, and they do it with such blatant, and cojones-busting regularity, that the populace at large, believes it to be true. These fork-tongued devils terrorize me to no end. If not for my belief, that in spite of, or because of the lies, America will eventually be awakened, and allow the scales to fall from their eyes. In the mean time, sadly, good people end up falling by the wayside. P.S. Isn't it convenient when they seem to evoke God only when it is a means to an end?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  2. GeeWhizBeav

    Just think how much better our society would be if we were a secular nation; one free of the ignorance, prejudice and oppression perpetuated in the name of religion.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  3. Elton

    The founding fathers were in no way Christians... Some historians believe many were silent atheists who sat back and simply studied different philosophies. John Adams even stated that the US was not a Christian nation in I believe the Treaty of Tripoli or something like that. (Sorry, I don't know for sure)

    March 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  4. Tare

    This is exactly what is wrong with America today – no candidates with a brain. Anyone who votes for this paranoid moron should have their right to vote removed!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • sasss31

      I disagree. Everyone in this country should be able to vote, regardless.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  5. sasss31

    Religious people can be good people too. Let me give you a quote from the great American physicist Steven Weinberg: "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion". And for people to argue that religion and science can go together through their pseudononsense, that is pure hogwash as the vast majority of physicists, biologists, and scientists beg to differ.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  6. sasss31

    Let me give you a quote from the great American physicist Steven Weinberg: "With our without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion".

    March 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  7. Dronetek

    The left always characterized Iraq as a secular country and it was pretty Islamic.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  8. Jeremy Brown

    How can a 'secular atheist country' simultaneously be '...one dominated by radical Islamists...' Oxymoron surely?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  9. Spidey-Man

    yup... dumb as a sack of hammers... Hey Newt! I'm an Atheist and if radical islamists take over America they'll be killing me before they kill you because I'm an Atheist. That is until you crap yourself after seeing what happens to me and I'm sure you'll convert real quick. If anything's going to be the downfall of America it's bible humpers like you. Anything to get the majority of the votes... huh?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  10. Longtime

    Pleasebpardon me- I meant 14th Amendment. Specifically Rep. John Bingham of Ohio who wrote it, who won us a unified civil rights system.that in theory restricts the power of those supposedly wonderful state governments, and in practice gets worked out by those supposedly horrible judges who try to give it meaning and definition.

    Gingrich wrote a vast number of bills in which he left interpretation of key provisions up to judges. He loves legislating from the bench when it covers him from political consequences. But when it's time to campaign, then he decries judges who do what he as Speaker forced them to do because he is a policy coward. Gingrich is a fraud, but it runs deeper than than simply breaking his marriage vows.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  11. sasss31

    God DOESN'T exist even if you believe in this celestial dictator. Most people may have a false belief in the concept of god, but when people like you start to use scripture and see the world based on primitive texts written by illiterate scribes, that's when the big threat from the side of Christian fundamentalism come to play

    March 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I agree with you that in all probability god doesn't exist, but concerning one of your sentences:

      If they're scribes, they can't be illiterate... can they?? Perhaps you meant ignorant...

      March 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • sasss31

      No! I meant illiterate. Remember, let's look to today's science, not during primitive and medieval times. The scribes were illiterate of scientific knowledge and of how the world works. Anything equated to them = illiterate and ignorant.

      March 29, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Student

      You're right about the scribes being illiterate. They could not read what they were writing, oftentimes, but just copied the text available. Just like I could write French or Arabic or Chinese. I can copy a whole chapter or book in a different language, but I wouldn't know what it means at all. This also means that mistakes were possible since the scribes wouldn't proofread for comprehension.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  12. Ricky Savoie

    And this clown wants to be president?

    March 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  13. A Muslim

    I think this country would be better off if the government actually followed separation of church and state. Before you ask, I don't support a government ruled by Islam either. As long a person in a political position could do their job, which is lacking in both parties these days, why do I care if they believe in God or not. The founding fathers are probably upset on how religion has come to play such an important role in politics since most of them were deists.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  14. Robert Hagedorn

    Pet stores don't sell live snakes that speak human language. And grocery stores don't sell knowledge of good and evil fruit. So...is the story of Adam and Eve nonsense or is there meaning beyond their disobedience? Do a search: The First Scandal. Then click twice.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  15. Right-leaning-lefty

    “America” [will be] “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."
    So Newt, will it be a secular atheist country or an Islamic one? Big difference. And no understanding of what it once “meant” to be an American? Meaning atheists and Muslim Americans are not American? You truly have no idea what it means to be an American. I used to think you were smart. Pig-headed, morally corrupt and racist, but smart. Does the GOP have NO contenders for 2012? Seriously!

    March 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  16. Cathy W

    I've got a message for you: Atheists and Muslims aren't your enemy. Ignorance IS. Newt is igorantly associating atheism and Islam together. I guess it's to his benefit to link the two most distrusted groups in America, in an us (Christians) vs. them (Atheists and Muslims) mentality.

    Muslims believe in God, and Atheists don't. Atheists would not support a Muslim "regime" any more than we would a Christian one. Nor are Atheists more gullible or ready to be "taken over." Quite the opposite. Most have a strongly skeptical nature of ANY reglious doctrine, especially from someone who is supposed to lead a country of many divergent beliefs.

    March 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Another Larry

      You are very much mistaken. Ignorance is very much his friend. Without ignorant people to buy what he's selling he'd be lost.

      Newt's new Contract for America: Establish Christianity as America's official religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Frank S.

      "Contract for America" – more like the Contract ON America.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  17. floopgloop

    Gingpoor is obviously an idiotic, nincompoopic, dimwitted birdbrain and possibly not a person.

    March 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Musings

    "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." I find this hard to understand because the last time I read up my Islamic books–we believe in GOD or in the Arabic word: Allah. We are not atheist......if anything we have higher moral laws to abide by than atheists. Guess who I'm not voting for in the next election.......Here's your sign Gang-green....you obviously still don't know your facts and haven't learned much from the last time you were in the political spotlight.

    March 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Musings wrote: "if anything we have higher moral laws to abide by than atheists."

      Highly doubtful... I'm not even to start naming all the wonderful "moral" acts performed by Muslims... (OK... I'll start... honor killings, stonings, sending gullible followers as human bombs, persecution and murder of "infidels"... etc.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Another Larry

      PraiseTheLard: The things you list are not teachings of Islam. They are politically and culturally motivated, which is why you don't hear about them in all Muslim countries.

      March 29, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  19. Leon

    An "atheist country" "dominated by radical Islamists"? Is that supposed to make sense? When did Muslims stop believing in Allah?

    March 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Musings

      @Leon–I agree. Last time I checked they were monotheists and believe in God. I'm saddened by Newts stupid comment and wonder why anyone would vote for him, except for his mom.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • baboocole

      Can you say oxyMORON?

      March 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • BunnyFooFoo

      It's not an oxymoron at all, and it's effectively what is happening across Europe as we speak. Declining birthrates combined with a self-absorbed, "multiculturalist" society that, for better or worse, has abandoned religion and believes in little beyond personal comfort and self-gratification has created a cultural vacuum which young, dynamic, politicized Islam and the Sharia law it promotes are all too happy to fill.

      March 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • jack7521

      Check my facts here, please. If radical Islamists take over the country, won't they kill all the atheists in the name of god?

      March 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Alberts

      The key work here is RADICAL. Muslims of the radical genre are the ones who fly planes into buildings and disfigure their daughters if they "misbehave." Where are the mainstream Muslims? They are afraid, too. They are worried about the RADICAL faction of their faith. When was the last time you heard any 'mainstream" Muslims come out of the shadows to denounce the RADICALS? Doesn't happen. I'll stand behind Newt and what he says. He is wiser that you know.

      March 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Spidey-Man

      yup bunny... It's an OXYMORON! You need to read the quote again.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Alberts

      BunnyFooFoo - You are dead on exactly right! Just take a look around at our European neighbors. Sad to think that it has already started to crumble here, too.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • dean

      allah is not god paul wrote in the bible if ant man come to you with another gospel other than Jesus let him be accursed i say again if any man or angel come to you with another gosprl other than Jesus let him be accursed so muhamed is the man and allah is the lying angel both are forever banned from heaven

      March 30, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • Seanzie

      Allah is just Arabic for God. You're denouncing your god too when you think that.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  20. Alturn

    Beliefs are important. But diversity in beliefs is important, too. Fear, though, is an emotion that has no rightful place in politics or government. Fear keeps those who fall into its grasp from coming from their hearts and using the qualities of the heart, and mind, to discern wisely.

    "Politics is the art of uniting diverse cultures, beliefs, modes of life — not of destroying them."
    - World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported by Share International

    March 29, 2011 at 3:17 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.