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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. Sprinkles

    Pretty sure Ben Franklin was atheist, just saying...

    March 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  2. Dee

    One thing i find funny is that the fundies forget that apart from our belief systems, we're all the same. We live, bleed, and breath the same. Why treat anyone as inferior because of said belief system?

    March 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  3. Anon

    You keep using these words, "secular atheist" and "radical Islamists" I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

    March 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  4. GOP hates America

    So Newt is now a spokesman for Christianity? That seems about right. His adultery, his lack of compassion to his dying first wife, his political lies, his contract on America, his unbridled pride–he has all the makings of a Christian spokesman. Why believers allow a sleazebag like Newt speak for them is quite a revelation about Christians. Such hyprocrisy!

    March 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  5. Charles

    Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Zealots of any religion should keep their BS to themselves. I am so sick of the separation, misunderstanding, bigotry,xenophobia, and violence that emanates from all of this self righteous religious gang banging. Mankind is already separated enough by race, language, socio-political issues, culture and geography. Religion is just another label, and excuse that keeps mankind from getting along with one another. A world without religion, with just simple concern and consideration for fellow man in place of all these nonsense man made religions would be much better off. It is easier for people to focus all of their energy on the unknown hocus pocus world of religion than it is to face one another with respect and compassion and realize that this world and the people in it are all we truly have . Wake up world, get off of your knees and get your head out of the dirt and learn to embrace each other. People are real, ideologies are not.

    March 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  6. timechick

    A country dominated by Islamists wouldn't be all that secular atheistic, now would it. lol

    March 31, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  7. Flora

    Atheistic Muslims?! If atheism by its definition means a lack of belief in a deity and Muslims believe in a deity, Allah?! Wait, my head may go 'splodey. It's this kind of horse crap that is driving me away from religion, and in particular, away from Christianity. I know I can't be the only one.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  8. WOLFMAN

    NEWTGINGRICH GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR NEWT BEHOLD I SEND MYSTICAL COBRAS AFTER YOUUU HOW DARE YOU MOCK MEEEEEE YOU GREASE BALLLL BEHOLD IM COMMMMING WITH MY MULTI DIMENSINAL ARMIES WEREWOLVES GOBLINS DRAGONSSSSSS ANDD GIANTSSSS SOOO HUGEEEEE YOU WILLLLLLLLL REGRET BEING A HITLER LOVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROAR

    March 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  9. Ohio Conservative Mom

    Before you judge my name let me say that you cannot legislate matters of faith. This man is an embarassment to those of us that have conservative views but know its BECAUSE this country (currently) allows us to freedom of religion & speech. If you are afraid of aethists taking over the country then extreme Islamists are about the polar opposite. So in other words he is afraid of anyone not Christian.

    BTW – the church mentioned in this article stated that Hitler is a hunter – well Newt read your history – he also murdered tens of thousands of Catholics, not just jews.

    I am embarassed by the politicans that represent Americans.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  10. Mi Ning

    Newt Gingrich admits that he cheated on his wife while she was being treated for a, life threatening disease, and he wants to play "holier than thou"? Amazing. It's not atheism he should fear. He should fear that he will be held to account for his hypocrisy. He's spent years trying to get Americans to hate other Americans because of political differences of opinion, and he probably thinks himself a patriot. That's not patriotism, it's anti-patriotism. Please run for President, Newt, so you can go down in history as the biggest loser ever.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  11. batteryinme

    The FIRST problem (of many) with the article (and Gingrich's reasoning) is that Islam IS a religion.....and a country dominated by secular atheists (we can only "pray" this happens!!) will by definition NOT have the input of any religion (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.). That this tool equates atheism with non-christian religions is all you need to know about his mental faculties. Scamming for votes......his poor grandchildren....who long for the Christianity of our forefathers......how sad this period of time has passed (as has Newt's time in the pulpit).

    March 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Maggie

    It's not an irony. Christians United for Israel are out to fulfill biblical prophecy. They're not helping the Jews, they're trying to situate themselves in the 'end times' because their book says the Jews are supposed to be in Israel when the Rapture comes. They don't give two craps about the Jewish people, just 'prophecy'. So the Jews think they're using the evangelicals to get Israel back and the evangelicals think they're lining the Jews up to be fodder in their rapture scenario.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  13. Micah

    Newt, oh Newt. What you will not do to get points with the base. Does anyone else have a problem with his idea that “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists" is actually contradictory? Newt is smart but I am afraid that is having a real issue with logic these days. Look, his new base has a problem with anyone who does not profess a very narrow view of faith but I can't tell who is the bigger "pander bear", Newt or the Donald.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  14. Krow

    This guy is a moron even for a Republican.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  15. Sid

    How can radical Islamists dominate a secular atheist country while white Christian bigots can't? Newt has no imagination.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  16. mehmet

    O my soul! Do not say, "The times have changed, this age is different, everyone is plunged into this world and worships this life. Everyone is drunk with the struggle for livelihood." For death does not change. Separation is not transformed into permanence and become different. Man's impotence and poverty do not change, they increase. Man's journey is not cut, it becomes faster.

    And do not say, "I am like everyone else." For everyone befriends you only as far as the grave. And the consolation of being together with everyone else in disaster has no basis beyond the grave. And do not suppose yourself to be free and independent. For if you look at this guest-house of the world with the eye of wisdom, you will see that nothing at all is without order and without purpose. How can you remain outside the order and be without purpose?

    March 30, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  17. mehmet

    A group of high-school students came to me, saying: "Tell us about our Creator, our teachers do not speak of God." And I said to them: "All the sciences you study continuously speak of God and make known the Creator, each with its own particular tongue. Do not listen to your teachers; listen to them.

    "For example, a well-equipped pharmacy with life-giving potions and cures in every jar weighed out in precise and wondrous measures doubtless shows an extremely skilful, practised, and wise pharmacist. In the same way, to the extent that it is bigger and more perfect and better equipped than the pharmacy in the market-place, the pharmacy of the globe of the earth with its living potions and medicaments in the jars which are the four hundred thousand species of plants and animals shows and makes known to eyes that are blind even – by means of the measure or scale of the science of medicine that you study – the All-Wise One of Glory, Who is the Pharmacist of the mighty pharmacy of the earth.

    "To take another example, a wondrous factory which weaves thousands of sorts of cloth from a simple material doubtless makes known a manufacturer and skilful mechanic. In the same way, to whatever extent it is larger and more perfect than the human factory, this travelling Dominical machine known as the globe of the earth with its hundreds of thousands of heads in each of which are hundreds of thousands of factories shows and makes known – by means of the measure or scale of the science of engineering which you study – its Manufacturer and Owner.

    "And, for example, a depot, store, or shop in which has been brought together and stored up in regular and orderly fashion a thousand and one varieties of provisions undoubtedly makes known a wondrous owner, proprietor, and overseer of provisions and foodstuffs. In just the same way, to whatever degree it is vaster and more perfect than such a store or factory, this foodstore of the Most Merciful One known as the globe of the earth, this Divine ship, this Dominical depot and shop holding goods, equipment, and conserved food, which in one year travels regularly an orbit of twenty-four thousand years, and carrying groups of beings requiring different foods and passing through the seasons on its journey and filling the spring with thousands of different provisions like a huge waggon, brings them to the wretched animate creatures whose sustenance has been exhausted in winter, – by means of the measure or scale of the science of economics which you study – this depot of the earth makes known and makes loved its Manager, Organizer, and Owner.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  18. mehmet

    Because of the extreme tyranny and despotism of this last World War (2. World War) and its merciless destruction, and hundreds of innocents being scattered and ruined on account of a single enemy, and the awesome despair of the defeated, and the fearsome alarm of the victors and their ghastly pangs of conscience arising from the supremacy they are unable to maintain and the destruction they are unable to repair, and the utter transitoriness and ephemerality of the life of this world and the deceptive and opiate nature of the fantasies of civilization becoming apparent to all, and the exalted abilities lodged in human nature and the human essence being wounded in a universal and awesome manner, and heedlessness and misguidance and deaf, lifeless Nature being smashed by the diamond sword of the Qur'an, and the exceedingly ugly, exceedingly cruel true face of world politics becoming apparent, which is the widest and most suffocating and deceptive cover for heedlessness and misguidance, most certainly and without any shadow of a doubt, since the life of this world -which is the metaphorical beloved of mankind- is thus ugly and transient, man's true nature will search with all its strength for eternal life, which it truly loves and yearns for, just as there are signs of this occurring in the North, the West, and in America.

    And most certainly there is no doubt that since the Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition, which each century for one thousand three hundred and sixty years has had three hundred and fifty million students, and sets the seal on each of its pronouncements and claims through the affirmation of millions of profound, veracious scholars, and each minute has been present with its sacredness in the hearts of millions of hafiz's and given instruction to mankind through their tongues, and which in a way unmatched by any other book conveys the good news of eternal life and everlasting happiness to mankind and heals all their wounds,-since the Qur'an has given this certain good news of eternal life and happiness with thousands of its insistent, powerful and repeated verses, and with its certain unshakeable proofs and innumerable indubitable arguments which invite and give news explicitly and implicitly tens of thousands of times, so long as human kind does not altogether lose its mind and a material or immaterial doomsday does not erupt over its head, the broad masses and great states in the world will search out the Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition, and having grasped its truths, will embrace it with all their lives and spirits, just as there are [now] famous preachers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and England working to have the Qur'an accepted, and the important community of America is searching for the true religion. Because in view of this fact, the Qur'an by no means has-nor can have-any equal. And absolutely nothing can take the place of this greatest miracle.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • SD-mouth

      this has to be one of the most insufferable run-on-sentences ever. the UBBER religious come out in droves. Gingrich is a certifiable loon well placed in the GOP and their mind set. like Santorum saying he has 7 kids to help fund social security. that dip sticks is saying hes kids won'r debit Social Security when they age? where does these crazies come from? Islam has nothing positive to offer. Let them cane 14 year old girls to death in the name of Allah but build a fence around them. the overly religious will kill as all in the name of some god or another. this is certainly not what Christ tought, if he really existed.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  19. mehmet

    The grave is there and no one can deny it. Whether they want to or not, everyone must enter it. And apart from the following 'Three Ways', there is no other way it can be approached:

    First Way: For those who believe, the grave is the door to a world far better than this world.

    Second Way: For those who believe in the Hereafter, but who approach it on the path of dissipation and misguidance, it is the door to a prison of solitary confinement, an eternal dungeon, where they will be separated from all their loved ones.

    Third Way: For the unbelievers and the misguided who do not believe in the Hereafter, it is the door to eternal extinction. That is to say, it is the gallows on which both themselves and all those they love will be executed. Since they think it is thus, that is exactly how they shall experience it: as punishment.

    These last two Ways are self-evident, they do not require proof, they are plain for all to see. Since the appointed hour is secret, and death may come any time and cut off one's head, and it does not differentiate between young and old, perpetually having such an awesome and serious matter before him, unhappy man will surely search for the means to deliver himself from that eternal extinction, that infinite, endless solitary confinement; the means to transform the door of the grave into a door opening on to an everlasting world, eternal happiness, and a world of light. It will be a question for him that looms as large as the world.

    The certain fact of death, then, can only be approached in these three ways, and one hundred and twenty-four thousand veracious messengers -the prophets, in whose hands are miracles as signs of confirmation- have announced that the three ways are as described above. And, relying on their illuminations and visions, one hundred and twenty-four million saints have confirmed and set their signatures on the prophets' tidings. And innumerable exact scholars have proved it rationally with their categorical proofs at the level of 'certainty at the degree of knowledge.'1 They have all unanimously declared it to be a ninety-nine per cent certain probability, saying: "The only way to be saved from extinction and eternal imprisonment, and be directed towards eternal happiness, is through belief in God and obedience to Him."

    March 30, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Micah

      Oh my... The problem with your argument is that you don't actually have proof that can be backed up with evidence and cannot be explained another way. Look... If believing in God (Christian or otherwise) makes you a better person then I say "go for it". More importantly your belief (as long as it does not harm another) is completely protected. However, it is a stretch to claim the fact of death with "only three ways" of being in the afterlife. You seem like a deep thinker who has stopped thinking critically about your own beliefs. You are not alone... Anyone who makes a claim about knowing and the truth of God (for or against) has just as much evidence... Which by the way is practically none.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Xcntrik

      Not true.

      The Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't particularly care if you believe in him or not.

      Or did you have some other specific deity in mind?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hannah

      So, it's "your way or the highway," eh? Puh-leeze. You don't know what Your argument is incoherent and inconsistent. You sound like a pompous, judgmental donkey. Shut it.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • VitruviannMan

      I'm entirely OK with the third description, though I think I'm not the one who is misguided.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Jetea'

      Another pompous windbag.....(yawn). Here's a thought...when you get there and you snap off a few pics of you and Jesus sharing a few Heineken's, include them with a post card so we all know to follow your path since it absolutely HAS to be the ONLY one there is. K? Thanks so much.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • bigbuzz

      nice copy and paste mehmet

      March 31, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Beccs

      Sounds like the typical scare tactics nonsense preached by the religious for millennia.

      It doesn't work on those who think for themselves.

      March 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  20. Chris

    F this piece of steaming horse dropping.

    If anybody is buying this crap then you need to talk to someone professionally. You have lost all reasoning ability.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Mi Ning

      Bravo, Chris! Well put!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:53 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.