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Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling
Newt Gingrich has spent time as a Lutheran, a Baptist and a Roman Catholic.
December 10th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) - There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals over whether Newt Gingrich has repented enough for his sins to be president.

One recent skirmish was set off by an open letter urging Gingrich to give a major speech confronting his perceived moral stumbles, including an affair with his third wife, Callista, while married to No. 2.

“You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others, including your former spouses,” Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote.

Land urged Gingrich to make a public promise “that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House.”

Rather than galvanizing the faithful, however, Land’s letter provoked an outcry from a handful of evangelical leaders who argued Gingrich has repented enough and deserves forgiveness.

On an e-mail thread among conservative Christian heavyweights, Jerry Falwell Jr. invoked the biblical story of a woman of ill repute who met Jesus at a well. Though the woman had been married five times, Jesus forgave her.

“The woman at the well was fortunate she encountered Jesus that day instead of some of our evangelical brethren,” the Liberty University president wrote, in an apparent swipe at Land.

On the same e-mail chain, which CNN obtained from a conservative activist, prominent Atlanta preacher Richard Lee said the nation’s evangelicals needed to support Gingrich.

Lee called Gingrich “the only forceful Christian candidate who can at this point be elected and cleanse the White House next November.”

The evangelical tussling over Gingrich says a lot about the fractured state of the Republican Party less than a month before the Iowa caucuses officially usher in the 2012 race for the White House.

The sight of influential evangelicals rallying around Gingrich, a Catholic with serious “values” baggage, speaks to the huge political vulnerability of Mitt Romney, who was the perceived GOP front-runner until recent polls put Gingrich at the front of the pack.

Gingrich speaking at the April 2011 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in D.C.

Whether because of Romney’s past liberalism on gay rights and abortion or because of his Mormon faith, many of the evangelical Christians who make up the Republican base just don’t like him.

They’ve been looking for an alternative, by turns telling pollsters of their support for Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain. One by one, they’ve dropped in the polls, or out of the race altogether. Now it’s Gingrich’s turn in the spotlight.

But the argument over Gingrich’s personal life also raises fundamental questions about the candidate himself and his readiness for the nation’s highest office.

Just how much has Gingrich changed since his days as a volatile and philandering House speaker? Does he have the character to be president? And, at least for many of the evangelical voters who will dominate the early primaries: Is he a true believer?

Faith by geography

Gingrich has identified with different branches of Christianity that mirror his surroundings at different stages of life.

Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, an area settled by the largely Lutheran Pennsylvania Dutch, Gingrich was the son of a Lutheran mom and a Pennsylvania Dutch stepfather who adopted him.

Attending college at Atlanta’s Emory University and grad school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Gingrich became a Southern Baptist.

And as a creature of Washington, where Gingrich’s wife sings in a Catholic choir and where many prominent conservative Republicans have converted to Catholicism in the last decade, Gingrich joined the Catholic fold in 2009.

“I think that was all part of his pilgrimage,” says Ike Reighard, who was Gingrich’s pastor in Atlanta for nearly 20 years. “Whatever is the dominant religion in the region he was in, that was his progression... He was always super inquisitive, searching for deeper meaning.”

Gingrich’s stepdad was an army officer, making for a peripatetic family life that included stretches spent at military bases in Europe and at Fort Benning, Georgia, situated in the heart of the Bible Belt.

Gingrich, who declined interview requests for this story, was raised largely by his maternal grandmother, a devout Lutheran who, he has said, “taught me my most basic lessons about God and Satan.”

But Gingrich left his childhood denomination through an immersion baptism at the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans while at Tulane, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in European history.

In a pattern that would last a lifetime, studying religion’s role in history and politics moved Gingrich to deepen his own faith.

Saint Charles Avenue’s pastor, G. Avery Lee, said Gingrich wasn’t a member of any church when the two first met.

“He said that in his study of political theory, he noted how much influence the church had had … and asked if I could explain,” Lee wrote in a 1994 letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, describing his first encounter with Gingrich.

Lee and Gingrich grew close, with the pastor eventually baptizing Gingrich even though his church took “a liberal approach to both theology and sociology.”

“It has been suggested by some that in baptizing him, I didn't hold him under long enough,” Wrote Lee, who died in 2009, in apparent reference to Gingrich’s conservative politics.

But Gingrich was more liberal back then, including on questions of separation of church and state.

“As a college student at Emory when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional … I didn't notice it,” he said in a 2009 interview. “As a graduate student at Tulane I probably would have said it's a good decision.”

‘I don’t think his faith was the driving force’

After Tulane, Gingrich took a job as a history professor outside Atlanta and almost immediately began running for Congress, losing two races in the mid-’70s.

Around that time he joined New Hope Baptist Church, a 100-year old congregation south of Atlanta where Ike Reighard had recently arrived as the senior pastor.

“He had just lost for the second time and he came in and said, ‘I need your help,’” says Reighard. “I said, ‘What did you want to do in politics?’ He said he wanted to be speaker of the House.”

Gingrich won his next race for Congress in 1978. That year also marked the birth of the modern Christian Right.

The movement started in opposition to an Internal Revenue Service campaign under then-President Jimmy Carter to crack down on private schools resisting court-ordered desegregation.

Word of the campaign provoked fear and outrage among evangelical schools. Jerry Falwell joined the successful effort to thwart the IRS initiative and founded the Moral Majority the following year, in 1979. The group’s focus on fighting abortion and gay rights set the Christian Right agenda for decades to come.

Gingrich, for his part, was not considered part of the new wave of proud Christian Right warriors in Congress, some of whom were swept into power in 1980 on President Ronald Reagan’s coattails and enthusiastically blended their religious faith and politics.

For Gingrich, “I don’t think faith was the driving force,” says Reighard. “He realized that you have to look at issues and they can’t always be driven by your personal views and your religious values.”

“I heard a lot of times that people say evangelicals are one-issue people, all about abortion,” Reighard says. “But that’s not true with Gingrich. Education was important for him. Health care was important. The economy was important.”

Indeed, when Gingrich launched the Conservative Opportunity Society, an influential House caucus, in 1983, he focused on fiscal issues and practical electoral politics.

And yet Gingrich was an early ally of the budding Christian Right, even if he wasn’t a card-carrying member.

Ralph Reed, who would go on to lead the Christian Coalition, remembers watching as a libertarian activist advocating for gay rights and abortion rights challenged Gingrich at an early 1980s College Republicans breakfast.

“Newt pushed back hard,” Reed remembers. “It was clearly a position of intellectual conviction. I wasn’t yet a committed Christian and I remember finding that pretty remarkable, that Newt didn’t try to pacify this guy. He said, ‘No, you’re wrong.’”

Gingrich speaking at a 1987 news conference.

The future House speaker also stayed active at New Hope Baptist Church, which was quickly growing from sleepy country congregation to suburban Atlanta megachurch, even as he spent most of his time in Washington. When Reighard’s wife died during childbirth, Gingrich was on the phone with him while the pastor was still at the hospital.

“He was always there on Sunday mornings,” says Reighard, recalling Gingrich’s House years. “And the other thing he was always great at doing was town-hall-type meetings and potluck dinners. He was a grassroots person. There’s no telling how many of those meals I prayed at.”

Christian coalitions

But a lot of those town halls were more political than religious. Televangelist Pat Robertson launched the Christian Coalition in the early 1990s, and the group organized events around Georgia aimed at getting conservative evangelicals more involved in elections.

Gingrich, who counted himself an evangelical, expressed keen interest in the coalition’s work. But he seemed to be operating less as a pious Christian, and more as a strategist looking for ways the GOP could win the House of Representatives.

“We didn’t get into theological conversations that much,” says Patrick Gartland, executive director of the Georgia Christian Coalition in the early 1990s. “I was a grassroots numbers person. I loved the intricacies of grassroots, and he did, too, and he understood it.”

Unlike the Moral Majority in the 1980s, which was made up of pastors like Falwell, the Christian Coalition sought to mainstream the Christian Right by bringing in laypeople. The group’s local chapters were led by Christian business leaders, teachers and retirees, as opposed to pastors.

And Christian Coalition envisioned a big-tent religious conservatism that was as much about lowering taxes as it was about banning abortion.

For the broad-minded Gingrich, that vision was a perfect fit – especially after the Christian Coalition helped usher in the 1994 Republican Revolution, which put the House in GOP hands for the first time in 40 years.

The takeover catapulted Gingrich to speaker of the House, making him the country’s most powerful Republican. He vowed to pay attention to conservative Christians from his first day on the job, seeking to assuage evangelical activists who felt ignored by the Reagan administration after they’d worked hard for Reagan’s political campaigns.

“There was this dissatisfaction among evangelical leaders about [Reagan], and Newt said to me, ‘I’m not going to let that happen.’”

Best remembered for working with President Bill Clinton on fiscally focused deals like welfare reform and balancing the budget - and fiscal fights that led to a government shutdown - Gingrich also checked off major items on religious conservatives’ wish lists.

He brought a proposed constitutional amendment to allow school prayer up for a House vote. He presided over the adoption of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act – the first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade – and the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the federal government from recognizing gay marriage.

Speaker-elect Gingrich with then-wife Marianne and his mother Kathleen at a January 1995 Washington church service.

Yet some evangelical leaders who knew Gingrich fretted over his personal life. The hard-charging speaker displayed braggadocio and rough edges even to political allies and didn’t talk much about his own faith.

“There were a lot of conservative Christian leaders who really loved Newt but felt like he hadn’t really turned his life over to God,” says Reed.

Many of those leaders went nuclear over rumors about Gingrich’s 1998 affair with a young House aide named Callista Bisek, while he was married to his second wife, Marianne.

Theose rumors “would break my heart,” says Reighard, who counseled Gingrich and Marianne in the 1990s. “I always believed that Newt could be one of the great leaders in our country, an American version of Winston Churchill.”

Reborn a Catholic

More than a decade later, Gingrich is back in many evangelicals’ good graces, with polls showing him way out in front of Romney among evangelicals in Iowa, who accounted for 60% of caucus-goers four years ago.

What explains the turnaround?

One big factor is Gingrich’s self-described faith awakening since leaving Congress in 1998. A personal turning point was 2002, when a court ruling struck down the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools because of its “Under God” clause.

“That was the last straw,” Gingrich said in a 2009 interview with U.S. News & World Report. “And I said it’s time to challenge head-on secular domination in the West.”

Just as studying political history had led a 20-something Gingrich to the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, political developments like the Pledge ruling and other perceived attacks on religion sparked a round of soul-searching.

Though it was later struck down by the Supreme Court, the ruling led Gingrich to publish “Rediscovering God in America,” a faith-based walking tour of Washington’s key buildings and monuments.

For those close to him, the 2006 book reflected what Gingrich had been preaching for more than a decade: that religion played a key role in the nation’s founding.

“In the ’90s, he talked about this idea that power comes from God to the individual and is loaned to the state,” says Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s former spokesman. “Before that, the European model was that power came from God to the king, and [Gingrich] used to explain why that was corrupt and how Thomas Jefferson turned it on his head.”

By increasing his public attack on the secular “media-academic-legal elite” and promoting his God-infused take on American history, Gingrich was branded a culture warrior during the last decade, gaining appeal among conservative evangelicals.

Gingrich continued the courtship by regularly appearing before audiences of hundreds of evangelical pastors to talk about God, history and politics.

Gingrich delivers the Liberty University commencement address in 2007 following Jerry Falwell

“There’s no question there’s been an evolution in his thinking and speaking and writing on America’s religious heritage, which has become a much bigger part of his lexicon,” says Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition and is not endorsing any presidential candidates.

“He’s clearly found his voice on social issues, and less than 30 days from the Iowa caucuses the timing couldn’t be better.”

Gingrich further strengthened ties to grassroots evangelicals in 2009, launching a group aimed at bringing together religious and economic conservatives.

The organization, Renewing American Leadership, poured $150,000 into a successful Iowa campaign to unseat judges who had legalized gay marriage in the state. Many of the Iowa activists who led that 2010 campaign are now bullish on Gingrich.

Admitting to an affair also helped.

At a closed-door meeting with the nation’s top Christian Right leaders ahead of the 2008 election, Gingrich was asked about reports he’d been having an affair while leading the impeachment drive against Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The former speaker owned up to the affair and said it marked one the most shameful periods of his life, a time in which he was “alienated from God,” according to a participant at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Though he didn’t run for president in 2008, Gingrich went on James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show to admit the affair to the evangelical icon and a national audience: “There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards.”

Gingrich told listeners he’d since turned "to God to receive forgiveness and to receive mercy."

For many evangelicals, the admission and penitent tone struck a chord.

“It all depends on whether Newt has been rewired, in the theological sense of being born again,” says David Lane, an influential evangelical activist who is in regular contact with Gingrich.

“I was one of the wildest men who ever lived, loved women, wine and song, and I came to Christ,” Lane says. “I’m not perfect, but I read the Bible seven days a week. Is Newt a new man? I think he is. There’s something different about him.”

One difference is that, for the last two years, Gingrich has been an active Roman Catholic. He has described his conversion as a decade-long process inspired by Callista, who sings with a choir at the country’s largest Catholic church, Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Gingrich has said that years of attending Mass there rubbed off on him, with Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit providing the final impetus to conversion.

Gingrich was especially drawn to the church’s millennia-long history and intellectualism. Discussing one of his visits to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Gingrich has said, “You stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached.

“You think to yourself, 2,000 years ago the Apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced,” Gingrich said in 2009. “And there it is.”

As opposed to being a letdown to evangelical leaders, Gingrich’s conversion away from evangelical Christianity was received as something like a born-again experience.

“Prior to that, he was a sloppy Baptist who didn’t have a clue about what he believed,” says an evangelical activist who is close to Gingrich. “When he converted, he went through Catechism and had to get his faith straight. It took some of the sloppiness out.”

But Gingrich still has to convince some religious leaders he has straightened out morally.

In his letter to Gingrich urging a speech about his marital history, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land told Gingrich to emphasize his own religious narrative.

“I know something of your faith journey over the past 20 years,” Land wrote. “Do not hesitate to weave that into your speech to the degree that you are comfortable doing so. It will always resonate with evangelical Christians.”

If polls are to be believed, the story of Gingrich’s journey is resonating already.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Lutheran • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

soundoff (1,901 Responses)
  1. Nathan

    It bothers me to think now our Presidential candidates must be perfect people. Didn't Jesus say something about throwing stones? Your religion or personal failings have little to do with your ability to get congress to stop borrowing so much money.

    December 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Abduul Falalah

      False dichotomy ... you are fallaciously reducing the argument to two positions: Perfect or flawed. Newt has many known flaws. Nobody is perfect. I'm happy with a nominee with intelligence, decency, and PRACTICES WHAT s/HE PREACHES. Newt fails this test, miserably.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Dina

      They don't need to be perfect. But this hypocrite tried to impeach Clinton for fooling around while doing it himself at the same time. He also had eighty-four ethics charges filed against him while he was in congress.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  2. junior

    Newt Gingrich,needs to return to the rock he's been hiding under sinice his stupid stuff he an regan did in the eighthies.crash the stock market aka black friday put hunreds of millions people out of work,the iran contariban deal. selling weapons to iraq so in return they would acttack iran from us.a many other stuff that unchristain man as done i would let this man babysit a turd more over i wouldnt even give a thought of even think i would or any one elas would want this stupid man as pesident of the unidted states of america,get a clue newt we want all you ole school idiots out way would any one one as you to run a country or even a lemonade stand

    December 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Randall "Texrat" Arnold

    I'm a Christian and even I fear the "Christian Agenda". Mainly because it works AGAINST Christ's teachings.

    December 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • George

      Then you don't understand Jesus' teachings.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Spencer

      I'm a Christian and I would vote for an atheist if I liked his policies. I know that sounds sacrilegious to some, but since when did being a Christian become a prerequisite for the White House? People of many faiths call America home, and the U.S was founded on freedom of religion principles.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    @GrouchyKat

    The pope is the successor of the carnal Peter, who dreamed of ruling over Israel together with Jesus, but not the successor of the transformed Peter (Peter got transformed at Pentecost by the Holy Spirit).

    Jesus meant actually the following: Peter you are Peter with all your dreams of worldly rule and power, but my Church I will built on the humble and meek Jesus Christi (the rock).

    Thus, the pope is the successor of the carnal Peter, which had not yet been transormed by the Holy Spirit, which was first given him at Pentecost.

    The true Christian Church venerates St. Peter as an important apostle, but he was never the first pope.

    The first leader of a Christian Church was St. James, a brother of Jesus. It was the Church of Jerusalem.

    December 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Sid

      Mumbo jumbo stumble bumble cat in your soup. Peas on the rod, fish in the pineapple.

      Rumble in the gargoyle. Blue is the new red. Green is staid turkey. Don't conjugate your salad.

      Religious obfuscation at its finest, courtesy of Rainer.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      "Don't conjugate your salad."
      Sid, got a problem with salad? Funny tho.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  5. Dina

    Atlanta preacher Richard Lee says we need to "cleanse the White House next November.” Disgusting. Really. Disgusting. Republicans should be ashamed of these creeps, not pandering to them.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • George

      Why is this disgusting? Look at all of the immorality in America running rampant in America. We need to get this country back to God, and we must start with the White House. The preacher is right.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Dina

      Okay George, Does "Back to God" mean electing someone like Bush, who was responsible for the deaths and maiming of tens or hundreds of thousands of en, women and children– including, I'm sure, some fetuses? Such a good Christian boy HE was.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Sid

      Yeah that immorality in America. Note the disproportionate number of Christians in our jails. Draw your own conclusions.

      But consider that our crime rate has been on decline over the past decade. Homicide rate at lowest level since '64. If anything, we are becoming more moral and less crime-ridden as we become less religious. Consistent with what happened in Scandinavia too.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

      December 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • George

      @Sid

      There is far more immorality going on in America besides just that what is considered crime.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Dina

      Uh, George? You didn't answer my question.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sid

      No disagreement with that general statement George, but we need to have some measure to work with, and progress looks to be headed opposite to what you describe using crime rate as a measure.

      Older generations have long viewed younger ones as immoral. That's not necessarily correct.

      Maybe I'm just more optimistic than you are. I've taught a lot of good kids, some now grown into upstanding adults with bright futures, so my experiences have been pretty good.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • George

      I voted for Bush twice, and I'm proud of it. He took the war to the terrorists! How many of those you say he killed were muslims? He was a little wild in his youth, but he got his heart right with God.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  6. Peri Browner

    If evangelicals embrace and support the newt, then they have just demonstrated their hypocrisy and their total lack of the values they talk about all the time. They are NOT ethically challenged, they are devoid of all ethics and the capacity to understand the concept.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  7. dsmidiman

    It will never cease to amaze me how the right wing conservatives are so very judge mental about others when they "cross the line" of social rule in their world yet when one of their own crosses that line a few "I'm sorry" , or "I found Jesus" or something similar is all it takes and everyone is suppose to just jump on their band wagon again!! Not only did this guy cheat on his wife with an intern just like Clinton did he was all over the news blasting Clinton and calling for his resignation or impeachment at the same time!! And we wonder why this country is in the condition it is in!!!! Right Wing Conservatives spelled HYPOCRITS!!!

    December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Jennifer M

    When Obama came into office, the economy was contracting by 4% per year. Today, it is expanding by 9% per year. Why? A) He created jobs when the private sector wouldn't, or couldn't; and B) he slashed payroll taxes on the middle class - the biggest block of buyers in America. It took awhile, but consumer spending is slowly rising, and because of that, more jobs are being created.

    McCain, meanwhile, would have slashed taxes on the rich. Which would have accomplished nothing, except making the rich richer. And the deficit even more massive. Newt promises to follow the same useless pattern.

    Want to see Congress finally close tax loopholes for billionaires? Want to get the deficit in line? Want to stop YOUR taxes from going up? Vote for Dems in 2012.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  9. Spiffy

    IF I WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS I MUST BE RIGHT!

    December 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • HereWeGo

      ǝsoןɔ uǝʌǝ ʇou ǝɹɐ noʎ

      December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      I THINK I DISAGREE.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  10. Spencer

    The media's job is to make things that shouldn't be issues and to turn them into issues. Eventually, the public starts believing the media has a valid point, and people start picking sides.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  11. YaWimp

    You people are idiots. You are deceived, brainwashed, evil. You know Nothing! NOTHing! NOTHING! Wake up! Vote for Newt.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • HereWeGo

      RON PAUL 2012! !

      December 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      "You are deceived, brainwashed, evil" yes, just like Newt. Makes sense that such folk would be his supporters.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  12. power4things

    Careful evangelicals, leave Newt alone or we'll end up with 4 more years of Muslim.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Randall "Texrat" Arnold

      The same "Muslim" who attends a Christian church?

      No Muslim would do that.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      Obama is probably an atheist. Just pulling the wool over the Christians' eyes. It's easy cuz they are such suckers.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  13. Randall "Texrat" Arnold

    I wonder if the same evangelicals would be so quick to forgive a democrat in the same shoes.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  14. George

    Vote for a conservative Christian in 2012! Christians get involved and get motivated! Get off your duffs and do something! Don't let the liberals and atheists take over this majority Christian nation. Help get conservative Christians elected to get our nation back to God!

    December 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      *snore*

      December 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Randall "Texrat" Arnold

      Real Jesus-living Christians, sure, but not the mean-spirited frauds we tend to get. Like Gingrich.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • HereWeGo

      He is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain!

      December 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Dina

      Why should your Government tell you how to live–especially since, as a conservative, I bet you want Government out of people's lives? You can't have it both ways.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Newt Gingrich

      George is a liberal wuss. He'd bend over for any man with three legs that came along. It's the only position he is familiar with. Very familiar, that is.

      You'd have to be real dumb to vote for a fake conservative like me.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • carly

      This is the problem with right wing nuts. They believe a Christian conservative will save the day. WRONG. What we need is intelligence, compassion and and understanding of the word compromise. We have a president who understand this and we have members of Congress who also adhere to these requirements. Unfortunately we have right wingers, many of them religious zealots who are out to destroy this country if they don't get their way. Time to vote out all right wing GOPers in 2012.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • George

      @carly

      We will see. I believe that there will be a tidal wave of conservative Christians elected in 2012. Americans are sick and tired of liberals and atheists, and we want reliegion back in government. To liberals religion is a dirty word, and look where it has gotten us.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Sid

      Newt seems to think you are, uh, bending a bit the liberal way yourself there George. Are you in the closet or something?

      December 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      George, let's assume for a minute that your prayers go unanswered, that conservative christians do not get elected. How will you interpret such an outcome? What will it say about what Americans want and about what your god wants? Will you interpret it as a sign that you don't have a clue what either wants, or that your god is not listening or does not exist?

      December 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  15. Neutron Grinch

    OBAMA: HARVARD GRAD...NEVER HAD A PRIVATE SECTOR JOB, NEVER... NEVER A REAL JOB... THAT'S WHY HE'S COMPLETELY 100% DISCONNECTED FROM THE REALITY OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO ARE SUFFERING UNDER HIS LACK OF LEADERSHIP... THANK GOD FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Randall "Texrat" Arnold

      Hopefully, thank God for spam moderators too.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Thea

      Let's look at Newt's marriage record. Married his high school teacher, let her support her thru his PhD, then cheated on her and served her with divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Married 2nd wife, cheated on her and divorced her after she was diagnosed with MS. Married 3rd wife – conveniently found Jesus.....This is the pattern we need to pay attention to.

      As Truman said, if he'll cheat on his wife, after he swore an oath at the alter in front of God and family, why do you think he'll treat the American public better than he did his first 2 wives?

      December 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  16. Neutron Grinch

    CURRENT NATIONAL DEBT UNDER OBAMA... AND I DO MEAN UNDER:
    15 TRILLION DOLLARS. YOU DO THE MATH.
    *****FIRE OBUMMER IN 2012***

    December 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  17. Neutron Grinch

    CORZINE, CLOSE ALLY TO BIDEN, OBAMA...THE CURRENT CROOKS IN OFFICE...
    CORZINE IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST THIEVES, NEXT TO MADOFF.
    CORZINE: LIBERAL DEMOCRAT...
    LIBERALS, YOUR TURN.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dina

      Thank God and President Obama that we are finally pulling out of Iraq. Bush's trillion dollar ego-mistake. Your turn.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      Dina, just thank Obama. God was asleep at the switch, as he always has been.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  18. If horses had Gods ...

    Wait, lemme get this straight ... we're wondering if his repentence qualifies him to be President of the US? The guy believes in invisible beings, omnipotent God impregnated virgins, winged angels, etc ... If THAT doesn't disqualify someone from being President their marital problems certainly don't.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • George

      I, for one, could not vote for him if he hadn't repented. There is no evidence that Obama ever repented.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • HereWeGo

      Haha I'm surprised you didn't mention how all these fossils were put here by Satan to confuse our faith into believing in evolution.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      George ... I agree in principle. His actions (admitting his failures & asking forgiveness) as a human being goes a long way to showing one's character. As for the religious aspect of "repentance", meaningless & actually a bit scary.

      HereWeGo ... can't use ALL the reason at our disposal on every post lol

      December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Randall "Texrat" Arnold

      What does Obama need to repent besides carrying on some of the same evil policies of George W Bush?

      December 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Neutron Grinch

    VP BIDEN SAID, ON TV..ON CAMERA...WHEN I WANT ECONOMIC ADVICE, I GO TO CORZINE, LOL.
    YOU THINK I'M KIDDING.
    CORZINE WAS THE FORMER HEAD OF MF GLOBAL, A NOW BANKRUPT CO., IN WHICH 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS HAS GONE UNACCOUNTED FOR, AND YOU SAW CORZINE, LIE RIGHT THROUGH HIS TEETH, SAYING HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THE MONEY WENT. IF YOU'RE LIBERAL AND BELIEVE CORZINE, THERE IS NO HOPE FOR YOU.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Randall "Texrat" Arnold

      spam

      December 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  20. George

    As an ultraconservative Christian, I don't care much for Gingrich's character. However, he is far more likely to advance the Christian agenda than Obama. I'd much rather have Bachman, Santorum, or Perry. They are definitely Christian conservatives.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Dina

      That's the problem, George, There should be no "Christian Agenda" advanced. Our citizens are not all Christians, and a Christian Agenda should not be part of the president's job.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Which is why most sane people won't vote for any of them. Good job, George. Keep it up.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @George

      The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      Better be careful with these religious nuts. They are fun to poke fun at, for sure. But they have a terrifying "wishlist".

      Christian Right Agenda = Christian Theocracy

      Theocracy = A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.

      Christian Right = Predominately Evangelicals

      The Texas history books are rewriting history to give the conservative slant. The objective of this effort, is to create a Christian Nation, a theocracy with Jesus as Head of State.
      The recent article about the letter to the Jews, from George Washington, must sting like a son-of-a-gun. We are a secular nation. Thank god!

      A huge campaign is underway, to convince the American people, the founding fathers never intended a separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson's role as a founding father is played down. In some cases Jefferson is smudged.

      Expect an attack on the 1st and 14th Amendments. The founding fathers will weep.
      Most of the Tea Party are for a Christian Theocracy. The Tea Party is in bed with the Christian Right. A vote for any Tea Party candidate, is a vote for Christian Right domination.

      The Republicans are the puppets of the Christian Right and Rich White Men. If you aren't rich or if you aren't white, then this is not your party. Remember Rand Paul's wish to have limited government that should not force private businesses to abide by civil rights law? Isn't that a tad racist or is it just me? Can you say: "You want me to sit where on the bus?"

      You will see an amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. Gay rights will dwindle and die.

      Roe Vs. Wade will be reversed. Women will once again be forced to seek back alley remedies. Men may be forced to buy condoms on the black market. You will procreate! Or you will be abstinent! It is not up to you!

      Stem cell research will stagnate. The hopes of damaged and sick people will be dashed. Little Billy better get used to that wheelchair.

      All scientific research will be scrutinized by the Christian Right. "Whether or not a theory is in agreement with the Evangelical's interpretation of god's will", will be the new metric. Get use to hearing "God Did It". No one will dare question otherwise.
      Science classes will be much easier. Much less to remember or think about. 90% of the answers will be "D" – God did it. 30% correct will be passing. 50% will be Valedictorian.
      Makes it pretty easy to get their "sheep skin". Baaaaa!

      Education doesn't matter! Jesus is coming soon. When Perry told of his poor academic performance, The Republicans (Tea Party?) applauded.

      Let's glorify ignorance and stupidity!

      You say you've developed a vaccine that will prevent women from getting cervical cancer? No, Mr. Scientist. You will pour it down the drain! And you will make drugs that prevent STDs no more! So sayeth the Lord...According to the Religious Nuts.

      "Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital $ex. Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV" – Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council

      I would much rather my daughter was lying there dying of cancer, rather than having taken a shot that might have given her out of control urges.

      There was a recent article on the Religious blog about how Evangelical young'uns are not waiting.

      Little Betty is not praying so often, because she is so devout. She is praying for her Aunt Flow. Amen!

      P_ornography will be illegal. The Religious Right will decide what is p_ornographic , as well as what is art. You will watch television programs approved by the Evangelicals. Lots of reruns of "Growing Pains", starring that Evangelical darling Kirk Cameron. Thank you Jesus!

      Will museums exhibiting transitional fossils and other evidence of evolution, be deemed po_rnographic and closed? Their exhibits burned?
      Creationism will be taught in public school, most likely alongside evolution rather than instead of, but no guarantees. Creationism/ Intelligent Design will consist of 10 chapters. Evolution will be mentioned on the book jacket cover.

      Vouchers will enable parents to send their child to religious schools. Funds to public schools will dwindle. Quality education will be out of reach for the masses. The finite amount of money, will be spread too thin. Destroying the public school system is the purpose of the voucher system.

      If each faith attends their own school, interacts only with children who believe as they do, Might this not interfere with the melting pot, we often brag about? Won't this increase prejudices? The Catholics once told their children that Jews have horns. *sigh*

      Segregation, is not beneficial. We need to learn to get along, and work together. Toddlers are really good at playing well with others.

      Little Johnny will believe in talking snakes and Zombie Messiahs. He will spend his free time watching the heavens, waiting for Jesus to return. The rest of the world is spending their time learning real science and math. Good luck Johnny. Can you say: "Would you like fries with that?" And you Betty! Lots of jobs overseas. With your qualifications, there is a pole with your name on it, waiting for you.

      State-sanctioned Prayer will be in our schools. The Christian Right think they know better than the Founding Fathers and want to tamper with the Bill of Rights. They want to amend the U.S. Const_itution, so that the Government would legally sponsor and take over the activity of prayer. Only the one true god, the Christian god, will be given homage. The god(s), of all other faiths, will be subservient to the Christian god. Muslim parents will need to make this clear to their children. Will the Catholics and the Mormons be Christian enough? What about the Jehovah Witnesses? The Evangelicals / Jesus will determine this.
      The non-Christians will be allowed to put their heads down on their desks, during the morning worship. They can contemplate their damnation, for not accepting Jesus.

      $ex education will consist of abstinence only. Studies have shown it is a worthless concept. But, it will please the religious fanatics. Why did little Betty have her purity ring reshaped into a tongue stud?

      The war against unions, commenced during the Reagan administration, will continue. Labor will be humbled. They will accept the wages they are offered and should be grateful to get it. The Mexicans won't come here for jobs, anymore. The rate of pay won't justify the effort.

      Say goodbye to enti_tlements. Medicare will be changed to a voucher system. When Grandma is out of vouchers, she is out of luck. Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme! We will reduce Grandmas' pension a % for each, predetermined, increment of life.

      Our elderly will die earlier than they would like. But, they have the promise of an afterlife to comfort them. Unless of course, they haven't accepted Jesus. Then, they will burn in a place created by an all loving and all just god, for all eternity.
      Best for them to concentrate on the pie in the sky. Works better than opium for a lot of people.

      Go toward the light, Grandma... Grandpa is waiting for you.
      We love you Grandma. But, the Republicans have taken away Medicare and cut your Social Security. Go to sleep, now.

      The government will turn over Medicade and the rest of the programs for the p_oor, to the Christian Right. They will decide who will receive help and who will not. No longer will the criteria for receiving help, simply be income. Every dime given, will have "strings". The poor will be beholden to the Evangelicals.

      The Christian Right has embraced Paul as the moral lawgiver. Paul's First Ep_istle of Paul to the Thessalonians, is often quoted by the Republicans. You never hear them quote Jesus' advice to the rich. Or how the poor should be treated. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. Jesus will understand.

      The Republicans applaud the executions, of human beings. The more the merrier. They will be a burden to the state, no more! If it turns out some were actually innocent, god will set it right... Providing they have accepted Christ.

      Perhaps trials aren't necessary. Send the accused directly to god's justice! We are a Christian nation!! Are we not the hand of god?

      The accused are of another faith, you say? Give them a chance to pray the Sinners Prayer, and send them to judgment.

      The Republicans screamed, "YES", when asked if an uninsured man should be allowed to die.
      If you read the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus, you might come away with the idea that Jesus wouldn't agree.
      But, I bet Jesus will change His mind once the Evangelicals rule in His name.

      Could be, Jesus will feel compelled to rewrite the entire bible, leaving out those obviously unclear parts. The Evangelicals will help Jesus clear them up. Guaranteed!

      Jesus will be the Head of State! He will be represented by an empty chair at the head of the leadership table. Only the Evangelicals will be able to hear His voice. They will tell the rest of us His will.
      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
      The Evangelicals will rule in the name of a non-existent demigod.

      "Theocracies generally do not tolerate freedom of expression. They believe their dogma is divine; that it comes from divine revelation (directly from God as in Moses on Mount Sinai) and therefore, no dissenting opinion can be accurate or helpful. This often leads to widespread abuse of basic human rights."
      http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/T/Theocracy.aspx

      WoW! If the above quote doesn't make you wanna puke...

      The Evangelicals are not content to run their own lives. They want to get, by political means, what Jesus never has and never will give them, by returning.

      Vote for the Dems in 2012. There are a lot of things I would like to see changed in the Democratic Party, but at least they are not insane.

      Thank God, this country is a secular nation.

      Remember, Jesus won't really be in charge. It will be an Evangelical idiot.

      Cheers!

      December 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Dina

      Seriously, George? Time to grow u p. Just because someone is a Christian Conservative doesn't make them a better person or politician. What a dangerous policy you have. None of those three people have the intelligence required for the most important job in the country.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • George

      Absolutely there should be a Christian agenda. There is a ho.mos.e.xual agenda and an atheist agenda. We need to get America back to God. It's that simple.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      George, sticky point there. When has America ever really "been with god". I mean, god gave us the New Orleans flooding and the Texas drought. He must really have a big hate on for us good ole southern US Christians or something.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • KarenOhKarenRingRingRing

      I guess he did give us corndogs and macchickens though. Thank you god.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • George

      "god gave us the New Orleans flooding and the Texas drought "

      That's because America is lost in sin. We deserve no better until we turn back to God.

      December 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, Georgie Porgie, as an "ultra-conservative", do you think government should stay out of your business? Think there should be less government interference?

      How's that square with wanting to prohibit abortion and gay marriage? Explain.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:05 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.