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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. Kebos

    It will truly be a wonderful day when evangelicals no longer factor in, in any way, to the democratic process of the USA. When politics and religion (or lack thereof) does not factor in to our voting process.

    At present, it really is quite pathetic and distracting. Religion is nothing more than yet another club or organization to belong to. My club is better than your club. Pathetic.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • George

      No it is about having God's favor on our nation. Religion is THE most important factor.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You know that's not true, George the Troll.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  2. jim

    So religions have to approve the candidacy of a person for the presidency....What about the separation between Religion and government ?? Within 1-2 centuries the US should go through its renaissance hopefully.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  3. silliness

    If whether a person has "repented" enough is a consideration for the highest elected office in this country we are really doomed. Why not debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin as well?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • jim

      That should also be an essential part of the debate among the candidates..

      December 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  4. MaryM

    Newts Repenting has nothing to do with qualification for the highest office in the U.S. . Newt does not have the moral or ethical character to be President of the United States

    December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Sunshinestategirl

      Amen to that

      December 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Philip Bagwell, Sr.

      Maybe that's exactly why we need him.....because in foreign policy "it takes one to know one".
      Also, only God knows a mans heart as for true repentance...

      December 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  5. JEM

    Lets vote in Ron Paul so the issue of abortion can be handed back down to the states so that at least SOME abortions can be prevented. This all-or-nothing strategy at the federal level hasn't worked very well.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • blevins

      No, actually it's worked quite well. Ron Paul SIMPLY for the abortion back to the states issue? That's the most important reason to elect anyone? This is not the forum, but abortion is a medical procedure – a reproductive right of women. Leave it alone. No one whistles on their way to an abortion clinic. It's a medical procedure/decision that must be available to women.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  6. No one to vote for

    The 2012 election boils down to who is the lesser of the two 'evils'. There is not one GOP candidate I would truly support, but I don't want 4 more years of Obama's screwy politics either. If it comes down to Newt vs Obama, I'll vote Newt. This article did actually help me make my mind up on that point. I won't vote for Romney though. At least Newt believes in the TRUE God, unlike Romney's weird God-man worship. I think Obama does too, although actions always speak louder than words to me.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • MaryM

      How do YOU know which is the true GOD or even if there is a GOD?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • ridiculist

      If the GOP's best candidate is someone like Newt, then I'm becoming a democrat!!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kebos

      There is true god because there is no god. Vote for the person and their policy and factor out the boogey man in the sky.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • tljnsd

      Actions speak louder than words? Huh. So O'bama, who's been faithfully married to the same women for years and raised two daughters is somehow less a christian than a twice divorced wife cheater? Apparently infidelity is is acceptable to the family value crowd as long as they don't allow their mistresses to have abortions. Freak'n hypocrites.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  7. Lineman

    A lot of people think Newt is a real snake for leaving his wife for his mistress and even serving divorce papers on her while she was in the hospital. You have to look at from Newt's side. If his wife had cancer he probably was not getting much intimate companionship from her. He had two choices, either do without or get a replacement. Since she had cancer he did not know how long it would take her to recover or if she would recover at all so the choice for Newt was a no brainer. Newt is not the kind of man to do without anything. I am sure Newt went to confession and did the prescribed number of hail marys to get foregiveness. He probably even found out the number before he did this so he could fit it in to his busy schedule.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • feline 123

      In the past, Catholics did not approve of divorce. How did this man manage to become a Catholic? If the Evangelicals have forgiven him, and the Catholics absolve him, will the rest of the Americans also? I know that I won't.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  8. salvatore

    What is with conservatives and their chain emails.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  9. Jennifer M

    I would love to see Obama elected again ... followed by Hillary Clinton for two terms ... just to see the look on the fundamentalists' faces.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • justin

      I agree it would, will be priceless to see all thier negative crap backfire.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • MaryM

      Clinton and Warren 2016 Yes

      December 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • blevins

      If I was a gay woman, I would ask you to marry me. BRILLIANT! My thoughts exactly.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  10. J

    Who really cares? The man isn't running for theologian-in-chief, he's running for President. Your religious beliefs have no bearing whatsoever on your ability to run this country, and it's absolutely baffling that these morons make it their number one consideration when determining who they'll vote for to run the United States.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • George

      Your religious beliefs have no bearing whatsoever on your ability to run this country"

      "It absolutely has bearing on whether the candidate would help take America back to God. This is paramount to every conservative Christian.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • justin

      well the GOP sure made it thier buisness to accuse Obama of being a closet muslim.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who are crazy just like you, George. The rest of us are in the majority.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Because these morons want to turn this country into a theocracy...

      December 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Mortimer Merkin

    Candidates are so thoroughly 'vetted' that only sunday school scouts of stainless steel character stand any chance. Instinct driven human behavior on the part of a powerful, rich male like Noot doesn't bother me. No, what gets me is that he was having one of his affairs while trying to impeach Clinton for the same thing. That is the ipiitomy of hypocracy. Do we want a fuhrer like that? And then there's the Freddie Mac thing, yet another hypocracy. Better hold your evangelical noses and take the mormon.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • not me

      If Mr. Grinch is selected as the GOP candidate then I'm voting for Obama!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  12. larkwoodgirl

    Newt hasn't repented at all. He's just a chameleon changing his colors to suit whichever selfish agenda that is most expedient for him at the time.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  13. Barry Braithwaite

    Let me see if I've got this right. The conservative right wants a deeply christian faith candidate whos first action should be to bomb Iran. Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with this?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • JEM

      Yes thee is

      December 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  14. LOVE-2-neuter-U

    Repent enough for his sins??? hahaha Newt Gingrinch is a walking, talking SIN who has been thoroughly corrupted by a life in Wa$hington. But I guess that's EXACTLY what the Khazars("Israelis") and AIPAC want: an empty, easily-inflated/egotistical, amoral, well-strung puppet they can lead around with just a few carrot$ and do exactly as they say.
    A horse is a horse of course of course...

    December 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    GOP = group of poopheads

    December 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • cerebral1

      tee hee hee. You're so right.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  16. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    There is not enough time in ahuman lifetime for newt to repent ~ hell is the place for people like newt

    and....Reality..see a shrink...quick
    Your moronis are falling out of your ears.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES

      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method
      Typical

      Pill (combined) 8.7
      Tubal sterilization 0.7
      Male condom 17.4
      Vasectomy 0.2

      Periodic abstinence 25.3
      Calendar 9.0
      Ovulation Method 3.0
      Sympto-thermal 2.0
      Post-ovulation 1.0

      No method 85.0"

      (Abstinence) 0

      (Masturbation) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill 11,661 30.6
      Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      *yawn*

      December 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • .........

      facts on reality posts all bull sh it hit report abuse

      December 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  17. jack davidson

    By saying that Palestinian nation was invented Mr.Gingrich lost my vote.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  18. Mike

    Ah common, just look at those jowls, those are the jowls of a good southern Christian, and what good southern Christian hasn’t had a mistress or two in his day.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Jesse

    Who cares. If Republicans base their nominee off of his/her religious history, you've already lost.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Reality

    Hmmm, the infidelity, cheating, lying and theological-flaws of Newtown Leroy Gingrich vs. the theological- flaws, wishy-wash -on- life of Romney vs. the theological flaws, "vote-mongering", pro-choice/abortion of Obama??

    STOP AND READ CAREFULLY !!!

    Romney believes that the horn-blowing angel Moroni appeared to the con artist Joe Smith. Not good for someone who wants to be president of any group !!! Obama "mouths" that he is Christian i.e. believes in gay Gabriel and war-mongering Michael the Archangel and Satan (Ditto for N. Leroy Gingrich). BO's support of abortion however vitiates has Christianity as he is the leader of the Immoral Majority who are now the largest voting block in the country. Immoral Majority you ask??

    The 78 million voting "mothers and fathers" of aborted womb babies !!! (2012 -1973 Rowe vs. Wade = 39........ 39 x 2 million/yr = 78 million. Abortion rate in the USA as per the CDC is one million/yr.

    And the presidential popular vote in 2008? 69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM. The population of the Immoral Majority in 2008? ~ 70 million !!!!!!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • JEM

      You are not counting the fact that many of those women had multiple abortions.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • MaryM

      You post the same crap over, and over and over again. Cnn posters do not care about your *******.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • James Stanek

      u r dum.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, get off it, already, Unreality. I don't even bother to read posts as long and full of random caps, crazy punctuation, and pointless repeti tion as yours. You don't add anything to the discussion.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • .........

      Stop and carefully hit report abuse on all reality bull sh it

      December 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Reality

      Reiteration is great for the learning process. As is reading and rational thinking followed by conclusions based on all of it.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:18 am |
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About this blog

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.