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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. Jesus was a space alien

    Blingrich is a hypocrite and phony. You don't overcome having bad character by repenting.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  2. taylor

    Give us a break, this guy is a lowlife, moneygrubbing, clown. Didnt you see him
    postulating to Trump the Chump, on TV, it was disgusting. You people are unbelievable!!

    December 11, 2011 at 6:24 am |
    • Johnny wazhere

      Oh well, as if you were describing another "lowlife, moneygrubbing, clown" and we all know of and this "lowlife, moneygrubbing, clown" WAS ELECTED. YES, I am referring to GW the ""lowlife, moneygrubbing, clown". America should get its head out of its @#$ and see who really is in its service and not in the service of the lobbies.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  3. Leif

    Gingrich is the ultimate Washington insider, for sale to the highest bidder. The Republican party is truly desperate.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  4. TheSara

    For a group of people that consistency tell others to have faith, and to trust "in the lord", they don't really seem to have faith in god when it comes to the bigger picture.

    Perhaps god isn't so almighty after all...

    December 11, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  5. Susan Wilde

    Personal ives aside. He wants the nation's poor kids to be the school janitors............

    December 11, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • Greg C.

      His point was, why are we paying janitors more than some teachers make yet we have kids that can't get a job, learn what it means to have a job and give them a chance to build a work ethic rather than be out on the street. No, the hypocrisy is when we have people in jobs that make more money than teachers. It use to be that kids could get part-time work as janitors, etc., work hard, and have the motivation to move up and into better paying jobs. My father-in-law started off as a janitor, swept the floors in the business that he soon became the President of. He learned every aspect of that business and his work ethic, and respect came in time.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Greg C – while I am not sure it is hypocrisy, I agree whole-heartedly with you on this point – "No, the hypocrisy is when we have people in jobs that make more money than teachers." Glad we see common ground on this and that we have a topic we could stand behind together.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • Phil

      His point is, he hates kids. Why else would someone suggest kids be thrown in an orphage. There are good reasons why this hell holes were shut down in the past. He's a very sadist sob.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Robert - Atlanta

      NO – Newt’s point is poor kids (black) have no work ethic because their parents are all crack dealers and murderers. It was just a big fat plus that he could take a few jobs away from working people at the same time, maybe some are actually union members. Also, this would put the little welfare brats in the proper place – cleaning up after their superiors!

      December 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • conrad

      Oh yeah, and having all the poor, black, and hispanic kids clean up the toilets after the white affluent kids won't re-enforce any long held social divisions . All it will do is keep them down where Newt no doubt believes they belong. It's a disgusting proposal.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  6. HollyRae

    Why do liberals foolishly attack Gingrich for his infidelity/marital problems as if they have never sinned themselves?

    Doesn't this make them hypocrites?

    December 11, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • Leif

      Why does the Republican right, the faction of family values, prove its hypocrisy by supporting him?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • AntiPalinAlaskan

      UH...because he and the rest of the party make arrogant claims about how morally superior they are compared to anybody they disagree with.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • Greg C.

      It's call discernment; something you and others should have used when you elected your one-term President.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Holly, we are in no way making statement about our own ability to judge someone else who has done something that you would call a "sin". What we are discussing is the group of people who actually do judge others by what they do in their private lives is actually having to debate if they can support a candidate that committed adultery (one of the "Big 10"), twice. The debate here is not whether we have the right to judge the man, but how a group of people could support someone that has flouted their beliefs.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:23 am |
    • Leif

      Discernment should tell you that Gingrich is a losing proposition. Maybe you should work on that skill.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Greg C.

      Moral character; my, oh my, it's amazing how the Dems have all of a sudden found "new religion" about weighing one's moral failings yet were silent throughout Clinton's presidency.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Greg, I am not sure what you are talking about here as I don't think people here are making statements regarding the moral character. I would agree it would be hypocritical to point any finger at Newt when there are plenty in of Democrats that have done worse. Plus, if it were a who "sinned" the most contest I have trouble narrowing the field to any party.

      However, I still believe the issue at hand is how evangelicals can, with a straight face, support a candidate who violated one of the 10 Commandments and then turn around and jump back on the message of "family values". I am not making any statements at all about Newt good/bad, simply about the group's ability to justify this.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • queenbee

      The hypocrisy is NOT the cheating. Hypocrisy is persecuting others for the same things one does. the criticism is not the cheating per se, it is the HYPOCRISY of Newt himself. Newt persecuted Clinton and hounded his presidency over infidelity while committing worse acts himself (full intercourse as opposed to just oral and serving his wife divorce papers to boot) the horror for most, is not the acts, it is what Newt was doing to Clinton AT THE SAME TIME HE WAS DOING HIS ADULTERY. That is true hypocrisy.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  7. EddyL

    Repenting is phony BS. Sleazy is sleazy.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:08 am |
  8. mabear87

    Give me a break. Newt and Perry are about as evangelical as the devil. While I do not care about evangelicals, they need to get off their high horse and admit that most of them are less Christian than those two candidates who have no morals and certainly no ethics. Get a life you so called evangelical voters.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • Greg C.

      If you haven't figured out yet, your so-called evangelicals you speak of, do believe in forgiveness, they can love the sinner and not the sin, and can look at issues and principles and decide for themselves on whether someone lives what they preach. I don't consider myself to be an Evangelical. The issue here is jobs and the economy not what Newt has been doing a decade ago and long since dealt with his own failings in this area. So-called Evangelicals and us not-so-Evangelical types are much less shallow and hypocritical as you make them/us out to be; thus the reason for Newt's rise in the polls.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:17 am |
    • Leif

      The issue is Newt's character. He doesn't pass the smell test. I support Obama, but I would rather see Romney or even Paul be elected before Gingrich.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  9. bananaspy

    Religion is dumb. If you don't agree, read the article again.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:03 am |
  10. Doug

    This is a crowd that will vote for Perry and his 235 executions over Newt and his 3 marriages 1000 to 1, and you can take that to the bank. Doug.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Well said, as sad as that statement is to swallow. Perry is doing all he can to pander for the vote short of begging.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:08 am |
  11. 14401

    With the divorce rate over 50% in the US, he fits right in with most voters. Leave his personal life alone.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Really, how can you say that when the entire article is focused on a group of people who judge people solely based upon their personal lives. If the discussion was merely about Newt as a candidate for the Presidency then this is a point of view I could certainly stand behind. It would be great if we could focus political discussions only on the issues.

      However, in this context I think the fact that a group of people are making a decision on who should get the religious vote when they spend their time judging everyone else then it certainly is front and center in the discussion.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Leif

      His personal life delineates his character. Actually, it delineates his lack of character.
      Voting for him would be like voting for a pimp.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • Greg C.

      In response to Leif, so if one makes a mistake in that person's personal life, admits it, seeks forgiveness and corrects his error, you would deem that a character flaw and an unpardonable sin...don't be a hypocrite.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • Leif

      In response to Greg. When did he admit his mistakes? When did he apologize for them? When did he seek forgiveness, and from whom?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Greg, I believe that the hypocrisy here would be that the same group that touts "family values" to argue against gay marriage would be willing to support a man who has cheated on 2 wives. It is the heart of the issue I have with this article and the fact that the religious right would be willing to forego their principles in order to get someone elected.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • Greg C.

      He has stated as such. Are you expecting him to seek your forgiveness. Since when did you or anyone else become his intercessor?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • Leif

      Never claimed to be his intercessor. I am a voter, and I can tell you that hell will freeze over before I vote for him. If the Republicans nominate Gingrich, they will be making Obama's reelection a certainty.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • mabear87

      The man has serious shortcomings, so do not leave his personal lfe out of this. However, he has serious shortcomings as a potential leader. I do not want him to be a janitor at my kids high school, let alone an elected official.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • danny

      that should have applied when he was all into clintons live over a b j

      December 11, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  12. Greg C.

    We are all sinners; to couch the issue of whether Newt has "repented enough" is, by it's very definition, speaks to the height of hypocrisy and blindness of anyone that either puts forth such a premise or believes in it. Before one points out the splinter in one's eye, they best remove the log in their own. Only Newt knows whether Newt is on this matter. At least for Newt he is willing to admit he was wrong. There's no ambiguity in what he says; you know directly where he stands on his matters, and he's quite willing to be direct and decisive on issues whether you agree with him or not. By the way, Americans are tired of half-baked, feel good politicians that talk about "fairness" only to take Americans to the cleaners with the deeds. Obama has reduced Medicare benefits, he's asking Congress to dip into Social Security funds to pay for a tax break rather than cut other discretionary spending. He could take the money he's taken from Taxpayers and bailed out his Wall Street buddies and donor friends he shows favoritism toward rather but instead chooses to play politics with working taxpayers earnings like he and his Democratic buddies are doing now...

    December 11, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • HollyRae

      Truthful comments.

      Have you noticed that liberals prefer to attack someone's marital problems instead of admitting the many failures of their comrade in the White House?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:13 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Once again, we "liberals" are not the ones attacking here at all. The article is about the evangelics trying to decide if they can support an adulterer for President of the United States. This is not liberals trying to bring this issue to light, but the religious right (who I will assume here are not liberals). We'd love to debate the core issues on other articles, but the point of this specific piece is how evangelical christians can support someone like this and still walk the moral high ground they claim is their right.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • danny

      @holly rae i did notice the repubs attacking bill clinton over his personal live during his presidency .such hypocracy.if gingrich is all the repugnuts have to offer you guys are in deep do-do good luck and good luck w/ all gingrichs baggage

      December 11, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Phil

      Not everyone sins. I am not a Christian, therefore it's impossible for me to commit a sin to your God.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Phil

      @HollyRay: If you read the article, you'll find it's not the Dems making an issue of this, it's those darn Christians. All we are doing is reminding you of who you're supporting. If you really want a Christian who have been faithful to his wife and has maintained his marriage vows as a sacred oath, then vote for Obama.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  13. Jesus C.

    I don't care how much he repents. I'd never vote for him and he has no business being an American President. He's creepy and his wife looks like a "Barbie" doll of sorts made out of wax. Really, who has bleached hair and bright red lipstick? Her First Lady? What would her platform be? Revlon!

    December 11, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • Randy Johnson

      Yah – you pretty much nailed it dude. The real funny part is how Newt was in charge of investigating and pursuing Bill Clinton's little thing. with Monica. Lets face it we aren't perfect, but if you flaunt it and ditch your wife for a barbie doll then umm....go for it – but just do us a favour and don't run for President.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Phil

      She's a Stepford wife.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • queenbee

      Cindy McCain had bleached blonde hair and lipstick too–and both could have had a platform of : being the first FIRST lady to also be the former mistress of their husbands. and the evangelical right could be the group who could have claimed to have given the country that dubious honor A new day for us–Palin would have given unwed teens a new spot as our first family and Newt and his adulterous wife would have made the first family look "really good" Now–the GOP would claim it makes them more human–but we have all kinds of humans in the US–we don't hold a majority of them up to the std of being part of the first family because our first family should be above reproach. If not while in office then at least prior to election. The things about Clinton were not proved before his election–the things known about Gingrich and his wife WERE.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  14. justmeanddog

    If a man or a woman is a, many times, “moral failure” in the eyes of a Society then why would that Society give a moments thought to having such a person lead them? The major decisions people make ultimately come from how they view the world and their place in it. If that view is a narcissistic one then the needs of Society will finish, at best, a distant 2nd place in their decision making process. A society, which chooses to trust such a man to put their needs, first becomes nothing more, or less, than the latest pathetic Mistress in a long line of Mistresses and should expect to be treated as such IMHO.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • Bob

      The liberals loved Bill Clinton and John Edwards and they were as bad as it gets.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:53 am |
    • justmeanddog

      Bob, You will get no argument from me there. My statements were not based on any Political bias. I just found it ironic that in a Faith based article about a Politician a great many of the “Faithful” are “lining up” behind those who would say: “I don’t care about his personal life I just want to know if he can get us out of this mess we are in.” You would almost think they would elect the Devil himself, if could he deliver the goods.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  15. HollyRae

    Has the 'great fool' in the White House repented for all the damage he's done to our country?

    December 11, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Do you realize you lose credibility and an opportunity to open a dialog when you kick off discussions with name calling? Why not voice specific concerns in a mature and rational way? I am sure you are better than that and would rather have an open dialog to exchange ideas than just make statements that add no value to the debate.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:38 am |
    • Leif

      What damage? Be specific. What do you think he has done, besides killing bin Laden, ending the war in Iraq, and pursuing the enemy in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

      December 11, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      The 'damage' you refer to was his inheritance from ol' Dubya. Clinton actually has a surplus, remember? Then the Texan redneck came along with his "strategery" and wiped out our reserves, both fiscal and personnel. I'm not a big fan of Obama either, but you have to remember, the housing markets and economy were crashing even before the election took place in 2008. So, who's fault was it again?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:03 am |
    • danny

      i am sorry holly gwb is no longer in thw white house

      December 11, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • bayou2

      What damage?
      To cleanup that mess that was left behind, not going to happen over night.
      UNAMERICAN another little word you guys like to throw around, not a christian one more.
      You sound like a fool!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  16. Mikey

    F all the evangelical hypocrites and F religion in general.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:18 am |
  17. AntiPalinAlaskan

    Has Newt actually said "I was wrong to go to my wife's hospital bed when she was just out of cancer surgery and demand that she agree to a quickie divorce because I was too impatient and arrogant to wait"?

    If Newt hasn't said that, he hasn't repented at all.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  18. David in Cincinnati

    I had to condemn Newt to the fires below, because when I met him at the well he was in the process of poisoning it.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • DebbieJ

      And....you David have that "power/authority" to condemn someone to the fires below??? are you placing yourself in God's position??

      December 11, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • LHandRBrain

      Debbie, David is obviously speaking humorously, and you obviously can read that. Your point is moot.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Phil

      Debbie, it's the Chrisitans who judge and condem people. Are you serious?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  19. Hank

    I don't care about his personal life and I really wish they'd get away from religion. Can the man govern? Can he bring a torn nation together? Yes, at times he does come across as a thoughtful, intelligent person, tho he's getting kind of old. To me, the biggest "family value" is doing the right things to get the economy on track and allowing hard working Americans to prosper and take care of their own families. Well, certainly no one person running this time gets me very excited about supporting them.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • queenbee

      ..but all the other times he comes across as a scary, bombastic, meglomaniac–besides I do not want an adulterating mistress as our First lady. did SHE repent too or she our new standard.?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  20. Dotun Eliezer

    God save America! Sounds like there is a leadership vacuum for the next elections. At this time of history, America needs a leader that is a true believer and bold enough (not politically correct) to rebuild the foundations established by our founding fathers if we expect the American dream to be restored. Righteousness exalts a nation, not gay rights!....don't ask, don't tell......

    December 11, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      I am not sure how you linked the voting dilema facing evangelical Christians with gays serving openly in the military. I wish that you could stay on the topic at hand instead of using each article as an opportunity to espouse you ideological view points.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • Sandra

      The Founding Fathers were Secular Deists, not Christians. As for the claim they graduated from seminaries is a red herring, as all higher education back then was in Seminaries. And what your rant has to do with Gingrich being 'penitent' enough is beyond me.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:41 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.