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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. Rich

    Another bible thumper/.Who cares if he can run the country as long as he hates poor and old people as long as he loves the baby jesus.......ignorant base for sure...

    December 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  2. MK54

    Gingrich switches faiths and wives frequently. Faith is about beliefs and marriage is about trust...so I take Gingrich to be a man of questionable integrity who has proven repeatedly that he cannot be relied upon to keep his promises, remain consistent in his values or be true to his friends.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • kiki

      Jesus never mentioned gays or abortion but was very clear on divorce.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • George

      @kiki

      You know why that is? Because ho.mo.s.e.x.uals are a small percentage of the population, and abortion was almost impossible to do in ancient times. However, people were divorcing.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • kiki

      Or because he saw it as the greater sin. Who are you to say?

      December 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • George

      @Kiki

      Study your Bible. In the in the OT, h.o.mo.s.e.xuality and abortion was prohibited while divorce was permitted. Jesus was TIGHTENING morality, not loosening it.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • kiki

      Oh, so Jesus wants us to uphold all of Leviticus? Abortion is okay up until the quickening?

      December 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • George

      "Thou shalt not kill."

      December 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • kiki

      Huh, that doesn't stop Catholics and others from having a just war doctrine that permits killing. Seems not all killing is equal. And you didn't answer my question.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "But pharmaceutically-induced abortions, different in function but not in effect, were extremely common in the ancient world."

      That is from a site I found within two minutes of reading your post, George. You are wrong. Again.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      From the BBC ethics site:Abortion was accepted in both ancient Rome and Greece.

      The Romans and Greeks weren't much concerned with protecting the unborn, and when they did object to abortion it was often because the father didn't want to be deprived of a child that he felt ent itled to.

      The early philosophers also argued that a foetus did not become formed and begin to live until at least 40 days after conception for a male, and around 80 days for a female.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible, Numbers 5:18. "And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which [is] the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse...." See also verses 19-28.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  3. Jim D

    "Largely Lutheran Pennsylvania Dutch"? Are you referring to the Amish and Mennonites? People whose predecessors were thrown out of the Lutheran church for their beliefs by Martin Luther himself? They are Anabaptist, which Martin Luther thought was false doctrine. After many trials in Europe, they turned to peace, and moved to North America. Many other Germans moved to Pennsylvania, but are not normally referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  4. Mocoso

    I do not believe any of us can judge Mr. Gingrich BUT if he is repented he should be considered to STEP OUT of the race as demonstration of dignity and respect for the Republican party where family, morality, and good character should be the most important qualities before good idea or any smart comment.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  5. Rich

    Run Newt run............Another right wing phoney.Please run as we need Obama another four years.Yes but did he hear from jesua like the others?

    December 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Get Real

      4 more years of Obama? Ugh. ....I'd write in Hillary before I'd waste a vote on the current knucklehead we have now.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • skarphace

      Get Real: then you had better get behind the one front-runner that can beat Obama. This would not be Romney or Gingrich. The only candidate, besides Huntsman, that has a shot at moderate and Independent votes is Ron Paul.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Gilian

      Knucklehead is a better description of his predecessor, that dummy from Texas who got us into so much trouble and debt.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  6. Get Real

    It sounds like the only good politicians are the ones who could not keep it in their pants........maybe that's why Obama looks so frustrated. LOL

    December 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  7. Thomas

    DEMOCRATS FOR RON PAUL!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • kiki

      Ron Paul is anti-choice...not gonna get much play from Democrats.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • skarphace

      I hope, then, you are in a state where you can vote for him in the primaries. If not, you need to register Republican. I did, for this exact same reason.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • skarphace

      kiki: like with most issues, Paul has personal beliefs as far as abortion, but he would not have the federal government prosecute doctors that perform abortions. This, again as with most issues, he would leave up to the states. The one thing Paul is for the most is limited Federal government in people's lives.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • kiki

      The president picks supreme court judges and so anyone who would attempt to stack the court to tip the scales against Roe will not get Democratic support.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • skarphace

      kiki: you are wrong. I know of many moderates like myself that switched to Republican just for the opportunity to vote for Paul in the primaries.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • kiki

      Not where I live. I guess it's regional. It's a deal breaker with Dems in my corner of America.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  8. Nathan

    It's beyond any comprehension why evengelicals in this country would support Gingrich over Romney or several of the others. Please, someone speak some reason to me on this matter! Gingrich has done things that I just don't think can be forgiven in this life. He might just have to experience a pinch of hell in the next life before I'm satisfied that he's morally fit to run a country.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Colin

      Nathan, hell is one of my favorite Christian superst.itions. Apply a little fifth grade math to it.

      Approximately one hundred and ten thousand million (110,000,000,000) people have lived on Earth. Given all those who have, over the centuries, rejected the Christian god, or who have otherwise committed mortal sins, there must be literally thousands of millions of people burning for all eternity in the cosmic oven of hell set up by your all-loving god. Some must have been burning for thousands of years by now.

      About 100,000 people die every day. There must be a constant stream of thousands of forlorn souls every day into the one way pit of hell your all-merciful god set up and maintains.

      But, far, far worse than sheer overwhelming numbers is the extent of the punishment. There is no way out, no parole, no time off for good behavior. You don’t just burn, you burn for all eternity. Billions of people and thousands of daily new arrivals burning for all eternity!

      No criminal justice system in the history of the Human race, even those established by the most despotic of tyrants, comes close to matching the unfathomable barbarity of your “infinitely benevolent” god. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, hell I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is refuse to believe in the Christian god and it will impose a penalty on me an infinite times worse than the death penalty.

      Hitler murdered six million Jews in his concentration camps, but compared to your god, Hitler was a bleeding-hearted wimp. A goose-stepping girlie-man. Your all-caring god not only burns billions more than Hitler, Pol Pot and all other dictators and tyrants added up, he keeps doing so to them for all eternity! I would not wish a bad sunburn on a person simply because they have a different religion to me, let alone fry them for ever.

      It is also odd that your all-loving god is also all-knowing and knows which souls will go to hell before they do. He even knows it before they are born, and yet he still creates them. He is worse than a psychopathic teenager than breeds litter after litter of kittens so he can slowly roast them in ovens.

      Your god is the mother of all psychopaths. A cosmic son-of-a-beetch.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • George

      @Colin

      Wow, long rant. But at least you know where you'll be going if you don't turn your life around.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Colin

      George, I think you missed the point – that the whole concept of hell is an obvious superst.ition. That's the problem with using the same sky-fairy as both the carrot and the stick. It gets really, really silly upon the slightest analysis.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      Great post Colin.

      George, surely you've heard of Pascal's Wager. Are you taking it?

      December 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      Hey Colin, just think of the nasty emissions from all that burning too. Fossil fuels were bad enough.

      Maybe god has a fuel shortage and that's what we're really here for, to become fuel for him. (Just kidding, but sounds like horror sci-fi.)

      Sorry, I don't mean to distract from your main point. Agreed: hell is an absurd supersti-tion, and part of a larger, more absurd one.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Agreed Joe. It continues to amaze me that, in the 21st Century, so many of the less educated class (and some well educated, too) still believe in Bronze Age Middle Eastern mythology.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  9. Colin

    It is difficult to overstate how poorly educated and scientifically and historically ignorant Evangelicals are. No less than 70% of the poor simpletons honestly believe the Universe began 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake!

    December 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      Scary. And you can hardly tell them to open a book or search the internet to learn otherwise, when they can barely read and can't reason.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, just look at George's posts. He's pretending, and quite successfully too, to be one of the nuts. He claims abortions were rare in the ancient world because it was "too difficult" to perform them. A quick search turns up numerous sites that show the opposite to be true.

      George really deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of a wild-eyed wingnut.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  10. Michael

    Bye to those who says he has repented... According to the bible he is still living in adultery. You can't repent and then get at free pass to continue committing that sin.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Colin

      According to that collection of Iron Age mythology, people should be killed for working on the sabbath. Who cares what ancient Palestinean mythology says?

      December 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Gilian

      But that's just it, why I despise that religion. Christianity and repenting is that free pass. Forget about accountability; leave the personal responsibility to the adults outside the church.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Gilian

      My message was for Michael. Colin just posted faster!

      December 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Michael

      Thats just it. I believe in God but I hate religion. Fundamentalists are the first ones to act morally superior but act as if one of their own gets a free pass as long as they hate the same people.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  11. Get Real

    Amen to that Praise God

    December 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  12. tony

    He's a bone again Christian. I hear he's going to be running for God in 2014.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Get Real

      Is it 2014? I thought the world was ending in 2013. LOL

      December 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      The people who believe what Newt is saying, this time around, are boned again Christians, for sure.

      "boned again Christians". Gotta remember that one.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  13. Max

    I grew up in a very religious environment and certainly there are a few people who sincerely practice what they preach but the majoritty are pious, self righteous, backstabbing hypocrites who insist on telling everyone else how they should live their lives. If there was a democrat running who had 83 ethic convictions along with untold moral problem, these so-called evangelical christians would be screaming for his head but since they think their boy can win the election all it take is an apology and all is right with the world. What a bunch of loons.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      "What a bunch of loons." -the religious, defined. You said it, bro.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  14. Sharp

    How low can the Republicans get? So much for Family Values & everything else except raw power for the Ultra Rich. I almost feel sorry for them. The party is like a little lost puppy.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Joe Joe Ma

      That's insulting to dogs. Puppies are way smarter than that.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  15. Michael

    So he can serve his wife divorce papers while she is in the hospital with cancer and he somehow isn't a monster??? Let's demonize gays and lesbians but praise a man who continues to live life as an adulterer. Morality today is such a sham.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Sharp

      It's Biblical in it's evil.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Lvnonanon

      Why do you expect the world to make sense?

      December 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Nathan

      Yes, it is. Hypocrisy is alive and well.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  16. skarphace

    I am not worried about Gingrich's past infidelity. However, I am very concerned about him flip-flopping on the issues. To me, this speaks to how he would govern as POTUS much more than do his personal issues. There is only one candidate that not only is a moral person but also is a true conservative.

    This person is Ron Paul and he is the only candidate, (besides Huntsman, who will not win the nomination), that has a shot at my vote over Obama.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  17. Lvnonanon

    If we changed the primary to national on one day, we could ignore the evangelical fringe entirely. As it shoud be.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • PROGRESSIVEJUSTLIKEJESUS

      You make an excellent point. 2010 certainly proved that the primary process can be highjacked by a motivated fringe element. (I think the best example is what happened in Alaska with Joe Miller.) The GOP has been unable (or unwilling) to stand up to vociferous Teabaggers & this is where it has led them- a field of contenders from which Newt Gingrich (yes, THAT Newt Gingrich!) has emerged as a potential frontrunner. Pathetic.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  18. Logic in LA

    You have in a nutshell what is wrong with the Republican base. It's their version of moral Christian conservative or nothing. Week after week, most them it in a church being told how to think, who should lead our country and who is a good person. Sometimes its masked with God and The Bible , but for the most part it is the exact person that Christ railed against – the heretic in the Lord's house.
    Newt is far form pure, as a liberal, I can accept that because we understand failings. But these Evangelical types think they are judge and jry on morals and there fore their support of Newt becomes hypocritical. But they backed Bush, liked Cheney, Supported the divorced Ronald Regan and then berated Bill Clinton. so which is it? Accept human flaws or condemn them- you don;t get both sides without being called names.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  19. Grace

    this Republican battle for the party's nomination is just beyond belief.. WHAT a JOKE it has become. There isn't a viable candidate among them and I have been a Republican since 1962.. After this Congress has dissolved into the quicksand of history, I will likely never vote for another one.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Get Real

      Anybody is better than that deadbeat we have now.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  20. larry

    It is beyond belief and logic that the so-called Moral Right would support a liar, adulterer, womanizer and cheater and hypocrite? They say they have high morals and ethics, yet they continue to support someone who doesn't have any morals or ethics? By supporting a man like Gingrich, they themselves become as immoral and unethical as Gingrich! A known adulterer two or three times over, now wants a former mistress and adulteress herself to become the first lady of the United States. How much more hypocritical can this so-called Moral Right become, Gingrich is a big hypocrite and the Moral Right are bigger hypocrites for supporting a man who is the most immoral and unethical person ever to serve in Washington!

    December 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Get Real

      Yeah, he's just Ike Clinton. They all lie and cheat.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Piper

      Didn't you know.. he asked god for forgiveness and his slate is now wiped clean.. Doesn't matter what a jacka$$ he had been till now.. hes smelling roses now

      December 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • George

      Newt is a changed man. I guess you don't understand what it means to repent.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Praise God

      It seems to me the people who aren't judging Gingrich are not being hypocrites (at least in this case) while you are judging Gingrich and that would be hypocritical. I don't blame you if you simply question whether Gingrich is trust-worthy enough to hold the office of president, given prior actions. But to label him as an "immoral and unethical person?" We're all sinful, and the matter of repentance is between a person and God. From Gingrich's demeanor and openness in talking about his past, I believe he shows evidence that he has taken responsibility and in a sense has a deeper conversion to adhering to morality.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • John

      Agree!

      December 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Gilian

      PG, it could be instead that he is completely without scruples. That is what I think is the more credible explanation, given that he is such a repeat offender.

      I just want to stess something. This is the role of POTUS that we are talking about, or at least to be a candidate for that. Why should we have to settle for someone with such a poor track record, for that top job?

      December 11, 2011 at 9:39 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.