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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. Lena

    The fact that we're even having this discussion, in a country which vows and fights for secularism is downright laughable. I'm absolutely embarrassed that this has even come into question...it just tells you how far the Republican Party has sank...to the point where they actually rely on the Evangelicals to vote a candidate into the run for President. Whatever happened to the intellectual Republicans...the party once worthy of President Lincoln. Such a shame....

    December 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Rebecca

      What happened is the Republican Party sold itself to the highest bidders... corporations. They lost their voting base. All that is left is a bunch of right-wing religious nutters that they kowtow to and lie for to get the nomination. Next, they will lie to the entire American electorate to get votes. No one in this country would vote for them if they said the truth. This too, shall pass, because the Republicans are well along on the passing of the military to corporations. We will not even have a military before long. When that is complete, corporations will own media, Congress, Presidency, Supreme Court, and the Military. They will no longer need these Republican puppets. Nor will they need the "front" of a democratic Republic.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  2. iBELIEVE

    CHRISTIANS:
    Do not condemn, but do not condone.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  3. Phil

    The man left one of his wives while she was dying with cancer.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  4. Raheel

    Gingrich Just keep kissing and whipping Israelis assess ,

    December 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • ZapWare

      Who is Gingrich Just, and where did he get his accounting degree? Assessing is serious work.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • The Canadian, ...eyh...

      As you can see, the Gingrich Just is a *group*, since he used the plural verb. I think my soccer team played them once. We beat their assessments.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  5. ALLAMERICAN

    Evangilist or any other religion out there should not be allowed to determine the faith of elections. The only way we can change is by getting out in even larger numbers on election day and voting.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Marc

      Just about the exact comment I was going to make. This and my amazement that the hypocritical religious right will even consider this morally corrupt candidate. Then again, why should i be amazed at all.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Denis E Coughlin

      I agree that this religion factor should not be an issue. However his personal conduct and his disrespect for his previous spouses, the taxpayers by providing non-lobbying services for Freddie Mac as well the laws and previous agreement betrayed are vlaid issues.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  6. ruemorgue

    I hope the Evangelicals have enough sense not to fall Newt's masterful lies and deceptions. If iit looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck - it's a CHICKEN !!!

    December 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  7. fsmgroupie

    surely my sweet jesus lord and savior will burn these traitorist evangelicals in hell for billions of years for supporting this lieing, thieving, womanizing convert to the anti-christ sect

    December 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • AL SANCHEZ

      RIGHT ON!!!! NEWT STINKS!!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  8. John

    Newt Gingrich Is a Cheat and a Crook and Is Lying . Just say you are a Christan doesn't change who you are.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  9. Relictus

    Newt's cynical abuse of the evangelical community's trust is hilarious! Three wives. The only way that this could get better is if he was hiding a husband, too. Maybe one of his close friends will "come out of the closet".

    December 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • ALLAMERICAN

      one more to go and Newt is a moslem.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  10. SynHolliday

    Hahahah! Are these evangelicals stupid? An adulterer? What is wrong with them?

    December 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  11. Handofdoom

    Time to start taken control
    We all have to say it like it is , it's the " career politician " that has got our country where it is !

    Career politician have way too much time to be taken in by all the " special interest groups ", then there is the "foreign and domestic ".

    This a problem we the Citizens can fix . To take control by picking up your phone also sending emails then there is letters Not by asking but telling your reps what you know should be done !

    Tell them flat out You will no longer sit at home yelling at the morning paper or evening news broadcast!

    Put it like this , if nothing has changed soon . Then he or she should start looking for work

    December 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • The Canadian, ...eyh...

      And you certainly cannot be employed with those English skills. Oh wait, it's the US, well, maybe you are.

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

      Hey Handof, you have Canada after you now...the Mexicans are already uptight...lets not make any more enemies of our neighbors. I do have sympathy though. Maybe the fastest way to solve it is to get yourself out there with the OWS and pass the hat and buy your own politician.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  12. Matt

    The question, do you believe a man who has lied and cheated before. Even if he repented, do you believe that? Maybe there is still time for Cain to repent? Long story short if you do believe he repented and will not lie again then you can start looking at him like a candidate, and if you vote for him I am sure that Obama and his campaign staff will thank you for it later.

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

      I'm glad you are perfect! It must be nice to never have needed someones trust after offending them. Maybe he did some of these bad things but who am I to judge? It was many years ago, he has repented, since then he HAS shown different character, and I'never walked in his shoes to begin with. Iwill not judge him.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Denis E Coughlin

      While it's correct to forgive. Only fool or extremist forgives a serial moral disgrace by offering the office of POUS to see if he's not lying again.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  13. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Christianity that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections. If you have an objection to what I say – post it, if you only object to the fact that I said it – don’t waste your breath, I feel no duty to be quiet about them.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,700,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,700,000,000 years for h.o.mo sapiens to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This “all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers, so as to know if they think bad thoughts, so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    4. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    5. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    6. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something, which it most certainly is not, one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    7. The Bible is literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, ra.pe and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    8. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is honestly not believe in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    9. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

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

      There are billions of Christians who believe many different things..but don't let that get in the way of your strawman.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Colin

      So kiki, can I safely assume you will not take issue with any point I made?

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

      You could benefit from a 100 level world religions class.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Colin

      So, once again Kiki, what did I get wrong. Don't just calim I am wrong without pointing out where. I suspect you can't. Prove me wrong.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • ZapWare

      kiki, Colin has a point. Well, several of them. Very explicit. Seems fair for you to say which ones you think are wrong and why, rather than just claim and not explain.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Pritka

      I am applauding...the only issue I have is that I wish I could be that concise and organized and get my computer to work with me while I type.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • m.sett.7

      colin, i was raised christian, but am trying to open up to new views, and I have to admit that you make a very strong arguement

      December 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • bud in NC

      Colin- You made one of the clearest explanation of what I personally believe ever. But you can not convince brainwashed people with logic. Keep on trying though.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      kiki, what specifically did colin post that is incorrect?

      December 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  14. EnjaySea

    The more passionately christian they are, the less likely I'll vote for them.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  15. Debbie

    Gingrich may be forgiven by God but he has not changed his ways. IF he were truely repentent he would not even be running for office. He's using religion for votes. Evangelicals appear to be falling for his deceit. I pray for them and their eyes be opened.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • ZapWare

      Yeah, that god. He'll forgive anybody who asks but don't doubt him or you've got some scorching coming.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  16. RedLively

    Why is religion even a part of the political system– we as a society were suppose to keep the church out of the political agenda, yet more and more the republicans are pandering to ultra conservatives that don't follow any logical thinking. Having grown up as an evangelical I can only say that they are the most deceitful, narrow minded, judgemental and ignorant set of people that I have ever met. Of course, there are many that mean well, do quite a lot of good in the community, but for the most part I can't trust them. They use the word of God to justify their actions and judge those around them if they don't follow their rules. I am sorry but any candidate that is approved by the conservative evangelicals will not have my vote.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • AL SANCHEZ

      RIGHT ON!!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  17. Rich

    We need less religion and more people that go through high school.Rick Perry is a good example of the dumbing down of the usa.
    Who gives a @#&% about jesus?We need a leader and we have one with Obama.

    December 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  18. Frank

    If anybody can beat Obama it will be Newt, unless of course the economy turns by election time. Newt is no fool.

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

      Moderates and independents where I live were gaining interest in Romney but wouldn't touch Newt with a ten foot pole.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • AL SANCHEZ

      I KNOW YOU'RE JOKING, RIGHT?! PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND, BUDDY!!! NEWT IS POISON TO ANY PARTY!!!! OBAMA WILL WIN HANDS DOWN IF NEWT JUMPS IN. HE'S BAD MEDICINE!!

      GO ROMNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • bud in NC

      Newt is certainly no fool. But he has fools falling in love with him.He has admitted to infadelity. How many others has he not admitted to. Hmmm

      December 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  19. tony

    Repenting to santa claus, the tooth fairy or god. All the same bull. Likeany of them are going to do anything if they are not convinced. Didn't the Pope just welcome Tony Blair the Iraq WMD mass murder in to the Catholic church?

    December 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  20. CONFUSED

    Under any understanding of Christianity...or the Bible.......If He were truly changed and repentant he would leave wife # 3 and return to his first wife ...and if she doesn't want him back the only way to be repentant is to live a life of celibacy going forward.... but to remain with wife #3 or 2 is to live in currently an adulterous relationship....this he is not and cannot be repentant if he remains in a marriage that isnt recognized by any understanding of the Bible or Christianity .......thus his talk about being changed is just that Talk and a lie......to get elected

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

      He gets a pass on wife #1, my understanding is that she died.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
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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.