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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. JOE B

    The problem with Gingrich is that he was a frequent adulterer even after he claimed he changed. Why would any Christian consider voting for him is beyond belief. The Bible clearly states that someone who has done as he has done should not be considered for a leadership position in the church. Why in the world would anyone then dare consider to vote for him to be our next president. We as Christians forgive him as we would anyone that repents of his sin but never would we want him to hold the highest office in the land.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  2. antisophist

    There appears to be a theme of lack of integrity here. One frontrunner says,"do as I say, not as I do". The other frontrunner says, "don't ask what I believed yesterday, just believe what I say today". And they both say, "Mr. and Mrs. Evangelical...... I want your vote"

    December 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  3. Will

    It's one thing to forgive your neighbor for cheating on his wife and remarrying and doing it again. It's another thing to elect that person president! And by the party of "family values"??? I think Gingrich has flexible morals and ethics that let him rationalize what ever he wants to.

    As far as not lobbying in dc, maybe in name only, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... It probably will get several million in speaking fees as a duck historian.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  4. monolith

    He says Newtie is “the only forceful Christian candidate who can at this point be elected and cleanse the White House next November.”...... cleanse the WH of what exactly? Are there some Obama infidelities that we're not aware of?

    December 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  5. LMB123

    Gingrich's tip toeing through the various faiths he has joined and left plus his "series" of infidelity show an very unstable and untrustworthy person who would be a disaster in the White House. Perhaps the Evangelicals are embracing him because that's who they feel comfortable with. After all many Evangelical Pastors have taken the same route in life. There is nothing new about infidelity in Evangelical Pastors. They are a dime a dozen.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  6. TommyTT

    These are, of course, the same evangelicals who were shocked, shocked, shocked by Bill Clinton's infidelity.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  7. polycarp pio

    Newt is not the best choice but he is the most likely choice, there is plenty to dislike but compared to the sitting president,I believe he is the lesser of 2 evils. That being said I am not at all excited about the 2012 election at this point. I live in a state that always votes liberal, so my vote for President will not carry any weight, I hope we get rid of the electorial college and go to the popular vote. PP

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

      Yeah, bring on tyranny of the majority.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Lenny Pincus

      Yes, I agree with the popular vote concept because then we wouldn't have had to put up with the disaster that was george W. Bush. And this whole infatuation with Gingrich shows how basically amoral evangelicals really are.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • hawaii thoughts

      Yeah, what a great idea... popular vote... like mentioned before – BUSH would have never been president. Funny thing, Obama actually won the popular vote. The current republican pool of candidates reminds me of the horror of the democrat Dukakis days, I actually feel bad for conservatives right now. Gingrich is your front runner? You can polish a turd, but...

      December 11, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  8. dale1

    I cannot believe the Republican Party! They want everything, but I think that this election cycle they will learn a lesson. They want a candidate who is electable and a hard-line conservative (in Gingrich's case pretending to be hard-line conservative), but what they don't understand is that even though the the average American voter may not know the issues or the candidates that well, the average American is not a total dope. So, why can't they just be rational and nominate Romney or Huntsman? Is it really that hard? Gingrich is the phony candidate who isn't even electable, yet they are still supporting him!

    December 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  9. Don

    Of course they will love him. Every Christian person I know is a hypocrite. They are liars and cheaters just like Newt.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Mennoknight

      I am a born again Christian, I know I am a hypocritic, a liar, and I often only think about myself (narcissistic). I am working on these things.

      I cannot stand Newt. He he wins the Republican nomination I will never vote for him.

      December 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • hawaii thoughts

      Don, you hurt your cause when you play the generalization game. Don't be fooled into thinking that these political bozos and tea party folk actually represent the majority of anything...

      December 11, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  10. AvdBerg

    The above article by Dan Gilgoff is a lie and a fabrication of the truth. He writes about repentance of which he has no knowledge and deceives all the readers. His judgment is not after the righteousness of God but after the flesh (John 8:15)

    Newt Gingrich does not know what he worships as he worships after an image of a false God. He has spent time as a Lutheran, Baptist and a Roman Catholic. He does not understand the Gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 2:14) but rather follows after a false Christ in which there is no salvation (Matthew 24:24). Newt Gingrich is separated from God and unless he repents and turns from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18) he will remain spiritually blind. God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth (John 9:31). For a better understanding who Newt Gingrich worships and what it means to be a sinner, we invite you to read the articles ‘Repent’, ‘What is Sin’ and ‘Victory over Sin’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    It is sad but true but all the GOP Candidates claim themselves to be a Christian, which is falsehood as they follow after a false Christ. During the debate in Iowa, Michele Bachmann was one of those candidates who described herself with great swelling words as a “so-called” Christian, but she does not know what it means as she has been deceived by the spirit of this world (Rev. 12:9). All the GOP Candidates do not know that they are spiritually blind and do not know what spirit they serve (Luke 9:55). Their faith does not stand in Jesus Christ but rather they do service unto them which by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8). As a result of their spiritual blindness they do not know that they are all of the same spirit (darkness).

    For a better understanding what it means to be a Christian we invite you to read the article ‘Can Christianity or any Other Religion Save You’ listed on our website.

    Also, to give people a better understanding of the destructive forces behind CNN and US Politics and the issues that divide this world, we invite you to read the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’.

    One earlier posting wrote the following:

    “The devil made him do it”.

    The writer did not know what it meant but he was 100% correct. Unfortunately the writer did not explain what a ‘devil’ is. It refers to the natural spirit all of mankind is born with. To repent means to change (transformation of spirits) to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan (whose spirit mankind is of) unto God (Acts 26:18).

    When we speak of transformation we do not speak of self-transformation by some religion (2 Cor. 11:13-15) but by the transformation and the renewal of your mind by God, that ye may prove , and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2), that ye may overcome the spirit of this world (1 John 5:4).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12). The truth is that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). This is why we call all of mankind to repentance.

    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    December 11, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • monolith

      You sleep with your Bible under your pillow, don't you?

      December 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  11. Tone

    I alway thought evangelicals were for presidents with good morals. I'm going to start trading off my women like cattle at a public auction if that is the case. Mabe that way my church members will think I am a better Christian.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  12. Mabel

    Freaks are attracted to freaks.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  13. Rebecca

    He's always out for the main chance, including picking up whatever religious coloring works in any particular group. Ye shall know them by their works... and his works are putrid.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  14. OakRockers

    I really don't understand Evangelical Christians, who believe in stories about angels & demons, talking serpents and talking donkeys and trees whose fruit magically gives you knowledge. Yet, they reject stories about the Tooth Fairy or Cupid with his arrows because "everyone knows those characters are just imaginary".

    The mindless duplicity is utterly baffling to sane, rational, logical thinkers.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  15. Truth Teller

    The reason for his status among these so called evangelicals is because all of them are nothing but back sliding hypocrites. These people will justify anything in the name of god. And that is what is happening now. Read your book and re-acquaint yourself with living a good life. And justifying someone known for adultery, for the lack of better words, "ain't it!"

    December 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Rebecca

      They create a god in their own image.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  16. winstonsmith

    It's just interesting with Christianity – when someone is on your "side" their sins are easy to forgive and it's easy to believe said person has truly repented. But when they're not on your "side" then they can never repent, and you know for a fact that they haven't, and those sins prove they are an evil person beyond redemption.

    In the end, people should be held accountable for their actions, and Newt's sins go beyond the bedroom. On the other hand, people do truly change and grow, and of course no one is perfect – but forgiveness and repentance should not be taken for granted. Also, regardless what people say, all sins are NOT equal, and often they can give a glimpse into someone's heart. Everyone has demons, but some suggest a far crueler and sociopathic mindset than others.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  17. O.S. Bird

    Oh-oh. When people start saying "cleanse", as preacher Lee did, I get worried.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So do I. Wasn't that what Hitler claimed he was doing, too?

      December 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Cleanse as in nazi cleanse is exactly what is being said in every Republican debate.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • kiki

      The Repubs are in total denial concerning the impending demographic tidal wave.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  18. MKinSoCal

    OMG – the Evangelicals are so desperate to "cleanse" the White House of the "Muslim Socialist" that they turn to a Papist? Things are certainly getting curiouser and curiouser . . .

    December 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  19. Reason...

    Religious people are not to be trusted in positions of power and moral responsibiliy. How can people depend on you to make rational decisions in the diverse public's best interest? How would they know that you are not injecting your personal religious doctrine into PUBLIC POLICY? The fact is that religious people defer to irrationality whenever a tough question shakes the foundation of their deeply held beliefs. We cannot afford to entrust our government to people like this anymore. Religion (i.e., irrationality) and greed are the main reason for the problems we face in the world today. Religion many times acts as the tool of greed, as well. If you want to believe in magic and fairytales, keep it in your private life (i.e., separation of church and state). We don't need or want your kind anymore. This country being a secular country, dependent on reason and science as the foundation for real innovation and productivity, is what makes America extraordinary. Religion and greed are what is currently dragging America down. Get money and religion out of politics and we can resume our position as the number one country in the world once again.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • kiki

      I'm sure the five Jewish Nobel prize winners this year would disagree.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • kiki

      "The fact is that religious people defer to irrationality whenever a tough question shakes the foundation of their deeply held beliefs".

      Supposed to be quoted in my response.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  20. Roberto

    Dr. Gingrich may have a PhD in history. However, degrees such as his are typically earned, not bestowed. He appears to believe his has been bestowed. He appears to believe his position has been deserved. He is wrong. I'm waiting for him to show up with a crown of laurels upon his head, wearing a toga and sitting on a marble throne. This guy is a joke...a very scary joke. If he is nominated, Obama is a shoe-in. If he, by some strange quirk of numb-skullery on the part of the majority of numb-skull Repub-munists, gets elected as President, you can expect four years of political psychosis, worse than that which we've dealt with for the last two and a half years. Think of a President with high-functioning Asperger's Syndrome.

    December 11, 2011 at 10:33 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.