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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. gary

    Newton is wrong for president. Evangelicals are SO delusional, sick in the head. They should be ignored as such.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Barbara Espinosa

      What do Jack Abramoff and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both made their fortunes in Washington D.C. as “consultants”.
      What do President Obama and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both support an individual mandate for health insurance.
      What do Harry Reid and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both oppose the Paul Ryan Medicare reforms as right wing social engineering.
      What do Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich have in common? They like to sit on a couch together and talk about man made global warming.
      What do Barney Frank and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both like healthcare rationing and death panels.
      What do Chicago Democrat Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both support comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty for illegal aliens.
      What do Iowa voters and Newt Gingrich have in common? They both have profited handsomely from ethanol subsidies.
      What do Freddie Mac and Newt Gingrich have in common? $1.6 million of taxpayer money.
      What do former Democrat Congressman Jim Wright and Newt Gingrich have in common? Both were the Speaker of the House, investigated for ethics violations and disciplined.
      What do the U.S. Treasury and Newt Gingrich have in common? Neither one can balance their check books.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Triage

      Further proof that Newt is a crook.

      In 1997 he was fined $300,000 by the US government for ethic violations (1). At one point, he also owed $500,000 to the jerwlery store, Tiffanys (2). Now that we know that he has profited from the very govermental agency he has spoken ill about, Freddie Mac (3). If he is already trying to scam money from the US taxpayers now, can you only imagine the irrefutable harm he would cause this Country if he was elected?

      Sources:
      (1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/govt/leadership/ethics.htm
      (2) articles.businessinsider.com/2011-05-17/politics/30012552_1_politico-debt-jewelry-store
      (3) huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/newt-gingrich-freddie-mac-consulting_n_1097590.html

      Ron Paul 2012!
      http://www.whyronpaul.com

      December 11, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  2. achepotle

    repented? I'd rather a real person in the White House rather than some lying meth-head riding a unicorn, thank you.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Mirosal

      I think your meth-head riding a unicorn might be a viable candidate. He would be too whacked out to even think about lying lol And just think of the kind of Inaugural parade we could have with that!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  3. jordan

    This man is a poor choice for a Presidentand he will never get my vote.He has been caught many times lying and was even kicked out of his speaker's job and fined money for Ethics Violations.
    Then again the right wing people will always do what they feel is RIGHT.
    Newt is not right he is a wrong choice.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  4. TR

    I can understand that people will need to make a decision a candidate on a personal level, but in reality religion has absolutely no place in politics. This country may have been founded on Christian principles, but the Founding Fathers made a very strong point when separating church and state. This is a country that accepts all religions, individuals can practice the religion of their choice, and therefore religion should have no place in political decisions. Putting the importance of which religious or abortion lean one has as a Presidential requirement is nonsense. Neither issue effects national security, which is the paramount responsibility of the federal government. Both issue are state issues to be sure, but nether should be an issue of debate at the national level. I urge voters to consider which candidate will make appropriate and difficult decisions at the national level that will have an impact our country's national security.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  5. stubbycat

    Of course Newt "the Brute" hasn't repented enough to become president. He's a fundamentalist Republican, isn't he?

    December 11, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  6. Johnny wazhere

    The story of Newt converting to ANOTHER FAITH resembles the "Seinfeld:Tractor story"
    IN RERALITY: The voter is the one that will take the shaft.
    From:washingtonpost
    Newt Gingrich Explains His Conversion To Catholic Faith
    "People ask me when I decided to become Catholic," said Gingrich, who formally converted in 2009. "It would be more accurate to say that I ***gradually*** became Catholic and then realized that I ***should accept*** the faith that surrounded me."
    repent, repent! the end is nigh! repent, repent! we're all going to die! repent, repent! these secrets will kill us! so get on your knees and pray for forgiveness!
    From:washingtonpost
    Newt Gingrich, the savior of the religious right?
    Newt Gingrich, the career politician and millionaire “consultant” for the health care and mortgage industries, a twice-divorced and thrice-married convert to Catholicism, may be the last great hope of the religious right.
    Or, as The Atlantic’s Molly Ball put it, Gingrich’s personal baggage is “garden-variety adultery and lack of marital commitment,” which “looks downright tame next to what Cain’s been accused of.”

    December 11, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  7. Jules

    What we all need to remember is that redemption and forgiveness is available to all, even the worst of the worst, but that doesn't mean they should be president. What we need to look at is what has Gingrich done with his life since all this repentence? It's easy to say you are changed but true change requires a change of heart and a change in his life. Does his actions match his words? Nope. The man should not be president – the rest is between him and God.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  8. Colin

    It is difficult to overstate the danger of the Evanelicals in America.

    They tend to be scientifically, geographically and historically illiterate and try to impose their views on the rest of us. I have no problem that some people are dense and ignorant enough to think the World began 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake, but they should not be allowed to teach such garbage in our schools.

    Fear the ignorant with power – they are like chimpanzees with a machine gun.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • gary

      very well said. I agree 100% God is pretend, myth. Evangelicals are sick with delusions.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  9. 0patrick0

    The facile turning of evangelicals to Gingrich, when his recent history mirrors his dreadful past, is perhaps the measure of their shallow, emotion-based faith, such that his mere mechanical assertion that he has changed can so readily and convenitently be embraced by those who lack any apt leadership. So instead of a competent Mormon leader they'll choose a competent anti-Christ. Obama in 2012.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • inga

      Obama the anti-christ. Don't worry, the Bible says he'll be loved and embraced by everyone at first. Does that sound like Obama?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Jon

      @inga – doesn't that sound like Gingrich and George Bush, too?

      December 11, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  10. Barry

    Absolutely not. Newt has not repented for selling his votes to the highest bidder, in fact he has been pandering for even more interests to buy his votes. Are you crazy thinking that he is at all repentant?

    December 11, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  11. JP0

    Gingrich will say and do whatever it takes.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Pat in IL

      I agree. His religion, morals and ethics. are really non-existent, and the proof of that is in his actions. Talk is cheap and photo ops are plentiful.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • gary

      America should be embarrassed that NEWT is taken seriously.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  12. Enoch

    Can't these people see that he has a square and a round head! It doesn't matter if he has repented when he looks like a moonface on a wooden block. It scares me and it should scare you too.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  13. Tony

    The press as usual is stirring the controversy. I believe that they think that it is their job to select and elect the president of their choice. They will do this by attempting to destroy everyone that gets in the way of their choice. Listen to CNN's own commercials that state boldly that they are the guardians of government. I ask, who appointed these self righteous
    Liberal morons ?

    December 11, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • inga

      Not the same people that appointed the self-righteous right-wing evangelical morons as the deciders on who is moral and patriotic enough to be president.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Last night, the press asked the questions but it was fellow republicans that shredded Newt. And it was Perry that reopened the faith question with his dumb gays in the military vs. prayer in school commercialism.

      The Pubs in general, Newt specifically, had a good thing going when Newt refused to attack his fellow Pubs, and attacked the media for trying to stir it up, but now the gloves are off, largely because of an issue (faith, morality) that the Pubs themselves rekindled.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Ground Zero

      *** Liberal morons ?

      You can find a big "R" tatood on this guys butt.
      Branded for life.
      Just like the silly children who call our president "Obummy"
      They just never grow up.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  14. Working Joe

    Evangelicals are a bunch of hypocrites anyway morally bankrupt sycophants of the wealthy whom they them selves have become members of.
    Their hypocrisy is enough to gag a maggot....

    December 11, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  15. inga

    Ethics and morals can exist without religion. That said, while he was Speaker of the House, Newt had eighty-four ethics charges filed against him. Thus far, he has admitted to two affairs. Oh...but all he has to do is repent and it is ok.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  16. pprty

    I'm sure if Obama had been married three times & cheated on his wife the conservatives would make it the focus of their campaign. Newt should not be a candidate because he is a loose cannon & not trustworthy.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Pat in IL

      Hi is an amoral pig, and his repentance is just words – not actions. I want to tell his wife "if he would do it with you, he will do it to you", and the same goes for this country. Don't forget the ethics viotations before (just the ones that we know about).

      December 11, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  17. clwyd

    Newt can say all he want, but his life and life style speak for themselves. The frugal millionaire doesn't know what Middle Class Americans need and want from their government!

    December 11, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  18. Asa

    Cheating on his wife is one thing, cheating on the taxpayers is another. Does no one remember he was kicked out of the speaker's job and fined $300K for ethics violations? The man is a lying, cheating, crook; people like that do not change, and certainly not politicians like that. Asking for him to give a speech to prove his new found trustworthiness is a joke. How could you "trust" what he is saying? The American people would be fools to elect a guy like this.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  19. drafter31

    What Evangelical Christians need to understand is how Catholics "Receive God's Forgiveness" as compared to how we Evangelicals "Receive God's Forgiveness"…

    As evangelicals, we go directly to the LORD in prayer, confessing our sin, repenting of that sin, and asking the LORD to forgive us for our sin…And the LORD is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…

    Catholics on the other hand go to a confessional booth where there is a wall which separates the individual seeking God's forgiveness and the Priest…

    The individual (Newt in this case) confesses his sins of adultery, writing rubber checks with US Government money, and whatever else he can think of…

    The Priest then tells Newt, "You are forgiven my son"…Go do 5 or 10 hail Marys and be cleansed…

    As Evangelical Christians, we KNOW that this is NO way for anyone to receive God's forgiveness for their sins!!!

    So, Newt is just a "Lost" person needing to be "Born-again"…Catholicism is a FALSE RELIGION my brothers and sisters...

    December 11, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Mirosal

      EVERY religion is a false religion, even your evangelicals.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Mirosal

      OK, you call catholicism a false religion. Fine. But you are forgetting one thing. At one time, the ONLY Christian religion was Catholic. The Protestants are false as well. The vast majority of the Protestant denominations have their roots in the Catholic church. If the Catholics are false, yours is too.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • Dan

      I love Evangelicals, the most obnoxious Christians. I'm not even Catholic but how do you know you're right and they're wrong? Oh yeah you don't.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Mirosal

      I was raissed Catholic and I have an education, courtesy of the Jesuits. I can say with all certainty that EVERY religion is false.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • the Rock

      @drafter31- that's the party line to be sure, you are speaking "evangelicalism" which has its own language. A few questions for you: where did the Bible come from and who decided which books were included in the canon? what did the early church believe in terms of doctrine? about the communion, specifically? which church is 2011 years old and can trace its history directly to the disciples?Protestantism has over 25,000 sub groups, which interpret the Bible (the book protected and determined by the Catholic Church ,by the way) in their own way, and do not subscribe to basic tenets of faith but twist the Scriptures to their own ends, and don't agree on the most basic things in the Scriptures. I appreciate that you do not understand the Catholic faith, and as a former 30 year Baptist who is now a Catholic, I encourage you to discover the actual teaching of the Church by reading history and faith articles of the early Church Fathers. You may be surprised to learn how wrong you are in your characterization of Catholic teaching. It's not your fault, but you owe it to yourself to learn the truth and not just accept the party line language of evangelicalism.They're the new kids on the block in Church history, and are in fact, heretics.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • willown oak

      Every religion thinks its belief are the true beliefs. You do things one way, another religion does it another way but you think your path is the correct road to God. Oh, how stupid it all is.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  20. stike1

    If they support Gingrich the Religious right is wrong and loses their credibility.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Mirosal

      Haven't you noticed yet, that throughout their history, the religious 'right' is seldom, if EVER, right?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:07 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.