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My Take: Why evangelicals should dump Gingrich
Callista and Newt Gingrich campaign this week at a retirement community in Sumter County, Florida.
January 31st, 2012
12:52 PM ET

My Take: Why evangelicals should dump Gingrich

By David French, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: David French is a constitutional lawyer, veteran of the Iraq war and the co-author (most recently) of "Why Evangelicals Should Support Mitt Romney (And Feel Good about It!)."

(CNN) At the moment, Newt Gingrich appears to be riding high with evangelical voters. After dismal performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich dominated the evangelical vote in South Carolina and has made a strong pitch to evangelical voters in Florida.

There’s no question that evangelicals are intrigued, and they are just now starting to take a close look.

They won’t like what they see.

In 1998, at the height of the Clinton impeachment battle, evangelical voters were constantly confronting accusations from their secular, leftist friends that “it was all politics,” that evangelicals were less concerned with Bill Clinton’s indiscretions than they were about his party identification.

Evangelicals just wanted to bring down a Democratic president, these critics said, and the Lewinsky scandal was merely the best weapon at hand.

I remember well the evangelical response.  To evangelicals, the Clinton scandal was about much more than the legal definition of perjury. It was about trust about integrity.

Yes, we care about issues.  But we care as much about character. To us, the claim that our outrage against Clinton was mere “politics” was slanderous.  If character counts, then so do values like fidelity, honesty, humility and charity.

Sadly, Gingrich fails on all these counts.

Those virtues, combined with a record of engineering dramatic economic turnarounds in business, the Olympics and Massachusetts, have led me to become an “evangelical for Mitt.”

Churchgoing evangelicals have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.  Gingrich is a thrice-married, serial admitted adulterer.

While the former House speaker tries to change the subject, biblically literate Christians understand that his conduct is a real and present issue. Simply put, a man doesn’t cleanse the moral stain of adultery by marrying his mistress.

Matthew 19:9 is crystal clear: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Gingrich has divorced his wife and married his mistress twice.

Evangelicals strive to be honest not just in their personal lives but in their business dealings as well. Here again,  Gingrich’s record is dismal.  In  1997, he became the first sitting speaker of the House to be reprimanded for ethics violations. The vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan (395-28), and he was fined $300,000.

His offense? Misleading the House ethics committee.

The bipartisan ethics report contained this damaging statement: "(O)ver a number of years and in a number of situations, Mr. Gingrich showed a disregard and lack of respect for the standards of conduct that applied to his activities." Gingrich ultimately acknowledged he misled Congress.

Evangelicals also understand the necessity of humility while living life before a just and holy God. As every evangelical learns in Sunday School, pride is a serious sin.  Psalm 101:5 declares “whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.”

Proverbs 16:5 contains this warning: “The Lord detests the proud of heart.  Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.”

Yet is there a more arrogant public figure in American political life than Gingrich?  His self-regard is legendary. He’s compared himself to world historical figures from Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher to Abraham Lincoln to Pericles.

He has said that people like him stand between America and Auschwitz. His self-congratulatory statements fill press releases, and former colleagues tell tales of his erratic and bullying behavior. Is that the right witness for evangelicals?

Finally, evangelicals are generous people, possibly the most generous subgroup of Americans. Gingrich is not. Lost in the controversy over Mitt Romney’s wealth was this telling statistic:  While Romney gave 16% of his 2010 income to charity, Newt Gingrich donated only 2.6%.

Many evangelicals are angry, and rightly so. They’re angry with a president who embraces abortion rights, who restricts religious liberty and who saddles their children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt. They understand the necessity of protecting life and the imperative of financial stewardship.

But they also understand that we don’t discard our core values for the sake of political victories. Fidelity, honesty, humility and charity matter.

No one doubts that God forgives, but only God knows Newt Gingrich’s heart.  We only know his actions, and we know that he has a history of deceiving even those who are closest to him.

Three other Republican candidates are anti-abortion. Three other Republican candidates have been faithful and honest in their personal and professional lives. With honest alternatives to choose from, evangelicals will soon abandon Gingrich.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (702 Responses)
  1. Travis Tefft

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    August 5, 2013 at 12:56 am |
  2. French

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    May 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  3. Usman Akhtar

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    February 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  4. jimry

    The church, labeled as evangelicals, should end their affiliation with all the politicians. The republicans have been pandering to the church for years and buys their votes. What a travesty. Christians around the world already have their king. No politician can represent the nation at large and keep promises to the believers.

    jimry

    February 5, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  5. Carol

    I`ll tell you what Gingrich might call our president the food stamp president but he is more for the poor people. Gringrich can send his money for food over seas or what ever cause he is just like Mitt he dont care about the poor people. I am a proud democrat and I will be voting for Obama......... And dont forget when he took office Bush already had it to where you couldnt find a job not even a temp job......I think it`s time to take care of the americans.....

    February 5, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  6. Troy

    Do we really want a man who not only aspires to be president, but also a god? Why do mormons and namely Mitt Romeny hold on to this belief that they will one day be gods and godesses and populate other planets in the universe? Really? I think the 1st Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me." takes issue with this belief.

    February 5, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Carnie

      God will always be God. Believing in eternal progression, Mormons know that we don't stop learning and growing after we die. What a hell that would be...living for eternity with no change in intelligence or abilities. Because one can become like his father does not mean he replaces his father. Heavenly Father will always be worshiped as the God that He is.

      February 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • larry dillon

      The bible says "You will rule and reign with him".If i rule with a god and reign with a God am i not likely to be a God.My ,mainline Christian church believes this,I'm not to keen on the topic,but is taught in the church

      February 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  7. Marno

    The Moral Majority has failed in the USA, you have to get past the anger stage and into the acceptance stage about this. You can vote with your feet, emigrate, or you can retreat into the ever more pietistic ingrown "churches".... But the globalist feminazis are firmly in control.

    February 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  8. Seamus

    I agree we shouldn't be for Newt. However supporting a mormon cultist? You sir are no evangelical.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Christof

      Seamus: lol @ your stupidity, rigidity, and ignorance. Hey, guess what: Jesus loves Mormons too. Get over it. I'm an Evangelical, and you sir are a poor representation.

      God, please wipe filth like this from this country like the turd that they are?

      February 7, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Christof ... how very "old testament" of you .. praying to your 'god' to "wipe filth like this from this country like the turd that they are" ... yeah, praying for god to kill those who don't follow YOUR point of view. Yep, you're a hypocritical christard

      February 7, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • Carnie

      And you, Sir, are uninformed.

      February 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • larry dillon

      I feel the same way about Baptist cultist,and Full Gospel cultist ect,ect......

      February 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  9. Rev. Rick

    Quoting from the article, "Finally, evangelicals are generous people, possibly the most generous subgroup of Americans. Gingrich is not. Lost in the controversy over Mitt Romney’s wealth was this telling statistic: While Romney gave 16% of his 2010 income to charity, Newt Gingrich donated only 2.6%."

    Evangelicals are generous when it suits them, and if it's one of their own. Romney said,"..we have a safety net for the poor, so we don't need to worry about them..."

    February 3, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Mas

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      May 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  10. Rick Schow

    @ churchsalt
    I will NEVER try to tell u what u believe. Please DO NOT tell me what Mitt and all us Mormons believe(idolatry). Makes no sense for you or anyone else for that matter to tell me what I believe. You disagree with us Mormons...I get that. I disagree with you, but I DO NOT presume to tell u what u believe nor do I call you names. Your arrogance is showing. You do not like a candidate with loyalty to his spouse and family values...I get that. You prefer the candidate whose own fellow members of the House lacked loyalty and voted to censure their boss. I get that as well. What does that say about his leadership skills when the Congressmen and women in his own party voted 80% to censure their leader. You prefer a candidate that all polls say cannot defeat BO, I get that. You ignore the fact that in California, the folks(Mormons) who were only 2% and who worked hard to pass prop 8 yet took huge amount of heat and abuse for standing up to liberals. You ignore the fact that as Christians we have the same love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as I feel you do. You ignore the fact that we have so much in common, yet you strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Just wanted to attempt to be reasonable and logical.

    February 3, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • Christof

      Rick,

      You can't use reason and logic with these asshats. Your only hope is that their ignorant spawn grows up to be more Christlike than their folks. It's going to take a long time to make that happen because the willful ignorance and hate-mongering is strong with them.

      February 7, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • Mirosal

      you cannot use reason and logic with any chirstian.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  11. MLCtweeter

    The liberal media will stop at nothing to defame Newt. Now they're using "religious" tactics, claiming scripture as an excuse to proudly support Romney. It beats all I've ever seen. This country is in so much trouble.

    Newt's feet are made of clay too, and character is important, but his past and Christian-born-again life is between him and God, not us. We're not looking for a Pastor-in-Chief, we're looking for a Commander-in-Chief to lift this badly listing and sinking ship. Newt has the credentials, the experience and the passion to preserve and lead this country as founded and imagined.

    So, the psuedo-religious plea is now trying to appeal to one's own sense of good, holier-than-though subconscious morality. Romney has been on every side of every issue (and we thought Kerry flip-flopped). Mitt has clearly stated his Pro-Choice beliefs that abortion should be legal, that Roe vs Wade should be upheld. He has continuously demonstrated his disdain for guns and the 2nd Amendment. And, he has appointed a number of liberal judges to the courts in Massachusetts – consider the next POTUS may appoint as many as three in the next term. But, one really only has to do a simple search to see and hear Romney's own words from his own mouth. If Newt's character is in question, then so is Mitt's. Only recently, too, did Romney reveal that he indeed will be a true "mandate" POTUS (video for that too) by indicating employers be made to give automatic pay raises that are tied to inflation to all employees at the minimum wage level. Certainly, sounds like an advocate of bigger government to me!

    I suppose Romney is a good man, but last time I checked "good" doesn't get you eternal life with the Father. Personally, I prefer a leader with a bit of experience at failure, that's been humbled, has sought forgiveness and can still show courage in spite of his own self, much less others. King David was a cheater and a murderer, yet scripture tells us that David was a man after God's own heart. He repented and prayed that his salvation be restored (Psalm 51). If we are to be forgiven for our sins, we must also be willing to forgive others as well, as Christ did, that we may be Christ-like also. It can be very hard to do, and I struggle myself but I try!

    And, the ONLY thing "crystal clear" about David French's article is that he obviously hasn't discerned the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant – the one where all sins are forgiven by our advocate, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for all sins. (1st John 2:1-2)

    GO NEWT! Victory or Death! Amen! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtjfMjjce2Y

    February 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bwahahhahhhhahhha!

      Yer kilin' me. Stop, my sides are hurting.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Carnie

      Are sins are forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ if we accept his atonement....and that requires that we sincerely repent.

      February 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • larry dillon

      I agree with that David was called the apple of Gods eye.So the apple of Gods is a murder and a cheat.God has low standards for the apple of his eye.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  12. ChurchSalt

    Seriously? You use Scripture to point out sin in the life of Gingrich while ignoring the fact that Romney is a self-professed idolater?!?? There is only one God, right? So if Mitt is worshiping someone else, which he is, who might it be? Not to sound like the 1980's comedy skit...but he worships Satan! If you are going try to use Scripture to promote your own agenda, be careful! It applies to all, not just political opponents. This piece makes my jaw drop with amazement due to the blind hypocrisy! To be clear, I have sinned too. It is only through Christ's atoning death on the cross, a death suffered on my behalf, that I have been saved. Dangerous teachings y'all play with on this website, and one day you will account for every word. I strongly recommend you take pause before printing more pieces like this!

    February 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Bobby

      Idolator are you serious? Shame on you for your bigotry. Since the Nicene Crede of 324 this has been the question of All Christian faiths, whether God the Father and God the Son are the same person. as many scriptures as you can produce, I can double yours. Mormons believe honorable Christians of all denominations will be in heaven yet you can't stand the very notion that we might be there also! Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, Jesus is the Christ! I confessed already!

      February 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Seamus

      Bobby, what does the Bible sat about "adding to it"? Then answer what that means for Indian Jesus? Or the fact that Joseph Smith i splanning to hook yu up in heaven? Sorry, but The Koran cites Jesus too, don't mean its Christianity.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • americanfirst

      What the...
      are you kidding me??
      who the heck is this freakin stupid!
      It is increasingly evident that some "Christians" are willing to say ANY STUPID THING at all to keep someone from another religion from running fairly for office.

      Mormon's are Christian and if there is any doubt just check out the way they live. Or better yet – check out the way you're living and reacting to this post before you decide to determine yourslef the arbiter of just who get's to be "Christian"
      Cause you're not God, you'd suck at it...and the postiiton is filled!

      February 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Christof

      Seamus

      Really? Bringing out the "added to it" card? Apparently you are only capable of reading letters and words and incapable of comprehension. You do realize that the Bible you read everyday has been added to and subtracted from many hundreds of times over? Freaking retards. You shouldn't be allowed to vote.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  13. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer causes small kids to get hit by buses when they aren't paying attention.
    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you crave the smell of kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.</b

    February 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • ChurchSalt

      Seriously? You use Scripture to point out sin in the life of Gingrich while ignoring the fact that Romney is a self-professed idolater?!?? There is only one God, right? So if Mitt is worshiping someone else, which he is, who might it be? Not to sound like the 1980's comedy skit...but he worships Satan! If you are going try to use Scripture to promote your own agenda, be careful! It applies to all, not just political opponents. This piece makes my jaw drop with amazement due to the blind hypocrisy! To be clear, I have sinned too. It is only through Christ's atoning death on the cross, a death suffered on my behalf, that I have been saved. Dangerous teachings y'all play with on this website, and one day you will account for every word. I strongly recommend you take pause before printing more pieces like this!

      February 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Rick Schow

      Can't this sort of ignorance be removed. This stuff is both offensive and immature.

      February 3, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  14. HawaiiGuest

    @Ok'yDok'y

    Oh didn't you know? Civil Rights are supposed to only be for people that fundamentalists/evangelicals deem worthy. At least this is my assumption based on the cr@p that comes out of their mouth.

    February 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      wow wrong thread I feel dumb

      February 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  15. Reality

    Only for the newbies–

    Why evangelicals should dump Jesus:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ......

      Reality? Hit report abuse

      February 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bobby

      Read the teachings of love and service Christ offers and be ashamed for your sad pathetic position! Very little faith!

      February 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • 50/50

      @reality...i would bet you still celebrate some type of Christian Holiday because it is fun and you receive presents. Only you can answer that question honestly. And I am very sure that this is the only type of forum that you express your views in. I am sure that you dont have the courage of Jesus to talk to other people about what you believe face to face even if it would be looked upon as crazy thinking. If you understood the purpose of what Jesus preached about and I mean all of it, you might at least admire Jesus or him wanting do something right for humanity. Instead you bash because it is easy and you feel you have a right. You also have a right to be a positive person.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  16. Matt

    A sign of intelligence and humility is evident when one learns some thing new that is true, and changes the view, opinion, life to conform to the newly discovered truth. Mitt Romney has the skills and experience to turn our country around. People should call Mitt Romney a "Flipper" bot not a "Flip-Flopper" because over time you can clearly see how he has become more conservative(flipped from less conservative to more conservative), just as Ronald Reagan did, who actually was first a democrat. Newt is smart, but simply the fact that he has a history of infidelity to the person who deserves all of his honesty, is evidence that his character is (maybe he has changed, I hope so) flawed. If he cannot be honest with his wives, how can we trust him to be completely honest when he gets more power? (ie Clinton)

    February 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Rick Santorum

      I love you Matt. You're such a fine gay old conservative.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Rick Santorum

      great, the same ol troll is roaming about today

      February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • americanfirst

      Actually – your post is pot on Matt! I scanned and this is the only relatively informed post I could find!
      Way too many liberals bucking for the handout!
      Real Evangelicals would know/should know that God want s a self-reliant people! Not people looking for and/or promoting the handout to increase dependancy on a government. That's bondage!
      Liberal thought is CLEARLY a mental disorder!

      February 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  17. Chris Gagne

    I just want to say that I am grateful for yours and Nancy's well written articles and for your support for Mitt as POTUS. I wanted to highlight the paragraph regarding forgiveness which you so eloquently explained, "No one doubts that God forgives, but only God knows Newt Gingrich’s heart. We only know his actions, and we know that he has a history of deceiving even those who are closest to him". Wow, I don't think the forgiveness issue could have been explained any better. Thank you.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Rick Santorum

      That's pretty mean to say that about god "We only know his actions, and we know that he has a history of deceiving even those who are closest to him"" but I suppose it's true.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  18. George R

    I am very disappointed in the people in Florida. Romney is a wealthy NE liberal that no way represents the base of the GOP.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chris

      The base is represented by everyone who did not vote for Romney. Over 50%.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  19. Chris

    I'm guessing David French would not like one of us "giving him a closer look" either. Some people are fortunate enough to be married once. All people make mistakes. I'm not saying we always have to accept everything bad out of others, but to hold Gingrich up like this and examine his life against the yardstick of God's Word is monumentally unfair. I agree that divorce is a sin, but I wonder what sins we could turn up in David French's life. I'm sure he'd be uncomfortable at the thought.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • ChurchSalt

      Yeah, it's easy to throw God's law at people, because we have all broken it (many times and to a serious degree). I wonder why the author didn't mention the idolatry of Mitt?

      February 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Bobby

      Read your GOP history... Very few ever win with plurality... it doesn't take a rocket scientist to discover that forty years of blatant serial adultery well into his fifties is a life history and a warning of trust, not bad judgement or a mistake! he defines himself and now wants to give us lip service and assure us he has changed. He is a mean man and attacks any perceived opponent. (Juan and John) He destroys them and that happened as Speaker with his own republicans that disagree with him! Read what newt said as he resigned his congressional seat and left!

      February 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  20. Jon

    I am a progressive Democrat, I plan to vote for Obama again, and proud to call myself an Evangelical in the true sense. Please do not stereotype us! I personally know more Evangelicals like me than like those who get the headlines for their right wing political views. Also anyone who says that America should be an "Evangelical nation" does not understand Jesus or even the meaning of the word, "Evangelical." Look up the word, "Evangel" from which the word "Evangelical" comes in a dictionary! "Evangelical nation" is an oxymoron. They need to stop listening to the insane ideas of their right wing preachers who twist and misquote the words of scripture and simply read the words of Christ for themselves.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • ChurchSalt

      One question (which may sound totally unrelated); If you were to give a summary of the gospel in one or two sentences, what would you say?

      February 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Bobby

      You lack charity!

      February 1, 2012 at 11:38 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.