Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?
February 27th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

There was one name on almost everyone's lips when I atteneded CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., four years ago: Newt Gingrich.

The man who engineered the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, ending two generations of Democratic control, didn't throw his hat into the ring for 2008, but there are signs he plans to do so for 2012.

And that raises a critical question: Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky and battled House ethics panel allegations throughout his four years as Speaker of the House?

John McCain proved in 2008 that a Republican can capture the party's nomination without religious conservative fervor at his back. He also showed how hard it is to win the White House without it.

Perhaps with that in mind, Gingrich is quietly emphasizing his 2009 conversion to Catholicism to certain voters, making appearances at right-to-life organizations, touring a film he produced about Pope John Paul II, and admitting there are things in his past he isn't proud of.

He's making headway with at least some potential supporters, such as veteran anti-abortion activist Jack Willke, the New York Times reports Sunday.

The money quote, from Willke's wife Barbara:  “His Catholicism certainly sounds legit, and even more so since (his wife) Callista is in the picture now.”

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Newt Gingrich • Politics • United States

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Colin

    He has a 19th Century solcial philosophy, a knowledge of science from the Dark Ages and has anatural instinct for ignoring inconvenient fcts. He is perfectly suited to lead the Christian Taliban.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  2. LeeCMH

    Gingrich is a multiple divorcee, practiced adultery, and hates gays. He qualifies to lead the hateful Christians who want a religious government.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  3. Enoch

    Let's see – he's hypocritical, has no real morals and is rather creepy. The question really should be "How couldn't religious conservatives love Newt?"

    February 28, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  4. Gaunt

    Mass murderer and serial pedophile John Wayne Gacy could (if revived from the zead as some kind of Zombie) wander before the religious right and proclaim:

    "I love Jesus, and Jesus says that Obama was not born in America!"

    ...and the tea party would cast 107% (extra 7% due to ballot stuffing measures) of their votes for him.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  5. teepee

    the religious right thought they had it running smoothly when they snuggled up to Reagan and Bush1...that was never of God as is evident by their slump in prosperity and falling off of attendance. their revenues are down and many churches have gone under. God is not pleased with the religious right.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  6. teepee

    People, don't trust Newt...get yourselves a better candidate...he will knife you in the back and give the blood to corp am to sip on...

    February 28, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  7. john leddy

    how long does it take to moderate a statement?

    February 28, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • teepee

      watch your word selection man...I thinks certain words keep your comment hosed up...

      February 28, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  8. teepee

    I am a believer in Jesus Christ but frankly I don't think the religious right is worth messing with...they think they are the only ones that God loves. me thinks they are a waste of time and air.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  9. Reality

    Hmmm, common sense, rational thinking and "Do No Harm" eliminates Newt as any kind of political leader:

    With respect to Abrahamic religions, an easy way to quickly remove the brainwashing:

    The saving of 1.5 billion lost Muslim souls:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

    The saving of 2 billion lost Christian souls:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

    The saving of 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Added details upon request.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  10. WWRRD

    The "Christian Right" needs to start walking the walk instead of bashing others with judgemental hate inspired rhetoric. If the Christian right really cared about children they would be opening Orphanages to care for homeless kids in the inner city, they would ban handguns that kill hundreds of innocent children bystanders every year. They would give to charities supporting unemployed worker job training and carrer cunseling services.

    The government needs to provide for the poor because charitable contributions are insufficient. ISince the Christian Right doesn't want the government involved in these activities, they need to step up and do what Jesus wanted and care for the poor, sick, and weak. Unless the Christian Right and the Republican right as individuals and corporately dig deep and give generously , their anti-government spending rants are just mean spirited hate mongering. As Christians, they above all others have an obligation to give out of the abundance God has given them to care for God's people. I really hate the crap I consistenetly hear being spouted by some of the Christian Right and conservative republicans. Unless they give 20-30% of their income to the chuch and charity they have no moral standing to say anything.

    Bashing gays, and poor tennage pregnant girls is so passe.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • teepee

      the Christian right is only interested in sleeping with the government.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • teepee

      the religious right is only in love with themselves.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  11. Gerry Cabalo

    The guy who cheated on and ditched how many wives? appealing to the religious right?

    February 28, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • teepee

      if that wasn't so sickening I would laugh...

      February 28, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • DEANO

      And this salamander (Newt) told his first wife he was divorcing her when she was hospitalized with Cancer...real nice guy eh!

      February 28, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  12. Observer1776

    Nice words from Newt, but I do not think that this tiger has changed his strips.
    The only "religionist" who might admire him woulld be a hedonistic sadist.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • Mattski

      Wait. Is there such a thing as a hedonistic sadist? That's kinda like a benevolent torturer.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  13. regertz

    Perhaps Newt will have his appeal to the religious right ghost-written like his books. So, he's one of us Papists now, eh? I wonder how that will sit with some of his former Christian Coalition buddies? I hope he remembers one tenet of the Catholic faith is to prove one's faith through good works and that the Church demands governments act positively for social justice. Despite the debasement of the hierarchy during the recent sordid scandals, the drive to force governments to contribute a larger portion of GDP to the poorer nations and actively end global poverty is still in place.

    "What?! No one tole me I was joinin' a Socialist religion!!"

    February 28, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  14. Bug

    Gingrich? Palin? Needless to say...the GOP should be worried.

    February 28, 2011 at 6:54 am |
  15. RdclCntrst

    I was so glad to read about the college student who point-blank asked him about his history of hypocrisy. And his answer, that he "believes in a forgiving G-d" was just so precious, but I wonder if Gingrich would confer that same forgiveness on his old nemesis, Pres. Clinton? Methinks not. I do believe that people change, but not as radically as Newt would have to.
    Still, I like keeping him in the Republican field; it makes them that much easier to beat.

    February 28, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  16. Name*Chedar

    They call it "the Jesus factor". Or better yet the gullible Christians get carry away by their holy emotion.

    February 28, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  17. Thug

    The stake has fallen out of the vampire's heart, and he has re-incarnated!! This man is monster and a paragon of hypocrisy

    February 28, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  18. Byron Jones

    Newt must be reading from the playbook of St. Augustine - O Lord, make me pure, but not just yet.

    Riddle - What's the difference between Newt and a 3 dollar bill?

    February 28, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • teepee

      I think the 3 dollar bill has a better chance of being taken serious...that is the difference to me.

      February 28, 2011 at 6:17 am |
    • teepee

      I trust the 3 dollar bill more.

      February 28, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  19. teepee

    People should be willing to forgive, but not put him at the top of the pile like he wants to be...Not sure if he has really learned a lesson...let us see...be the big dog...then mess up REAL BAD...go quite for a season...come back and be the big dog again...because you want to...naw...don't think so.

    February 28, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Laurie

      Newt's former wife calls him a sociopath bec he is only interested in persoal political power, not people. The spots on an old dog may fade but they are still there.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  20. Brownstain

    The GOPPER agenda:
    Health care for the wealthy, all others die.
    Offshore all remaining jobs, so the industrialist/capitalist/wall streeters can maximize their profits.
    Abolish the public education system, so only the children of the wealthy can be educated.
    The balance of the children can be used as cannon fodder for the endless energy wars to be directed by Exxon/Mobil.
    Change the name of the Grand Old Party to the Newt Sack Party.

    February 28, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • JP

      What a bunch of fear-mongering garbage. You have to be a First Class Idiot to really believe any of this. It doesn't even deserve a response; I don't know why I'm giving it one.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Brownstain

      Pretty poor rebuttal-either you like garbage, or you have no facts to back up your vitriol.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • PAPilot

      Brownstain: You certainly don't have any facts to back up yours.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • Calvin

      Hate speech doesn't deserve a rebuttal. It is what iti s.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Brownstain

      If you want hate speech. tune in to Glenn Beckerhead.
      Anything I say will pale in comparison.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:58 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
About this blog

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