March 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Gingrich fears 'atheist country ... dominated by radical Islamists'

Newt Gingrich at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.

Gingrich was addressing Cornerstone Church, a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, led by the Rev. John Hagee, an influential leader among American evangelicals. Hagee's endorsement of then-presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 was plagued by controversy.

McCain ultimately rejected the endorsement over remarks Hagee had made about the Holocaust, in which he appeared to say that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel, in accordance with biblical prophecy.

"God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. ... Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.' That would be the Jews,” Hagee had said in an earlier sermon.

“Then God sent a hunter,” his sermon continued. “A hunter is someone who comes with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter."

McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement of his campaign after learning about the comments in May 2008. "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” McCain said at the time.

Hagee then withdrew his endorsement of the Arizona senator, which he had offered three months earlier.

One irony of McCain rejecting Hagee’s endorsement over his Holocaust remarks is that the Texas evangelist leads the Christian Zionist movement. Hagee is founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, which features Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors at its events.

Here’s what Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church on Sunday evening, according to Politico:

"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

The former House Speaker held up his own faith (he converted to Catholicism two years ago) as proof of his undying patriotism. He lashed out at the college professors and mainstream media he says are seeking to wipe out the Founding Fathers' Christian values. And he targeted the judges who he charges are effectively re-writing the Constitution.

But Gingrich was mum on his own controversial past, one of martial indiscretions and divorces that have made courting religious conservatives a tall task as he nears a likely presidential run.

Gingrich’s church appearance comes amid a broader campaign to court religious conservatives.

On Monday, Hagee released a statement praising Gingrich's appearance at Cornerstone. “It was such a great honor to welcome Mr. Gingrich to our church, and hear him describe the centrality of faith in our nation,” he said.

The statement also included praise for Hagee and his wife, Diana, from Gingrich.

“It was truly an honor to be with John and Diana at Cornerstone," Gingrich said. "Their dedication to serve is inspirational.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Texas

soundoff (2,228 Responses)
  1. Poopyfacetomatonose

    Who does the Republican party actually think they are going to put out there to compete with? It seems they all have to pander to morons who still believe the man was born outside of the U.S. and that a zombie carpenter is an all powerful, all knowing telepathic being is really concerned with U.S. politics. Gingrich is a hypocrite, bigot, adulterer, and liar. It seem all the people they "want" to run for President have some major glaring flaw. They all want what I dubbed the "Sarah Palin paradigm", where you can run for office....LOSE....and then get shipped all over the circuit making inflammatory remarks and offering no new ideas or any sort of progression. They clamor for small government and wish to have it inserted in your doctor's office, and cram their religious beliefs down your throat, when they in fact don't adhere to the edicts themselves.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  2. ANewtIsANewt

    Is this all you repukes can come up with?

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Anne

    He doesn't want to be president, he just wants to run for president. Get all that campaign money and then of course his speaker's fees will go up. Jackpot!

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  4. jg

    And crazy just keeps getting crazier.
    "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the atheist or muslim parties?"

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  5. roberto

    Oooooh! Ooooooh! I couldn't stand it. I read this and I thought, "Would you please say this again?" What????!!!!???
    Newtie ba Dewtie...If you ain't on drugs then you ought to be! My Dear Jesus! Newt...given the drivel that emanates from your mouth I think psychotherapy is in order. Please, PLEASE, seek some psychological therapy. You really are needing it.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  6. svann

    How could the country be both atheist and dominated by islam? Hes not making much sense is he?

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  7. mojoblack

    ok how can u have a “a secular atheist country dominated by radical Islamists"??????????? newt cant be president........ how any wives and teenagers did he go through???

    March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  8. Concerned Atheist

    He should fear an atheist United States. Unlike most Christians, we won't vote for him just because he says the word "God" every five seconds. We prefer to think before we vote.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Their are many Christians that won't vote for him no matter what he says.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Steve

    How exactly can a "secular atheist nation" be "dominated by radical Islamists"? I mean, aren't those two things mutually exclusive? Would we be secular and atheist or Islamic and theological? Geeze, make up your mind, Newt. Maybe if you dumped your wife for a younger model (again), she could explain this to you...

    March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  10. John C. McConkey

    This is a secular nation. Religion should not be a factor when it comes to our governance. If Gingrich doesn't want America to become "atheist," he should have become an evangelical preacher or some other religious figure. And as Mr. Klein stated above, he is making contradictory remarks; atheists and islamic fundamentalists are both at opposite ends of the spectrum. Why doesn't Gingrich come out and say that he wants to save America from Islam rather than tiptoe around the subject. This guy hasn't been relevant for more than a decade, and he wants to be president? Vote for somebody who isn't trying to ignite any more religious tension than we already have, elect somebody with a brain for economics and the ability and desire to work across party lines, and maybe then i won't have to worry about the collapse of this nation in the next fifty years.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  11. Donald Michel

    If it's secular and atheist, then it can't be Islamic. There's a big jump of logic here.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  12. Corey

    Wait...so...what? “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,”

    I hope this quote was taken out of context, otherwise it surely does not make a lot of sense. More likely he is just using standard Republican flash words like athiest, radical, and Islam all in one phrase for more effect. It doesn't have to make sense as long as the mindless sheep hear those buzz words.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  13. Frederica

    The summary of the 5 subjects – World History, World Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, Logic: Christianity educated barbaric mainkind to be good, civil, and intelligent though nations are bringing their own end anyway.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  14. no gods

    "a secular atheist country"

    We can only hope.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Donald Michel


      March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Lycidas

      secular...atheist...hope? One of these doesn't go with the others.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • NJAtheist

      Atheists are still allowed to hope that things will happen, they just don't ask an invisible man for help when they're doing it.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  15. dave_in_altmar

    The only threat I see from "radical extremists" is the one being waged by the radical righties like Gingrich...

    March 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  16. caligulove

    atheist america dominated by radical islamists? in what reality does that make sense? can't wait to see the country if this guy becomes president. oh boy...

    March 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  17. tim

    ugh.. IMO all religion suck, yet Im not one to push any of my values onto others. If the US's belief systems are changing, then go with it instead of fighting it. Change is inevitable. Deal with it

    March 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually with the large influx of hispanic immigrants, we could be changing..into a more catholic and conservative nation.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  18. Austin

    I guess he doesn't want to be president with comments like that.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  19. VLK

    One could only hope that atheism becomes the norm. We will finally have peace.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Atheism does not bring peace. It brings nothing because it's a belief in nothing.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Chef Sun

      I agree 100% with VLK. Religion is one of the most dangerous inventions of mankind. When will humans finally grow up and stop believing in santa, tooth fairies and gods?

      March 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Inapickle

      Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Hilter, all good atheists who enjoyed peace in their time ... oh, wait ...

      March 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • avd

      ignorance is bliss isn't it? Show me a society in all of the history of humanity that survived being atheist. Even professors at colleges couldn't do it. Become atheist and your society will crumble. those ARE facts.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Jan

      Inapickle: For every one of those you mentioned, throughout human history there are dozens (hundreds?) more leaders who have murdered tens of thousands in the name of whatever religion they cloaked their evil ways in. He wasn't even a king, but just go back and have a look at Christopher Columbus and see what he did to clear out the New World in the name of God and Country.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  20. Lycidas

    He is a politician, he is merely speaking what the audience wants to hear at some level.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • cerealspiller

      He is also making his case to the Mature Fornicators of America, a very influential PAC.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • JMM

      How can it be what people want to hear? The statement is a contradiction within itself. How would America be a "secularly atheist" country if it was ruled by "radical Islamists"? It makes absolutely no sense and just proves the idiocy of Christians and their misunderstandings of world religions and beliefs. Once again it proves the study that atheists, like myself, know more about Christianity, similar to other religions, than his followers. As a responsible atheist and academic, I will cite my information so you are not required to take it on "faith" from some invisible man in the sky.


      March 28, 2011 at 10:56 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.