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. smc

    I fear fake "Christians" who cheat on their sick wives.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  2. steve

    all politics is anymore is bullsh%& to hurt people and scare em and extort money for there personal game they are bad people and have been for sometime i dont trust any of em

    March 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  3. Nova

    Mr. Gingrich, can you please elaborate on how can a country be “a secular atheist country" yet "potentially one dominated by radical Islamists”?

    March 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  4. tony

    Get thou behind us!

    March 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  5. Balls McGhee

    i fear a Christian who cheats on all his wives.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  6. RTFM

    So, what...? Another Republican mouthpiece talking like that if you aren't adherent to the standards of the party, you aren't American?

    Mr. Gingrich, stop your fear-mongering and hate of people who just so happen to have different personal beliefs. That doesn't sound very American at all, sir.

    One nation under god, or else!....it seems like that's where the right wants to go.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  7. Steve9337

    This POS believes in God as much as I do. The only difference is that I'm proud to be an athiest!

    March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Jan


      March 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  8. DF

    It's unbelievable that people like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachman are actually legitimized by the media and on the national stage and being considered presidential contenders. His statement that an atheist America would be run by radical Islamists displays such a lack of intelligence and is designed to inject fear into Americans that are susceptible to these propaganda techniques – and for those Americans who already want to believe these type of statements.

    I am hoping the right wing religious and cultural fanatics movement in America has reached it's peak after 20 years of this crap – just like the left wing fanaticism of the 60's waned.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  9. Elias

    Anti intellectual christians are the real threat to America. Newt fears losing religion as a tool to manipulate the lower classes.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • rachel

      The best response I have heard in a long time.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      Right. You don't see anything like that with good old islam. By the way, I have no use for repubs/bible bangers but you 2 are representative of the imbeciles on the other side of retard extremo..

      March 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  10. Methusalem2000

    Do you want to really live? ​​​​​​Would you love to live a long, happy life?
    ​​​​​​​Then make sure you don’t speak evil words ​​​​​​or use deceptive speech! Turn away from evil and do what is right! ​​​​​​Strive for peace and promote it! (Ps 34: 12 14​​)

    It behooves the sons of God to be peacemakers, gentle in heart, simple in speech, agreeing in affection, faithfully linked to one another in the bonds of unanimity.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  11. ljdouglas

    First of all, "secular atheist country...dominated by radical Islamists" is an oxymoron. Second, if Gingrich was paying any attention at all, he would understand that just because people are leaving organized religion does not inevitably imply they are atheist. I would strongly suggest (are you listening, Newt?) he pick up - and read - a copy of 'Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe' by Greg M. Epstein. Then take out a piece of paper and write 500 times - "I am no longer relevant to American politics".

    March 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  12. chuckmartel

    How can a secular atheist country be dominated by radical islamists? This idiot must be on some brain damaging substance. Not that he ever had much in the brains department. Leave it to a repub to recognize a serious genocidal threat that anyone with a brain would recognize, then mess it up with contradictory nonsense. Unfortunately, at least part of the country will become islamic. If I was living in the US then, I would see about living in the latino part of what is left of the US. Beats the hell out of no booze, no broads, no fun, no making fun of anything islami, ....

    March 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  13. brin3m

    "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." question....what does atheism have to do with Islam? if it is dominated by radical Islam then it can't be a secular country since Islam worships a god.....atheism has no god......so now the fear is not only Islam but also atheists....this from someone who claims to follow christian morals yet broke a very important one several times.....so he can be forgiven.....but can he be trusted?

    March 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Balls McGhee

      Wasnt Thomas Jefferson an Atheist?

      March 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  14. Richard

    What an awful man. He isdangerous. he will say anything to get a headline to put fear in people.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • rachel

      I firmly agree.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  15. roberto

    OK.OK. I think we are seeing a bit of Alzheimer's setting in on the Newt. So maybe we can encourage CNN to start putting ol' Newt's pontifications on the "Entertainment" segment of their website, alongside all the other vacant-brained entertainers that make bazillions of dollars putting on make-up and reciting memorized scripts on film.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Dr Matrix

    Atheism does not equate to radical Islam. I fear an America ruled by fundimentalist Christians. They seem to have as much hate and intolerance as radical Muslims. Notice the difference? Muslims are radical, Christians are fundimental. I beleive that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would have gladly killed anyone who didn't agree with their version of Christianity if there weren't laws against murder in this country.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • melanie

      Amen to that.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  17. Jason B.

    Frankly, I'm more worried about this country being run by radical so-called Christians.

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

      Good point.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Christian C.

      EXACTLY! That's what we oughta be worried about.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Jesus

      Christians out there are repulsed by the barbarism and culture of today's middle east denizens. Extrapolate all that primitive behaviour backwards 2,000 years ago when things were a lot worse and you have the very dogma that Christians hold so dearly as a source of truth and wisdom.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  18. Paul

    The Democrats believe in: helping the less fortunate, social programs to help the poor, and taking care of each other in general. The Republicans believe in: cutting social programs and hoarding wealth for themselves. Seems really strange that the Republicans claim to have the Christians on their side, and are supported by BIG religion as well as BIG business. Whose ideals would Jesus come closer to endorsing? I find Newt to be full of lies aimed at winning more Christians over. Christians with a brain should see which party is more Christian in nature.

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

      Paul, you have it exactly right. The hypocrisy of the Religious Right astounds me to this day.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Frank

      Well said.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  19. mike

    A secular, atheist country dominated by radical islam? What? An island only of women ruled by men? Up and also down? He's just throwing togethger buzzwords to exploit people's fears. I'm surprised he didn't throw in gays and women's rights.

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

      Oh he will...

      March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Jesus

      Thank God I'm an atheist

      March 28, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  20. Ninjak

    How can the country be atheist and dominated by a religion at the same time?

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

      That's exactly what I was thinking.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Balls McGhee

      simple answer. A moron spoke these words. thats why. look for Palin and Fox News correspondents to repeat constatnly over next few weeks.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Jesus

      You've got to remember that this oxymoronic comment was made to the simple minded folks at the Cornerstone Church where logic and rational thought have no place.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • ccaze

      I totally agree. What an idiotic statement. He is trying to generate fear. This is exactly what we don't need more of in this country.

      I fear Newt Gingrich.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Antonio

      Because Gingrich is mentally retarded!

      March 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Sean

      I was thinking the exact same thing. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though seeing as these words were spoken by an idiot. And he wants to be President.... well with brains like that I'm not sure he should even be elected class president of any elementary school, let alone the entire country.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • answerman28

      Gingrich knows that very well.. all he was doing was saying "Hey bible thumpin idiot voters, remember me? Im one of you and im running for office!! what a pathetic fool and hypocrite.. The U.S should be embarrassed that he is an elected official.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
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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.