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. Satan

    Also, I would say I hate the religion of Islam. I dated a muslim girl for 3 and a half years, so I don't hate Muslims just their religion. When you see an atheist, christian, or whatever while you are walking in public you can't tell what most people's beliefs are just by looking at them. For some reason, muslim women have stupid stone age rules of how to dress that advertises they are muslim. It would be like if you believe in coke you wear a Coca-Cola shirt everywhere just to give free advertising. Down with Muhammed and Islam and Jesus and Christianity!

    March 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  2. Chris Johnson

    If it's dominated by radical Muslims, it's not atheist, by definition. If it's atheist, it's not Islamic, radical or otherwise. What do some of these people think the word "atheist" actually means, anyway?

    March 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Arran Webb

      What NG is saying is that if American's lose God, that is if Christian Americans lose God, the spiritual agenda will be dominated by those Americans who held onto God. NG is suggesting that only the radical Islamists will keep God while the rest of America loses God. Given the protection offered religion in the USA it might be the case that the radical Islamists are in a position of power as they protected by the state – even if they are a minority their agenda will be amplified – and the rest of America – now atheist – has lost the protections offered believers by the state.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  3. Arran Webb

    America will never be an atheist nation. If this land north of Mexico and South of Canada is ever considered an atheist nation it will not be called America it will something else. If the atheist dogma were to dominate some world anti-spiritual agenda America as we know it will be the last land of God. The first European Americans came here to be with God without the state interfering in this worship of God. Some thinkers have it the wrong way round. They think that the American ideal was to remove God from state so that state would be free of God – not the case. It is actually to remove state from God so the worship of God is not tainted by the failings of state. The worship of God is above the state and protected by the state. The state serves the freedom of worship – fortunately though you are not forced to worship God. If you don't you are simply not exercising your right to be enlightened.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • PeterVN

      The lack of enlightenment is your own. If you worship a god such as a Christian god, all you are doing is demonstrating your sheer stupidity and inability to understand modern science.

      Now think about this. Why would a god with the claimed characteristics of the Christian god, those being complete benevolence and omnipotence, require worship?

      March 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Raider

      You're almost as smart as Gingrich!

      March 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Arran Webb

      Science is a fundamental part of the worship of God. Take for example big bang theory – a critical piece of modern science – established by a Catholic Priest – Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Arran Webb

      God asks for nothing – we have no communication with God. It was Jesus who asked us to worship the Father. People choose to worship to be united with each other in a common action.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  4. Richicago

    Mr. Gingrich, I am an Agnostic Secularist who has served in the military for 14 years and can assure you that you are a misguided and dangerous person on the political landscape. An atheist secular state doesn't scare me. However, if it's run by Islamists then how is that Atheist or Secular?

    March 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Phil

    Let the games begin!!! I see it happening already, the republican presidential candidates shoving down our throats scare tactics. Be afraid! Be very afraid of the Muslims, the Mexicans sneaking into our country, the unions, the main stream media, Rachael Madow, Ed Schultz, The BLACK President, the Gays, ALL Americans who disagree with their right wing agenda……..etc.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  6. PaulMc1981

    LOL! And I thought Gingrich was smart. How can a "secular atheist" country be dominated by radical Islamists? Also, he is holding up his conversion to Catholicism as proof of his patriotism? Way to go, Newt; mix religion with politics, like so many misguided souls have done before you.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  7. trl

    ...this POS is as dangerous as the islamists...he and his newly found religion are exemplary of all the religious fools who try to convince intelligent people that their beliefs are the truth and only way.....he's a pathetic coward and doesn't stand a chance of ever becoming president......wish he and his fat ugly ass would meet an untimely and horrible end....its what he deserves.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  8. Robin

    What kind of idiot is this guy? He makes Sarah Palin look almost intelligent.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Lawrence

      And Mitt Romney positively Presidential. The C-Street stealth dominionist theocrat and Christian Zionist (Newt) is just taking one for the team. It's all about wresting power from the tattered ruins of the Left before it reverses any more of the Texas Republican Party Platform put into place under GWBush, and restoring power back into the hands of the Christian Right. And any Christian (of the male caucasian persuasion) is better than a loud Kenyan tribesman with Muslim roots who refuses to produce his birth certificate, right? Right! The sad thing is that we can know all day long who these Republican nut jobs are and fume about it, but in the end they will get their way with the American electorate. Remember the 2000 election? Representative democracy is dead, it's over folks. One dollar, one vote. They don't even feel the need to hide it anymore.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  9. CEL1

    That Newt, what a jokester, um, you are kidding, aren't you Newt ? America does not believe like John Hagee says, and, neither do you based on your actions. Actions speak louder than words and your infidelities and hatred of non whites and poor people SCREAM OUT LOUD. No thanks, Newt.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  10. Robert

    Newt is right, unfortunately.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Phil

      You are correct..............VERY right as in, so far right he will say anything to get a vote.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  11. JLS639

    Okay, will the new story please point out the bleeding obvious contradiction of a nation that is secular and atheistic yet somehow dominated by radical Islamists? Does some prominent politician or commentator have to point this out before the media will notice, or are they going to wait for John Stewart to shoot this fish in the barrel?

    March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Magic

      ..."the bleeding obvious contradiction of a nation that is secular and atheistic yet somehow dominated by radical Islamists?"

      Newty doesn't believe that Allah is a god - so he thinks that believing in Allah is atheistic? He is an a-allahist. Hmmmm, well he's part of the way to the real stuff there...

      March 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Magic

      p.s. When you understand why you dismiss other gods, you will understand why we dismiss yours.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  12. Diana


    March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  13. Barleyman

    Run Newt Run! My only fear is that you make Sarah Palin look almost rational.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  14. JP0

    Radical Islamicists are hardly atheists! I fear the christians!

    March 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  15. Jennifer

    what a total dweeb

    March 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  16. Bill

    So are we atheist or are we Islamic? Can't be both you bonehead.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  17. triathlete

    you're a blithering idiot. find someone else to scare.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  18. Ric

    Careful, Newt! You're about to make Sarah Palin look smart.

    Maybe Gingrich can "get better" like the bloke in "The Holy Grail" by Monty Python.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  19. LEB

    Um... he is aware that atheists dislike Islam as much as Christianity, right?

    March 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • stefaniefletcher

      OH LEB,

      He probably thinks Islam and Atheist are one in the same.... And, he also subscribes to the "only Christians can be American" mentality, which is pretty shameful. Another uneducated, thoughtless politician using the threat of terror, which is barely veiled in his religious rhetoric.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  20. RTFM

    Mr. Gingrich, I am an atheist. I am an American. I am also a taxpayer and former US Army soldier. What I am NOT is someone who will be in any way voting for your outmoded and slanderous thinking.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Kebos

      Well said!

      March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • AGeek

      ::standing ovation::

      March 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Dave in SC

      I am a conservative Christian yet I agree with you 100%. Newt is speaking paranoid rubbish.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:18 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.