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. Ben

    So will it be an athiest country or an Islamic country? if you're going to spout lies, at least make them consistant.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  2. twalk

    christian hypocrits like Newt is what turns people to be atheist.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  3. Kodi

    The comment that "athiest" America will be dominated by Muslims in 50 years is contradictory and inane. Athiests would like to live in a Taliban-esque theocracy about as much as they would like to live in a theocracy dominated by the gods and godesses of the religious right such as Sarah Palin. Atheist America, by definition, would not be an Islamic theocracy. If Mr. Gingrich wants to set a good example for his own grandchildren, perhaps he should not be on his third wife.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  4. zip

    Running for president has now become a way to put money in your bank account without really having any intention of winning. It's like a bad reality show where outrageous behavior is rewarded. In terms of denigrating the office, I thought Bush had set the precedent. But then you hear names like Palin, Bachmann and Gingrich. It is difficult to put into words just how sad I am at what this country is becoming.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  5. Peter

    As a lifelong atheist, I can truthfully state that I have not had multiple failed marriages, nor cheated on my spouse while serving my dying partner with divorce papers and getting head from my interns.

    Yet another example of a sad and pathetic 'family values' mouthpiece with absolutely no principles, ethics, or morality.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  6. Morgana

    True, the founding fathers had christian values, but they did not use their moments creating the foundations of this country to impose them as law. That's why Newt's comment on the matter is bogus.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  7. Bob C.

    No TRUE Christian could ever vote for this slime bag. Is he on his 3rd wife or 4th? I have lost count. What I am seeing here is a FISCAL Conservative preaching to'religious' conservatives. These should be like 2 trains passing in the night. O-o-o-ps, I forgot that the tele-evangelicals are really concerned about money first, people second. Hypocrites all.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Anitra

      So that's the case? Quite a reveaoltin that is.

      November 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • mghwdblgqu

      e1aJnk ygwsowmsmyio

      November 11, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • orlxzwrmiui

      6L6BHN hhqfduxdtooo

      November 13, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  8. Robert

    How is it NOT obvious that Gingrich is just using this church and trying to use evangelicals to get votes.

    This is exactly what is wrong with BOTH parties. Bunch of fear mongering politicians. "If you don't vote for me ____________ is going to happen and take away your rights!"

    Shame on John Hagee.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  9. TheNumber

    I am registering independent. These guys are no better than the radicals they say we should fear.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  10. Bilbo

    He converted to the organization that gave us inquisition and has attempted to put it's thumb down on government of the people everywhere it could get away with it. No Thanks Pope. No Temporal power in the US.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |

    If there were two religious figures to not pander to in this country, Newt, John Hagee and Pat Robertson are the ones. Both are crazy enough to be dangerous and Newt Gingrich is dumb enough to be dangerous. News flash Newt: Radical Islamists are not atheists. They believe in a god just like you do. I guess that Georgia education is really paying off for ya, pal.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Chad

      Not only do they believe in a god, they believe in the same one as the Christians and Jews. The only differences are in the little details (and the divinity of Jesus).

      By the way, you began by saying, "two religious figures" and then proceeded to list three. And Newt is most certainly NOT a "religious figure." Like, at all. Standing in a church periodically and pandering to the brainwashed masses to get votes doesn't make one a religious figure.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  12. Marco

    Would someone give Newt the 411 on the definition of "atheist" and "Islam!"

    March 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  13. Brian Macker

    "A secular atheist country, potentially dominated by radical Islamists”
    We already are a secular country. We certainly don't have a theocracy. Considering that atheist politicians are about a likely to be voted for as radical Islamists he's got nothing to worry about.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Mr Phil

      While I agree with the point you're trying to make, you're basically contradicting yourself. By saying an atheist is unlikely to win an election, doesn't that mean we ARE a theocracy (a shadow one at least)?

      March 29, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  14. Reality

    With respect to "nutty Newt":

    Jesus was a bit "touched" (as is Newt). 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 gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul (including "nutty Newt") 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, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy in the tummy!!!!

    March 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  15. ab_contador

    I am doing my part – I am an atheistic and I will do everything in my power to keep organized religion out of our schools, politics and public life. I have said it before and I'll say it again - you can really tell how intelligent someone is by how religious they are (inverse relationship) – it truly is the opiate of the masses.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  16. Morgana

    Hold on! is he saying that anyone non-christian is atheist???!! HAHAHAHAHA.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  17. ItsAwasteOfTime.

    The debate over religion is one for the millennia. The abuses of the chatholic church, the perversions of islam and the likes of the nutjobs of the westboro baptist church only confirm my belief that the world would be better off without religion.
    But there is nothing worse then a bloated hipocrite like "Newt" who cant even follow the basics of his "faith" while he talks out his a$$ spouting his nonsence. Newt, do us all a favor STFU and go crawl back in your hole.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  18. Liza

    Really Newt? Secular Atheist Islamists? I feel like this is Sesame Street, everybody sing along now: "one of this things is not like the other."

    March 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  19. dbaLV

    “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,”

    Uh... since when are radical Islamists secular atheists? Did I read that correctly? Unless of course Newt Gingrich lumps together anyone not a "Christian".

    Lord, please protect me from your followers.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  20. jim

    more conservative fear mongering with no facts.

    curiously, the atheists I know have higher morals than the christians i know.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:54 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.