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. dolfina

    Mutual admiration society. They BOTH left wives for better deals. Hagee left his wife for his Hispanic secretary. Newt, God have mercy on his adulterers soul!

    March 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Another Larry

      McCain left his wife for Cindy. Leave your wife for another woman and oppose health care for poor people. It's the Christian way.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  2. jopetjp

    Funny, radical islam is nothing any different than radical Christianity, as in the KKK and many other such organizations.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Captain_Colossal


    March 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Another Larry

    These people love equality as long as they get to be more equal than everyone else.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  5. Nutes

    Newt has suddenly become holier than thou, how many affairs has he had? How many marriages? How many divorces? He doesn't sound too Kristen to me. Beware the false profit all you right wingers!

    March 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Captain_Colossal

      agree. and it's obvious this is the first step in his plot to equivocate atheists with liberals and atheists with radical muslims AKA liberals are radical muslims who hate america. very clever newt. now go bow to your corporate masters and destroy more families by outsourcing their jobs.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Another Larry

      So true, but it doesn't matter to the people he's playing like a cheap fiddle because he's basically telling them he wants them to be in control of the country.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  6. Gary in Tampa

    The USA a secular country of atheists? Hell, I'll take that over a bunch of jesus freak crazies ANYDAY.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • jopetjp

      Me too!

      March 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  7. Luke

    Honest question – what exactly is an atheist country?

    March 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Country full of cat herders, presumably.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Luke

      SeanNJ – well, that's just hilarious.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Or "No Country For Old Men."

      March 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  8. Captain_Colossal


    March 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  9. zionhiker

    If the country is indeed being run by radical Islamists in the future, it sure as hell won't be a secular, athiestic country. Islam and atheism are mutually exclusive, as anybody with any brains would understand. I agree with the writer who said Gingrich is a fear-monger; spreading fear and promoting stupidity seems to be what he does best.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Worked for the Bushes – both of them...

      March 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  10. ColinO

    "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."

    God willing. 😉

    March 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  11. Res Publica

    That quote is all I need. I am not voting for this cat if he indeed runs for president.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  12. sunshine

    Newt being the president.He's nothing but a big fat lier,I would leave the country if he became president.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  13. Boz

    "To say that government or courts affect the whereabouts of the Almighty, such as 'putting God in schools' or 'taking God out of schools,' is not only silly but borders on sacrilege. Such a notion banners the lack of faith, rather than the essence of faith."
    –Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham

    March 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just as facts have no place in organized religion."
      – Supernintendo Chalmers, The Simpons

      March 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc Vestibule

      LOL... 🙂


      March 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Boz

      Good one, Doc!

      March 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • tim

      Isn't there some sort of rule against quoting the Simpsons?

      Kind of like mentioning Nazis in any argument.

      It WAS funny though.

      tim in san jose

      March 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • AC

      Church and Country should be separated. Period! This is not a catholic country. This is a country of hundreds of religions and people who build it! (after getting rid of Indians-with they own believes). Try to respect each other, and if you are a catholic – love your neighbor like you love yourself – if I still remember God said that. I think is in 10 commandments... Doe's someone read the Bible in this country?

      March 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  14. Peace2All

    From the Article, Newt Gingrich says: "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.)"

    So... just some of the *inferences* from Newt are:

    1)Secular Atheism=Bad

    2)Secular Atheism is somehow at a similar logical level = to 'radical Islamists'

    3)He knows what it once meant to be an American= His views of what it means to be an American...are the 'right' views.

    4)Radical Islamists will 'dominate' the U.S. somehow. Hmmm... Don't mind the 'radical evangelical Christians' though, apparently.

    5)And... I don't think it's too far of a stretch, that he is taking a swipe a Muslim's and Islam in general.

    There are a lot more 'inferences' and 'presuppositions' here.

    But... I think it's safe to say that the 'radical right' extremist 'fear-mongering' and 'saber rattling' has started.

    Yes... great going Newt ! IMHO, you just made yourself look and sound like a moron.

    However, I'm sure the 'extreme right' are just lovin' you right now.


    March 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Considering Hagee's views on Christianity, and the place of women in the scheme of things, what will he think of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachamnn?

    March 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • tim

      Sarah Palin? Wasn't she taken in the end of the world? Did I miss something?

      tim (confused) in san jose

      March 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  16. CW

    Glad to see someone talking about how our society is going to p-'ot with all the atheist's and non-believers trying to take God out of everything. We as a nation need to get back to the old times where people feared God and didn't stand on their soap box spewing some propaganda rant or their own rational for society.

    This nation once was a God fearing, God praising nation, during this time we were great and were very respected. If we don't get back to the christian values that made this nation we will be do-'omed.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's right.
      It was much a much better country when people stood on a fiery pulpit instead of a soapbox and spewed biblical propaganda, condeming this and that and promising eternal damnation for anyone different. If the fear of God doesn't get people in line, then the fear of God's followers should do it!
      Go now, righteous Christians, and cast the first stone. If your neighbour doesn't fear the stark, vengeful fist of the omnibenevolent God, then instill that fear in any way you can.
      Like your puritan forefathers, preach the gospel of Jesus at gunpoint. Fear of death is a surefire way to ensure conversion.

      March 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      He doesn't believe it, CW. He just wants your vote. Sounds like it worked.

      March 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • appalled

      Excuse me, but you don't have to be a Christian to have morals. Religion is the biggest cause of the world's problems. It would be nice to get rid of the whole Bible myth & have no religion at all. Probably wouldn't have had any in the first place if the human race wasn't afraid of their shadow, the weather, & on & on.....

      March 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • tim

      Funny, I don't fear God. I fear the right wing religious zealots and the Republican Party. Not that I have seen a walking talking Democrat lately.

      tim in san jose

      March 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Another Larry

      Yes, we need to get back to being the Christian country the founding fathers intended, where (some) people could own slaves, women couldn't vote, and the president was always white.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • CW

      @ Doc,

      Your wrong....again. Like I said before we used to be a God fearing, God Praising nation. No it shouldn't take someone holding a gun to your head. If Jesus dying for yours and my sins doesn't do it...then what will.

      @ SeanNJ,

      Since your poking fun...I'll play...Yes I do believe the Bible. Do I get your vote?

      @ appalled,

      Never said that anyone didn't have good morals. Anyone can have so called good morals...but if you don't have a relationship with God...then...you don't have a whole lot...besides your morals can be shaped by anyone then.

      @ tim,

      You need to fear God....all the right wing republicans are nobodies compared to God. Need to realize this.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • ahetch

      Would that be the God of the old testament or the new? They are clearly not one and the same. If one uses critical thinking one would question this.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • derp

      "This nation once was a God fearing, God praising nation, during this time we were great and were very respected"

      Yes, but before that we were even better.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • AC

      Dark ages is fine for you? I am not trying to do impose anything to anybody. But people from different churches try to convert me to they believes. You are coming to my door not me!

      March 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Another Larry

      "Your wrong....again. Like I said before we used to be a God fearing, God Praising nation. No it shouldn't take someone holding a gun to your head. If Jesus dying for yours and my sins doesn't do it...then what will."

      Muslim nations manage to be God-fearing, God-praising nations without that particular myth. In fact they do more fearing and praising than we ever have.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @CW: No, I wasn't poking fun. I don't think that Gingrich believes a word of what he said, and his sole purpose for even speaking at this church was to win the vote of people like yourself. Given your response to it, I'd say it worked.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • tim

      @CW – Sorry, Jesus didn't die for my sins, and I suspect he didn't die for yours either.

      What religion has to do with this country since we are FREE to practice whatever belief system we wish is beyond me.

      And you know Muslims are your little brothers anyway.

      tim in san jose

      March 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Scott

      @ CW,

      Did you guy's forget that none of your "Gods" existed 4,000 years ago? No one had written a single word or drawn a picture about them.

      It's time to look at things the way they Are...not they way they once Were. History has shown that more human blood has been spilled for "God" than anything else.

      Stop the hate!

      March 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  17. WVlady63

    Thank goodness SOMEONE sees the light and wants to turn it on in the darkness that is going on in this counry!!!! Hey, Mr. Gingrich, YOU HAVE MY VOTE!!!

    March 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Another Larry

      Gingrich is an expert at fear mongering pandering to a bunch of ignorant, easily frightened Christians. His claim doesn't even make sense to any thinking person. If America becomes an "atheist country," how would it be dominated by Muslims? It makes as much sense as saying we'll be a Muslim country dominated by atheists. You people are idiots.

      Where's the verse in the Bible that says thou shalt not use thy brain to think?

      March 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Res Publica

      Just because people do not believe in God doesn't mean they do not see your light.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • brainboy99

      what an idot. Newt has to resort to God-mongering to the natives when he has nothing to contribute. What we need is a good Alien sighting to put religion into the trash heap of history along with witches, big foot and the Bermuda Triangle.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • John

      And I thought Gin-grinch was an Idiot.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  18. Brack


    You are a complete idiot. Hitler mentioned being a Catholic many times in his book, Mein Kampf, and referred to the "creator" many times also. During his time as the leader of Germany, he actually abolished an atheist organization saying that it was harmful to German tradition.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Another Larry

      Soldiers in the Wehrmacht wore belt buckles embossed with "Gott Mit Uns," German for "God is with us."

      March 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Cindy

      That is because atheists actually THINK for themselves and don't follow like sheep (German citizens from WWII included int his). Most intelligent people are atheists because they don't look to others to tell them how to think, but they question everything and form their own opinions. The more religious, the dumber they get.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  19. InfidelHere

    The Obama administration lately wants avoid any taint by the phrase "War on Terror," papering it over with even more ambiguity, calling our war with Muslim terrorist an "Overseas Contingency Operation." It's still the same losing war, just as costly, just as ineffective.

    The Bush and Obama administrations' "War on Terror" by any name-has failed for a simple reason. It is because there is no such a thing as war on terror. Terrorism is a technique, a method, a weapon, a means to an end. Terrorism is not an enemy that can be named or identified, much less fought effectively. A "War on Terror" is a war on shadows, a war on nothing and on no one. It is a fool's errand. Terrorism is the “How”, the “WHO” are true and devoted MUSLIMS and the “WHY” is the cult ideology called ISLAM!

    March 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Another Larry

      You should do your homework, because at this point you're just another ignorant bigot. Islamic extremists are not the only people who use or have used terror. You should also study the history of our meddling in the internal affairs of Muslim countries in the Middle East for the past 60 years.

      FYI, there are more than four times as many Muslims in the world as their are Americans, and a few million of them are in this country. Only a tiny percentage of them engage in terrorism. If Islam, followed by 1.4 billion people, were really the cause of terrorism things would be a whole lot worse than they are.

      If you want to reduce terrorism aimed at the United States oppose foreign policies that tick Muslims off.

      March 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Chachimogo

      The only thing you got right there is your name!

      March 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  20. AtheistSteve

    Newt said "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."

    What a moron. Like a secular atheist country would be any more influenced by islam than it would be by christianity. Real rights and freedoms will truly flourish only when supersti.tious notions are abandoned once and for all.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • joe

      Amen to that.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Another Larry

      Only real idiots fall for his tripe. He never has anything of substance to say. Everything I hear from him is design to manipulate their Obama-hating, liberal-hating, Muslim-hating base that, if the truth were known, are mostly white people afraid of becoming a minority. A white minority, a Christian minority, these ideas terrify them because they know how they've treated other minorities and they don't want to be on the receiving end of that stick.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Jon

      Good ole' Newt just wants to live in a country dominated by radical Christians.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:27 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.