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. Betty Boop

    This poor excuse for an American citizen is a pathetic, double-barreled, anal aperture who is strangely deluded into thinking the public is unaware of and/or has forgotten what an incredible slime wad he is and always has been.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  2. midwestmatt

    Please, please, please shut this corpulent pile of spleen up. I'm basically an atheist and I've never cheated on my wife, lied to the American public, been horribly hypocritical, or been a complete d-bag like this piece of excrement.

    I'm well aware that some Muslims are radicals but so is every moron who believes the spew this idiot doles out. In fact, his followers are vastly more dangerous that any "Islamist" because his followers are already inside the border.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  3. 666

    Your comment was #666

    March 29, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  4. Daniel

    Hagee is trash and he promotes a trash gospel. He is a real fear-monger and in no way represents true Christianity.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  5. Lin

    The Quran commands to kill infidels:

    Allah is an enemy to unbelievers. – Sura 2:98

    On unbelievers is the curse of Allah. – Sura 2:161

    Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. – 2:191

    O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them. God does not guide an unjust people. – 5:54

    Allah will humble the unbelievers. Allah and His apostle are free from obligations to idol-worshipers. Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers. – 9:2-3

    When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. – 9:5

    Believers! Know that idolators are unclean. – 9:28

    Fight those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, nor what has been forbidden by God and his messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are People of the Book, until they pay the tribute and have been humbled. – 9:29 (another source: ) The unbelievers are impure and their abode is hell. (another source: ) Humiliate the non-Muslims to such an extent that they surrender and pay tribute.

    --–think people before our freedoms are taken away by the shere numbers of Islamic people trying to enact their law on non Islamic America!

    Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme – 8:39

    March 29, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • midwestmatt

      So what? Plenty of other religions demand that non-believers be converted or driven out or worse. The Bible variously espouses slavery, demands that a wife "submit" to their husband, condones child beating, murder, etc., etc.

      You and all you've posted is crap.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Mark


      I am a Christian and not a Muslim. Let's do some fact checking:

      Sura 2:98
      Anyone who opposes GOD, and His angels, and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael, should know that GOD opposes the disbelievers.

      This God, or Allah, also has archangels Gabriel and Michael. Allah is the word for God in Arabic. Christian Arabs call God Allah. I would argue that the Quran intends to refer to the God of Abraham, the same God that Jews and Christians worship. The only ones who should really worry about this statement are the atheists. In other words, Gingrich and Allah are saying the same thing.

      Let's look for things in common rather than spreading the hate and fear.

      (1) http://www.quranexplorer.com
      (2) http://www.submission.org/efarsi/arabic/sura2.html

      March 29, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  6. RB

    What? Isn't God in charge of things?

    March 29, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • James

      See that includes logic which Newt seems to lack.

      I blame not enough money for medicare, but he wouldn't like that.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  7. 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 at 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 29, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  8. Tom

    As an Atheist all i can say is... This is God's plan, why fight it?

    March 29, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  9. GaryB

    Is Gingrich dumb enough that he doesn't realize that secular atheists and radical Islamists are polar opposites? Or is he just dumbing down his speech to frighten the sheep into supporting him? I suspect the latter.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  10. Zaxxon

    Winning the struggle for the "nature of America"? I fear Newt's vision of what this "nature of America" should be. Apparently not one that includes freedom of religion. His fear mongering disgusts me.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  11. JFK

    Really?!? Seems to me, which I HOPE is the case for most posters, thet there is a difference between secular and non-secular systems. I want, and know, for the mostpart, that the USA is secular nation. Aren't most of Gingrich's followers dead or near dead? Perhaps we should follow a youthful protest following the middleeast. Oops, didn't we try that in the '60's?

    March 29, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  12. gaptherockstar

    I hate to think that we would ever look to politicians for are moral and spiritual values. They're all for the most part bought and paid for by big business to forward this or that corporate interest. They are the epitome of what Christ found wrong with the Pharisees. The republicans have clung to righteousness because it taps a voting base that they can't reach any other way. As soon as they get into office there obligations are to big business and the defense industry. They are making a big deal out of the budget short falls but didn't there lack of over site in banking and securities create it. Most Americans work in small and midsized businesses but they couldn't care less. The democrats have the same obligations they just don't have the structures and aren't as organized as the republicans. Have you even seen a republican reduce the federal budget?

    March 29, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  13. R2RO

    I think Newt was referring to an atheist country being controlled (bullied or coerced) by Islam. Most atheist will not stand up to someone who would not think twice about slashing your throat for not believing in Islam...yet the same atheists will cry the loudest against anything Christian. If I remember correctly, the Afghanis hated the Russians the most because they did not believe in any god and were killed on site. You won't have these freedoms once Christianity is locked out of the US.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Jay

      So sayeth the anonymous tough guy on the internet. And so it shall be.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • R2RO

      Jay, the truth might be scary and you may not like it, but its in history books. Educate yourself and read about the mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It is what it is.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • TheNumber

      I'm not sure what part of the country you are from, but Atheists like myself believe in freedom to all peaceful people – whether you believe in a god or not (I could care less what god.) At the same time I exercise my 2nd amendment right and will protect my country to my last breath. You would be mistaken to write Atheists off as weak.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Sgt M.

      I am a former US Marine and an athiest. Are you telling me I wouldn't stand up to someone who wants to slash my throat? And do you think that maybe, just maybe the mujahadeen hated the Russians because they invaded their country? Or is your argument that if the Russians were evangelical Christians the mujahadeen would have given them a pass because they were believers?

      And do you really think our country is so fragile, that by some miracle, radical Islam would be able to completely overrun the US Army, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, Reserves, local law enforcement, militias, street gangs, and all the gun owners in this country and establish Sharia Law??? Dude...you've got lots of holes in your argument.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Nika

      ...I'd really like for you to take a minute and think about that rationally. I know it may be difficult, but do try. Religious extremists are going to dominate a country of atheists? Can you honestly say that makes sense? Wouldn't you presume that either a) the so-called religious extremists would force everyone in the country to follow their religion, in which case it wouldn't be a country of atheists or b) an atheist-dominated country would be so staunchly opposed to religion that the extremists would never stand a chance? And I mean, you do realize that a lack of religious belief doesn't do away with any sense of national pride or the desire to keep your country free, right? Or did that concept fly over your head as well?

      March 29, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  14. James

    I hate the new GOP.

    What happened to people like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    Also I hate how these radical believers in God give us non-radicals such a bad name. I mean how can there be an atheist country dominated by radical extremists, unless to this fake Republican Islam is not a religion.

    We need to bring back the real Republican party no more of this white trash BS.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Chad

      None of these men would be involved with today's GOP. Republicans from the mid-19th century had platforms that were, overall, MUCH more aligned with those of today's Democratic Party than those of today's Republican Party.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  15. 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 29, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  16. Lin

    Its a sad day when the US turns from Christian to Islam. Though that is the agenda they have. We certainly do live in dangerous times.
    Islam's only goal is to convert or kill if refused to convert to Islam.
    Qoran's Surah 3: Verse 28: Let not the Believers take the Unbelievers as friends – rather than the Believers. And whoever does that, then there is nothing from Allâh in any matter; unless that you only protect yourselves from them a protection. Thus Allâh cautions you of Himself; for towards Allâh is the eventual coming.

    The only way a Muslim is protected (according to their law) is by killing the infidel (the one refusing to convert to Islam)..

    March 29, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • arron

      I was just in a Muslim country dude. Nothing scary going on there. They are more religious, more tolerant, more friendly and more rational than our bible belt folks. I'm more worried about extreme evangelism than I am extreme Islam in the US

      March 29, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Troll Police

      bad troll is bad

      March 29, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Kai

      Right, because Christianity is so much better? Are we supposed to overlook the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Salem Witch Trials, the genocide and forced conversion of millions of Native Americans, and a history otherwise littered with religious wars and the subjugation of women and non-Christians? And you say Islam is the religion with the problem. You disgust me.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  17. Mike


    March 29, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  18. BOB2

    Dominated by Radical Islamists ?????? What ?????? Very funny....
    Looks like he is looking for some cheap publicity. Can someone knock his brains and tell him the muslim population is only 5 to 6 % in the US, of which 99.9% are moderate.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • John

      Muslim Population is less than 2%.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  19. SpudAZ

    Did I miss something or is this newspeak? An Athiestic Radical Islamic Country? Yes Newt, and we never landed on the Moon, satellite TV is a hoax and George Bush flew all 4 planes on 9/11, then bailed out of each so he could set the charges. I think someone forgot to take their thorazine!

    March 29, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  20. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    Atheists have a lower divorce rate that Baptists, Pentecostal Christians, Evangelicals, and Newt Gingrich.

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


      If hell freezes over and fear spinner Gingrich gets the GOP nod, then I won't be voting. Fortunately, he'll be eaten alive before he gets out of New Hampshire. The only good he will do is keep some additional political operatives and pollsters employed. Thereafter, he can return to being a lip flapping bobblehead on Fox.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am |
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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.