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. Joe

    that's pretty extreme Chunky.. many places in America there's a church on every corner..

    March 29, 2011 at 6:54 am |
  2. Tess Stickles

    AHH Cuckoo AHH Cuckoo

    March 29, 2011 at 6:54 am |
  3. Gauntletwielder

    Newt Gingrich's words have always lacked intelligence, credibility and honor. People would be wise to ignore his words thereby removing his remaining remnants of political strength.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  4. dpljlb

    I'm more fearful of this idiot leading our country~

    March 29, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  5. chuckwagon

    I'm glad this boob is running, it thins out the Rep vote. He was tossed by his own party when he was House Speaker, now aligns himself with a "man of the cloth" who thinks Hitler did the right thing??
    Who is advising this moron?

    March 29, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  6. Softship

    Are we to conclude that islamists are atheists?
    Now, that's a truly novel hypothesis.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  7. J0nx

    Same with liberals. Most of them are Godless heathens as well.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  8. Rush Limbaugh

    Anyone selling vicodin????????

    March 29, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  9. Wayne

    I have seen the enemy and he is Newt... and the other evalgelical nut jobs trying to take over the world.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  10. Dave

    Paranoia, big destroyer

    March 29, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  11. Newt Gingrich

    i have only had relations with men on 6 occasions

    March 29, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  12. Brian

    I love the huge fear mongering in this statement. "... 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."

    He is worried about people not believing in god and believing in god at the same time.

    He should have taken more time and threw some other 'scary to christians' words in there. Socialists would have really sent that congragation into a tizy.

    Radical islamists kill atheists, for the record.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  13. gill

    If newts afraid of an atheist country im afraid of men like him being allowed to run our country. This is the man who cheated on his first two wives and is probably doing it to the third as well. He told his first wife he was going to divorce her while she was in the hospital recovering from cervical cancer. Im amazed he has supporters even and he has quite a few of them, im sad our country saw the day when ignorant men like glen beck/ newt gingrich/ and rev hagee spout their social poison upon the ears of americans who quite frankly have become ignorant to all but one news source like fox or cnn. With the decline of the newspaper came the decline of media in this country, yes you CNN... you arent that much better than FOX, for once report the news, dont sensationalize it like u do on tv 24/7, everytime we tune in to news these days we see idiots who keep giving their two cents on everything as opposed to reporting whats going on with impartiality. Newt gingrich will have listeners to his radio and supporters to his cause as long as americans cant think for themselves

    March 29, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  14. Newt Worries

    Newt worries about others and their morals.......Newt just doesn't see the irony. He has had more Trangressions through out his life.....put the stones down newt.....you live in a giant glass house

    March 29, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  15. Ronan

    Funny comment from a man who does not seem to practice Christianity when it comes to his marriages and the supposed story of him going to the hospital to ask for his first wife for a divorce while she was being treated.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  16. Poopoo

    I had a dream the other night that America turned into a secular, atheist country dominated by radical Islamists. I know, I know, it doesn't make any sense, but doesn't it SOUND scary??

    March 29, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  17. NotAFan

    Does this idiot not know what an atheist is? Muslims believe in a god. They are not atheists. Whackos, yes. Atheists, no.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  18. Coloradan

    This is just red meat fear mongering for the religious right. Will they ever figure out that Republicans just throw
    this out there because then believe that conservative Christians are dumb enough to fall for it? Are you dumb
    enough to fall for it?

    March 29, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  19. chefley

    a pillar of credibility not

    March 29, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  20. Bart

    If he read some history (hard for Politicians to read, I know) he would understand that half of the founding fathers did NOT have Christian values. Some were true believers in Christianity but many simply believed in a God or Divine Providence w/o any ties to a specific religion. True their ideas of a God were based on Western religion at the time but few of them wore it on their sleeve like so many people do today. Practicing religion should be like going to the bathroom, do it in private. No one wants to watch.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • Rick

      ...ummm how can the country be athiest, but controlled by a religion?

      March 29, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • Gary B

      I fully agree. Thomas Jefferson went so far as to create a "scrapbook" bible which included only the passages he felt were historical about Jesus' teachings and none of the parts he felt were not based in either history or science (no resurection, miracles, etc.) Washington was affiliated with a church but was not one to regularly attend.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:08 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.