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. chuckmartel

    “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” What an idiot! Leave it to a repub to take a serious genocidal threat to the US and describe it with idiotic contradictory nonsense. Unfortunately, the US will continue to become more islamic. The PC dems are so stupid they won't acknowledge the mass murder the muslims have unleashed on their US hosts and the repubs just don't have the brains to deal with the threat. This Gingrich is a great example.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  2. mike

    More an more people are becoming athiest because organized religion is the mos belligerent, shameful an insulting thing mankind ever came up with (and yes, we did invent it out of thin air). I believe in god, but not religion. Religion is a tool created by man, edited by man, changed and manipulate by man, and used by man as power of over weaker men. Religion is an abomination and an insult to the very idea of god.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  3. David Jesus Mohammed

    That is rich Newt, . Atheists ruled by Islamists dreamed up by Adulterer

    March 29, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  4. Concerned

    This public attack on Muslims and Sharia Law really needs to stop. Do some Muslims beat their wives? Yes. The same as some Christian or Jewish men do. Do they do it in the name of their religion? Maybe some do, but so do some Christians and Jews. Some Muslims perceive Sharia Law as some Christians perceive the ten commandments. As a guide to living their life. In both religions (Christians and Muslims), we will find our share of weirdos.

    If you're a Christian, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". If you're a Muslim, "Asalaam Alaikum".

    March 29, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  5. stonedwhitetrash

    Newt; please explain how as radical as islam how can it coexist with atheist to control this country.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  6. Cuss

    Jews, Christians(Protestants & Catholics) and Muslims all believe in the same God. So how could an atheist nation be dominated by any of them?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  7. Joe Vignolo, Derry, NH

    If America becomes "dominated by radical Islamists" then by definition it won't be "a secular atheist country". The world has been run by religious fanatics for centuries and look at what they've done. Maybe it's time to give some rationally thinking atheists a try for a change.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  8. Kaka

    What a load of manure. I guess he's starting his fear-mongering early in the campaign. I guess he also missed the memo that atheists don't believe in any god, including the Muslim one. So if the US is going towards atheism as a whole, I say bring it on. At least majority will be level-headed thinkers instead of lemmings.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  9. Gary

    Don't wish to lump in all Republicans but what Mr Gingrich is doing has been done for so long. This is no different than the old "RED" concerns. The whole if you don't vote for me the Communist will control the world from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. Not sure wich is sadder, Gingrich using this style or the people believing it...

    March 29, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  10. Ann

    He fears an atheist nation controlled by a religion. Wow... that would be weird. What I fear is a nation where if you arent part of a cult, i.e. christianity, you cant be president or any other elected official. What I fear is a nation whos leader is inspired by a non-existent deity. I wish I had known the ugly little Newt was in San Antonio where I live. I would have loved to put on some kind of atheist protest outside this mega-cult.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  11. The Half Baked Lunatic

    "god" is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded people. It's not a question of whether "god" exists or not, the whole idea is so absurd that it's not even worthy of serious consideration. The question is how many people can this guy keep under his thumb by convincing them that other people are the enemy if they don't see the imaginary being.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  12. Sandra

    I would be more afraid of Fundamentalist Christians, or any Fundamental religious food group in charge. It would end up being like a George Carlin Skit:

    Man 1: Do you believe in God?
    Man 2: Well..not
    (Man one pulls out a gun) BANG!

    Man 1:Do you believe in God?
    Man 3: Yes, I do.
    Man 1: *MY* God?
    Man 3: Well, no.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • newoneonme

      I'd never heard that Carlin bit, but it made me lol at my desk. SO appropriate and true. As a 31 year old white male, I'm starting to really hate old, gray-haired white men. I think maybe I'll either dye my hair or shave it simply to avoid looking like these clowns. Don't want to get lumped in with them accidentally.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  13. abby1

    Apparently, this is the way the conservative Republicans/Tea Baggers can spread their propaganda....excuse me, I mean agenda. Newt, keep spreading the fear, hatred and lies.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  14. Mari

    This laughable!!! I mean not the part about America being in trouble, it is in trouble. I am a Christian and I am not sure that Newt Gingrich should be speaking on my behalf... Newt do you attend a bible based church regularly?? Do you study the bible? Do you accept Jesus as your Savior... Jesus was not a republican....He was not a democrat.....His politically idolatry was doing the work of His Father.... I have a huge problem with people using Jesus to further their politics!!!

    March 29, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  15. drinky

    He fears a Muslim dominated atheist America??? Is he familiar with those terms at all???????

    March 29, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  16. LivinginVA

    This sort of comment could be fun as a contest, here's my entry: "I'm concerned that many Americans will be dying of starvation and be too obese to fit in coffins."

    March 29, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  17. LetsBeCivil

    Be very,very, very afraid of any politician who attempts to scare you. Especially, if it has anything at all to do with religion.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  18. WMesser58

    As usual, Newtie is spouting off inane rhetoric because if anyone examined the issues they would find that an adulterer knows a lot about religion.

    Some one also stated the obvious how a religion could dictate to atheist.

    He knows it can’t but unfortunately he knows enough right-wing-nut jobs that will run with it.

    He must have hired carl roves as his campaign manager because he’d lie about anything to get some one elected.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  19. stonedwhitetrash

    I fear a radical Christian, Muslim or Jewish state. Also Newt is an Adulterous fool.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • Cuss

      Amen, brother, amen.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  20. Newt Gingrich

    hey cnn stop talking smack about me, imma roll up a fat blunt and smoke it ... the only reason i said those things was cuz the religious nuts pay well rofl.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • albert

      It's interesting, if you read the Bible Jesus actually warned about people like Newt. The problem facing the world is so-called Christians who claim to know God but spread lies about him.

      “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.  Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’  And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:22 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.