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. bennie

    Newt and his ilk give God a bad name.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  2. Shane Botwin

    How shocking! A Republican campaigning by using fear tactics! Once again, the Grand Old Party focuses on capturing the Dumb Vote.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  3. Karen

    If Newt Gingrich and the Republican party become the face of Christianity in America, then our country will lean toward
    non belief because of such 'rotten' examples. Mr. Gingrich, with your track record, run on your own merits, don't bring God into your campaign. This will only serve to weaken and undermine the Christian faith in America. We see right through the
    Republican rhetoric of "Fear" "Fear" "Fear". My "fear" is of people like you.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  4. veggolove

    How does not being catholic equal not being American? That is the stupidest comment I've heard.

    Yeah, he is a perfect "Catholic gentleman". I thought getting divorced wasn't allowed? Oh, I guess he only converted 2 years ago...The republicans better come up with someone better than him if they think they have a shot

    March 29, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  5. bob

    Which does he fear, an atheist country or a radical islamist country? What a moron.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  6. Asturiano

    This from the man who abandons his wife in a hospital recovery room after he announces his divorce while she is still recovering from surgery. He is a FALSE Christian. A sheep in wolves clothing preying on the unsuspecting.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Ian

      You just described the entire GOP.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  7. maine liberal

    In August 1985, when he visited Morocco at the invitation of King Hassan II, he became the first pope to visit an officially Islamic country at the invitation of its religious leader.

    There, at a historic meeting with thousands of Muslim youths in Casablanca Stadium, he emphasized that "we believe in the same God, the one God, the living God."

    March 29, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  8. Lisa

    If radical Islamists are going to be running the show, the country will hardly be either secular OR atheist. Does Newt even know what these big words mean? More importantly, do voters understand how full of #$%@ he is?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  9. Byrd

    When did Muslims become atheists? That's a new one on me, Newt. And you actually teach history at a college somewhere in Georgia? That thought truly boggles the mind.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  10. Cthulhu rules

    Lemme see here, a country dominated by godless atheism or by a bunch of wack-job evangelical aswipes? Mmmm, I think I'll take the former, thanks.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  11. Sidney

    I want to see his birth certificate.....

    March 29, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  12. Andrew

    He doesn't know us atheists very well if he thinks we have even the slightest tolerance for fundamentalist islam.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • AsayaYeahyas


      March 29, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  13. Bnode

    A secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists
    Thats just what America needs. A leader who sees nothing wrong with contradicting himself in the same sentence. Brilliant.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  14. seamus

    "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,...'
    praise god!

    March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  15. Colin

    He does realize that's an oxymoron, right? You can't be a "secular atheist" country and be dominated by Islamists. That's like being a Buddhist country dominated by Jews.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  16. Jimmeh Dean

    An "atheist country"......... dominated by radical islamists......... am I the only person who sees something wrong here?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • Thornton

      I thought the exact same thing! What an idiot. He and his kind are the last thing this country needs.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  17. maine liberal

    Religious Radical islams are athietist and newt i thought you were smarter.

    Newt your a catholic:

    A very different discussion, obviously, is the one that leads us to the synagogues and mosques, where those who worship the One God assemble. Yes, certainly it is a different case when we come to these great monotheistic religions, beginning with Islam. In the Declaration Nostra Aetate we read: "The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth" (Nostra Aetate 3). As a result of their monotheism, believers in Allah are particularly close to us.

    Pope John Paul II in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope"

    March 29, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  18. Edian Tenan

    CROOK AND CORRUPT Politicians WORLDWIDE share same common traits.........

    THEY always TALK about RELIGIONS, MORALITY dan NON SENSE their don't DO .........
    and dare to judge others' sins.......


    NO to ISLAMIC SHARIA nor Christian, Catholic ones.......


    Can this guy talk about JOBS, Economy, real solution for Health Care and education, SANE BUDGET policy ?
    If he has nothing else to talk about then kick him out from Presidential campaign......


    March 29, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  19. appalled

    Why don't we just get rid of religion altogether so we can have a nice, sane, world? We will have no rest until the idiots quit believing this myth.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Jobe

      The problem isn't religion, it's what man does with religion.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Robert Leahy


      March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  20. KK

    Gingrich started off, "I have two grandchildren ..., whoa, how coincidental is that? I mean look, this will be my 2nd attempt at running for President, Catholicism is my second attempt at religion, I lied twice this week on how I would have handled the Libyan crisis, I am a two time serial adulterer, and on and on it goes. Anyway, what was I saying?

    March 29, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • eojfk

      Glad to hear someone calling it like it is - this nation is loaded with the trolls that live on this Liberal CNN Board - atheists all of you! You will fall into the hands of a living God friends when you die and He will have no mercy on your soul. Glad that ingrich has the stones to step up and call out the CNN pikers and all the Liberals who rely on their own strength instead of on the Father. Shame on all who haven't accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:44 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65
About this blog

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.