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. Renny

    This country is based on the separation of church and state. What do you think Islamic majorities do in the country they rule? They use their "church" to rule the state. Name an Islamic majority country where there is any sort of separation between the government and religion. Can't name one can you? I think that is sort of what Newt was getting at. Though I don't think he should be president, he does have a point, though he did say it very well.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • jerry stewart

      Newt the nut is trying to do the same thing here by political power. Laws have always been bent and that is what he is trying to do.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  2. Richard

    All hail, the wife cheating, lying, no morales, hippocritical Newt......We are not worthy, we are not worthy

    March 29, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  3. BioHzrd

    Wait....A secular atheist country .... dominated by islamic radicals.....Isn't that a complete oxymoron. I mean, by the definition of atheists why would they let ANY theocracy prevail. No...Newt you are the moron.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  4. gogogopher

    too bad Newt didn't quote 2nd Kings where God/Jesus/Spirit killed 42 children with 2 bears. Jesus loves the little children?
    monotheist (and this is laughable) believe 1+1+1=1 (it's polytheist...3 gods)
    so if Christians believe that....then christ is 1/3 responsible for answering a prayer of a new prophet, and sending the bears to maul the children.
    Then you have the story where God was blessed with the virgin's burning body....smoke rising in the air so he could smell it.
    Really? A burnt offering of a virgin to Allah/God/Jesus/Yawhoo...
    WAKE UP CHRISTIAN LEADERS and tell the truth about the Bible...how it was made...who made it... who lied in it?
    1st Timothy was not written by Timothy. 2nd Peter was not written by Peter. Yet....the church says, "well, they didn't write it, but get credit for it." Paul only wrote 7 of his 13 letters.
    But yet...people still trust religious leaders..

    March 29, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • jerry stewart

      You are right on, and what about the pius protection of child molesters. These vermin should be in prison for life.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  5. Big~Smelly~Tuna

    My name is Newt................
    ,,,,,,,,,,I SELL FEAR AND HATE

    March 29, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  6. Religious One

    How can Gingrich even associate with a church where the pastor says that Hitler was sent by God to hunt the Jews? It tells me that the votes are more important than his moral convictions. Speaking of his morals, he has none as demonstrated by his track record with having mistresses.

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

    If our great country becomes an "atheist country" then it will be because of people like Newt and the religious right. They are driving this country into the ground and are more concerned about a women's right to choose and what people do behind their bedroom doors then for the overall well being of our great country and everyone that inhabits it. This is why I am now agnostic. I predict we will become more of an agnostic country instead of an atheist country. I am spiritual but have no respect for organized religion as it stands today in the US.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  8. johnson

    Republicans are hilarious. They just mention buzz words to scare up votes and the sad thing is people actually vote for them. Here is my republican vocabulary. 9/11, Islam, Terrorist, Communism, Socialist, Muslim, Hand outs, Dictatorship, Fascist, Abortion, Gun Control, & Obama Care. And now to use my republican vocab in a sentence to get me elected. The Fascist, Socialist, Dictatorial, Islamic Terrorists are taking Hand Outs from pro-Abortion Communists, funded by 9/11 Obama Care, while trying to control our right to bear arms. Votes Please!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  9. dc73072

    Religion has controlled America long enough. An Atheist should run for president. As for the US being controlled by radical Islamists........ Hahahahahaha! That will never happen. Just because we aren't brainwashed by religion like Gingrich and others doesn't mean we are going to let Islam take over. Free thinkers will rule before Islam! What a joke.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  10. Alina77

    2004 Bush won by scaring the sh!t out of Americans, he was telling us about "Muslims under your bed, Muslims in your closet". Do you remember his campaign? They were build on fear. Newt trying to pull the same thing, and you seems like completely agree with him. Atheists are people that actually holding Republican ideas and others in question, who wouldn't hate them (especially if you a Republican) .Some things are never change .

    March 29, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  11. Lois Griffin

    Lois: 9...
    Audience: Ohh?
    Lois: Eleven...
    Audience: Ahhh *applause*

    March 29, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  12. Jesus

    "Fear Everything!" – as quoted from Newt Gingrich and every Republican you can name. Also..."Believe what I say and don't bother to check to learn if it is true, because you and I both know you don't want hear the truth."

    March 29, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  13. Johnny 5

    Newt needs to learn what athiesm is before he throws his 2 cents in.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  14. SD Mario

    And that is a bad thing? Seeing all the hateful things religion as fostered I would not miss it going away.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  15. jerry stewart

    Nute is a nut. Anyone who thinks he has half a brain has not been listening to what he says. He is the biggest liar in politics.
    He wants power so bad, he has gone back to the scare tactics of the Bush admin. He is old school politcs at its worst. The thing that is really scarey, he tries to create paranoia in the masses. Paranoia makes paranoid people do raical things, like Tuscon.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  16. jdunc

    Gingrich the fear monger- he is afraid of radical Islam, gays ,gays who marry, socialists, atheists, immigrants, China, NPR, etc- any person or group that doesn't agree with the Christian right wing movement. the only group he is not afraid of are the group of women he has been married to. It really is a sad day when Newt, who can seem very intelligent, lowers himself to bow at the feet of the white right just to get a shot at the presidency. Makes you wonder what kind of president he would make- probably unelectable.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  17. Charles

    Umm... Newt, I don't know if you're good at math, but (Atheism) =/= (Islam).

    March 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  18. Chris

    Dear Newt,
    You are an idiot. Pick one. Will we all be atheist or will we be dominated by Islam? You can't really have both.
    Also, our founding fathers, founded this nation on the idea that we would be free from religious persecution. Which means I have the right to be atheist, Muslim, Islamic, Buddhist or any other Dam# thing I want without worrying about you attacking me for it. THAT IS BEING AMERICAN!!

    YOUR vision of America is a nation of Nothing but "good" christian folk, which is really completely Against what it means to be American.

    Please go away and shut up.


    March 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Veglvr

      Couldn't have said it better. Thank you Chris for stating what SHOULD be obvious, but unfortunately is not. Newt is a fear mongering fool.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Speaking of idiots.

      He's an idiot? He said a secular athiest nation. I believe he meant that the nation would be secular (nonchristian, so yes, perhaps islamic) and also largely athiest. Also, dude...muslims follow islam. you can't be muslim and islamic. Proofread your comments if you are going to be talking about people being idiots.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • drose2112

      you took the words right out of my mouth.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Crissy

      While I agree with our rights to practice whatever we so desire, I also think that we should recognize that this courtry was founded on the belief in God. So, while we can practice whatever religion we so please without persecution. we also should recognize the fact that God is and always has been a part of our great nation.
      I also believe that we should take a serious look at the "laws" of the Islamic belief, being a woman, this concerns me a great deal. There have been some serious cases that have come before a judge that they followed Sharia law. I don't believe any religious law should come before our national laws. This all honestly does scare me.
      I'm not a fan of Newt's either.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  19. naeco

    He's just making the crazy christians fearful... how cynical. This guy will never be president. "Secular atheist dominated by radical Islam". Right... that makes a lot of sense. And really, he's tieing his catholocism to patriotism? Sounds like christian facism to me.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  20. Rich

    What a DB; he need to crawl back under his rock.

    March 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • HoustonMom

      He's just another typical Republican, first thing he does is target an entire segment of the U.S. population as evil. This month it's Atheists, next month it's Gays, the next month it will be someone else the Christians and GOP considers less than desirable and not good enough to be an American citizen.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • dissident

      I think Newt fears a lot of things: sausage gravy, (although he faces it daily) women etc. It's not that he fears so much as he wants us to fear. GOP fear mongering. Do you buy into that? I don't. Religion is alive and well. You look at him and realize satan is alive and well in the good ol USA. SO...., there has to be a God. God bless America!!!

      March 29, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Gary

      Say what you want. Atheism has killed 160 million people in this world. Ever hear of Stalin , Mao,and Pol Pot for starters? The Atheist would have you believe that religion is the killer but just read over some OLD history not the new history that's being re-written with liberal atheist bias.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:01 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.