Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling
Newt Gingrich has spent time as a Lutheran, a Baptist and a Roman Catholic.
December 10th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) - There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals over whether Newt Gingrich has repented enough for his sins to be president.

One recent skirmish was set off by an open letter urging Gingrich to give a major speech confronting his perceived moral stumbles, including an affair with his third wife, Callista, while married to No. 2.

“You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others, including your former spouses,” Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote.

Land urged Gingrich to make a public promise “that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House.”

Rather than galvanizing the faithful, however, Land’s letter provoked an outcry from a handful of evangelical leaders who argued Gingrich has repented enough and deserves forgiveness.

On an e-mail thread among conservative Christian heavyweights, Jerry Falwell Jr. invoked the biblical story of a woman of ill repute who met Jesus at a well. Though the woman had been married five times, Jesus forgave her.

“The woman at the well was fortunate she encountered Jesus that day instead of some of our evangelical brethren,” the Liberty University president wrote, in an apparent swipe at Land.

On the same e-mail chain, which CNN obtained from a conservative activist, prominent Atlanta preacher Richard Lee said the nation’s evangelicals needed to support Gingrich.

Lee called Gingrich “the only forceful Christian candidate who can at this point be elected and cleanse the White House next November.”

The evangelical tussling over Gingrich says a lot about the fractured state of the Republican Party less than a month before the Iowa caucuses officially usher in the 2012 race for the White House.

The sight of influential evangelicals rallying around Gingrich, a Catholic with serious “values” baggage, speaks to the huge political vulnerability of Mitt Romney, who was the perceived GOP front-runner until recent polls put Gingrich at the front of the pack.

Gingrich speaking at the April 2011 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in D.C.

Whether because of Romney’s past liberalism on gay rights and abortion or because of his Mormon faith, many of the evangelical Christians who make up the Republican base just don’t like him.

They’ve been looking for an alternative, by turns telling pollsters of their support for Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain. One by one, they’ve dropped in the polls, or out of the race altogether. Now it’s Gingrich’s turn in the spotlight.

But the argument over Gingrich’s personal life also raises fundamental questions about the candidate himself and his readiness for the nation’s highest office.

Just how much has Gingrich changed since his days as a volatile and philandering House speaker? Does he have the character to be president? And, at least for many of the evangelical voters who will dominate the early primaries: Is he a true believer?

Faith by geography

Gingrich has identified with different branches of Christianity that mirror his surroundings at different stages of life.

Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, an area settled by the largely Lutheran Pennsylvania Dutch, Gingrich was the son of a Lutheran mom and a Pennsylvania Dutch stepfather who adopted him.

Attending college at Atlanta’s Emory University and grad school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Gingrich became a Southern Baptist.

And as a creature of Washington, where Gingrich’s wife sings in a Catholic choir and where many prominent conservative Republicans have converted to Catholicism in the last decade, Gingrich joined the Catholic fold in 2009.

“I think that was all part of his pilgrimage,” says Ike Reighard, who was Gingrich’s pastor in Atlanta for nearly 20 years. “Whatever is the dominant religion in the region he was in, that was his progression... He was always super inquisitive, searching for deeper meaning.”

Gingrich’s stepdad was an army officer, making for a peripatetic family life that included stretches spent at military bases in Europe and at Fort Benning, Georgia, situated in the heart of the Bible Belt.

Gingrich, who declined interview requests for this story, was raised largely by his maternal grandmother, a devout Lutheran who, he has said, “taught me my most basic lessons about God and Satan.”

But Gingrich left his childhood denomination through an immersion baptism at the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans while at Tulane, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in European history.

In a pattern that would last a lifetime, studying religion’s role in history and politics moved Gingrich to deepen his own faith.

Saint Charles Avenue’s pastor, G. Avery Lee, said Gingrich wasn’t a member of any church when the two first met.

“He said that in his study of political theory, he noted how much influence the church had had … and asked if I could explain,” Lee wrote in a 1994 letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, describing his first encounter with Gingrich.

Lee and Gingrich grew close, with the pastor eventually baptizing Gingrich even though his church took “a liberal approach to both theology and sociology.”

“It has been suggested by some that in baptizing him, I didn't hold him under long enough,” Wrote Lee, who died in 2009, in apparent reference to Gingrich’s conservative politics.

But Gingrich was more liberal back then, including on questions of separation of church and state.

“As a college student at Emory when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional … I didn't notice it,” he said in a 2009 interview. “As a graduate student at Tulane I probably would have said it's a good decision.”

‘I don’t think his faith was the driving force’

After Tulane, Gingrich took a job as a history professor outside Atlanta and almost immediately began running for Congress, losing two races in the mid-’70s.

Around that time he joined New Hope Baptist Church, a 100-year old congregation south of Atlanta where Ike Reighard had recently arrived as the senior pastor.

“He had just lost for the second time and he came in and said, ‘I need your help,’” says Reighard. “I said, ‘What did you want to do in politics?’ He said he wanted to be speaker of the House.”

Gingrich won his next race for Congress in 1978. That year also marked the birth of the modern Christian Right.

The movement started in opposition to an Internal Revenue Service campaign under then-President Jimmy Carter to crack down on private schools resisting court-ordered desegregation.

Word of the campaign provoked fear and outrage among evangelical schools. Jerry Falwell joined the successful effort to thwart the IRS initiative and founded the Moral Majority the following year, in 1979. The group’s focus on fighting abortion and gay rights set the Christian Right agenda for decades to come.

Gingrich, for his part, was not considered part of the new wave of proud Christian Right warriors in Congress, some of whom were swept into power in 1980 on President Ronald Reagan’s coattails and enthusiastically blended their religious faith and politics.

For Gingrich, “I don’t think faith was the driving force,” says Reighard. “He realized that you have to look at issues and they can’t always be driven by your personal views and your religious values.”

“I heard a lot of times that people say evangelicals are one-issue people, all about abortion,” Reighard says. “But that’s not true with Gingrich. Education was important for him. Health care was important. The economy was important.”

Indeed, when Gingrich launched the Conservative Opportunity Society, an influential House caucus, in 1983, he focused on fiscal issues and practical electoral politics.

And yet Gingrich was an early ally of the budding Christian Right, even if he wasn’t a card-carrying member.

Ralph Reed, who would go on to lead the Christian Coalition, remembers watching as a libertarian activist advocating for gay rights and abortion rights challenged Gingrich at an early 1980s College Republicans breakfast.

“Newt pushed back hard,” Reed remembers. “It was clearly a position of intellectual conviction. I wasn’t yet a committed Christian and I remember finding that pretty remarkable, that Newt didn’t try to pacify this guy. He said, ‘No, you’re wrong.’”

Gingrich speaking at a 1987 news conference.

The future House speaker also stayed active at New Hope Baptist Church, which was quickly growing from sleepy country congregation to suburban Atlanta megachurch, even as he spent most of his time in Washington. When Reighard’s wife died during childbirth, Gingrich was on the phone with him while the pastor was still at the hospital.

“He was always there on Sunday mornings,” says Reighard, recalling Gingrich’s House years. “And the other thing he was always great at doing was town-hall-type meetings and potluck dinners. He was a grassroots person. There’s no telling how many of those meals I prayed at.”

Christian coalitions

But a lot of those town halls were more political than religious. Televangelist Pat Robertson launched the Christian Coalition in the early 1990s, and the group organized events around Georgia aimed at getting conservative evangelicals more involved in elections.

Gingrich, who counted himself an evangelical, expressed keen interest in the coalition’s work. But he seemed to be operating less as a pious Christian, and more as a strategist looking for ways the GOP could win the House of Representatives.

“We didn’t get into theological conversations that much,” says Patrick Gartland, executive director of the Georgia Christian Coalition in the early 1990s. “I was a grassroots numbers person. I loved the intricacies of grassroots, and he did, too, and he understood it.”

Unlike the Moral Majority in the 1980s, which was made up of pastors like Falwell, the Christian Coalition sought to mainstream the Christian Right by bringing in laypeople. The group’s local chapters were led by Christian business leaders, teachers and retirees, as opposed to pastors.

And Christian Coalition envisioned a big-tent religious conservatism that was as much about lowering taxes as it was about banning abortion.

For the broad-minded Gingrich, that vision was a perfect fit – especially after the Christian Coalition helped usher in the 1994 Republican Revolution, which put the House in GOP hands for the first time in 40 years.

The takeover catapulted Gingrich to speaker of the House, making him the country’s most powerful Republican. He vowed to pay attention to conservative Christians from his first day on the job, seeking to assuage evangelical activists who felt ignored by the Reagan administration after they’d worked hard for Reagan’s political campaigns.

“There was this dissatisfaction among evangelical leaders about [Reagan], and Newt said to me, ‘I’m not going to let that happen.’”

Best remembered for working with President Bill Clinton on fiscally focused deals like welfare reform and balancing the budget - and fiscal fights that led to a government shutdown - Gingrich also checked off major items on religious conservatives’ wish lists.

He brought a proposed constitutional amendment to allow school prayer up for a House vote. He presided over the adoption of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act – the first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade – and the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the federal government from recognizing gay marriage.

Speaker-elect Gingrich with then-wife Marianne and his mother Kathleen at a January 1995 Washington church service.

Yet some evangelical leaders who knew Gingrich fretted over his personal life. The hard-charging speaker displayed braggadocio and rough edges even to political allies and didn’t talk much about his own faith.

“There were a lot of conservative Christian leaders who really loved Newt but felt like he hadn’t really turned his life over to God,” says Reed.

Many of those leaders went nuclear over rumors about Gingrich’s 1998 affair with a young House aide named Callista Bisek, while he was married to his second wife, Marianne.

Theose rumors “would break my heart,” says Reighard, who counseled Gingrich and Marianne in the 1990s. “I always believed that Newt could be one of the great leaders in our country, an American version of Winston Churchill.”

Reborn a Catholic

More than a decade later, Gingrich is back in many evangelicals’ good graces, with polls showing him way out in front of Romney among evangelicals in Iowa, who accounted for 60% of caucus-goers four years ago.

What explains the turnaround?

One big factor is Gingrich’s self-described faith awakening since leaving Congress in 1998. A personal turning point was 2002, when a court ruling struck down the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools because of its “Under God” clause.

“That was the last straw,” Gingrich said in a 2009 interview with U.S. News & World Report. “And I said it’s time to challenge head-on secular domination in the West.”

Just as studying political history had led a 20-something Gingrich to the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, political developments like the Pledge ruling and other perceived attacks on religion sparked a round of soul-searching.

Though it was later struck down by the Supreme Court, the ruling led Gingrich to publish “Rediscovering God in America,” a faith-based walking tour of Washington’s key buildings and monuments.

For those close to him, the 2006 book reflected what Gingrich had been preaching for more than a decade: that religion played a key role in the nation’s founding.

“In the ’90s, he talked about this idea that power comes from God to the individual and is loaned to the state,” says Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s former spokesman. “Before that, the European model was that power came from God to the king, and [Gingrich] used to explain why that was corrupt and how Thomas Jefferson turned it on his head.”

By increasing his public attack on the secular “media-academic-legal elite” and promoting his God-infused take on American history, Gingrich was branded a culture warrior during the last decade, gaining appeal among conservative evangelicals.

Gingrich continued the courtship by regularly appearing before audiences of hundreds of evangelical pastors to talk about God, history and politics.

Gingrich delivers the Liberty University commencement address in 2007 following Jerry Falwell

“There’s no question there’s been an evolution in his thinking and speaking and writing on America’s religious heritage, which has become a much bigger part of his lexicon,” says Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition and is not endorsing any presidential candidates.

“He’s clearly found his voice on social issues, and less than 30 days from the Iowa caucuses the timing couldn’t be better.”

Gingrich further strengthened ties to grassroots evangelicals in 2009, launching a group aimed at bringing together religious and economic conservatives.

The organization, Renewing American Leadership, poured $150,000 into a successful Iowa campaign to unseat judges who had legalized gay marriage in the state. Many of the Iowa activists who led that 2010 campaign are now bullish on Gingrich.

Admitting to an affair also helped.

At a closed-door meeting with the nation’s top Christian Right leaders ahead of the 2008 election, Gingrich was asked about reports he’d been having an affair while leading the impeachment drive against Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The former speaker owned up to the affair and said it marked one the most shameful periods of his life, a time in which he was “alienated from God,” according to a participant at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Though he didn’t run for president in 2008, Gingrich went on James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show to admit the affair to the evangelical icon and a national audience: “There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards.”

Gingrich told listeners he’d since turned "to God to receive forgiveness and to receive mercy."

For many evangelicals, the admission and penitent tone struck a chord.

“It all depends on whether Newt has been rewired, in the theological sense of being born again,” says David Lane, an influential evangelical activist who is in regular contact with Gingrich.

“I was one of the wildest men who ever lived, loved women, wine and song, and I came to Christ,” Lane says. “I’m not perfect, but I read the Bible seven days a week. Is Newt a new man? I think he is. There’s something different about him.”

One difference is that, for the last two years, Gingrich has been an active Roman Catholic. He has described his conversion as a decade-long process inspired by Callista, who sings with a choir at the country’s largest Catholic church, Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Gingrich has said that years of attending Mass there rubbed off on him, with Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit providing the final impetus to conversion.

Gingrich was especially drawn to the church’s millennia-long history and intellectualism. Discussing one of his visits to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Gingrich has said, “You stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached.

“You think to yourself, 2,000 years ago the Apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced,” Gingrich said in 2009. “And there it is.”

As opposed to being a letdown to evangelical leaders, Gingrich’s conversion away from evangelical Christianity was received as something like a born-again experience.

“Prior to that, he was a sloppy Baptist who didn’t have a clue about what he believed,” says an evangelical activist who is close to Gingrich. “When he converted, he went through Catechism and had to get his faith straight. It took some of the sloppiness out.”

But Gingrich still has to convince some religious leaders he has straightened out morally.

In his letter to Gingrich urging a speech about his marital history, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land told Gingrich to emphasize his own religious narrative.

“I know something of your faith journey over the past 20 years,” Land wrote. “Do not hesitate to weave that into your speech to the degree that you are comfortable doing so. It will always resonate with evangelical Christians.”

If polls are to be believed, the story of Gingrich’s journey is resonating already.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Lutheran • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

soundoff (1,901 Responses)
  1. McGuffin

    When evangelicals start asking rich people and corporations to repent for their greed instead of handing them more tax breaks, I'll start taking their moral judgments seriously.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  2. McGuffin

    Forgiving someone is very different from electing him president. We should elect the best and the brightest, not a man who has twice cheated on his wives while they were very ill. He is not publicly apologetic about it, and while he may be forgiven, he does not deserve to be honored.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • Eddie Hurley

      If you are going To judge you should be white you should not have sin in your life that's way Jesus said he who is with out sin cast the first stone.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:12 am |
    • Johan S

      If you elect someone else, it'll just mean you elect someone who has sins you don't know about. Don't be naive. Herman Cain almost got elected by you fools when he too has extra marital stuff in his background. Giving money to women without his wife's knowledge. What happened to family budgets? I guess evangelicals don't know the story about "let him without sin cast the first stone".

      December 11, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • Jim Bob

      I wouldn't not vote for Gingrich because of infidelity. But, dumping your wife, WHILE she's cancer-ridden, in the hospital? This guy is scary. I just can't imagine how anyone would vote for him. And, if the goal is to beat Obama, then I REALLY wouldn't understand voting for Gingrich...

      December 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  3. Don McGrath

    Let us not forget that while Newt Gingrich is not the perfect candidate and he's certainly not my first choice, ANYONE is a better choice than Obama. I would vote for Homer Simpson before I EVER vote for Obama again.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • Joseph B

      Don – you did not vote for Obama. Please stop this lie.
      And you honestly think "anybody" is better than Obama? Really? Would you prefer Nancy Pelosi? Can you coherently discuss 5 actions that Obama has taken that you dislike?

      December 11, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • TheDudeAbides

      Pishaw. Obama will run over the fat man like a freight train.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • rubrdz

      That remains to be seen

      December 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  4. Ronen Newmark

    Smear piece by CNN. Why don't we talk about all those step by step detailed videos showing that Obama's birth certificate in Adobe Acrobat PDF file format, has layers of Adobe Illustrator fabricated additions into it? I guess CNN is more concerned with keeping their own guy in office. CNN, the Con News Network.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:52 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      What relevance does this have to the topic at hand? I appreciate you see conspiracies everywhere you look, and do not knock you for it. But at least say on topic. This piece is highlighting a conflict within the GOP between the evangelical right and their dilema of choosing between an admitted adulterer (purely factual) and someone who is most likely unelectable (everyone else).

      I do not see how this piece in any way shows bias for or against a political party but merely is pointing out one of the more interesting ideas facing the GOP in this election.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Why is this a smear piece by CNN? Did you watch the debate – I did. CNN had nothing to do with organizing the debate! The moderators asked questions directly about this issue and *Republicans* took massive swipes at Newt. Perry, and most other hopefuls, have made faith a major issue. They have opened Pandora's Box and will only have themselves to blame if/when it costs them the White House.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • MaryM

      Ronen, you really need to take your meds

      December 11, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Jon

      ... *sigh*. You guys are hopeless.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Delusional hallucinations are not something you should be proud of.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  5. Jake90

    Newt is going to be like John Kerry: no one will vote for him.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:51 am |
  6. wial

    He'd need to repent his fundamental political positions, which for a lot of more conscious people are morally repugnant. Personally, I find the idea poor kids should do child labor in schools to be pathological. What next, turn them back into chimney sweeps?

    His politics is worse than his personal life or his political corruption as a lobbyist, which is saying something. Forget all his venal behavior and rank hypocrisy, just look at what he holds to be truly. Frankly, as he would say, he's a dangerous sociopath.

    Nor do we need another Nixon. The only thing worse than a stupid republican is a clever one.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:49 am |
  7. Jason

    What? I associate with all kinds, and I don't know anyone who intends to vote for Newt. Does anyone know of anyone who will vote for him? Do these people actually exist?

    December 11, 2011 at 3:38 am |
    • Ben

      I know pleanty of people who would never consider voting for romney or Obama. That leaves Gingrich by process of elimination. However I doubt these people will bother to vote at all since they dont actually like any of the candidates.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  8. Lee

    Wow.... This vile hypocrite is the perfect republican, complete with his phony unchristlike right wing "Christianity" in service of bigotry and southern racism and segregation.

    However as vile as the Newt may be, he is at least less slippery than that empty wall street suit, Mitt Romney. Newt embodies all of the excesses of modern republicanism, and represents more than Romney's wall street. Therefore, Newt deserves the nomination. Newt is "Mr. Republican".

    December 11, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • SoCal70

      Oh please. I'm not even a fan of Romney and I'd rather see him win this than experience the possibility of 4-8 years of Gingrich politics and lies(I know, no difference). Get a clue.

      December 11, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  9. Follix

    That's a bit sad that political campaign of the most powerful country in the world revolve about fairy tales stories.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • Bruce

      True dat...

      December 11, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  10. Clive

    Before Richard Land writes a letter advising anyone to repent of anything he should repent of his monumental arrogance, his lack of love, and the manner in which he wastes the money of the those who unwittingly fund his personal kingdom.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  11. allenwoll

    Newt will ALWAYS be Newt ! !

    December 11, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  12. BU

    All religion is a DISEASE! Be part of the solution, not the problem!!!!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • Mavent

      "Religion" isn't magic, you idiot. The problem is human nature. Some people, like you and Newt, are just naturally d0uchebags.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • Eddie Hurley

      Religion is but serving God is not Jesus Christ in your heart will alway's do the right thing do be blinded by religion is what everybody thinks i want to no what Jesus Christ thinks. That's how the devil blinds you he get's you looking at religion

      December 11, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  13. bluemax77

    This country and its religious B.S – no wonder China’s kicking our collective dumb as$‘s...

    December 11, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • Bruce

      amen to that

      December 11, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  14. Nancy

    Gee, I wonder why George wasn't commenting on this article... especially given his definitive pronouncements regarding Christian morality and sin, vis a vis atheists. So, all a Christian has to do is say "Oops, my bad... I really repent and love God now, so we're cool, right?" and everything immoral and venal that he's ever done is immediately forgotten? All that matters is what a Christian PROFESSES to believe and all is forgiven?? See, that's the problem I have with Christianity as a whole – that one can continue to lie, cheat, steal, philander and whatever else one wishes, just as long as one remembers to make nice with their deity on their appointed day of worship.

    Given the fact that evangelicals and fundamentalists are so determined to legislate their morality upon EVERYONE, I find this more than a little scary. On the one hand, people like George are saying that "sin is sin" and the sinners will burn in hell. On the other hand, the "prominent evangelicals' cited in this article are saying that Uncle Newtie has repented and is all done sinning, so everything's fine – and he deserves the opportunity to make laws telling the rest of the nation how to be moral. How do rational people reconcile this??

    Oh, wait. I just answered my own question. Rational people DON'T reconcile this. Rational people see the hypocrisy for what it is and eschew it, as they should. Rational people will run screaming from Uncle Newtie's candidacy and the Repugnant Right will be left floundering yet again, thank Baal!!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Eddie Hurley

      you can alway's tell when some one has repented they won't do it any more if they do then they haven't they may have sad the works but not repented. Look what Paul done but after he met Jesus Christ he give his life for him. he never done anything but preach Jesus Christ. Cain and able both was religion's but Cain done it his way Able done it God's way and it got him kill by the false religion that same religion kill all the prophet's and Jesus Christ and will kill the Truth today both are religion's

      December 11, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Nancy ... of course ol' Newt is a hypocrite. Just like the old joke - How can you tell when a politician is lying? He's talking. He doesn't have my vote. The more these idiots cling to a "faith" and tell you how important it is in their life, the less I hear them. As much as I hate everyone running for this ofice, I think i have a solution. Instead of all of them telling us how much 'god' means to them, why don't we just eliminate the middleman? EVERYONE take your ballot, and write in 'god' on that ballot. Let's see who or what takes the oath of office on Jan. 20th, 2013.
      @ Eddie ... Please, learn to use proper grammatical English. No one will take you seriously when you construct your sentences as you did. Learn what an apostrophe is really for, and PLEASE, study the tenses for the verb "do". You must have wun uv doze kath-lick edju-ma-kay-shuns don't ya?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Nancy

      @Mirosal – I was just getting ready to head to bed and saw your response... and almost died trying to laugh silently so I didn't wake the whole house!! I, too, would be GREATLY interested in seeing just what/who would step up to take the reins if such a thing came to pass. Thanks for the best silent giggle I've had in a long time!

      December 11, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • HotAirAce

      There is no need for George to comment here as he is already on record as saying he will suspend his moral absolutism and vote for Newt (if Newt becomes the GOP nominee).

      December 11, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Bruce

      maybe that's why Newt converted to Catholicism- there's a longer and known history of sinners- even bishops and cardinals with mistresses- simply converting on their deathbeds and, bam!, all is forgiven and straight to heaven you go. If you think about it, the Catholic church is the perfect place for a guy like Newt. I only wonder why it took him so long to think of it. Could you imagine the sins he would have committed if he had discovered Catholicism years ago...

      December 11, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Yacob

      Nancy, You don't have any answers.....your brain is in the way.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Charleston Voice

    Are you a Neoconista groupie? When a candidate's morals & character don't matter to you, you might be:

    Graphic Chart History of 20th Century Communism in America

    Don't be a Neoconista groupie!

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/10/MNL81MB0FG.DTL#ixzz1gCcjkemI

    December 11, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      I am not sure what point you are making here or how you are adding to the discussion with this. Are you saying everyone who does not agree with you is a communist? Or are just using incendiary language as an example of the most extreme example possible?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  16. HotAirAce

    It is going to be highly entertaining to watch believers throw away their beliefs and Babbles to vote for Newt.

    Maybe there is something to the end times and Anti-Christ stories. Will have to check in with Marilyn Agee to get the latest analysis and predictions.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  17. Reality

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    All the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    December 11, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • MaryM

      WOW, take you meds and go back to bed

      December 11, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Co-ntraceptive Use


      January 2008


      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]
      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a contraceptive method.[2]
      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use contraceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had inte-rcourse have used at least one contraceptive method.[2](and men?)
      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)
      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inter-course; or are not s-exually active.[2]
      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using contraceptives.[2] (and men?)
      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception.[2] (and men?)

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice contraception use reversible methods, such as oral contraceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]


      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unplanned pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method Typical
      Pill (combined) 8.7
      Tubal sterilization 0.7
      Male condom 17.4
      Vas-ectomy 0.2
      Periodic abstinence 25.3
      Calendar 9.0
      Ovulation Method 3.0
      Sympto-thermal 2.0
      Post-ovulation 1.0
      No method 85.0"
      (Abstinence) 0
      (Mas-turbation) 0

      More facts about co-ntraceptives from

      Con-traceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002
      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users

      Pill 11,661 30.6
      Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).
      0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =
      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level):

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Guttmacher Insti-tute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Bottom Line #1: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      Bottom line #2-
      Currently, a perfect barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one! In the meantime, mono-ma-sturbation or mutual ma-sturbation are highly recommended for hete-rose-xuals who need a contraceptive. Abstinence is another best-solution but obviously the se-x drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • andrew

      Crazy season is sure in full swing! In this day and age, do people still vote for Republicans?

      December 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  18. Happy dance

    I'm first

    December 11, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  19. tallulah13

    Gingrich's religion is Gingrich. The guy has never displayed anything but the most cynical self-interest.

    December 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  20. Ironicus

    A pro-Gingrich puff piece by Dan Gilgof? I didn't know you were a Catholic, Dan.
    This explains much, like that puff piece for the Pope where you blocked all comments for three days. Yeah.
    Doesn't look good, Dan. You're trying too hard to sell Newt. He's a sleazeball and everyone knows it.
    Perhaps you should research some of the things he has said over the years instead of trying to write a glossed over resume for him. It looks like you have no shame.

    December 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
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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.