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. me

    Only God knows what's forgiven and what isn't. However, from our perspective, the only real question is "Will he be a good President?" Clinton was a great President ... not a very good husband, but that's not our place to judge. We should only judge Newt from political and economic perspectives. Then again, the question remains as to whether or not he can be trusted, and trust is important.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • T Lane

      Newt's messy life doesn't compare to Clinton. Newt left his wife for the other woman. Newt marry the woman he had an affair with. It's quite disgusting.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  2. Todd P

    "Has Gingrich Repented Enough?"

    If sincere – once is enough in the eyes of God.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:01 am |
    • Sir Ron

      But that is the real question ... "If He Is Sincere"? When we study the Bible, you will find that repentance must be accompanied with sorrow, remorse and regret. It also involves making rectification for what has been done. First he needs to make amends with his wives whom he has wronged. The Bible teaches that one must go to the person who you wronged to make amends. Newt gave an apology( or so called) to the American people, but the one(or ones) he need to apologize to is his wives. Until he has done that, then his so-called repentance remains in question.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • LinCA

      @Todd P

      You said, ""Has Gingrich Repented Enough?"
      If sincere – once is enough in the eyes of God.

      It is entirely irrelevant whether he has actually repented, and if he did, whether it was sincere. The only thing that matters is whether the evangelical christians think he did in large enough numbers to get him the nomination.

      Your god doesn't give a crap, 'cause he only exists in your imagination.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  3. Aaron

    Hypocrites! The lot of them! They talk about the importance of choosing morally upright, christian leaders and then throw their weight behind a thrice married adulterating catholic who cheated on one of his wives while she was laying in her sickbed stricken with cancer. They are turning a blind eye to Newt's past and talking about forgiveness for one reason only: because they want Obama out and they are running out of people who they think can do it. The pickings are getting slim and they've tossed their values aside like luxuries one can ill afford in hard times.

    December 11, 2011 at 5:01 am |
    • MoeL

      @Aaron...I agree with you. The GOP/TBags have no shame. The Lizard will not get away with his ugly lifestyle, including not only his personal life, but his past political life. The Lizard is only one reason I dislike relgion mixing with politics. Sorry Conservatives/Bags, you cannot pray away this one...nice try through!

      December 11, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Bruce

      Aaron- I think you meant some form of the noun, adulterer- but adulterating is pretty darn funny! Good on ya, mate!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • hmmm...

      Ahhh...the simplicity of life. What baffles me is how good people complain when bad people treat others poorly and in doing their complaining they act as the bad people did or do. By what you condemn you paint the picture you are good but in how you act I see another texture that is not good at all. I tend to think Newt is much the same- he is a mixture of good and bad as we all are. In this case, however, I find greater fault in your goodness because he has not spoke ill of you and how you lead your life yet you feel the need to speak ill of him and how he leads his. Your is the greater fault but, then again, you will not see it that way – in some ways you exhibit the basis for what allows Newt to do what you find so intolerable. Hmmm...

      December 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. cameo35

    ....................... JUST THROW IN THE TOWEL REPUBLICANS ! OBAMA HAS 2012 IN THE BAG !............................................................................BESIDE TO YOU RELIGIOUS HYPICRITS OUT THERE BASHING GINGRICH..." HE WHO WITHOUT SIN . CAST THE FIRST STONE "......

    December 11, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  5. Lars J

    We are witnessing history – in our lifetime the gulf between Catholics and Protestantism is being healed for political and secular goals. The wound is almost healed. How surprised Luther and the reformers would be if they were to see this day. Jesus is certainly returning soon. Political Christians hate faithful married men like former President Carter, but love secular men like Gingrich because he shares their view and goals.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • David

      well said, my friend. well said

      December 11, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  6. Lars J

    We are witnessing history – in our lifetime the gulf between Catholics and Protestantism is being healed for political and secular goals. The wound is almost healed. How surprised Luther and the reformers would be if they were to see this day. Jesus is certainly returning soon.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  7. Tracy

    Sounds like Newtie will choose whatever religion is convenient at the moment. I understand converting to another religion, but to convert from Lutheran to Southern Baptist to Catholic is highly unusual. The excuse that he seemed to choose the religion common to the region he was in does make sense. It also points to someone who's not committed to their beliefs, but changes to fit in where he's at. That's not being faithful, that's being opportunistic.

    Even before this article, I would never, ever vote for Newt and I certainly never will now!

    December 11, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  8. Butch Hinton

    Put those poor students to work in the schools for the head janitor , say Sandusky or the highest bidder for the coveted position ? Those that can't work should donate blood to sell on the world market for other warring nations. Enlist the underpriveleged girls as morale builders in brothels as well , for those who serve the masters agenda . Yea it stimulates the economy as well as the imagination. I wonder if Jesus is truly watching as we self destruct ?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • HotAirAce

      It seems logical that teachers should make more than janitors but I don't think that is an absolute, that the most experienced and competent janitor must make less than any teacher. That being said, while Newt's plan might be good for a school's balance sheet and the child janitors, it would likely be devastating to the janitors thrown out of work and their families, would drive up unemployment and would likely increase the load on ent!tlement and social support programs. I'm not saying teacher/janitor pay scales should not be re-balanced, just that this a very simplistic, but headline getting, way to deal with a problem and does not deal with even the most obvious consequences.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  9. CJ

    So he basically put his work life ahead of his personal life. Ok...we expect that from our public safety professionals and military on a daily basis...but not our President? That makes sense....

    December 11, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  10. Jim Stanek

    Funny how Barack Obama is an Evangelical Christian, has never cheated on his wife and yet the Evangelicals crucify him daily and call his faith into question because of his political views. Not to mention the facts that he is black. Funny, too, how had Obama been elected President 150 years ago the same Southern Baptists who call his faith into question today would have been trying to figure out which of them owned his ass before he ran for office. I really wish they'd rename their religion "Baptist Southern" so their initials would match their pedigree. What a crock of bull...

    December 11, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Nice insight. It is true that religious beliefs take a back seat when it comes to determining who will receive their support. Not only must you agree with 100% of their ideas, you must also be willing to enforce those beliefs on a country founded on freedom and where the separation of church and state is clearly defined. The fact that someone agrees with your beliefs is simply not enough. Instead you need to also prove you will tell others how to live their lives as well.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:57 am |
    • Bruce

      Jim, you are the man. Well stated!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • ket

      Well said, well said. I am a US citizen living in Canada and if Newty is elected, I will think seriously of becoming a Canadian citizen. At this time, I can vote for my federal representative, my Federal senators and yes MY PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  11. Laddergoat

    This man will never be anything but a slimy amphibian in my book. I hope the average voter feels the same way.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:29 am |
  12. OrangeW3dge

    Why don't they just nominate God himself and save a lot of time for themselves, because no mere mortal will ever satisfy that mindset.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  13. MC

    Newt talks about a “media-academic-legal elite” while promoting religious government. This is an old and silly argument. I am a middle-class working professional, hardly elite, and I sure as heck won't let these zealots try to impose religious governance on a country founded on individual liberties and separation of church and state. The real threat is the "fundamentalist-nationalistic elite."

    December 11, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  14. TheLord

    Don't ya love biblethumpers, sin as much as you want and then "repent" and alls well, if your a republican of course, lol

    December 11, 2011 at 4:23 am |
  15. Buncha Loonies

    What a bunch of kooks. Repent "enough?" Since when was this a requirement to be president?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  16. The Murf

    Gingrich is just running for president to sell more books; pure and simple. Also, if he manages to pick up the nomination, Obama will clean his clock in the elections.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • chaz8181

      Just remember that the Evangelicals have the bible on their side and the bible is always right and the evangelicals are therefore ALWAYS right. So read the bible and then you will know why Newt is always right.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  17. noblue

    Apparently politics are more important than morality for evangelicals. What else would make them even consider supporting a serial adulterer?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • Edwin

      ...because he isn't Mormon?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:36 am |
  18. Johan S

    The question "should divorcees have the right to marry?" should be number one on the evangelicals "list of important issues facing America" .. right above the number two issue "should gay people have the right to marry".


    December 11, 2011 at 4:10 am |
  19. NCBluebird

    It's very interesting how Evangelicals and other conservative Christians insist over and over that gay people should turn from their sin and then live a totally celibate life. For some reason, though, oddly, Newt Gingrich gets to keep the spoils of his transgressions and continue his adulterous but cozy life with his latest wife. Apparently strict Bilblical interpretation doesn't mean quite as much when it's an inconvenience to the right-wing cause.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  20. bigfoot

    Newt could spend the REST OF HIS LIFE on his knees in repentance and it wouldn't be enough for leaving his wife while she was possiby dying of cancer while she was hospitalized. This makes what Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky look purely evangelical.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:01 am |
    • Edwin

      You forget - Clinton's problem with Lewinsky was not infidelity. And it wasn't lying under oath - contrary to what the GOP said at the time. Clinton's real transgression was being a very popular non-GOP president, and denying the mainline GOP'ers a second term with George Bush.

      Likewise, Gingrich's real issue is that he made the GOP look bad when he shut down the government. Evangelicals may gripe about his cheating, over and over, maybe even question the hypocrisy that he attacked Clinton for infidelity while engaging in it himself, but in the end they don't care. If he says now he was wrong, all is forgiven, because of his political affiliation.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Ralph 100

      I found it funny during the debate when Newt zinged one of the other candidates (mostly Romney) he would wink at his wife as to say "did you see that, wasn't I great". His wife just about breaks her neck to get on the stage after the debates to make sure she is there when the cameras are rolling. Newt may be proud of her because she is 23 years younger than the old out of shape coot, but she is about as ridiculous as he is.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:10 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.