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. drod3

    Women everywhere – Is a cheater always a cheater? – Yes
    Wife 1 -Is a cheater always a cheater? Answer – Yes
    Wife 2 -Is a cheater always a cheater? Answer – Yes
    Wife 3- Is a cheater always a cheater? Answer – Hmmmm

    December 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Get Real

      Sounds like you are talking about Bill Clinton, minus the 2 extra wives.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • E

      Bill Clinton did not try to claim moral superiority to others while cheating.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Get Real

      No, he just lied and ran up a 4 million dollar price tag for legal council on the backs of the US taxpayer.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      4M pales in comparison to the cost (lives and money) that Dubya's lies have cost.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  2. quietye

    The last President evangelicals were credited for putting in office was George Bush.

    Here we go again???

    December 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  3. panhermes

    NG as in no good old political hot air balloon ~ a DIVIDER with no idea how to fix the many challenges confronting the USA. All the hubbub servers only as a distraction from an open real debate on solving ISSUES> Where among this group of posers is one UNITER?

    December 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Handofdoom

    looking at the faith , well Newt Gingrich might have faith in one thing . Giving the illegal immigrants Citizenship , even if the Citizens feel it is wrong ! Newt Gingrich there NO way I would vote for you on that reason by it self !

    December 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • The Canadian, ...eyh...

      Then what EXACTLY is YOUR plan to get all the American crops harvested ? Do you know how many US crops rotted in the fields this fall because there was NOBODY to harvest them ? Your economy would FALL APART without them. Get your head OUT OF YOUR ASS !

      December 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  5. Ancient Curse

    This article is a great example of why separation of church and state is so important, and why the mixing of the two is so insane. A bunch of self-appointed religious leaders are going to decide who is most proper to vote for? No. Back into your hole, shaman.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  6. DaveI

    All this questioning is for nothing...If Gingrich get's the nomination then Republicans will vote for him. Republicans will vote for whoever the Republican candidate is. Republicans do not jump ship. If they nominated Charles Manson they would justify it in their minds and tell themselves "well he's better than the Democrat". Whether this guy ate babies for breakfast it doesn't matter...If he get's the Republican nomination Republicans will vote for him (And they'll justify it in their mind). That's just the way it is with Republicans. No matter who they run they will have at least the solid 40 percent Republican vote (And a good percentage of the malcontent independent vote as well).

    December 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • T Lane

      Well said...

      December 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • E

      They have done a great job with the systematic villianizing of Obama. They showed clearly under Bush that repeating the same lie over and over works. Most people cannot say what they do not like about Obama without repeating word for word specific phrases repeated by Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and company. The day after inauguration they had people convinced that Obama caused the economic collapse a year before he was elected...

      December 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  7. allens

    he can repent all he wants for the cameras. the bottom line is, he is a very sleezy person. he is imoral and uncaring of the american citizens. i do not know how many times this must be brought to the voters attention. we need quality candidates, be they dems or republicans. while i do not see obama as being 100%, he is better than all in the running. we can do better

    December 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  8. Wanderer81

    Gingrich is going to tell ANYONE what they want to hear...including God. Has nothing to do with "belief".

    December 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • olboy

      " RON PAUL 2012 "

      December 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  9. Spencer

    There's no way Newt wins over Obama in the general election.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  10. hemmingway

    Good night

    December 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Where are you posting from? India?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  11. Bob

    Shouldn't the voters be more concerned about the 37 million dollars he's taken from the Health Care industry after he (over a decade before "Obamacare") pushed for the individual insurance mandate. Or how about the millions in kickbacks from Freddie and Fannie for getting the regulations changed that allowed for the financial meltdown of 2008 that caused all our 401k to halve in value? This the GOP's savior?

    December 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • E

      LOL, why would Fundamentalists bother with facts? Those only get in the way of the self righteous hypocrisy.

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

    I am a very religious Christian and generally Republican, but yeah, sorry, I had had it with the Evangelical "Christians" even before this. You can't embrace a committed, family-oriented, loyal, scandal-free guy like Romney, but you're willing to even entertain debate on whether Gingrich is okay for the Republican nomination. Sorry, but you folks are a bunch of wanna-be religious loonies.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Why are you a Christian?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • T Lane

      I don't think the "Evangelicals" are true Christians. Nothing about this makes sense. I think they are a bunch of racist. We'll take a "dog" pun-intended over a "black"

      December 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Uh-huh. Sure. The election is still a long way away. You aren't a fortune-teller.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ugh. This reply was intended for the next post.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  13. Nicoli Pi

    the hypocrisy is overwhelming. Gingrich makes my head spin.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. Get Real

    Newt will eat Obama's lunch when they debate!!

    December 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      I am sure he will try. Who doesn't love pizza?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • idiot

      Debate skills are irrelevant to running a country.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Newt doesn't look as though he's missed many chances to eat everybody's lunch...

      December 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Get Real

      You are right about debate skills Idiot. Just look at Obama!!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Get Real, you may have some valid points and you are certainly enti tled to your opinion, but your posts are just mean spirited and boring.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Get Real

      Oh I'm sorry if I offended you. But stop insulting me!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • jean2009

      First Newtie would need to be the one in the debate...that is still a big question.
      Then Newtie would need to get his facts straight about which way he is blow(harding) that day.
      Then he and you might be in for the biggest surprise of both of your lives.
      Obama-Biden 2012

      December 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Get Real

      Jean2009? I got news for you baby...obama is 1 and Done!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  15. signalfire

    This questionable character, along with all the others you keep seeing on stage, is not our only choice.

    Please investigate Gary Johnson, former 2 term governor of New Mexico, and the first person to file his candidacy, is non-religious and says you will never hear him citing god (how refreshing) and believes the best government is one that empowers people. He has not been 'allowed' in all but 2 debates, and one has to wonder why his name has not even been included on most polls. Who decided he was not also a valid candidate, and are you going to let the pollsters and sites such as this decide who we get to vote for? The 'magic underwear' and 'I have repented' people and even Ron Paul are not our only choices!

    December 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      We have an intelligent, caring president right now. Give Obama four more years to finish his job, and a congress that won't filibuster every bill.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    "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."

    According to the doctrine of the German reformers and the Early Church re-baptism is a crime.

    Infant baptism is valid. Yet infants can believe, because faith is not a matter of reason, but of the influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ blessed infants and infants celebrated a worship service for Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, when Jesus was rejected by the scribes and Pharisees. John the Baptist yet converted in the womb of his mother Elisabeth.

    Regretably the mainline churches, which keep the doctrine of infant baptism, are befallen by the heresy of the cheap grace.
    We cannot escape the cheap grace by re-baptism, which is a crime, but by refering to our first baptism, which was a call for discipleship.

    If you have received infant baptism, just start to follow Jesus today, but don't get re-baptized.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Getting wet is a crime?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • The Canadian, ...eyh...

      If faith is because of the"influence of the Holy Spirit", then how about stopping all this prechy-weachy crap. If your Holy Bird wants to "infulence" me, then he will. I guess he doesn't want to. I generally watch out for "low-flying" birds.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Ungodly Discipline

      I suppose that Gingrich was baptised twice: He received infant baptism (Lutheran) and adult baptism (Baptists). The baptism by the Baptists was a crime. In the Early Church there was the rebaptism controversy, which led to the decision that rebaptism got prohibited.

      The infant baptism of the denominations, which belong to the Christian Church, is valid and mustn't be repeated.

      For example: Former I was a Roman Catholic and now I am a Protestant. I need no rebaptism. Luther was not rebaptized (Luther also was a Catholic, before he became the Archprotestant).

      December 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Rainer, go arrest that son of a be-otch! Go! Now!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • older sista

      You're wrong about every single thing you've said here. Conversion, or being re-born involves the CHOICE to ask the Holy Spirit to take up residence inside your body. The early church considered rebaptism illegal?? What 'early' church? The apostles never thought of it. In the Bible?? Quote the chapter and verse.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Sam

      You are conflating Protest traditions. NG's Lutheran baptism as an infant would not have been seen as valid by the Baptists. In the first place, Lutherans do not baptize by immersion, and it is a requirement for Baptists. In the second case, Baptists do not practice infant baptism, and only baptize believing adults. Therefore, from the Baptist point of view, he was not re-baptized. He was initially, correctly, baptized. I'm not even a Protestant, and I know that. Why don't you. Having a set of personal beliefs if fine, being ignorant of other's beliefs is not.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  17. Scott G

    This just in! Intelligent voters could give a flying squirrel f@&$ what evangelical leaders think of a POLITICAL CANDIDATE!!!

    December 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • DenverJ

      Amen Scott! The church, any church, has no business endorsing any candidate. I grew up in a moderate Republican where politics and policy were discussed and debated, but never mixed with religion. And AGuest9, I too was seriously considering Huntsman, be he's caved-in to the wacko Right, faster than an unsafe coal mine in China! There are no reasonable intellects in the Republican Party.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  18. Jim DeLapp

    I am a conservative but these far right judgmental whackos have to go. We are electing a congress and a president, Not Jesus and the 12 apostles. There is a VERY good reason for separation of church and state. You want someone with good morals and ethics but sometimes those are learned the hard way by doing something stupid. and then learning from it. We are electing HUMANS we have to have a capacity to forgive inconsequential stuff and move FORWARD

    December 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Spencer

      I agree 100%. It seems lpeople now a days are either extremely right or left. What happened to being reasonable and somewhere in the middle?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Spencer: I think the majority are exactly where you are, in the middle ground, wondering if there's any sanity left. There's plenty of sanity still out there - it just makes for boring news, so it gets no coverage. It's the loudmouth wackos that get the attention.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • older sista

      Yes and besides that, as the other candidates are tooting their own horn about the long life of their own marriages, they should probably take note that half the country is made up of divorced people and another third are couples who haven't bothered to get married at all. Their bragging could backfire on them.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  19. JAG0419

    I don't know which is scarier. The thought that this slimey eel of a human being actually has a shot at becoming President or the fact that these evangelical nut jobs control these Republican candidates like Pinnochio on a string.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Get Real

      Just like The Rev. WRIGHT controlled Obama?!!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  20. Jude

    this man is an idiot..worse, an idiot allowed to maintain power in spite of his awfulness. our country would really take a huge step down the dark alley with this guy. OBAMA 2012, the only person out there that remotely cares about the average american person, child, youth, grandparent, community and land. equally and with justice for all as best as can be done by a human under constant attack, probably since he was a child.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I was looking at Huntsman, but he started talking about lowering the corporate tax rate, further widening the debt, then gutting the FDA and the EPA and doing away with ObamaCare to balance it. We need NO more corporate welfare! THEY were the ones who outsourced all of the nation's manufacturing jobs under Reagan and created the abysmal trade deficit!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Get Real

      Hey Jude.... Obama cares? OMG!

      December 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • older sista

      Oh boo-flippin'-hoo. Obama was the darling of the world and the media. I don't trust him or his 'dead-eyed- wife AT ALL. It will take a God in heaven to save us from four more yrs. of his 'LEADERSHIP.'

      December 11, 2011 at 1:10 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.