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. works4me

    So this is like the Catholic church. Go sin, get forgiveness, from someone that has probably sinned many times, to sin again. And then have their hand out at the confessional for 15% of your annual salary.
    Newt is as his name implies... a slimy newt!

    December 11, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  2. Carl

    Let me see if I have this correct. The Apostle Paul stated that he had to repent daily and I don't know anyone on Earth who doesn't, if they are Christian. As far as Newt's past infidelities, I seem to remember a president by the name of Clinton having problems with infidelity in the White House but yet people didn't have a problem with that. As a matter of fact, he was inpeached for lying to the Grand Jury but yet didn't leave office and everybody was ok with that too. So I guess it just depends on who the person is or what party they are from. People can change and if you don't believe it, look at ourselves.

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

      i seem to remember gingrich leading the investigation into clinton while having an adulterous affair at the same time.he was a hypocrite then as he is now.obama definetly isnt the best president but he will be a 2 term president if he runs against this man of high character

      December 11, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • queenbee

      Actually, few people change. We just like the sound of that. A man's character will out. Newt had to be kicked out due to his behavior and mindset in 1996. In 2011 his entire campaign staff walked out on him. What does that tell you? If you actually are listening? Think he really changed?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  3. Arran Webb

    Newt is definitely smarter and better informed than the other GOP candidates. If he keeps it polite he will out smart an Obama/Clinton team.

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

      The problem with the GOP -is that they keep forgetting. They are only 32% of the electorate. It is not the viability of Newt among the GOP –envangelical or otherwise–it does not matter if he is the CHOICE. Because the real deal is what we Indies think and what disgruntled Dems think. Pick someone too scary or divisive or crazy and Obama is back in again.
      Here's the deal -

      1. do the past acts of Newt color the way the other 68% of voters see the republican candidate?

      2. Do the issues Newt speaks to resonate with the other 68%

      Lately, the GOP has been going at things backwards–you keep picking who YOU like then hoping the rest of us will be persuaded to like or at least vote for that choice. It did not work for McCain. He was a possible, but combined with Palin–that sunk him. The GOP loved her–but the GOP does not have enough votes to put ANYONE in office.

      You have to convince us. I personally think Newt is intelligent but scary and possibly crazy. I also believe he is a liar a cheat and since he is a liar and a cheat–pretending repentance or contrition to further his own agenda is expected. I am not impressed. But I would like to know more of what he says. he is intriguing. As an independent , I am one of the votes to be courted.

      Keep in mind though, that Obama has been tied up in congressional gridlock due to a noncooperative GOP...I remember that with a majority, gingrich engineered tactics much like those playing out now and shut our government down twice. What had changed besides his tactics?

      December 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  4. mb2010a

    Gingrich will never win the nomination...or get anywhere near the White House. Way too much baggage. If a man or woman claims they were directed by God to run for President...they are automatically off my list of potential candidates. Gingrich won't make it past the first few primaries...the only electable candidate is Romney and he will be the last man standing when all the
    dust settles.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  5. Russ139

    Gingrich is neither conservative nor liberal, nor moderate. He is Gingrich – a person completley convinced that he is the only person that knows the all answers, that he is whatever the moment calls for. Or, he is the greatest charlatan -politician of our time.

    Kind of like that german coporal from the 1920s, who loved to write, and had strong opinions about the issues of his day. Truth is, Adolph H. really believed in nothing except his own undeniable wisdom about making his country the way he wanted to see it.

    Loose canons are never good for their country.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • queenbee

      10,000 LIKES and a long AMEN to that –very inciteful–I was thinking the same thing.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  6. scott

    I dont understand, why is a man who has been married three times, (an affair leading to the third) being considered as a top presidential candidate? He may be an educated man, and divorces are not always the fault of both parties, but give me a f$%in break! I was raised in a conservative family, college and the w. bush era made me an independent, and this last 2 years has made me into a non-believer. What does as a graduating college student have to look forward to now and days? Uncertainty, and a blurry outlook? You know, the number of college graduates who find a job after graduation has declined in recent years, but the average tuition of 4.9% has risen to 6.5% in the past decade! Not only is college tuition leaping ahead of inflation, but the average home price before the 2008 bubble was increasing far beyond average household income. Even a 2nd grader can realize that something is not right here.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • scott

      Not to mention the rise in commodities since the drop in 2008! The average prices are at or close to the levels before the 2008 bubble!!

      December 11, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  7. Greg C.

    Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...

    December 11, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • works4me

      Please spare us the drivel here. He, or we, are not running for POTUS

      December 11, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • NhAB

      So, Greg, you consider yourself to be without sin as it is clear you are casting the first stone with your comment.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Warren Talbot

      Why are you so insistent to turn this into a liberals attacking Newt issue? The whole point here is how does the Evangelical right justify giving their support to an adulterer. The left is not saying his cheating on his wife is an issue, it is the same group of evangelicals who seem more than comfortable telling everyone else how to live by their "family values". If they endorse Newt how can they ever stand in front of the country and use the phrase "family values" again in any argument.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Greg C.

      So Warren, who in your opinion, represents the right candidate here...who, is of such moral character that would make them the best qualified and righteous among all others...

      December 11, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Ron Paul should win 'cause he is the most entertaining and mentions religion the least, but he wants to change too much, too quickly. Perry is just too stupid. Newt and Romney are going to kick the sh!!t out of each other and fade. Huntsman (sp?) (and Romney) are Mormons and the evangelicals won't have that. Santorum is too naive and not well known. That leaves the GOP with Michele B, with her new found hero Herman Cain as VP. You are welcome!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • signalfire

      Maybe a Middle Ages type decision could be used. Strap him to a dunking chair and see if he drowns. If he drowns, he was innocent but will be in the arms of god. If he doesn't drown, he is a witch, and should be burned at the stake to cleanse his soul of his sins.

      Obviously, running the country is another issue. He would seem to be ill-suited to that job, given how badly he worked out as Speaker of the House.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • queenbee

      I think Mitt could win. I don't care for the man–but since republicans are too scared to put Ron Paul in–Mitt could win. I do not know if gingrich could win–but I do know if he does–the forays into moral and integrity decline that bush took us down, will be nothing to the free sale tumble down the rabbit hole of the Newt comes into power. It will not put this country back together–it will tear it apart and the National guard and Military law and rule will be close to being the order of the day–because Newt will try to enact draconian measures, the people will rebel and then HE in all his power will try to quell the dissent. If you think the country is falling apart–then Newt is a seam ripper that can make that happen FASTER. IMO.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  8. Observer

    Newt Gingrich is the poster child for Republican hypocrisy. If he is their nominee, we shouldn't ever hear about "family values", "Moral Majority", or ethics again.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Bruce

      Amen, brother.
      You said a mouthful.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  9. Russ139

    With evangelicals, it's all about "words". Say you've been Saved, and that's good enough for them. But that's true with all people. They use their religion to support their secular views.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • Greg C.

      Isn't that like saying there are no absolutes which we all know is in itself, an absolute...

      December 11, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • NhAB

      The only absolutes that exist are in physics regardless of the math. There are no moral absolutes.
      If there were moral absolutes then everyone would be born knowing them and we would need no Bible.
      Instead, we are taught the moral relativism of our caregivers and anyone else who feels like indoctrinating us as we grow up.
      The proof of moral relativism's universality is at every hand.
      Each culture brings its flavor to the mix of cult beliefs and regional traditions and we can see this everywhere in the world.

      To those of us who view child abuse as evil, the Catholic Church is a pit of horror and evil, and all the other "enablers" of child abuse are horrifically evil as well. Child abuse is supported by the Catholic Church.
      Anyone who says different is an obvious liar.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • Greg C.

      Intellectual masturbation...

      December 11, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • NhAB

      Greg, do you have an intelligent argument or are you too busy surfing for pictures of little boys on the internet?

      December 11, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Greg C.

      Such eloquence...

      December 11, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • NhAB

      The only absolutes that exist are in physics regardless of the math. There are no moral absolutes.
      If there were moral absolutes then everyone would be born knowing them and we would need no Bible.
      Instead, we are taught the moral relativism of our caregivers and anyone else who feels like indoctrinating us as we grow up.
      The proof of moral relativism's universality is at every hand.
      Each culture brings its flavor to the mix of cult beliefs and regional traditions and we can see this everywhere in the world.

      To those of us who view child abuse as evil, the Catholic Church is a pit of horror and evil.
      Child abuse is supported by the Catholic Church.
      Child abuse is an integral part of the Catholic Church.
      Millions of children have been horribly abused, many unto death, by the Catholic Church.
      Where are these moral absolutes, Greg?
      Where are the morals of your pedo-priests and why are they covered in sperm and blood from their victims?
      Tell me, Greg, how often did they have to "chastise" you before you learned how to enjoy it?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • queenbee

      Greg–in the separation of church and state–"church" should not even be allowed in the equation. it is not a matter of forgiveness it IS a matter of character and trust.

      Can we trust Newt? has he changed? 1996–his own party dumped him...2011 his own candidate team dumped him.

      Guess he has not changed.

      Can we trust him? He looks pretty religious and spiritual in that photo of 1996–that would be about the time he was lying to the American people ANd his wife and cheating on her while prosecuting Clinton.

      so he's a good actor and he says what anyone wants to hear. We get that. He is also very smart..we get that–he is also so scary that the venal within his own party were scared of him–we get that–sounds like a big FAT NO to Newt. He seems like a nightmare

      December 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  10. Smoker1

    I think that people should be allowed to define their own terms of forgiveness. Newt would forgive people the sin of coming to this country illegally after 25 years (and various other conditions). He should be forgiven for cheating on his wife after 25 years.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  11. Deep North

    There are an awful lot of Gods in here believing they can judge a man. Since when did God die and leave man in charge?

    December 11, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • Mirosal

      How can something that never was, die in the first place? He's like any other politcian... pandering to a lobbyist group, telling them exactly what they want to hear. Remember the definition of "lobbyist" ... lobbyists are 3 people coming into your office. Those 3 people represent 300 people. They want you to do one of three things. Introduce legislation, pass legislation, or amend legislation that benefits those 300 people while f*$#ing over the other 300 million in this contry.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • queenbee

      About the time, the right decided which sins were those to be remedied and mandated and forgot God's rule about all the other sins (the GOP goes after the abortion and gay rights issues and wants to make their position the rule of law. but ignores all the other hell achieving sins like lying, gossiping, coveting, backstabbing, fornication, divorce, adultery, etc)

      All the time Jesus was on earth–and not once did He try to go into politics or change the laws of the land. Not once did he forget the cornerstone of God's covenant with man is that of CHOICE and to leave accountablity to God not to men.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  12. LP

    these evangelical are making christianity a joke. Frankly, they are confuse and do not know what they believe in,
    Did these evangleical and so-call conservatives forgive Herman Cain, Bill Clinton and the long list of politicians who were accused of infedelity. Gingrich infedility brought down active and potential candidates and now the evangelical are saying "repent and promise you will not do it again" his promise would be as the saying goes a "promise is a comfort to a fool". On the issue of morality, christianity let compare what we know of Romney and Gingrich. Romney is a Morman all of his life , now thats strong faith. Gingrich, has no abiding city as far as religious faith is concern he skip from religious faith just as how skip from women to women. Gingrich is sick in his head, at the same time he was calling for clinton impeachment he was having affair with his aide. Evangelical and so-call conservative there is only one word to describe what you stand for and it is "HYPOCRACY" . This hypocracy unfortunately will set the precedent for other unsavory prospective presidential candidate to see themselves fit to run this country and get the support from these so-call christians. Voters, listen to gingrich speeches and it will tell you what this man is thinking. By the way are we trying to elect a president based upon how they perform in a debate? that is what it seems to be and if that is the basis then there are thousands of good debaters out there who are just as good or better than gingrich. Gingrich is erratic and i can just see if he is elected the US will be pulled into another Major military conflict. I am a democrat and voted for Barak and had intended to vote republican but if gingrich is the nominee hell NO! A matter of fact since his possible nomination is based on his debating skills remember he is going up against A Brilliant president who is going to cruch gingrich, he has so much baggage it is scary . the democratic party and Barak I know right now are preparing for the second inauguration ball. With the state of this country any republican candidate other than gingrich would win barak obama. Baraks voting base is very unhappy but if gingrich is the republican candidate rest assure they are going to stick to obama. Congratulation mr obama on your second term.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • NewWatch

      Double standard! Willing to forgive Newt but not Bill Clinton!

      December 11, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • queenbee

      these people know EXACTLY what to believe in: the ability to pimp belief and to use religion to ultimately achieve power and money. Which is exactly what a pimp does with a woman–exploit for personal gain. I think they have the system down pat.

      December 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  13. John

    Evangelicals and their doctrine are the greatest danger to the freedoms and rights of the people of the United States. They are absolutely no different that the fundamentalists of Islamic faith in their quest for purity of faith to some deity. One only has to study the historical accounts of the Spanish inquisition to know the extent that Christian faith will go to achieve its goal.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  14. HB

    FUNNY! Left wing CNN now asks the question "Has Newt repented enough"... But as usual, they hide behind terms like – "many are saying..." or "many think that..." or in this case, " There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals...".

    Hey Dan – Just exactly how are you getting access to the email accounts of our "leading evangelicals"???

    Hey Dan – Newt isn't a Southern Baptist, he is a Catholic. His penance is therefore between himself and his priest...
    Hey Dan – I see no mention of Ted (where's my pants) Kennedy, who annulled his marriage even after fathering three children?
    Hey Dan – Why does JFK get a pass in your article?
    Hey Dan – Why does Bill Clinton ALSO get a pass?

    Dan – If you knew anything about Catholics, you'd know that confession and penance is between Newt and his God (through his priest). How in the world did you get to be a CNN "Religion editor" without knowing that?

    You know Dan, "many think" that Obama is bankrupting our once great nation. He has piled up more debt than any other president in history. Obama's entire economic team has left the White House. 'Many think" that the entire economic team became disgusted with the arrogance of Obama.

    As for Obama's religion... remember his pastor Jeremiah Wright? Well, Dan, next November, the chickens will come home to roost...

    December 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • MightyMoo

      "Hey Dan – Why does Bill Clinton ALSO get a pass?"

      Because Clinton was a liberal Democrat and unlike Gingrich wasn't overly a faith and family values kind of guy even though he's managed to stay with his first wife. Point of irony, Gingrich was cheating with wife number 3 while going after Clinton during the Lewinsky issue. People complain about this and that for Obama but one area he's hit a home run on is family values so far and has Gingrich beat by a mile since he's still happily married to his first wife.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • Deep North

      His penance is between Newt and God. The priest is just a man and can do nothing for him.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • Jon

      CNN is not asking the question. Evangelicals are asking the question and CNN is reporting on it. Hey HB!

      December 11, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • queenbee

      why would a man repent to another man and not directly to God? Especially since the bible says every man should come to God for himself and that only the Holy Spirit is intercessionary AND that Jesus despises those who use layity to reach Him.

      Why does God need middlemen and human middle men at that?

      December 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Heidi

    This man is the devil himself...

    December 11, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • Greg C.

      Uh...that's Obama you are speaking about...

      December 11, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • MightyMoo

      @Greg C.

      At least Obama is still on his first wife happily unlike Gingrich.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Greg C.

      I don't care if Obama is on or under his first wife...seriously, Obama is no rose and he's certainly two-faced.

      December 11, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • mb2010a

      And I will still be voting or Obama in 2012...

      December 11, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Johnny wazhere

      @Greg C.Uh...that's Obama you are speaking about...
      Nope, She was talking about NEWT

      December 11, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  16. general

    Whatever gets you through the day is fine by me.

    Oh and Ron Paul agrees with me

    December 11, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  17. BD70

    Newt is the one to cleanse the white house? Cleanse it of what? I forgive Newt....I just don't trust Newt.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:42 am |
    • Mirosal

      He'll just fire all the White House aides and rehire them all as janitors, just like in his educational plan.

      December 11, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Greg C.

      No, he would just hire teachers because they would be making better wages as janitors according to Union rules...

      December 11, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • SnehGbe

      CNN and the likes are working feverishly to give Gingrich a free pass to the presidency. They are now resorting to religion to clear the path. We are hearing bs like "repentance", "born-again". And this goon in this article talks about Newt's conversion to Catholicism is based on the Chruch's historical staying power and intellectualism = a coded message HISTORY, INTELLECTUALISM... that's pumping up Newt, right there! The American People better wake up and ward off the tsunami of hypocricy coming at them! I would be a mistake to, all of a suddend, start runing thing country on lies! Indeed, unfortunate. WAKE UP AMERICA!

      December 11, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  18. Brian

    Didn't this piece of crap make one of his wires sign divorce papers on her death bed?

    December 11, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      would that have been a live wire?

      December 11, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  19. Mickey

    Not one person standing on that stage would be good for The People, for which the Government works! (Yeah, right - and if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!)

    Dotun, get a job!! Don't pretend to be Christian - they have a horrible background of murder and abuse against too many people to mention!!

    Ask a Native 'American' if s/he believes in the USA government ...

    America needs to stop believing in the bull that we've been fed for over 3 centuries!!

    December 11, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  20. Sandra

    Gingrich is a "Lip Christian". He is holier than thou when he thinks it will work in his favor. He is unfaithful, a liar, a back stabber. He will say he is oh so repentant, but you can bet it's all window dressing again.

    December 11, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Mickey

      Being 'Christian' doesn't mean they are holy ... or that they don't lie and cheat and stab people in the back.

      I wouldn't be so proud to be a Christian, based on the history of that group! Or how the Vatican has protected their pedophile priests.

      No wonder Protesters revolted and become Protestants. LOL

      Stop using religion as something of honor when more murders have been perpetrated because of religion!!

      December 11, 2011 at 6:45 am |
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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.