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. Not Another GOP Clown!!

    It's so easy for the GOP candidates to pull the wool over the Tea Sheeples' eyes. For whatever reason they are enamored with candidates with the lowest intellect. I wonder if they chose their doctors and surgeons with the same disregard for intellect and education.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • luUamerica

      Agreed. We are looking at a Philanderer in Chief. I mean, his wife had cancer. And the best part is they think it is ok. Wow! A great model for the youth of today. If your wife is ill, dump her. If your wife is ugly, dump her! If your wife is cranky, dump her! Too many kids, dump her! What a great role model. And all you had to do is tell your pastor, you repented.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  2. FedUpwithLA

    No, he hasn't repented enough. Just keep repenting until everyone is happy with the amount of repentance that he, or anyone else, does. It's a good thing that physicists a while back invented the repentometer to measure or gauge the amount of repentance that people do. Good for them and us all!

    December 11, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  3. stop the wealth re-distribution

    Obama won in 2008 with the message of change. I bought into this at the time. Other than the economy plummeting into the toilet and more of my tax dollars being re-distributed to the lazy, what's changed?

    December 11, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  4. NhAB

    The Catholic Church, a den of robbers, murderers, and child molesters, rules this country by infiltrating our government, the leadership of other religions, and puts many other subversive elements into every part of world society.

    Their overwhelming thirst for world domination has not subsided one whit.

    Domination gives them money, power, and unfettered access to child victims.
    They rule with an iron fist over the minds of all Catholics. They use terror to rule.
    They have special intelligence and counter-intelligence arms that infiltrate and manipulate every government – sometimes directly, sometimes using the leverage they have in other governments.

    The resources of the Catholic Church are not only in real estate and "treasure", but also include their spy networks, military spies, political spies, and a vast array of propagandists and other subversive elements incorporated into everyday life.

    Their victims include hundreds of millions of innocent people, including children, throughout the history of the Catholic Church.

    Everywhere a Catholic holds a position of real political power is a place where you can find a Catholic who has been granted "special" status within the Catholic Church as a mark of trust.
    They are the tools of the Catholic Church itself, a vast criminal organization that has ruled countries on both sides of the Atlantic for hundreds of years.

    They are well steeped in the arts of concealment, propaganda, subversion, sedition, and manipulation. The Jesuit arm of the CC has even been inventive in these areas and is known for creating spy networks and working behind the scenes in a truly Machiavellian or.gy of manipulation and subversion throughout the world for the past several centuries.

    Newt Gingrich has taken their money and promises.
    I can guarantee you that he is now "specially favored" by the Catholic Church and welcomed into the semi-secret "Opus Dei" subversion branch of the Catholic Church but kept at a distance because he was not raised a Catholic.
    He will be their tool but they will not fully trust him, just like any intelligence organization would treat a new "convert"/spy.

    They already did the same thing with the British ex-Prime Minister who recently "converted" to Catholicism.

    Anywhere you see a politician "convert" to Catholicism you are seeing the hand of the Catholic Church and it's deadly thirst for power, wealth, and a free pass to abuse any of their victims.
    They seek world domination.
    This aim has never decreased throughout their history.
    They have merely kept working behind the scenes and avoided public scrutiny and accountability whenever possible because they know that to do otherwise is to become a visible target to their victims who they also view as enemies.

    Gingrich is a spy. He was always available to the highest bidder.
    Now he is running for President.
    He is nothing but a self-serving traitor, just like so many before him in history.

    Too bad there are so many Catholics in the FBI, otherwise we might see some changes to this long-standing spy network operating in this country.
    As it is, only a massive change will stop the evil being done by the Catholic Church.
    That massive change will have to be violent.
    We are already at war with the Catholic Church. They declared it on US when we ratified our Constltution – they do not want religious freedom for anyone but themselves.

    And they've been hard at work ever since.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      A whole lotta bile in that little head of yours.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • the Rock

      You might do well to read a book called "Anticatholicism: The New Prejudice" By Philip Jenkins. A non Catholic, by the way. That was quite a diatribe. How about a few citations or footnotes to make your dissertation somewhat credible? Wow. I suspect you are a card carrying evangelical, or perhaps a Westboro Baptist. Please, tell us more.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Otter

      Great post, NhAB! There are so many intelligent posts here today! And don't listen to those idiots. They hate you for telling the truth, that much seems clear.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  5. sonotso

    Evangelical = hasn't been caught doing it and had it made public and makes it a point to let everyone know. Sadly they typically can get through life pulling off their charade; unfortunately though, their children pay the price of rigidity, intolerance of their fellow human beings and of themselves and an inability to be good enough for a repressed mother and dominating father. Folks, you need to remember that the only time Jesus ever set foot in a temple as an adult was to wreck the place and when he returns likely won't be attending then either. How do you think he would feel about fracking, Keystone, setting yourselves as better than others, letting the elderly live in poverty, etc. You are known by the company you keep (support). Good luck with that.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  6. Tony

    I do not know why the Evangelicals are so upset. Their pastors cheat on their wives and have been divorced and remarried multiple times. You can be married several times and still be "saved" and in good standing in their congregations. By faulting Newt, it shows hypocrisy at it's finest.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  7. Oh, Really?

    I don't care if Gingrich has repented or if Romney is a Mormon. I am voting straight-ticket Republican in the general election.

    I haven't seen such economic malaise and hopelessness since Jimmy Carter. It's time to put America back to work.

    Enough is enough.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Dabchick

      Where were you when Bush created this mess???!!! Undoubtedly voting a straight Republican ticket!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      @Dabchick: I was watching Barney Frank and Chris Dodd stop the Republicans from preventing banks from making loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them back and then packaging them up to sell to Wall Street investors.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Otter

      President Carter didn't do so well because of the Republican majority in Congress, just like now.
      Is that the resemblance you really want to bring up? Because it shows Republicans still hate our country and will do anything to destroy it.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      Wrong again, Otter. Carter tanked because of double digit inflation, double digit unemployment - and something called the misery factor, which was the highest ever recorded in American history, though Obama's misery factor is getting close.

      Liberalism does not create wealth. It doesn't create jobs. And, contrary to popular belief, it simply does NOT create hope.

      All liberalism creates is economic malaise.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • mollyd

      Current mess = Courtesy of George W. Bush. Enough is enough indeed. Send Bush a bill.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • luUamerica

      Oh, really?! Stop pulling wool over peoples eyes. Economic crash, industries feeling this country, financial crash because of deregulation, trillions of dollars on unwanted wars that created the deficit we have, loopholes for companies to hide their money overseas, corporations running to Dubai, not a single terrorist leader captured or killed, tripling the cost of medicare, doubling the defense budget, handing out doles of tax dollars to churches, outsourcing jobs because no more work visas, handing out a trillion dollar bailout that will never be recovered...

      You know who did all this... A Republican Congress and a Republican President.

      Boy, how you guys like to fudge the facts..and blame your own mistakes on others is beyond me...

      You are also most welcome to run behind the Philanderer in Chief. Republicans have no more morals not do they know how to run a country. All this president has been doing is clean up a big mess against the Party of NO.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      @LuUAmerica.... sure. We've heard it all before when we elected Jimmy Carter. I voted for him, too. I believed everything you said.

      Then my generation figured it out. Liberalism is a complete lie.

      Now it's this generation's turn - and they're doing a great job.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Otter

      Oh, Really? You said, "Wrong again, Otter. Carter tanked because of double digit inflation, double digit unemployment – and something called the misery factor, which was the highest ever recorded in American history, though Obama's misery factor is getting close.
      Liberalism does not create wealth. It doesn't create jobs. And, contrary to popular belief, it simply does NOT create hope.
      All liberalism creates is economic malaise."""

      All that double digit stuff was from the Republican majority in Congress, so you are obviously stupid to suggest otherwise.
      Carter couldn't do a thing one way or the other, so blaming that crap on him is just a flat-out LIE.
      And you continue lying when you say Liberalism doesn't create jobs. We have reams of proof to ream your lying ass with that proves a liberal view towards good government not only creates jobs, but it creates hope and strength.
      When they shoot you for being a traitor, do you think they'll bring up your internet posts as evidence? I sure hope so.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. Harry Baxter

    We'll forgive Newt when the evangelical Republicans forgive Bill Clinton...fat chance of THAT happening!

    December 11, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  9. Jay McKeen

    The religious right wants to "cleanse the White House."

    Inquisitors, that's what we need to get some of this Christian cleansing done. A government funded rack.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      We already have one. It's called the Democrat Party. And they're running people through that rack as we speak.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Otter

      I like how Republicans view the White House as "tainted" by that "colored" guy and want nothing better than to burn it to the ground.
      Traitors. Racist traitors. That's the Republican party in a nutshell.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      People are splayed out on sidewalks with no jobs and no hope and that's your answer? We must be racist because we oppose the current policies that are causing widespread economic malaise?


      December 11, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • luUamerica

      The evangelicals cannot bring themselves to support a mormon. They have decided to pick the devil instead. When will the mormons learn that they don't belong in a narrow minded party such as the GOP. Grand Old Philaderer.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  10. Hackpiper


    None of the GOP "front runners" is electable. Gingrich is just the latest ideologue to sit at the head of the pack. It's like musical chairs...whoever's "ahead in the polls" by convention time gets the nomination. Then all the yowling about "socialism" and hatred of Obama will count for naught...because they are all empty suits courting the bigot and moron vote.

    Then again, God help us if there are too many bigots and morons voting.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      They said Ronald Reagan was unelectable, too. Matter of fact, Jimmy Carter led tho polls right up to the election.

      And Reagan won in a land slide.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Otter

      Reagan won because Republicans feel no shame at falsifying votes. That's how Bush jr got elected, too.
      If it weren't for the Republicans in the Supreme Court, Bush would have lost. That's how corrupt our government is.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      Reagan won 49 states - and all the votes were "falsified"?


      December 11, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  11. stop the wealth distribution

    Boy, do only liberal folks read CNN? Newt is the smartest man in the room. We can afford more Obama. He is single-handedly ruining the country. Send him back to IL with all the other crooks.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Harry Baxter

      No; only smart people read CNN, but most of them are Liberals.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Johnny wazhere

      "Newt is the smartest man in the room" congrats for figuring that out. And you will vote for him for being just that. Sir, congrats again. Do not complain then when the economy starts to suffer all over again because of the "smartest man in the room"..sheeeeesh....

      December 11, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Not Another GOP Clown!!

      Very telling if you consider neocon Newt the smartest man in the room. But then again, that isn't saying very much if the room is filled with GOP candidates. 😉

      December 11, 2011 at 8:53 am |


      December 11, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      You wanna see a real clown? Look no further than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

      Now, there's a clown.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Otter

      President Obama has more dignity and honor than the whole Republican party put together.
      That's why he's going to win a second term.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Oh, Really?

      You're missing the Ed Schultz show, Otter.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • AmusedObserver

      "Newt is the smartest man in the room"

      I'm guessing that this is a pretty small room...

      December 11, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  12. Jack

    I think the Religious Right needs to look in the mirror at itself and remember "he who has not sinned cast the first stone". They need to stay out of politics

    December 11, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Reality

      John 8:7

      When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

      Said passage, as per many contemporary NT scholars, was not said by the historical Jesus. One reason for this conclusion is that it appears no where else in the scriptures.

      Actually all of John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html

      December 11, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  13. S/V Blondie-Dog

    Atheism is enlightment and we'll all get along with one another once we all become enlightened. I for one have the utmost disdain and contempt for religious zealots. Especially those seeking higher office. Remember now... intolerance goes both ways.


    December 11, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  14. gary

    newt left wife #1 when she had cancer to marry wife #2 ... he left wife #2 when she had M.S. Wife #3 better stay healthy or she'll be on the heap too. I wish Newt would hold his breath for an hour.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  15. Reality

    Hmmm, the infidelity, cheating, lying and theological-flaws of Newtown Leroy Gingrich vs. the theological- flaws, wishy-wash on life of Romney vs. the theological flaws, "vote-mongering", pro-choice/abortion of Obama??

    December 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Reality


      Romney believes that the horn-blowing angel Moroni appeared to the con artist Joe Smith. Not good for someone who wants to be president of any group !!! Obama "mouths" that he is Christian i.e. believes in gay Gabriel and war-mongering Michael the Archangel and Satan. BO's support of abortion however vitiates has Christianity as he is the leader of the Immoral Majority who are now the largest voting block in the country. Immoral Majority you ask??

      The 78 million voting "mothers and fathers" of aborted womb babies !!! (2012 -1973 Rowe vs. Wade = 39........ 39 x 2 million/yr = 78 million. Abortion rate in the USA as per the CDC is one million/yr.

      And the presidential popular vote in 2008? 69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM. The population of the Immoral Majority in 2008? ~ 70 million !!!!!!

      December 11, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  16. woo

    Not even close. I'm against allowing Newt to get a "second chance" as the president of the united states. Let him run for congress again or be his state's mayor or governor in order to rebuild his reputation. Not the highest public office in the country.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • signalfire

      Or even dogcatcher. Why start at the top, since we're so unsure of his character?

      Doesn't it matter to anyone that the REPUBLICAN CONGRESS fined this guy 300K for ethics violations and kicked him out, telling him on the way never to darken their doors again? His own aides had to collude to get rid of him, he was so volatile and basically a lying POS. THEY DON'T WANT TO WORK WITH HIM AGAIN, THEY ARE BEGGING YOU TO REALIZE THAT. What more do you need to know?

      There's a good, honest, sane, intelligent, doesn't need to be forgiven candidate running that has been marginalized to the point where you've probably not even heard his name ~ Gary Johnson. After you people get done realizing you can't support any of the so-called frontrunners, try checking him out.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  17. The Half Baked Lunatic

    'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to pacify and control the weak minded. Religion is evil and has no place in our political system.

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

      agree 100% – it causes delusions and feeble excused for what they do wrong. Religions are bad for civilization.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  18. DverDave

    Does anyone really believe Newt? This man has said whatever he feels is the "word of the day" since the 90s. Sure he has all the Fox entertainment channel's talking point but I think it's all BS. If he were elected we would see the real Newt.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  19. jmsbois

    Keep at it, evengelicals. The show is priceless!

    December 11, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  20. ral44

    Since this is a questionabout religion I would like to say "Let He/She who has not sinned cast the 1st Stone..
    In otherwords having had since I can remember Roosevelt's aduletry was in the WH where hisMlistress lived and worked as an employee. John Kennedy made a mockery of his marriage but the Media protected him till after his death and the still unknow cause of death MM .Bill Clinton had afew incidents as Pres as well as Governor and had many charges against him by women in his state as well as his Presidential years. Yet he is held in high esteem by the Democrats and others as a great guy. The guys will be guys thinking is only approved by the Democrats so all of you who are saying a lot of things about newt might also be reminded he is a well educated historial and while with the Reagan Administration learned a lot at a Masters side. He is also a Historian and in his life outside the The administration made a living as an Advisor jist like Clinto has do to Corzinne taking 50 thousand a week to advise so beore saying Newt isn't Presidential material better chedk the history on many who cae beore includign this President whpo seems so pervect et is takign us like lambs to a slaughter into SOCIALISUM

    December 11, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • ?????

      What language do you speak, so we can have that translated ?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Mirosal

      Take a valium already!!! You might want to learn to spell, or at least type, with a little foreknowledge. Might I also suggest a little grade school refresher course on the use of a little thing people call 'punctuation'. Nobody on this blog will ever take your comments seriously if you continue your diatribe in the current fashion.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:44 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.