Gingrich blasts secular 'fanaticism' at prayer breakfast
April 27th, 2011
10:09 AM ET
7 years ago

Gingrich blasts secular 'fanaticism' at prayer breakfast

Washington (CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich condemned the growth of American secularism in harsh terms Wednesday at a Catholic prayer breakfast in Washington.

It's a pet topic for Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism two years ago. His 2006 book "Rediscovering God in America" opened with the blistering line: "There is no attack on American life more destructive and more historically dishonest than the secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square."

Gingrich, who is expected to formally announce a 2012 presidential bid in the coming weeks, drilled down on that theme at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

Reading from prepared remarks, Gingrich walked the audience through his "faith journey to Catholicism" and recalled a discussion with Reverend Monsignor Walter Rossi of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The two men chatted about "the crisis of secularism in Europe and the growth of a government-favored pagan culture to replace Christianity," he said, and agreed that American churchgoers are now facing a similar predicament.

"The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites and, as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media, and judicial class in America," Gingrich said.

Gingrich blasted the "fanaticism of the secularists," pointing to controversial court rulings, opposition to displays of the cross on public property and a push by scientists to replace the Anno Domini dating system with the Common Era system.

He said the "constant secular pressure" guided him to embrace Catholicism.

"Callista and I have two grandchildren," he explained. "The more I thought about the culture they are surrounded by and the direction of that culture's evolution, the more troubled I became. The more I looked at this historic phenomenon, the more I had to come to grips with my own beliefs and my own tolerance of the increasingly aggressive secularization of our country."

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Jon

    The secularization of the country isn't "aggressive." It's just people coming to their senses and waking up from thousands of years of myth and fantasy.

    April 27, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Dom

    Not everyone puts their faith in some book or story. Not everyone believes in god. We should all be able to get along despite thinking differently about it.

    April 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. nghisus

    Wow, you've been a Catholic for 2 years and now you want to tell me about religion in America? Come back in 29 years you blow hard.

    April 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Claire

    "The more I looked at this historic phenomenon (the DE-secularization of my USA), the more I had to come to grips with my own beliefs and my own tolerance of the increasingly aggressive religious dialogue which is causing us to remove our own constitutional rights and individual liberty in preparation for a revelation which we bring nearer each day through flawed environmental and foreign policy." – me.

    oh joy, separation of church and state may as well have been written in invisible ink.
    What do you expect from a leader of the party which condemns one of the worlds major religions as a terrorist organization?

    April 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Nothing new here

    Mr. Gingrich, you are entitled to your own beliefs.
    But then again, so is every other taxpaying citizen in this country.
    If a legal citizen pays their own way in life, then they are entitled to freedom of speech and to their own beliefs.
    Even if it is a theology that I do not adhere to.

    April 27, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Misanthropic

    A government and society based on reason, not religion. How terrifying.

    April 27, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. LovesIrony

    What a blow hard!. You blame your love of America for causing you to cheat. Go give your ill gotten wealth to the poor, then maybe you can lecture us on faith.

    April 27, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. Diane

    Voters, make note of this: Newt Gingrich finds respecting the beliefs (and nonbelief) of others, demonstrated by things like not putting sectarian symbols on public property and not forcing one religion's rules onto others, to be "fanaticism." He also cannot tell the difference between pagan beliefs and secularism.

    And BTW, re Anno Domini vs Common Era. The SYSTEM will not change, only the terminology. Instead of 2011 AD, it'd be 2011 CE (and "BC" becomes "BCE," meaning "before Common Era"). It seems like a small change to many people, but there are still too many who point to the use of Anno Domini (Year of Our Lord) as some indication that Christianity should rule the rest of us.

    April 27, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Greg

    "Pagan" doesn't mean what Newt thinks it means. There are efforts underway to secularize our government in keeping with the First Amendment. Paganism, however, refers generally to a polytheistic or animistic belief system, which has no relation to any movement within our government.

    April 27, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. GI Joe

    He was rejected by the House (kicked out) AND the American people a long time ago for his immoral crap. He can't lie his way back in - not wih his thuggish record.

    April 27, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Steve, New York City

    Gingrich has become a loud-mouth that seems to lash out at anyone who is not exactly like him.
    I'm tired of finger-pointing nonsense (and I'm much more impressed by a GOPer like Scott Brown). Of course, Scott might not rise much in the GOP b/c he's not an extremist.

    April 27, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Candy Taylor

    It never ceases to amaze me that those politicans who claim to be so Christian, go against everything Christ preached. Take away from the poor and give to the rich. Foster hatred among neighbors. Store up riches on earth. They really are pathetic and responsible for turning people away from Christianity!

    April 27, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. kierthos

    Sorry Gingrich, you're still a philandering jerk who shouldn't be able to claim that finding Jesus means you should continue to have any sort of political career.


    April 27, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. Candy Taylor

    And HOW did he get his marriage sanctioned by the church? Leaving your cancer-stricken wife for a younger babe shouldn't be grounds for an annulment!

    April 27, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. GI Joe

    I'd still like to know about Cheney's SUPER SECRET MEETING WITH OIL EXECS. THAT has had a major impact on the present and the future of this Country. Why doesn't Chump send his thugs to look into that? Maybe his thugs can find the WMDs???

    April 27, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Apparently Mr. Gingrich neither believes in, nor accepts, separation of church and state. He seems to think (along with the entire far right) that America is a Christian nation. By definition, it is not. It is nation that recognizes freedom of religion, which means it neither favors nor disfavors any one religion. It means religion is intended to be excluded from government policies, legislation and administration.

    April 27, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. Henry

    There has been no attack on religion and faith in this country. There has been an illogical and paranoid behavior on the part of religion in this country. If it were up to these evangelical zealots there would be biblical law. It is not the non-believers who are the problem but rather the religious right with all its "non-Christian" behavior that is causing our problems.

    Mr. Gingrich is a low-life fool who has brought his hate for his fellow man to the one faith (Catholicism) that semi-pretends to follow Christ's teachings.

    April 27, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Mr. Gingrich, we live in a Democracy, not a Theocracy.

    April 27, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. ed dugan

    While we are driving god out of the public square, a wonderful idea if I ever heard one, could we possible drive you out as well? I used to th ink you were pretty intelligent until I read that you had become a catholic. Looking for some kids to abuse are you?

    April 27, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Cliff Vegas

    Gingrich shames his own legacy of secular and REASONABLE scholarly work. If this is purely an effort to jump on the religion bandwagon for political gain, it is a great waste. If it is due to a true personal spiritual struggle, then God be with you – I hope you find peace – but please, do not run in the name of God.

    April 27, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. Angus001

    Why is it acceptable by the left to attack the Christian religion? I thought the left was all about understanding and acceptance.

    April 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Newt, you have no right to speak of FAITH....... since you are a vile person! IF you knew anything about FAITH, you would keep your mouth SHUT!

    April 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    Newt obviously is ignoring one of the pillars of conservatism, American Exceptionalism. Our culture has always been different from the Europeans, and there has been no large-scale aping of European culture in over a century. As far as the spread of fanatical secularism, it has more to do with the abuses of the Ctholic and Protestant Churches, their involvement in politics and in issues of peoples' privacy, and the blatant hypocrisy of church leaders. We are not a monolithic society, yet Newt is trying to make us that. He should know better than to make an idiotic statement like that, but, that's never stopped him before. He is a member of that "elite", with a doctorate in History and having served several terms in Congress. He has no more understanding of

    April 27, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. veggolove

    so its ok to destroy "gods earth"? That's not very christian of you

    April 27, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. A Canadian POV

    Thank God (no irony here) that religion in Canada is not woven into the cultural fabric nearly to the same degree as it is in the US. The divide between the Left and Right up here certainly pales in comparison to the degree of divisiveness in the US and you can certainly thank religion for that.

    April 27, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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