Cumming, Georgia (CNN) – Vying for evangelical support in the GOP primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum appeared at the same Georgia church on consecutive Sundays.
Gingrich, a former Georgia congressman, is favored to win Georgia on Super Tuesday, March 6, but Santorum, who appears to be gaining ground in other early nominating states, poses a threat to the former House speaker.
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Gingrich spoke for about 40 minutes during a regularly scheduled service Sunday morning at First Redeemer Church with about 2,300 people in the audience. The former Pennsylvania senator drew a much larger crowd when he spoke there in the evening a week ago.
Founding Pastor Dr. Richard Lee, a Gingrich supporter, introduced Gingrich as a "true American," with more veiled references to President Barack Obama in his opening remarks.
"An America led by a man who truly understands what it means to be the leader of the free world. One who does not bow down to dictators or despots," said Lee. "A man who bows daily to God. I believe such a man is the man who is with us today."
Rich with historical background, Gingrich's remarks focused primarily on what he described as the pervasive threat on religious liberties.
"The other side will fight back and they will fight back on two fronts. You will have radical Islamists who want to kill us and you will have secularists who want to coerce us, and that's why, for example, recently you saw the Obama administration trying to coerce the Catholic Church because it is the inevitable nature of the left to use government to impose on us their values," said Gingrich.
"That's why, for example, the Catholic Church could no longer offer adoption services in Massachusetts because it is inappropriate," he said of opponent Mitt Romney without mentioning his name. "Because what happens is you go from a request for toleration to the imposition of tyranny, and you do it with remarkable speed."
Gingrich criticized the Obama administration's "apologist" policies toward radical Islam. He told the congregation, "We need to stand up for ourselves."
"Saudi Arabia allows no open worship by Christians or Jews, period, and then lectures us. And we don't today in our elites have the nerve to stand up and say this is baloney. We are not going to have a one-sided offensive against our civilization in which we're supposed to accept defeat, we're supposed to accept humiliation, and we're supposed to accept the death of our young men and women, and we have to accept those who are killing us? I don't think so," said Gingrich.
"I don't come here as a religious leader and I don't come here as a saint. I come here as a citizen who has had a life that at times has fallen short of the glory of God who has had to seek God's forgiveness and had to seek reconciliation," he said at First Redeemer. "And I speak to you as a citizen while I'm in the pulpit, for today I'm not speaking as a religious leader, I'm speaking as a citizen."
The 20-year Georgia congressman and former House speaker is banking on a Georgia win to keep his candidacy afloat. Sunday evening he holds a "God and Country Rally" at Rock Springs Church in Milner.