April 8th, 2009
05:48 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama administration 'anti-religious,' Gingrich says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/06/art.newt.jpg caption=" Gingrich says the Obama administration is 'anti religious'."](CNN) - Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is "intensely secular" and "anti-religious," the former House Speaker's second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.

In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama's choice of Harry Knox - an outspoken activist for gay rights - to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.

"I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything," he said. "Why wouldn't you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It's a perfect pattern for this administration."

Since 2005, Knox has served as the director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that advocates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. He is also a former Methodist pastor.

Obama formally named Knox to the 25-member advisory council on Monday, a move that has not sat well with some Christian conservatives. The conservative Catholic League called him "unfit to serve," especially taking issue with Knox's recent comment characterizing Pope Benedict XVI as a "discredited leader" because of his opposition to gay marriage.

In a statement released earlier this week, Knox said, "The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is eager to help the administration achieve its goals around economic recovery and fighting poverty; fatherhood and healthy families; inter-religious dialogue; care for the environment; and global poverty, health and development."

But Gingrich said the Knox appointment, along with some other moves, proves the administration is trying to "go down in history as a consistently anti-religious, secular group of people who are consciously trying to drive things out."

Two days ago, Gingrich told Politico former Vice President Dick Cheney was "clearly right" when he asserted the Obama administration's national security policies have left the country more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

Filed under: Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. David

    Just because an appointee doesn't follow in lock step with the far right evangelicals doesn't make him/her anti religious. These so called Christians need to get back to basics and remember the teachings of Christ don't focus on sitting up on a throne and passing judgment.

    From a political perspective, I believe Newt is just continuing to pander to the Republican base. Maybe he should just spend more time up on the Death Star with Cheney and they can use their lasers against North Korea and the Somali pirates. Arrrgh.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Kevin

    Wait, I thought he was secretly a Muslim... now he's "insanely secular"? Seriously, it's almost comical how disjointed the GOP is right now.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. Jeff

    A secular government is exactly what we need. And it's exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they created the very documents we still use to guide our nation. Anyone who cries out to the contrary is ignorant of this country's history.

    Republicans, Conservatives and Fundamentalists: Stand Down!

    You had your moment in the sun. You tried to run the world and pretty successfully manipulated the last administration, which was a disaster.

    Religion belongs in the church, not in the government.
    The last thing we need is the American equivalent of the Taliban, exerting it's self-granted power against the will of a free nation.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. dipu

    America as a secular, non-religious country??! THE HORROR!!!

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Ed from PA

    Wouldn't the appropriate response be that Gingrich is anti-gay? I mean, what does he base that statement on, really?

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. Jim

    The Knox appointment is definitely another step in the right direction for this administration. It's about time that our government moves towards a separation of church and state. Oh, that's right–separation of church and state was actually a foundational principle of our democracy.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Nick 27, So Cal

    Gingrich fears what he does not understand like most humans do! Characterizing yourself as a "Christian" these days just means you are more judgmental of others and feel morally superior to those who are not like you. Why can't the so called "Christians" remember the teachings of Jesus which said to treat others as you would want to be treated and not to judge. Jesus hung out with the rejects of society! Organized religion is a choice and should not be forced down peoples throats!

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Spencer Boyle

    How can one say their goal is to have a secular America? That is "clearly wrong." First of all, government action should be secular in the sense that it should not side with one religion over any other, regardless of majority or minority.
    His unsettled demeanor over the appointment of a representative of the majority of America into an exclusively right-wing christian committee only shows that Ginrich doesn't understand that.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Scott Gastrow

    Anyone who doesn't want a theocracy is "anti-religious" in Newt's book. Trying to stir up culture wars is so 1994...can't he give it a rest already? Gingrich represents the Christian equilavent of the Taliban– Mullah Newt for President 2012!

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Nathan

    Gingrich/Cheney are playing pure negative politics. There are 25 members on that Council. Look at the whole picture. Charging that Obama is anti-religious is outrageous slander. This should not be news. As for Harry Knox, he will have to learn that there is a difference between heading an advocacy group and working toward solutions with people whose views you do not share. It is one thing to be an outspoken advocate for gay rights. It is another to attack people's religious leaders. One can disagree with the pope without belittling him. Though that may not win cheers from donors and supporters on whom Knox depends, it is a better politics, one more aligned with what Obama says he believes.

    April 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Ed from PA

    Wait... you're telling me he's an anti-religious FORMER PASTOR?!

    April 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. Kevin co springs

    What did you expect from a president that went to a church that preached nothing but hatred? That's his idea of religion. This country is going to hell with him at the wheel.

    April 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Judi in Minnesota

    Gee, ya think this guy is laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2012? President Obama knows we are a nation of many faiths and governs accordingly. Gingrich is trying to appleal to the right. In anycase, why is pro gay rights anti religious?

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. Christie

    "Secular" is not the same as "anti-religious." Our government is SUPPOSED to be secular. Maybe Newt thinks America should be a theocracy if he is complaining of secularism?

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Scott

    Gays, guns, god. Same old politics of firing up base. Does Newt have any ideas for actually helping anyone? It's not like he had any great accomlishments when he was in Congress.

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Shawn

    What is so wrong about not wanting or needing religion in your government? These fanatical religious types claim to be for small government, yet they're perfectly happy to have government intrude on your private life to suit their own insecurities. Pathetic.

    Besides, being lectured on morals by the man who divorced his wife from her sick bed is just plain silly. Go away Newt, you are not wanted OR needed.

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. Rob

    It's interesting that such a "professed" believer in the Bible as Newt claims the Obama administration is being "anti-religious" for naming an out gay man to this WH advisory council on faith while being "intensely secular" at the same time. Of course, he and other believers like him claim Biblical scriptures as the reason gay Americans shouldn't be allowed - among other things - to get married in this country. OK, Newt, is it secularism or holy scripture that prevents gays from marrying at all but allows straight people like yourself to marry as many times as they want? It's that "holier than thou" attitude like yours that gives fanatical right-wing religious nuts such a bad (but well-deserved) rap!

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. totally neutral

    The Government is supposed to be secular, nitwit.

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Jim in Chicago

    We elect a president ot the country, not a religious leader. The Republicans seem unable to grasp that idea and are at the mercy of only one of this countries many religions and not an especailly compassionate or understanding small segment of that religion.

    April 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. a progressive named greg

    as long as gingrich , bush and the "moral" lol "majority" are anti obama, then i can guarantee you one thing,, we are safer as a nation than we have been in generations.. hey newt.. the world hates self righteous christians,, not americans.. havnt you figured that out yet..

    coexistance is possible, as long as you are not a self righteous hyopcrite!

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Kevin

    The Republican Party is too funny.

    Like 2 articles down is about Obama hosting a Seder at the White House. Ha!

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. James Loud

    Good grief! One distinguished gay on a 25 person panel. Now 4% of this panel is homosexual. This represents an anti-religion agenda? Is it impossible for gays to be decent religious people? Is this what Newt believes?

    During the last eight year's Newt's party put a fox in charge of nearly every government henhouse – from Coal executives responsible for mining safety to extraction lobbyists in charge of the Interior Department, Agriculture, the EPA, etc. etc. He apparently thought that this was perfectly OK. At least he is consistent in his partisan bomb throwing. He's done that consistently and shamelessly since the 90s.

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. bob johnson

    Nwet is wrong. Having secular tendacies do not make you anti religious. It is falacious logic on his part. Besides he is just running for President and any press is good press for him.

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. gary gpp

    This country was founded on the principal of separation of church and state. What is it with these GOP boobs? Why are they constantly trying to interject religion into politics? Why won't Gingrich go away?

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Paul

    Still trying to fire up those culture wars, eh Newt? If there is a better example of yesterday's man than Gingrich, I can't think of one.

    April 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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