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. D. Martin

    How right you are. But what can you expect from our President, who told the world that America is not a Christian Nation? Please God,
    let this President be a one term office holder.

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Troy from NJ

    What does he know about religion; he sold his soul to the Wall Street Lobbyist which stripped us of all our regulations and got us into the mess we are in now. Newt is now Catholic, what a joke; a twice divorced Catholic. President Obama has been married only once. Guys like Newt and Rudy really should leave the moral arguments alone since they are the void of any morality in their personal lives.

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. keeth in california

    Who is Gingrich to speak of religion and morals and ethics?

    This from a man who left his second wife while she was in the hospital with cancer so he could run off with his mistress who was to become his third wife.

    Hypocrite! He's just trying to set himself up for a 2012 run, hoping that people have forgotten his past. Fat chance.

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Ryan

    SIlly Obama Administration... trying to separate church and state. Where did they get that idea?

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. sami

    More Republican hysteria! They will say anything (and have) to try to gain the attention of the voters. And can't understand just why it isn't working. Its beginning to look and sound pitiful!

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Charles

    He is correct. Obama could care less about GOD. America is the great county it is because of GOD.

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Chris

    A lot of people out there misuse the term "secular".

    The terms "religious" and "ant-religious" are polar opposites. "Secular" means to be in the middle, or really more accurately, to be out of the religious discussion altogether.

    But a lot of the pro-religious folk treat secular as being anti-religious, when it's not.

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

    secular groups don't drive people away but actually bring people together and it is ABOUT TIME!

    April 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Jon

    Finally an administration that understands the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. I'm surprised that Mr. Gingrich doesn't understand the meaning of the Constitution, or, even worse, chooses to ignore one of its most important elements.

    April 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Stacy

    So what? Who cares if Obama is anti religious! Who cares if he is atheist! What matters is the economy and health care, not gay marriage. I'm tired of the religious trying to tell me how to live my life. get over yourself our country is full of people who don't believe in any of that. So lets focus on the things that matter to EVERYONE!

    April 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Pablo Chagoya

    I thought goverment is supposed to be secular. Religion is a private matter and I do not want the goverment telling me what my morals should be.
    We have enought with the Pope to direct us and guide us. The ultimate desicion is ours. We decide if we want to go to hell or heaven is not supposed to be imposed.
    Thank you.

    April 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Lisa

    "intensely secular" ... as it should be!

    April 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Jason

    I am growing very tired of conservative religious groups as a whole. My biggest problem is that none of them can seem to keep their religious convictions out of the rest of our lives. Here in the states, they act as if they are more patriotic than the rest of us and it makes me sick.

    If they truly were patriotic, they would understand the principle of separating church and state. Nobody can move past abortion or gay marriage because of these people.

    Dear Christians, your god gave everyone us free will... now leave people alone !

    April 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Allan

    Maybe Mr. Gingrich, the historian, should take a look at the religious views of the Founding Fathers, most specifically Thomas Jefferson. I don't see the connection between a secular policy and one in which "government dominates everything." It's a non-sequiter. Iran, anyone?

    April 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. Loran

    Newt Gingrich should retire, if there is such a thing as a retired politician. When will these men (Republicans) grow up and say things that the American people would not consider childish and ridiculously stupid. Anti-religious is strapping a person to a chair and flipping the switch. Read your bible. You can't just adhere to the parts that support your agendas. We (the American People) are smarter than that. Don't talk to us like we are stupid.

    April 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. William

    Finally an administration not influenced by religion. Imagine that! Haven't republicans learned anything?

    April 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. debbie mayer

    Right on, Mr. Gingrich. I suspect the same, that our new presidential administration is indeed VERY anti religious, not just "secular".

    April 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. Shayne

    As part of the 16% of Americans that identify as Atheist or Agnostic, I have no problem with this choice. I actually applaud this choice because I believe it is important to have a different perspective in every group. It helps breed new ideas and debate.

    And to Gingrich, what is wrong with a secular administration? Isn't that what our government was created on? Freedom of/from religion is our very first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. And don't forget that whole separation of Church and State idea either.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. bob in LA

    Typical comment: "If it's not my way of practicing religion, its wrong"
    Then people wonder why so many say things about evangelicals and ultra-conservative religious types.
    A TRUE Christian knows Christ embraced everyone- not just those he agreed with.
    if you quote the Bible, then live by its words.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Michael

    Get a clue Newt; religion doesn't belong ANYWHERE in our government. The fact that we even have a faith-based initiatives department or effort in our government spells trouble to me.

    When are people going to get it? The common laws we live by cannot enshrine religious doctrine or dogma (Christian or otherwise); our system must be based on laws that treat every person with equality of opportunity and justice. That's the only way a diverse population of truly "free" people can peacefully coexist.

    If you want your religion in your house or your church, that's fine by me. But keep it out of our government.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. wendyintx

    As a person of non-christian faith, I welcome this change. It is in line with the 1st Amendment of the Constitution that was intended to create a wall of separation between Church and State.
    I do not want my government legislating my faith, something the Neo-Conservatives have been bent on doing since they gained power in the Congress in the 80's.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. RR

    Newt.....your out of touch and trying to stay relevant! America is changing whether you want it to or not! I have three teenage sons and their great kids! But they (kids) have their own opinions and view America from a different perspective....

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. angela

    Just keep talking until 2012, Gop will lose again. The Republicans are so negative, and out of touch with american people. Stop throwig out stupid statments!!! Gingrich just making noise because he want to be the next President.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Jordan

    Just because you're FOR secularization, doesn't mean that you're ANTI-religion. A secular government is among the fundamental ideals of the founding documents of this country. Newt's comments do, however, reveal something very important. When he says that Obama wants a "secular America in which government dominates everything", he is acknowledging that the opposite is true now – religion is the dominant power in America. What the religious right wing wants everyone to believe is that a secular government is bad for religion, when in reality a secular government provides for greater tolerance of all religious views (which is not a convenient idea for fundamental Christianity ... which grows stronger when other religions are marginalized). A secular goverment is exactly what this country needs (as a first step in the right direction) – get religion back where it belongs – in homes and churches – and out of public policy.

    April 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Scott

    I think Newt Gingrich's comments are rediculous. Isn't there suppossed to be a separation of church and state? You think being that since he was former speaker he would understand. Maybe that's why he's not there anymore.... With that said, the better informed a person is on all issues from all stand points would lead one to think they would have taken more stand points into consideration when making that decision. When one has a hard line stance and let's their religous views dictate decisions you end up with administrations like that of former President Bush and wars in Iraq when the real fight is somewhere else. Due to those decisions, that cost the US the lives of so many of it's milary service men and women. I think President Obama is making the right decision by trying to at least see the view points of so many so that he is informed of the issues and is aware of the possible outcomes of his decision before he makes them.

    April 8, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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