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. C.razy P.eople for A.nn C.oulter

    Human rights and equality is more important than an outdated religious book from 2000 years ago . Religion is the opiate of the people

    April 8, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Jennifer, San Francisco

    To challenge any particular religion's values and/or beliefs does not make one "anti-religious". Mr. Gingrich is one of many conservatives that think being "religious" only means being Christian. On the other side, any embrace of a religious leader that does not believe in a left-wing agenda is also somehow bad (i.e. Rick Warren speaking at Inauguration). I thought the point of the initiative was the bring together people of ALL religious beliefs and those without any belief to discuss common goals and interests. If only one religion is advanced, what is the point?

    April 8, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Gabe

    Oh yea, because you know that having a group of people in office who put religion ahead of politics for the last 8 years was so great.

    Obama and his team are not anti-religion, they just believe in the separation of church and state.

    April 8, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. KJ

    Gosh Newt, could it be to provide some balance to the inherent bigotry of you and yours when it comes to gay, bi and transgendered folks?

    Looking forward to the day when they finally plant you, Newt.

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. RLG

    This is a nation of HUMAN BEINGS and should not be categorized in any other way.

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Dustin

    Isn't that what government is supposed to be? Separation between Church and State? Why does everyone seem to forget that we already have debated this in past history?

    University of Colorado

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Steve Cerez

    Former House Majority Leader Mr. Gingrich is absolutely right about this new nominee Mr. Knox. I see more problems for our country with these liberal/socialist decisions from this administration. People who voted for Obama now are realizing that they made a major error in judgement. Lets hope our Republican leaders in Congress can prevent these proposals from becoming law. Regards, Steve

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. James

    Gingrich is a religious fanatic. He and his ultra christian counterparts all rank right up there with the Islamic fanatics that we call terrorist. Now he is trying to terrorize America by saying we are les safe and the Obama is trying to drive out religion.

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Adam

    Why is this even considered a criticism? I consider it a compliment, and I would hope most other people would. Shouldn't government be secular?

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Adam Mielke

    Apparently the only type of government newt believes in is one that is faith based like the taliban.

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. Shawn


    Gingrich sure is desperately fanning the flames of ignorance, hysteria and extremism, isn't he? I guess that's all you can do when you have no ideas, no vision, no values, no power and no chance to win elections. Keep babbling and highlighting the childish, reactionary sore-loserism of modern Republicans. How does Obama's 69% approval rating taste?

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. David

    very easy to criticize, lets look at Newt Gingrich record, oh that's right, he's not perfect either and left office under less than poor conditions. Go Newt.

    April 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. joe

    I say good riddance! Keep religion out of politics! Religion is nothing but a tool to manipulate weak-minded people who cannot think for themselves. Religion was created by mankind, not God. It doesn't belong in politics or governance. It is a personal choice and should be kept to people's private lives. Your beliefs should not be thrust upon me nor should mine to you. The religious nuts in this country are one step away from the radical fundamentalists of Islam. Think for yourself! That is the only path to any kind of true spiritual enlightenment.

    April 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. keith c

    the USA is clearly going in the right direction in the eyes of both USA's former friends and former enemies. The shift from Bush's religous political fevour to Obama's secular approach in global and internal affairs is not only refreshing but absolutely needed in a world that was beginning to boil with religous hatred.

    April 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Greenwood,IN

    Gingrich is saying anything to get elected.Yes, the country is pulling back to tthe Constitution after the religious Bush years that forgot the Constitution. We have separation of church and state.Obviously Gingrich wants to control our bedrooms where he and the Republicans do not belong. We are not a theocracy in the United States-a point Gingrich has forgotten here.

    April 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Josh in NC

    Ah, yes – the party of "NO" continues. I hardly think that one former Methodist minister who supports equal rights on a board of 25 can be considered "anti-religious" and Mr. Know is hardly a zealot . But i suppose the Repbilicans have to continue their bigoted, narrow-minded rhetoric as they have no plans or ideas of their own other than the out of touch wedge issues.

    April 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Norcal DM

    Another fantastic move by President Obama. This shows inclusiveness, slaps the necons in the face, and furthermore ends the close door policy to the GLBT community from the previous administration. I couldn't be more pleased by this move, and frankly, this is Change We Can Believe In!!

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Beth

    It is the government's job to be secular. Let's not confuse secular with "anti-religious, Newt. The government is not a faith based institution; it is supposed to represent all peoples regardless of race, religion or sexuality. After years of right wing Christians dominating Republican policy initiatives we have finally "taken back" the government from the religious zealots and are moving towards an egalitarian non-discirmatory democratic institution fit for this era. And if the Pope continues espouse utterly nonsensical positions such as his anti condom platform, he will lose credibility amongst all educated Christians. Not surprised you and Dick C. are not happy with the new approach but the changing of the guard was long overdue!

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Robert

    Newt clearly wants to be first out of the gate for the necessary fear-mongering it will take to win the Republican nomination.

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. Free Thinker

    Yes they are anti religious. Let's call a spade a spade. (Are we allowed to say that now?)

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Hey NEWT! Separation of church and state! Remember??? Lets keep your silly religion out of all of our politics.

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Matt from Toronto, Canada

    Is this a joke? What is wrong with the government being secular? It is SUPPOSED to be secular! I'm an Atheist, but I seriously find Mr. Gingrich's assumptions to be completely awry. Religious denominations don't like abortion or gay rights and the like, but do they REALLY feel that it is necessary to put laws against those things that affect everyone, even the people who don't adhere to their belief system? I find that personally offensive, Mr. Gingrich.

    I am so glad I am Canadian.

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. williefloyd

    Gingrich had better not include V.P. Biden in that group. He made the comment once "if anyone else says I'm not religious enough, I'm going to shove my rosary down their throat". But maybe that would be a good thing!!

    April 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. Frances

    HELLO, where has Gingrich been? This administration has included religion more than the past three presidents. It is just getting more and more rediculous how the Republicans will attack Obama on just about everything. I have just planned on hearing the party of NO just oppose everything that comes out of the white house. The only smart one of the party is Mitt Romney. He said the President will not always be wrong. They need to follow his lead. I sure can understand GOP disagreeing with Obama on alot of policy, but saying no just to oppose on everything is just SAD.

    April 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Get Well Soon GOP

    Newt is all wet. This pannel has 25 people on it. Some he agrees with and some he does not. That is America! Why have a council if they all think the same. The idea is to come up with ideas not rubber stamp what is already known. Newit is use to a small tent.

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