Newt Gingrich warned churchgoers on Monday that an unholy (semi-holy?) combination of Islamic theocrats and secular atheists could seize control of the United States within decades.
“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at a church in Texas, according to Politico. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
Gingrich made the remarks at the evangelical Cornerstone Church, which is led by Pastor John Hagee. Hagee became a controversial figure in the 2008 elections after John McCain publicly accepted — and then rejected — his endorsement despite comments by the religious leader condemning the Catholic Church as “the great whore” and suggesting Hitler was sent by God to move Jews to Israel and hasten the apocalypse. Gingrich converted to Catholicism in 2009.
Update: Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler e-mailed Salon to clarify that Newt was warning either atheists OR Islamists could take over America, not that the two will join forces. “‘Or’ should have come before the word ‘potentially,’” Tyler wrote.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.