Newt Gingrich Woos Evangelicals at Texas Megachurch

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke Sunday at a Texas megachurch where he railed against secularism and called for the defense of the nation's Christian values.

Gingrich, who shows signs that he is interested in the GOP presidential nomination although he has yet to officially declare his candidacy, told thousands of conservative evangelical Christians at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, that liberal college professors and mainstream media are turning America into a godless society.

He called on evangelical voters to protect the nation's Christian roots and its freedoms, citing prayers of past U.S. presidents and the Declaration of Independence.

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"I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're (Gingrich's grandchildren) 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," said Gingrich, according to Politico.

"Bravery will come from our churches, our synagogues, everyday folks," said Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism two years ago. "It won't come from the elites. It won't [come from] those currently in power because if it could have come from them, it would have."

Cornerstone Church, which has an estimated 19,000 members, was founded by controversial pastor John Hagee, mostly known for his fervent support of Israel. In 2008, Hagee vowed "never again" to endorse a political candidate after a fall-out with then Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

According to a Barna survey released this month, Gingrich has the second highest name recognition (86 percent) among potential Republican presidential candidates. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has the highest level of name recognition at 97 percent.

But Gingrich only has a 57 percent favorability rating among evangelicals, the Barna survey finds. More than a third of evangelicals (37 percent) say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican politician known for making controversial remarks and for being married three times after having affairs.

During his 40-minute talk, Gingrich also slammed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California for its 2002 decision to declare the reference "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. He said he was planning to relax after leaving Congress but the court's ruling prompted him to return to public life.

A day earlier, Gingrich appeared in the "Rediscover God in America" webcast conference along with other potential GOP presidential contenders: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Congresswomen Michele Bachmann.

During the "Rediscover God in America" event, Gingrich said the next president's second executive order when he assumes power should be to reinstate the policy that allows no U.S. tax dollars to fund abortion "anywhere in the world," which is formally known as the Mexico City Policy.

Evangelicals are estimated to make up about 40 percent of the Republican Party.

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