With the backdrop of an oversized U.S. flag on stage at Cornerstone Church Sunday, Newt Gingrich called for a return to historic, Christian roots he said were critical to protecting the nation's freedoms.
Pulling from his years as a college history professor, he cited the prayers of past U.S. presidents such as Washington and Lincoln. He recited portions of the Declaration of Independence. And he recounted Franklin D. Roosevelt giving a six minute-plus prayer on the radio after the Normandy invasion.
Gingrich, a former U.S. speaker of the House, is a Catholic convert. Although he has not officially jumped into the race for president, many political observers believe this is a mere technicality. He made appearances in Iowa earlier this month in a schedule of talks before evangelical and conservative audiences such as the one at Cornerstone.
On Sunday, the audience gave him a standing ovation as he spoke of the nation's biggest threat: the growth of secular thought and an indifference to standing against militant Islam.
He warned that America is headed toward becoming a godless society unless voters take a stand against President Barack Obama and liberal-minded college professors and likeminded media pushing his agenda.
“There's a desperation with which our elites are trying to create amnesia so that we literally have generations who have no idea what it means to be an American,” he said.
The Sunday evening appearance at Cornerstone falls in line with its periodic custom of giving a platform to conservative-leaning politicians at Pastor John Hagee's invitation. The service took on a patriotic theme from the start when a choir of more than 90 people led a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and continued with the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
The choir sang a medley of the official songs of the U.S. Armed Forces. Hagee also praised the military for defending American freedoms in a special video before Gingrich, the son of an Army veteran, took to the microphone.
In his nearly 40-minute talk, Gingrich blasted overreliance on government welfare and an overall lack of education today about how critical a role religion played in inspiring politicians and shaping policy in America. He took particular aim at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California, saying that this federal court overstepped its bounds usurping Congress in its question to remove God and prayer from government. The court's decision in 2002 to declare unconstitutional the reference to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was “blindly stupid,” he said, and it prompted him to return to public life after leaving Congress.
After the speech, he signed copies of his book, “Rediscovering God in America.”
Those in line waiting spoke of Gingrich's courage to spell out the battle lines between those who want a secular America and those working to preserve the nation's religious roots.
“The heart of our faith is that this is a temporary moment on a much longer journey, and that we should spend this life preparing for a much larger life,” Gingrich said. “If you live purely secularly, and you believe there is no much larger life, then all of this is very foolish.”