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On eve of caucuses, Gingrich vows to fight religious persecution

February 04, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • People pray for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, left, and his wife, Callista, during a campaign stop at the International Church of Las Vegas on Friday.
People pray for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, left,… (Evan Vucci / Associated…)

Reporting from Las Vegas — Speaking at a mega-church on the edge of Las Vegas, Newt Gingrich decried what he says is a decades-long war against religion in the United States and argued that other faiths are given tolerance while Christianity is persecuted, and said he is running because the nation’s very future is at stake.

"If I am president these children are not going to grow up in  a secular country dominated by an elite who despise our history, dislike our culture and dislike our religion," Gingrich said, after calling all the  children in the church to join him on stage. "These children are going to grow up in a country which is genuinely free and which worships God, which is the source of our rights."

In citing examples of religious persecution, Gingrich called out New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for disallowing churches from renting schools during the weekend to hold services.

"I guarantee you there are many groups that Mayor Bloomberg finds acceptable, including the building of a Muslim facility at the World Trade Center site," Gingrich said. "That was fine. After all, we have  to be open unless of course it involves Christianity."

Gingrich made the remarks to hundreds of churchgoers at the International Church of Las Vegas, a mega-church with 5,000 members that was holding a prayer service for the United States just hours before Nevada Republicans head to the caucuses in the first voting contest in the West. Recent polls show Gingrich coming in second.

Gingrich said the nation was founded with God firmly in mind, pointing to the Declaration of Independence’s tenet that Americans’ rights are derived from their creator. If elected, Gingrich pledged to reinstitute the Mexico City policy, which forbids American funds from being used to pay for abortions overseas, to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and to seek the congressional impeachment of judges who are overly active.

Gingrich said he called the children to join him onstage to show why he decided to run.

"I wanted all of you to understand how we have made the very difficult decision to offer to serve as president and as first lady," he said. "... The reason we're here is we want to learn what kind of future are they going to have? Are they going to have a future of opportunity, of safety, of freedom?"

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