Magazine article Newsweek

Learning the Meaning of the Word Repentance

Magazine article Newsweek

Learning the Meaning of the Word Repentance

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Miller, Holly Bailey and Debra Rosenberg

Is Newt Gingrich laying the groundwork for a run at the White House? It would seem so. Last week Gingrich confessed his marital infidelity on James Dobson's radio show--an obligatory ritual for any sinner seeking the evangelical vote. A decade ago, when Gingrich was Speaker of the House and a central antagonist in the Clinton impeachment hearings, he himself was having an affair with a House aide, Calista Bisek, who later became his third wife. "There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong," Gingrich told Dobson. "But I was still doing them. And I look back on those as periods of weakness, and ... I would deeply urge my children and grandchildren not to follow in my footsteps."

This is perhaps the moment to remember that in the crowded field running toward '08, two out of the three Republican front runners have been divorced. After returning from Vietnam, John McCain couldn't hold his marriage together. And everyone knows about the Rudy-Judi scandal: it was New York City tabloid fodder for months. So does a mea culpa on Christian radio help Gingrich among evangelicals? A little, but not a lot. "It makes him a less damaged candidate," says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, "but he's still damaged." In a society where divorce touches almost every family, Land believes conservative Christian voters will prefer the example of McCain, a man who fixed his marital mistakes on the second try. …

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