Top evangelical urges Gingrich to give speech on adultery

Holly Bailey

A leading evangelical leader is urging Newt Gingrich to deliver a speech asking for forgiveness for his past personal failings, including the infidelities that ended his two previous marriages.

Richard Land, who heads the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, tells the Religion News Service's Adelle M. Banks that he's personally advised Gingrich to deliver an address about his past adultery if he wants to overcome skepticism among evangelicals about his 2012 presidential bid.

"Don't try to explain it," Land said he's advised Gingrich. "Just confess it and ask for forgiveness."

Gingrich, Land says, has told him he will consider it. A Gingrich spokesman did not respond to The Ticket's request for comment.

The former House Speaker has been offering mea culpas for years for his past marital infidelities.  As The Ticket previously reported, Gingrich has been open about his moral failings in the run up to his White House bid, saying that he's made mistakes and that he believes God has forgiven him.

At the same time, Gingrich has cast himself as a changed man, touting his role as a father and grandfather, and has played up his marriage to his third wife, Callista, who has figured heavily in his 2012 efforts.

Yet as many of Gingrich's opponents are quick to note, Callista Gingrich was once the other woman--the former congressional staffer with whom the former House speaker cheated on his second wife, Marianne.

According to Land, that's prompted skepticism among evangelicals, who could prove to be an important voting bloc in the upcoming GOP primary.

"Men are much more willing to cut him some slack than women are," Land says. "I find that women don't trust him, and it doesn't help that he's married to the 'other woman."'

(Photo of Gingrich: John Amis/AP)