Behind 'Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's back, along with his wife, Callista. They have a brand new documentary, "Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage."


CALLISTA GINGRICH, WIFE OF FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NEWT GINGRICH: For most Americans, the blessings of God had been the basis of our liberty, prosperity and survival as an exceptional nation.

N. GINGRICH: In 1607, the first permanent English settlers acknowledged those blessings here at Cape Henry, Virginia.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, RICE UNIVERSITY: People came from Europe to escape religious persecution. You had a revolt against the Church of England.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the revolution religiously. That's the sense the people have of their own power. That's the proto-democracy that's profound.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, Callista, welcome. And of course, I was with Callista here in particular, because she's a fellow cheesehead, I might add. I bragged about it.

All right, Callista, this is Part 2. What's different between this one and Part 1 on "Rediscovering God in America"?

C. GINGRICH: Yes. Well, "Rediscovering God in America: Our Heritage" focuses on the role of religion in early America. So we look at Jamestown, through the American Revolution, to the very end of the Civil War in 1865, and we focus on the deep faith that motivated and sustained our country's great leaders and the belief in religious freedom in this nation.

VAN SUSTEREN: What provoked this? Why did you do this?

C. GINGRICH: Well, our original movie, "Rediscovering God in America" had a great response. It's both a book and a movie. And a lot of people asked us, you know, will you provide more information about God in America? So we have.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Mr. Speaker, when I was watching this in preparation for this segment tonight, is it - I know that, you know, you're a history professor. You taught history. I saw this is not so much a religious piece but almost a historic documentary.

N. GINGRICH: Yes. I think what we both tried to do both with the original, which is a walking tour of Washington, and with this study of our history from the Colonial times up to the Civil War, it's not theological and it's not ideological. It is fact after fact after fact. But most of them are facts that Americans haven't learned. They're facts that aren't in the schools anymore. They're facts that aren't part of the textbooks. And I find people are fascinated to learn things that they never knew.

C. GINGRICH: Yes. Like one of the most interesting things I learned as we were doing this movie was that when the English settlers first landed at Cape Henry, before they did anything else, they erected a cross and thanks to God, and then they proceeded to Jamestown. Those are facts you don't hear about often in our school system.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's sort of funny (ph), you even have historians in here, Doug Brinkley, who's a great historian. He's written I don't know how many books. It's all - I mean, Doug just turns out the books, but I mean you have historians and you're talking about this.

N. GINGRICH: Yes. And what we're trying to do is go to experts, we literally - I'm very proud of Dave Bossie and Citizens United and of Kevin Knoblauch, who's our director, because they arranged whether it's in Boston or it's in Philadelphia or out in Mount Vernon or down in Williamsburg or Jamestown, they consistently got the best people to explain what actually happened at that point in history.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you learn, and what surprised you?

N. GINGRICH: I think I was really surprised by the depth of passion that the early colonists felt. One of the people who's a historical interpreter of Jamestown points out they went to church 14 times a week.

C. GINGRICH: Without choice.

N. GINGRICH: I mean, it was required. I mean it's a totally different world than the one you and I live in. And then the other thing was a very interesting section on the Quaker and William Penn and - and I was born in Harrisburg where I - I think there were things that I learned about William Penn in making the movie that I've never known before.

C. GINGRICH: Right. So there was a great deal of religious diversity in early America and we look at all of those groups. We look at the Puritans in Massachusetts, the Quakers in Pennsylvania, the Catholics.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did they - did they co-exist well together, though? Because, I mean, there certainly seems there will be a lot of divide in this world.

C. GINGRICH: Well, you're right. And with religious liberty came the need for religious tolerance, and that's what they had to learn.

VAN SUSTEREN: And did they learn it well? Well, then, how did we get to where we are? We have.

N. GINGRICH: You know, we really moved into a different period. All the Founding Fathers and all of the people up through about 1963, wanted all of us to have freedom of religion, starting with the Supreme Court ruling on - on school prayer of 1963, we've increasingly been into a cycle where there are continuing attacks against religion and where religion itself was under constant pressure. But historically, while they tolerated each other -

For example, when they first got together in 1774 at the Continental Congress, they decided they have to have a prayer, and yet they come from all sorts of different backgrounds and, you know, do you have a Catholic prayer, do you have a Puritan prayer, do you have an Anglican prayer? And they have to work out and talk through, and as one man said, I'm not so threatened that I min having somebody pray in their own particular way. And so they literally worked out having people pray everyday. So a tradition we still have in the House and Senate but which has been blocked for the last 40 years by the Supreme Court.

VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, how do you get this movie? How are you distributing it?

C. GINGRICH: Well, you can go to our movie Web site, which is called, or our personal Web site,

VAN SUSTEREN: And just download - how long is this movie?

C. GINGRICH: It's 60 minutes and shot in high definition.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the next - we - got a movie in the horizon?

C. GINGRICH: We do have another movie in the horizon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do I get some tease or not? Or - what's - what's the movie on the horizon?

C. GINGRICH: Sure. Our upcoming movie is about Pope John Paul II, entitled "Nine Days that Changed the World" looking at his historic visit in June of 1979, when he went back to Poland and how that trip was the beginning of the end of communism in Poland and Eastern Europe.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you both very much, and good luck to both of you.

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