18 Sep 2001

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2001

Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Contact: Joseph Conn or Steve Benen
202-466-2334 telephone
202-466-2587 fax


TV Preachers Blame Attack On Federal Courts, Groups That Support Church-State Separation

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today strongly criticized two prominent TV preachers’ attempts to blame the recent terrorist attacks on groups that support church-state separation and civil liberties.

The Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson asserted recently that organizations that support church-state separation and individual freedom are ultimately to blame for the horrific terrorist attack on the United States Sept. 11 because they have kicked God out of public life.

Falwell, appearing on Robertson’s “700 Club” Sept. 13, insisted that God has withdrawn protection from America and that "what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, if in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”

Falwell accused church-state separationist groups of “throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools.”

He continued, “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’"

Agreeing, Robertson responded, “Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.”

Earlier in the program, Robertson had launched into a tirade similar to Falwell's, blasting "rampant pornography on the Internet," "rampant secularism," abortion rights and church-state separation.

Observed Robertson, "We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools. We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And then we say, 'Why does this happen?'

"Well, why it's happening," Robertson concluded, "is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us."

In response, Americans United issued the following statement:

“In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, the American people must join together in a spirit of unity," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "The finger-pointing and baseless assertions promoted by Falwell and Robertson run counter to that spirit and must be categorically rejected.

“Thousands of innocent men, women and children died in these attacks," Lynn continued. "It was not their fault. It was not the Supreme Court’s fault. It was not the fault of civil liberties groups, gay people or Pagans. The fault rests with the terrorists who devised, planned and carried out this vile deed.

“Over the years, Robertson and Falwell have blamed church-state separation for just about every imaginable ill," Lynn said. "This time they have gone too far. I call on all Americans to reject their divisive comments and to continue to nurture the spirit of unity that we have seen in recent days.”

Lynn also criticized the statements issued by Robertson and Falwell in an attempt to evade responsibility for their remarks.

"Far from repudiating their extremism, Robertson and Falwell seem intent primarily on escaping the wave of national revulsion their remarks sparked," said Lynn. "They need a dramatic change of heart, not just a slight shift in rhetoric."

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.


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