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Falwell apologizes for blaming groups for attacks by terrorists

WASHINGTON (BP)–Baptist pastor and television preacher Jerry Falwell has apologized for blaming abortion doctors and homosexuals, as well as the ACLU and People for the American Way, for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In an interview with Pat Robertson on the Sept. 13 edition of “The 700 Club,” Falwell said, “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.'”

He also said the ACLU should “take a lot of blame” for “throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools,” according to a transcript made by PAW.

Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., released a written apology Sept. 17, saying his comments were “insensitive, uncalled for at the time and unnecessary.”

Though Falwell had been an independent Baptist most of his ministry, Thomas Road has in recent years affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

“I apologize that, during a week when everyone appropriately dropped all labels and no one was seen as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, religious or secular, I singled out for blame certain groups of Americans,” Falwell said. “The only label any of us needs in such a terrible time of crisis is that of ‘American.’

“I do not know if the horrific events of Sept. 11 are the judgment of God, but if they are, that judgment is on all of America — including me and all fellow sinners — and not on any particular group.”

Falwell said he blames “no one but the hijackers and terrorists for the barbaric happenings.”

The day after Falwell’s Sept. 13 remarks, a White House official called his comments “inappropriate” and said, “The president does not share those views,” The Washington Post reported.

The Christian Broadcasting Network, which is chaired by Robertson, issued a statement Sept. 17 in which it described Falwell’s controversial comments as “severe and harsh in tone, and, frankly, not fully understood by the three hosts [including Robertson] of ‘The 700 Club.'” The CBN statement said Robertson told Fox News he considered Falwell’s remarks “totally inappropriate.”

During the Sept. 13 interview, according to the transcript, Robertson said, “I totally concur,” when Falwell cited groups he said should share the blame for the airline crashes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.

The CBN statement said Robertson did not plan to say anything further on “something that is not personally in keeping with the spirit of prayer and sorrow” demonstrated by the CBN staff.

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