This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 8, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The Texas Republican Party recently adopted a new platform which declares that the United States is a Christian nation (search). Are Texas Republicans biased against non-Christians, or are they just stating the facts?
Joining us now is the chancellor of Liberty University, the Reverend Jerry Falwell (search). Reverend, good to see you.
I have a hunch. I think I know where you stand on this issue. But let me ask you about this.
I mean, I understand the argument where, based on certain moral values — we know what those good moral values are — but are those values exclusively Christian? Aren't they also from the Old Testament? Aren't they also Islamic in some cases? Aren't they values held by a number of religions?
REV. JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, Alan, both historically and numerically the Texans are right. Any student of American history, from the Mayflower Compact to the New England Confederation to the Declaration of Independence (search) to all the state charters, et cetera.
This nation was founded by predominantly by persons who were followers of Jesus Christ. And numerically something like 85 percent of all Americans would profess to being at least Christian oriented.
Now that is not a negative thing. That's a positive thing. The reason why this country is so tolerant, the reason Madalyn Murray O'Hair for so many years was allowed to just be so vocally atheistic without any repercussion; the reason why Muslims — unlike Christians and Jews in Islamic states — can come here and build their temples and mosques with absolute freedom is because it is a Christian nation.
And that is the nature of Christianity: to be open, to be loving, to grant total fairness to everyone.
COLMES: Reverend, I agree with you and I agree with those sentiments, but I don't think it is exclusively the province of Christians who hold those values. And to say it is therefore a Christian nation sounds exclusionary to me.
I want to show you the Treaty of Tripoli, which we made with the Barbary Coast a few centuries ago, written during George Washington's presidency and signed by John Adams. Had this to say. This is a United States treaty of Tripoli.
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded" — not in any sense founded, it says — "on the Christian religion, no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
Signed by John Adams in 1797. That's what we state.
FALWELL: I can show you dozens of statements, from George Washington's farewell address. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1892 declared specifically this is a Christian nation.
But that is not something to fight over. That's simply a statement that that is predominantly who we are.
Now, having said that, the Texans are historically and numerically stating a fact. But they are, without any doubt — and they represent George Bush's state — they are like all of the other 49 states, totally tolerant towards all persons of any faith or no faith.
And they should not be chastised for saying what the courts, the Congress — in 1954 we added "under God" to the pledge. I mean, that recently.
MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST HOST: Reverend Falwell, if a neighborhood had 82 percent of the population that was Italian or a town had 82 percent of the population that was Polish we'd call those communities Italian or Polish towns.
GALLAGHER: Why do liberals have such a knee-jerk reaction when anybody dares to suggest that, with 82 percent of the population being Christian, according to the Pew Research Council, we are in fact a Christian nation. What's the harm?
FALWELL: Well, there was no harm until about 40 years ago. The ACLU and groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and some runaway federal judges have just created such a hostility towards Christianity. And I try not to ever address it in kind. I don't call them what sometimes I think they are, bigots.
GALLAGHER: Tough to do. Tough to do.
FALWELL: Tough not to do that. But the fact is that this is, historically and numerically, a Christian nation.
GALLAGHER: But it is a degree, Rev. Falwell, of bigotry. It seems to me that the hatred that so many have on the left for President Bush seemingly because he expresses his faith, his Christianity.
I mean, TIMES and Newsweek with their big cover stories, scratching their heads, why does this man say he's a Christian almost?
FALWELL: Newsweek, Bush and God, as though they were a bad combination.
FALWELL: But I put on our Web site, and I'm not selling anything, but on JerryFalwell.com, I actually put on there the quotations of just about all of our presidents and their devotion to the person of Christ and the Bible. And I'm talking about Democrats, Republicans.
Now we use the term Judeo-Christian. We do that for two reasons. One, Alan said something about that a moment ago, principles of the Old and the New Testament. Judeo-Christian. And we can buy that because, in fact, that's who we are.
But primarily it is, numerically, a Christian nation. Now the Muslims have come in, and most Muslims in America love America just like I do, like you do. But we know that there are a significant percentage worldwide who don't exactly like America and like Israel. They hate Jews and Christians, and it makes it a little difficult.
I'm never going to be willing to say that we are Judeo-Christian- Islamic. I don't believe it. I don't think that ever is going to be properly said, though they try to jab that down our throats.
GALLAGHER: Well, and you use the word "numeric" so often, Reverend Falwell. Christians again make up 82 percent, Jews one percent, Muslims less than one percent.
Sometimes it seems that we worry about offending that two percent or maybe the 13 percent who are agnostic or atheists than we do the 82 percent that are Christian. Maybe that's what makes us great as a country.
FALWELL: Well, I'm a pastor so my job is to lead people to the saving faith of Jesus Christ through his death, burial and resurrection. So I'm certainly not going to condemn atheists or agnostics. My father was an agnostic. He came to Christ on his deathbed.
GALLAGHER: Reverend Falwell, we appreciate you so much, your time as always on "Hannity & Colmes."
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