Transcript: Rev. Jerry Falwell Under Fire For 'Vote Christian' Statement
This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," August 10, 2005, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Vote Christian in 2008, it's a statement my next guest made last year, sending out letters and bumper stickers to raise money for his ministries. Now a Jewish group is ticked off by that. The Anti-Defamation League wants him to retract the statement.
So, what does he think about all this? Let's ask him, the Reverend Jerry Falwell (search), the founder of Liberty University and the Moral Majority.
We called, by the way, the Anti-Defamation League. They declined our request.
Reverend, good to you have.
JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Glad to be here, Neil.
CAVUTO: What's the issue here?
FALWELL: Well, here's what happened.
Last November 30, following the election, when all the pundits were saying the faith and values people had helped reelect George Bush (search), we reorganized and reestablished the Moral Majority Coalition. And we put out a letter. And, in it, we said: Don't vote Republican. Don't vote Democrat. Vote Christian.
That was November 30. Some of our friends called us immediately and said, That's going to be misunderstood. Some will think, you are saying vote only for Christians, when, of course, everybody who knows us knows we are pro-Israel, pro-Jewish, so forth. So, we stashed it. That was nine months ago.
And then, suddenly, Tuesday, Abe Foxman at ADL, who is my friend — at least I thought he was. He has my number. I have his phone number. Instead of picking up the phone and calling me, if, indeed, somebody did hit him with it, and saying, Jerry, what's this all about? I would have told him, we had stashed it, nine months ago.
Instead, he puts out a press statement. And here I am answering the press all day today over something that's been dead for nine months. I think it's because this is August. It's a slow month for nonprofits. Maybe it's a good fund-raising thing. I don't know.
CAVUTO: In our case, Reverend, we just like having you on. That's all.
FALWELL: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Let's get the statement from them. I think we have it here. But, bottom line, they're saying:
"Reverend Falwell should retract his divisive and un-American call to action. Appeals to voters should not be on the basis of religion, nor should a candidate's religious beliefs be a litmus test for public office."
What do you think of that?
FALWELL: Well, that's exactly what we said nine months ago. And there have been 50 letters since then.
CAVUTO: So, let me understand this, Reverend. When you realized, when people came back to you and said, this could be interpreted as being anti-Semitic, you took it down?
FALWELL: Oh, immediately, immediately.
CAVUTO: You have no anti-Semitic intentions here?
FALWELL: Oh, absolutely not. Anybody who knows me knows better than that.
And Abe knows better, too. Abe and I have been friends for a number of years. At least I thought so. And all he had to do was pick the phone up and call me, if he had some question. And I would have told him. I have to believe throwing a press statement out there — he hasn't called me yet.
FALWELL: I haven't heard a word from him.
There has to be some fund-raising ideas behind it. And I don't blame him for that. It's a slow summer. But Abe should know better. And I would never do that to Abe. If I heard something from the ADL that I thought was a little anti-Christian, I would never put a press kind of statement out.
CAVUTO: But are you worried, Reverend, that this appears to come at a time when many in the Christian community seem to have a bit of a schism with those in the Jewish community? Maybe it started with the appointment of Pope Benedict (search), who was deemed to be at least harsh in his views toward Israel and to Jews in particular, and now with this festering over what you claimed in a comment some nine months ago. Are we looking at increased tensions?
FALWELL: If I were Roman Catholic, perhaps I could read into that maybe something like that.
I'm an evangelical Christian. And the evangelicals, 80 millions of us in America, everyone knows we're the best friends Israel has, the best friends Jewish people around the world, including America, have. And we fight anti-Semitism all the time.
If Abe wants to hit somebody, he ought to hit his enemies. He ought to leave his friends alone. We are his friends. And I'm a little ticked off that at him doing this. The moment the letter went out and someone called us, we immediately retracted it, stashed it nine months ago.
CAVUTO: All right.
FALWELL: I'm rebuking him a little bit publicly here, and maybe he will behave himself next month.
CAVUTO: All right. He and that organization is always welcome here.
FALWELL: Oh, they're a great organization. I'm for them all the way.
CAVUTO: All right. Sir, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
FALWELL: Thank you.
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