Reform Jewish Movement Reacts to Falwell, Robertson Blame of Americans for Tuesday's Attacks
Saperstein: "In a deeply offensive discussion on Rev. Robertson's '700 Club' yesterday, Rev. Falwell sought to cast blame for these horrific attacks not only on the terrorists or those who harbor and support them, but on our fellow Americans as well. It is time to stop the hate."
Contact:Alexis Rice or Elana Erdstein 202-387-2800
WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 14, 2001- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today released the following statement concerning comments made by Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on the "700 Club". The full text of the statement follows:
The days since Tuesday's terrorist attacks against America have been most notable for the remarkable outpouring of support for the victims and their families, and for our coming together as a nation in this dark hour. In the face of attacks on our nation, we stand united.
Except, it would seem, for Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. In a deeply offensive discussion on Rev. Robertson's "700 Club" yesterday, Rev. Falwell sought to cast blame for these horrific attacks not only on the terrorists or those who harbor and support them, but on our fellow Americans as well.
"The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this," Falwell said. He continued: "Throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. 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.'" Robertson approvingly added, "Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government."
I have worked with Revs. Robertson and Falwell over the years. I have had opportunities to see them as pastors of great empathy and caring. To have failed so painfully to manifest those qualities at this time is deeply troubling. If this tragedy teaches us anything it is that it is time to stop the hate.
What would they say to the gay men and women who perished in this tragedy; to their families and loved ones? What would they say to the families of those who died who are supporters of civil liberties, America's cherished tradition of separation of church and state and those who are supporters of the right for a woman to choose? Does not the logic of their statements blame these victims and their families for their deaths? I cannot believe that this was their intent. I urge them to retract their statements immediately and to apologize to those whose unimaginable pain has been intensified by such remarks.
In this time of national mourning, we associate ourselves with the thoughts of President Bush, who wisely told the nation, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining." That light shines for all Americans, and we must not allow anyone and particularly those who claim to representreligious values to diminish that light by dividing our nation.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaismis the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.