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Falwell on Boykin and Clinton

Mark Evanier catches Jerry Falwell saying something really dumb on Crossfire.

BEGALA: General Boykin said — and I’m quoting him here about our president — “Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him.” He’s right about that. “Why is he there? And I tell you this morning, he’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.” Now, in case General Boykin is watching, and for our folks at home, let me show a couple of images here. First, this is God. God is depicted, actually, by Michelangelo in his masterpiece in ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On the right side of your screen is William Rehnquist. He’s the chief justice of the Supreme Court. He’s the one who put George Bush in the White House, isn’t he, Reverend Falwell? Not God.

FALWELL: Well, if — if you don’t take the Bible seriously, what you and Hussein just said would be true. But the vast majority of believers worldwide, Christian, followers of Christ, believe that God rules in the affairs of men. And history would support that.

BEGALA: So God put President Clinton in office?

FALWELL: You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton. You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton.

BEGALA: So God put him there?

FALWELL: I think that we needed Bill Clinton, because we turned our backs on the lord and we needed a bad president to get our attention again to pray for a good president. That’s what I believe.

You know, if one looks at it that way, that is a pretty good reason for believing that God put Bush in the White House. Falwell was just wrong about which President God installed as a means to get our attention. Makes as much sense as anything else does.

Full transcript here. It should be noted that there was laughter after Falwell’s last line, so perhaps it was all intended and interpreted as a joke, I don’t know. Doesn’t change what I said, though.

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  1. Angry Bear says:

    I think Falwell is making the same argument about Clinton that Nader did about Bush.

  2. Calicajun says:

    While I can see why people would laugh, I don’t think Falwell meant that last remark as a joke – it’s consistent with Christian philosophy on political affairs since at least St. Augustine in the late 4th/early 5th century. Whoever has political power has it because God has given it to him (usually him, sometimes her). So even if you’re unhappy with whomever is in power, you should just accept your lot, pay your taxes, and not rebel against the ruler. Good thing the Founding Fathers weren’t all that Christian, huh? And what about all those people pushing for impeachment? Were they trying to thwart God’s will?

  3. Mike says:

    It’s just funny that folks are arguing about a president who has a majority popularity rating (53%) versus an admitted adulterer and liar who has been impeached and can’t even practice law in his home state. There’s no comparison.

    It’s obvious it stems from two root causes; jealousy and declining support for their own party. Instead of blaming fence straddlers, or those who have recently abandoned the democratic party, they blame the other side for attracting them. If their political stance merited support, the numbers would indicate so. The numbers don’t lie, unlike others.

  4. Pete Shoults says:

    General Boykin is a true combat hero who has spent the better part of the past 25 years personally fighting the war which America has been fighting since at least the time of the hostage taking in Tehran in 1979. On 9/11 the scale of this war escalated, bringing a back burner event into the forefront of the national consciousness. General Boykin has been on the front lines of every major engagement, from the failed hostage rescue attempt in 1979, leading the famed Black Hawk Down raid in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 and now he has received his third star and is leading the intelligence effort in the Pentagon to hunt down and find Osama Bin Laden and his ilk.

    General Boykin is also a devout Christian and his 25 years of experience in this war has led him to the belief that Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the rest of the temporal players in this war are merely the physical manifestation of a larger spiritual battle discussed in scripture. A battle to which every Christian is called and in shoring up support for that call General Boykin went to churches and prayer meetings asking his fellow Christians to do their part in the spiritual battle while soldiers fight the physical battles. They can do their part as we all can – by keeping the soldiers, our president and each other in our prayers.

    He spoke in terms common to fundamental Christianity. A journalist from the LA Times made his way into one of these prayer meetings with intent only he knows in his heart. While Gen. Boykin’s fellow Christians may have left those meetings with a greater understanding of the true nature of the threat we all (Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists alike) face from this nefarious enemy, this reporter left instead with notes he had taken of the Generals talk.

    Instead of releasing these notes, or possibly making a transcript of his full speech available, as they obviously have videos provided by the churches in question to play on the evening news from which transcripts could be taken if they so chose, this reporter chooses to only release the most incendiary quotes he can find. Surely a journalist is well acquainted with the Constitutional provisions of freedom of speech and freedom of worship. They will surely invoke those freedoms when they refuse to release a source who may provide information in this war – in the name of freedom of the press. They understand freedom of speech when one wishes to burn an American flag so I don’t believe they do not understand that the General has every right to speak and worship without governmental molestation. What can be gained by releasing these inflammatory quotes out of context other than inflaming the moderate Muslims whom the Bush administration has been trying to woo to our side in this fight on behalf of freedom loving people everywhere of all religions and races. I don’t dispute this journalist’s right to write what he pleases – I certainly question his methods and motivations.

    Many Congressmen and Senators have called for General Boykin, a public official, to be removed for his views. A brief quote from Representative Conyer in a letter demanding the Generals resignation or removal to the Bush administration:

    “I am writing to express my extreme displeasure over Lieutenant General William Boykin’s remarks about the war and the Muslim religion. Lt. Gen. Boykin serves as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and is charged with heading a Pentagon office that focuses on finding Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other targets. This is a critical policymaking position, and it is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, closed-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military.”

    I would like to bring to the Congressman’s attention Article VI, Section III of the US Constitution, a possibly-soon-to-be-forgotten relic of American history if positions such as this Congressman’s are allowed to remain unchallenged:

    3. The senators and representatives before-mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    Representative Conyers’ advocating of the Generals removal from the office or public trust of his position in the Pentagon is most definitively a religious test. Read again his objections to the General – is it his ability to perform his job? – no, it is his religious views and the audacity he has shown in speaking them – in a Church, of all places, – that draws his ire.

    The most vocal advocates of removing General Boykin are the most liberal members of our government, most of whom are avowed separationists and should be familiar with the letter of Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in which the famous phrase “separation of Church and State” is found:

    “Believing … that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
    — Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802

    Just in case the limitation of government to reach actions only; and not opinions, is a distinction that the Congressman in question and his supporters fail to make, I’ll quote Justice Fields as he elaborates on this same letter in Reynolds v US in 1878:

    “Coming as this [Jefferson’s letter] does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.”

    Notice please, Mr. Conyer, that Congress (psst…that means you Congressman) was deprived of power over mere opinion, regardless of how extreme, closed-minded, or even (gasp!) zealous (can you imagine a zealous religious person in office?) they might be.

    As Americans we need to stand behind General Boykin, a true American hero who has carried the banner against terrorism allowing the rest of America for the most part to rest safely in their beds for the past 25 years while this war has been ongoing and fought by men such as he. What we do not need to do is to sacrifice this good man on the altar of political correctness.

    We can and should take this opportunity to demonstrate to the world, including the Muslim community here at home and abroad, that when we claim the United States of America as a bastion of freedom to worship as the individual conscience sees fit, we mean it and our government does not try to ruin the career of a good man for the perceived crime of being “zealous” – I would submit that this country would be much better off if we had many more zealots who would stand up for their beliefs as General Boykin has. Whether we agree or disagree with his beliefs we should stand shoulder to shoulder with him in his fight to hold them.

    God Bless America and the World.