Jerry Falwell calls Mohammed a “terrorist” tomorrow night on 60 Minutes:
- In a 60 Minutes interview with CBS News Correspondent Bob Simon, Falwell also affirms the Christian Right’s steadfast support for the state of Israel against its Islamic enemies and hints that right-wing religious groups are influencing U.S. government policy toward Israel. Right-wing Christians believe the turmoil in the Middle East is a harbinger of the second coming of Christ.
The interview with Falwell will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
“I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough…by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war,” Falwell tells Simon. “In my opinion…Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and I think Mohammed set an opposite example.”
When President Bush urged Israel to remove its forces from Palestinian towns earlier this year, Falwell sent him a personal protest and the White House received 100,000 e-mail protests from Christians.
Falwell say he believes Bush is well aware of the Christian constituency. “There are 70 million of us…[and] there’s nothing that would bring the wrath of the Christian public in this country down on this government like abandoning or opposing Israel on a critical matter,” he says.
Falwell and conservative Christians support the Israelis and condemn their enemies because they believe the triumph of Israel is God’s will. The Jews’ return to their ancient homeland – and sole ownership of the territories Arabs and Israelis both lay claim to – is a precondition for the second coming of Christ, according to the Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians’ interpretation of the Bible.
The Biblical scenario is not a savory one for many Jews, however. “God save us from these people,” says Israeli political analyst Yossi Alpher. “When you see what these people are encouraging Israel and the U.S. to do…ignore the Palestinians, kick them out…they are leading us into a scenario of out-and-out disaster,” he tells Simon.
But disaster is part of the scenario. Many Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe there will be catastrophic events on earth, some occurring already, including the turmoil in the Middle East, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon in which Christ will triumph and begin ruling the earth. At this point, they believe, non-believers will be destroyed, good Christians saved and any remaining Jews converted to Christianity.
Says Ed McAteer, a founder of the Moral Majority and known as the godfather of the Christian Right, “I believe that we are seeing prophecy unfold so rapidly and dramatically and wonderfully, and, without exaggeration, [it] makes me breathless.”
There has been serious reappraisal of Islam of late, with some concluding that Mohammed’s role as political and military leader fundamentally changed his worldview toward confrontation and domination, a perspective toward which I am not totally unsympathetic. But there is a fundamental difference between a military leader – even an aggressive military leader – and a terrorist, who specifically targets civilians to create an atmosphere of fear and capitulation.
Using words like “terrorist” to describe the founder of one of the world’s great religions can only be interpreted as inflammatory. But then again, this is the man who said that pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals and civil liberties groups had secularized the nation enabling the Sept. 11 attacks.