A liberal media watchdog group says Jerry Falwell lied Nov. 28 on national television when he defended remarks he made three years ago about abortion rights activists, homosexuals and others being responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

On last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” NBC’s Tim Russert asked Falwell about comments he made two days after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Interviewed on CBN by Pat Robertson, Falwell initially blamed the tragedy on “pagans,” “abortionists,” “feminists” and others he accused of trying to “secularize America.”

“And I went on to say a sleeping church, a lethargic church likewise is responsible,” Falwell told Russert on Sunday.

A Web site dedicated to correcting “Conservative misinformation,” however, said Falwell did not lay blame on any church in his Sept. 13, 2001, “700 Club” interview.

“Just before his diatribe against the groups he deemed directly responsible, Falwell remarked that the attacks were ‘probably what we deserve,'” according to Media Matters for America. “But that remark seemed to suggest that the United States ‘deserve[d]’ the attacks because of the actions of the groups he named, and the church was responsible only because it did not stop those groups’ movements.”

Later in his “700 Club” appearance, the group said, Falwell suggested that post-Sept. 11 prayer gatherings across the country could signal “God’s call to revival.”

The article links to a full transcript of the CBN interview provided by People For the American Way. It includes the following exchange between Falwell and Robertson:

FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, 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: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

The Media Matters Web site also said Falwell misspoke when he claimed the divorce rate is lower among born-again Christians than it is among all Americans, quoting pollster George Barna as saying the divorce rate is identical between born-again Christians and Americans who are not born again.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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