Jerry Falwell and Kevin Jennings: Another WorldNetDaily attack fizzles

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

The anti-gay bigots at WorldNetDaily are back with yet another recycled attack on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. This time, WND "news editor" Bob Unruh is trumpeting a seven-year-old Concerned Women of America "report" that, in the words of WND's banner headline, "Jennings called Falwell 'terrorist.' " But like every other attack the right has leveled at Jennings, this one falls flat.

In the first sentence of his WND story, Unruh breathlessly writes: "Reports have been uncovered revealing President Obama's Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings once called renowned evangelist Jerry Falwell a 'terrorist' ..."

Not until the 12th paragraph of the story (the 13th, if you count the paragraph hocking The Marketing of Evil audio book, on sale in the WND superstore) does Unruh get around to providing the context of what Jennings is actually alleged to have said -- context that makes Jennings' quote (assuming he actually said it) a lot less inflammatory:

The documentation on Jennings' opinion of Falwell comes from a report posted on the CWFA website about a 2002 conference.

Report author Allyson Smith noted going undercover to the GLSEN "Teaching Respect for All" conference in Los Angeles that year.

The subject of Falwell, who founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Christian Academy, Liberty University and the Moral Majority, and died in 2007, came up.

Jennings said: "I have to stop and give my little homage to the Southern Baptist Church because one of its leaders, Jerry Falwell, two days ago just announced that the founder of one of the world's greatest religions, Mohammed, was a terrorist. Usually the religious right tapes everything I say, so let me make sure they get this [quote] down: Jerry Falwell, if you need to know what a terrorist looks like, go look in the mirror," according to the CWFA report.

Falwell had told CBS News earlier that the founder of Islam was "a violent man, a man of war."

For the record, here's the relevant portion of the 2002 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon that Jennings was allegedly referencing:

SIMON: (Voiceover) Falwell believes most Muslims want to live in peace but, he says, the lines have been drawn: Christians and Jews on one side, Muslims on the other. And, he says, those lines were drawn more than 1,000 years ago.

Rev. FALWELL: I think Mohammed was a terrorist. He--I've read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and--and non-Muslims, that he was a--a violent man, a man of war.

SIMON: So the same way that Moses provided the ultimate example for the Jews and the same way that Jesus provided the ultimate example for Christians, Mohammed provided the ultimate example for Muslims, and he was a terrorist?

Rev. FALWELL: In my opinion. And I do believe that Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. And I think that Mohammed set an opposite example.

Of course, this wasn't the first outrageous comment Falwell had made about terrorism. A year earlier, in the aftermath of 9-11, Falwell suggested that the United States deserved the terrorist attacks, famously telling Pat Robertson that "what we saw on [9-11], as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact--if, in fact--God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

Falwell went on to "point the finger in" the "face" of several groups he claimed "helped this happen," including "the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle":

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."

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