On the December 1 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, commented that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State executive director Rev. Barry W. Lynn “is about as reverend as an oak tree” and “that reverend name gives him respectability.” Guest host David Asman repeated the phrase “about as reverend as an oak tree” and said, “I'd never heard that one, Reverend Jerry Falwell, but I'm going to repeat it at some point.”
Falwell's comments came during a discussion of the so-called "war on Christmas." During the discussion, Asman brought up a federal court case in which a judge barred the use of sectarian prayer to begin sessions of the Indiana State House of Representatives. On November 30, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton found the invocations to be of a proselytizing nature and, therefore, ruled that if the prayers were to continue, they “must be nonsectarian and must not be used to proselytize or advance any one faith or belief or to disparage any other faith or belief.” He also ruled that those offering the prayer “should refrain from using Christ's name or title or any other denominational appeal.”
When Asman noted that “a group of religious leaders signed the petition [protesting the prayers]” in the Indiana case, Falwell responded that “the greatest opponents we have to honoring Christ in this country are guys like Reverend Barry Lynn and others who -- he is about as reverend as an oak tree. I've asked him, where is the church you've ever preached in? Well, he likes -- that reverend name gives him respectability.”
From the December 1 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
ASMAN: Well, the law isn't always on your side, at least temporarily. We are going to be talking to [Fox senior judicial analyst] Judge [Andrew] Napolitano about this in just a minute, but Indiana ruling that you probably heard about, a judge there, federal judge, this -- agreed with the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] that the prayer that they begin the morning with in the statehouse should be eliminated because of references to Jesus or references to the savior. So sometimes the courts are not in your favor, at least the judges.
ASMAN: By the way, the interesting thing about the Indiana ruling is that Quakers and a group of religious leaders signed the petition. What do you think of that?
FALWELL: Oh, listen, some of the greatest opponents we have to honoring Christ in this country are guys like Reverend Barry Lynn and others who -- he is about as reverend as an oak tree. He's never pastored a church in his life. I've asked him, where is the church you've ever preached in? Well, he likes -- that reverend name gives him respectability.
But the fact is that there are liberals in the pulpits as well as in the politics. And the fact is, free speech is right. Little children should be able to sing “Silent Night” and “Rudolph [the Red-Nosed Reindeer]” in the same setting, and say their prayers over their meals without some bigot thinking that they're breaking the law.
ASMAN: About as reverend as an oak tree. I'd never heard that one, Reverend Jerry Falwell, but I'm going to repeat it at some point. If you don't mind, I'll steal that from you at some point and use it.
ASMAN: Reverend Jerry Falwell from Liberty University. Thanks very much.