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Falwell apologizes to gays, feminists, lesbians

LYNCHBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell said late Thursday he did not mean to blame feminists, gays or lesbians for bringing on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington this week, in remarks on a television program earlier in the day.

On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"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.'"

Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "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."

But in a phone call to CNN, Falwell said that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the deadly attacks.

"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.

Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."

"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.

Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club program, seemed to agree with Falwell's earlier statements in a prayer during the program.

"We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," said Robertson. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Lorri L. Jean bristled at the idea that gays and lesbians had anything to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that may have left thousands dead, and demanded an apology from Falwell.

"The terrible tragedy that has befallen our nation, and indeed the entire global community, is the sad byproduct of fanaticism. It has its roots in the same fanaticism that enables people like Jerry Falwell to preach hate against those who do not think, live, or love in the exact same way he does," she said.

"The tragedies that have occurred this week did not occur because someone made God mad, as Mr. Falwell asserts. They occurred because of hate, pure and simple. It is time to move beyond a place of hate and to a place of healing. We hope that Mr. Falwell will apologize to the U.S. and world communities."

Falwell told CNN: "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

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