It just fascinated me that [this is] a nation whose foundations are built by people who came to this country seeking freedom to worship The Name-not the name of Muhammad or Buddha or some other faith system. They came to worship the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the whole premise of this country to exist. The ideal that we aspire to so much in this country and we hold as maybe the greatest virtue that we offer as a free democratic society is this notion of tolerance.
Jesus Christ is the author of the tolerance that we hold to in this nation. Jesus Christ never belittled another faith system. He never preached against the idolatry that was all around him in different faiths. He showed great tolerance toward sinners--he loved them as a matter of fact. He went to their homes to where it shocked the religious leaders of the day that this man Jesus Christ showed such tolerance.
Yet Christians do not get the same level of treatment. It's not a level playing field. You mention the name of Jesus Christ and you have all types of groups who come after you. Since World War II, there's been a deliberate attack against the name of Jesus Christ.
Why World War II?
Well, I think our nation began to change quite a bit after World War II. I don't know if it's because of the television--that certainly has been one of the great changes in this nation in my life since the 1950s. And there has been an underlying current. Every time you see a minister of the Gospel on television--is he portrayed in a nice way, or does he come off as some kind of fanatical person or a manipulator, a guy who's grabbing money, these types of things, or an adulterer. So there's an attack against the name of Jesus Christ. If you take Christ out of Christmas you call it Xmas. Or if it's a government agency you can't even use the word Christmas, you have to use Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays. And this is the greatest name in all of history. It's the most controversial name in all of history. There isn't another name that sparks such emotin as the name of Jesus Christ.
But 85% of us are at least nominally Christian in America. So the other side of the argument goes that it can never be a level playing field because Christians are so dominant.
We are 85%, but there's a small minority who are very vocal. When U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations, when he stood up before the General Assembly and talked about how much Buddha meant to him--you know, I don't fault the man for that. He believes in Buddha. I don't agree with him, and I certainly would argue with him. I wouldn't write a letter to the paper, I wouldn't demand an apology, I wouldn't sue the United Nations because he'd mentioned the name of Buddha publicly.
What do you make of the dust-up over your comments about Islam in October?
I think every time there's another suicide bomber who detonates himself on a bus, I think there may be more people inclined to understand my comments. People say, "Well this is just a fringe element of Islam." There is this whole notion that it's a peaceful religion. Let me give you an example. If a Roman Catholic strapped dynamite on himself, walked into a mosque in Saudi Arabia and said, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and Catholics around the world, I do this," then detonates himself and blows the mosque and himself up--the pope would be on television within minutes denouncing this man denouncing this act and having a fund-raising appeal, not for the family of the man who did this but for the families of the victims who got blown up in the mosque. Every cardinal, every bishop, every priest the next Sunday would denounce this man from the pulpit. Every Protestant minister would join the Catholics and denounce this.
But there has been silence from the Muslim clerics. There has not been denouncing of what happened here in New York City at the World Trade Center or what happened in Israel. And I link all of this together. There has not been condemnation by the clerics. Saudi Arabia has had fundraising appeals for the families of the suicide bombers, but not for the families of the victims. This is more evidence that something is wrong here.
Are you saying the faith itself is flawed? Is it the people or the faith, or both?
I believe the Qur'an teaches violence. It doesn't teach peace, it teaches violence. But nowhere in Scripture do you ever hear the Lord Jesus Christ instructing violence, and when they came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter pulls his sword and says he's going to defend Jesus-Jesus tells Peter to put it away. Jesus would never have a part in that sort of activity.