Weeks after Jerry Falwell made the post-September 11 remarks for whichhe has since apologized, he is getting flak from unlikely quarters. Rev. Falwell, you'll recall, was on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network show The 700 Club, when he said that God might be punishing America for the actions of liberal groups that have promoted the evilsof abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, pornography and the like. Youknow, the stuff that Pope John Paul II repeatedly calls "the culture ofdeath."

Rev. Falwell himself acknowledged that he had overreached in saying, "I point the finger" at the ACLU, People for the American Way, homosexual activists and other liberals. For an unequivocal apology, see Rev. Falwell's Web site. As a preacher, Rev. Falwell knows that no human can fathom the doings of Almighty God: "For my thoughts are not yourthoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).

On October 23, Tod Lindberg, who also edits the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review, sent forth this Washington Times column: "Osama binLaden, meet Jerry Falwell: Extremism must be defanged."

"I, for one," Mr. Lindberg writes, "expect [that] damage control in response to this spectacularly offensive episode is going to be an exercise in futility." He should have added, "At least, if I haveanything to say about it."

Mr. Lindberg went on: "There is a gulf of civilization separating Mr. Falwell from decent Americans who couldn't imagine blaming their countrymen for the terror attack. But even this is small compared to the vast gulf of civilization that separates bin Laden and Mr. Falwell. Mr. Falwell lives in a time and place in which those harboring his view of fellow human beings are constrained to express it in the marketplace.... There will, for a while to come anyway, probably be ample rewards for those best able to articulate this point of view, on account of its lingering (if diminishing) resonance with some Americans." Translation: Jerry Falwell is pretty much like bin Laden, but the system prevents him from doing violence, so I guess he's more civilized.

We've seen radical homosexual groups make these kinds of arguments, but it's shocking when they come from a mainstream Republican conservative,as Mr. Lindberg appears to consider himself.

Let's examine this more closely: First, Mr. Falwell is cast intodarkness, away from "decent" Americans, a category that presumably includes anyone who declines to speculate on whether God punishes nations (a theme throughout the Bible). This would mean that the "decent" hard-core pornographer who hasn't thought about God for a decade is morallysuperior to Mr. Falwell. Or the "decent" abortionist who shoves scissors into the necks of fully-formed babies in order to suck the brains out in a late-term abortion. Or the "decent" sex educator who acquaintselementary schoolchildren with enough explicit material to destroy any vestige of innocence. No, these "decent" folks probably do not speculate on whether God rewards or punishes human agency.

But if Mr. Falwell had put it differently, would it be beyond the paleto suggest the possibility that God may, in fact, be fed up with Americafor allowing the killing of "inconvenient" children, for promoting sodomy in ways that would make Sodom blush, and for banishing His name from the public square? Is it unreasonable to ponder whether the forces of decadence in America, transmitted worldwide by a perverse popularculture, have made it easy for the likes of bin Laden to misrepresent America as the Great Satan?

America's forefathers had no problem with the concept of DivineJudgment. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln opined that the CivilWar was God's punishment on America for slavery. He made the speech a month before the end of the war, after hundreds of thousands of Americans had died, and he quoted Psalm 19:9: "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." Would the GOP's founder still have a place in the "new" Republican Party or the secularized new world that Mr. Lindberg envisions?

The subtext of Mr. Lindberg's column is revealing. Mr. Falwell has an orthodox Christian view of man's sinfulness, so Mr. Lindberg'sdisparaging comment about "his view of his fellow human beings" might be construedas contempt for the Christian view of human nature, at least theBible-based version that has not given itself over to worshipping false idols like "the marketplace" or "democracy" or the liberal version ofheaven-on-earth--"diversity.

Mr. Lindberg implies that fundamentalist Christianity is on the wane,and a good thing, too, or we would be stabbing each other over religious differences. This "secularism is the soul of America" argument ignoresthe irreplaceable contribution that Christendom has made to the cause of freedom. It wasn't Hindus who decided to put an end to "suttee" inIndia, the practice of throwing a live wife onto her dead husband's funeralpyre.