CNN November 4, 2004  "God and Politics"

CNN-Nov4-04

Transcript
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Also today, god and politics, a hot button issue for months leading up to this election. President Bush did very well among churchgoers, outpacing John Kerry by 22 points. We'll talk about the role of morality and religion in politics this morning, welcoming the Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Reverend, good morning to you.

REV. JERRY FALWELL, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY FOUNDER & CHANCELLOR: Good morning, Bill. HEMMER: Also here in New York City, Sister Karol Jackowski, author of "The Silence We Keep: A Nun's View of the Catholic Priest Scandal."

Sister, good morning to you, as well, and welcome here.

SISTER KAROL JACKOWSKI, CATHOLIC NUN: Good morning.

HEMMER: Reverend, let's start with you.

When we talk about morals, we talk about morals, we talk about faith, we talk about values, when it comes to this election, how did we define that in 2004?

FALWELL: Well, for evangelicals, of course, we have all the same concerns that all Americans have -- safety, security, the economy, etc. But if you're asking what is the -- what's top and foremost in our priorities, it is faith and family. And the plight of the unborn child for us, abortion, is still THE hot button. But accelerating our interests that brought multi-millions of our people to the polls, confusing, confounding all the pundits this time, was the issue of same-sex marriage. It, 11 states had state constitutional amendments on them, on the ballots, and we won all 11 states.

But we early on decided this time, because of the issues of faith and family, the unborn, the same-sex marriage and the war on terrorism, that Mr. Bush had to go back. There are 80 million evangelicals in this country. We mobilized a good number of them.

HEMMER: Sister, the same question to you, how do you define it? In similar terms or not?

JACKOWSKI: Well, I think it's -- we need to draw a distinction between moral values and religious values. And I think the thing that we saw with this election was how divided the country is over the use of government to legislate our religious agenda. And I think that's certainly clear. While there was an overwhelming support of Bush supporters who voted on moral issues, that 55 million voters in this country have a hard time with that. You know, it's the separation of the church and state.

And I think when some people, particularly people who are not religious, who are not particularly believers, who somehow feel that, well, perhaps, we, too, live a moral life that is not driven by a religious agenda, and I think that's going to be the question for the next four years, of how to bring this country together.

HEMMER: Sister, in a moment I'll come back to you and talk about the Catholic vote.

But a second back to Reverend Falwell about this.

Many will accuse the media as misdirecting the country, as not seeing the motivation, perhaps, for 58 million Americans going to the polls.

Did we misread the country in any way? Did we miss the story before it arrived?

FALWELL: Well, I don't know anything about the present company, but I do know that in general, most of the media did miss what's happening. Evangelical Christians are about 80 million persons. I formed the Moral Majority 25 years ago, April '79, and for the first time began to mobilize pastors and people of faith in this country, getting them registered to vote, millions of them. And men like James Dobson, Don Wildman, D. James Kennedy, great American leaders, Presbyterians, Methodist, Nazarene, Baptists, etc. We all came together. And this time, after 25 years, I think we were most successful in getting our crowd to the polls.

And, yes, I think the 15 million increase in persons or 10 or 15 million that voted this time as opposed to 2000, that would be primarily evangelicals.

I'd like to ask the Sister, you know, if she believes -- agrees with Pope John Paul II that abortion on demand is wrong. I would like to hear her feeling on that.

JACKOWSKI: That abortion on demand is wrong?

FALWELL: Yes. Do you agree with Pope John Paul II on the life issue?

JACKOWSKI: No, I don't. I'm pro-choice.

FALWELL: OK. How do you remain a sister in the Catholic Church?

JACKOWSKI: Well, I think there's a great diversity in the Catholic Church on this issue and I think it's also a dividing line among many Catholics.

FALWELL: Not people who take the bible seriously. And I'd, your pope is a great, great, great world citizen.

HEMMER: Reverend, allow me to direct the questions today.

FALWELL: Sure.

HEMMER: And, Sister, maybe you can explain this. How does the president outpace a Catholic candidate by 5 points in this race?

JACKOWSKI: Well, I think he sort of appealed -- you know, there was a lot of play on religious fears in this issue, you know, the fear of terrorism. And I think whenever there's -- you appeal to people's fears, it's the gut instinct. I think people are drawn to religion during times of, whether it's war or any type of crisis. And I think there is a large percentage of Catholics who are -- who do affiliate themself with sort of a conservative moral stance. And I think President Bush appealed to those people, just like I think those who appealed to a more diverse perspective on Catholicism and who are at the more liberal end, you know, found John Kerry's Catholicism appealing.

HEMMER: All right, interesting discussion. We could continue, certainly, and we shall.

Sister, thank you.

JACKOWSKI: Thank you.

HEMMER: Karol Jackowski here in New York.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell there in Lynchburg, Virginia this morning.

FALWELL: Thank you.
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