Jul 14, 2003

TV preacher Pat Robertson, in an apparent effort to promote a Supreme Court that approves his religio-political agenda, is urging his nationwide audience to pray for a change in the make-up of the high court.

Incensed by the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which stated that gays "are entitled to respect for their private lives," Robertson is seeking divine help in restructuring the nation's top court. To achieve that goal, the religious broadcaster is sponsoring a 21-day "prayer offensive."

Last week, Robertson e-mailed an "Urgent call for prayer" letter to Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) viewers, exhorting them to pray for the retirement of several of the high court's justices. He noted that one "justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, expressed anger at Robertson's plea.

"There is something ghoulish about praying for the removal of some the Supreme Court's justices while noting their age and health problems," Lynn said. "This shows how desperate Robertson and his Religious Right allies are to remake the high court.

"Robertson and his friends want a Supreme Court that enforces the Religious Right's version of biblical law," continued Lynn. "They despise court rulings that uphold individual liberty and freedom of conscience."

According to Robertson's letter, the Supreme Court has done great damage to America with decisions that "ruled prayer out of the public schools" and found a right of privacy that opened "the door to the slaughter of more than 43,000,000 innocent unborn children."

But with the Lawrence ruling, the high court had gone too far, Robertson proclaimed. Parroting Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), Robertson informed his CBN viewers that the ruling in Lawrence declared a "constitutional right to consensual sodomy and, by the language in its decision, has opened the door to homosexual marriage, bigamy, legalized prostitution, and even incest."

Robertson's letter then asked his viewers if they would "join with me and many others in crying out to our Lord to change the Court?"

Robertson followed his plea for prayer with his observations about the health and age of three of the current justices.

"Would it not be possible," Robertson asked, "for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire? With their retirement and appointment of conservative judges, a massive change in federal jurisprudence can take place."

Lynn added that Robertson's latest tactic is part of his long-standing obsession to bring the Supreme Court into line with his religious beliefs. Not long after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Robertson and fellow TV preacher Jerry Falwell asserted that the federal courts and supporters of church-state separation had angered God, thereby prompting the tragedies of 9/11.

Speaking on his "700 Club" program Sept. 13, 2001, Robertson blasted "rampant pornography on the internet," "rampant secularism," abortion rights and church-state separation.

"We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools," thundered Robertson. "We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And then we say, 'Why does this happen?'

"Well, why it's happening," Robertson concluded, "is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us. "

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.