Jerry Falwell and Pseudo-Pat Robertson

(corrected – Dateline Hollywood is satire; thanks to Mollie at Get Religion)

A massive banner headline in WorldNetDaily, billed as “Breaking News”:

L.A. Times admits false claim about Falwell, 9-11

So what new act of persecution against a good Christian is this? WND has the shocking details:

A column by a rabbi published in the Los Angeles Times falsely asserted Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed lesbian actress Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9-11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards before both events.

The Times ran a correction explaining the Baptist minister “made no such claim.”

The accusation appeared in a column by Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein that was critical of religious fundamentalism. But why did Stein make such an unwarranted suggestion? WND can’t be bothered to tell us, and the LA Times offers no clues either. However, two minutes of googling brings up the following, from satirical website Dateline Hollywood back in September:

Pat Robertson on Sunday said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of expressing its anger at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its selection of Ellen Degeneres [sic] to host this year’s Emmy Awards.

…Robertson also noted that the last time Degeneres hosted the Emmys, in 2001, the September 11 terrorism attacks took place shortly before the ceremony.

“This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards,” Robertson explained to his approximately one million viewers. “America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

Yes, the rabbi made the huge error of confusing Falwell with Pat Robertson, in a general discussion of Christian fundamentalism. And embarrassingly, he picked a fake quote which originated with a satirical website, rather than choosing any of the far more reasonable utterances Pat is famous for. This has led to an appalling misrepresentation of Falwell’s true position on 9/11, which in no way places the blame on one lesbian:

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 endured considerable mockery and condemnation for this, and backed down)

First Larry Flynt, and now Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein – just how long will God allow his most faithful servant to be persecuted like this?