Hardball with Chris Matthews
Amy on Hardball talking about Pat Robertson.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.
Dr. Jerry Sutton is the pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church down in Nashville. And Amy Goodman is host of “Democracy Now” on radio and television. She is also co-author of “Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.”
But, first, Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical, calls on Pat Robertson to step down from his ministry.
Jim, thank you for joining us. You‘re in your car on a cell phone driving north on 95. Why—what do you think should happen to Pat Robertson right now?
JIM WALLIS, PRESIDENT, CALL TO RENEWAL: Well, I think these kind of comments, he‘s done this before many times.
And I hear the word outrageous, which they are. I hear irresponsible and silly. But they increase anti-Christian sentiment around the world. They increase anti-American sentiment around the world. Imagine what this does to a lot of conservative evangelicals who don‘t identify with Robertson‘s extreme views.
He‘s really issued—it‘s like an American evangelical leader issuing a religious fatwa for the murder of a foreign leader. This is really rather unbelievable, and how this puts Venezuelan evangelicals in jeopardy down there. So, this is really a danger in American politics, an embarrassment to the church.
And rather than calling on Robertson just to apologize—again, he also said that 9/11 was because of feminists and liberals. He said the federal judiciary is a greater threat to America than those who drove the planes into the Trade Towers.
I think, rather than calling him on—you know, to apologize, we should just ask him to retire. It‘s time he just stopped talking.
MATTHEWS: OK, Jim, stay with us right now.
Let‘s go right now to Amy Goodman and to the Reverend Jerry Sutton.
I want to start with the Reverend Jerry Sutton, who is an evangelical minister. And he‘s a wonderful host to us when we went down to visit his great church down there in Nashville.
What do you—what should we make of Pat Robertson when he says one day, go kill that guy, and, the next day, says, never mind, like he is Gilda Radner saying, you know, never mind? Should we take him seriously?
DR. JERRY SUTTON, PASTOR, TWO RIVERS BAPTIST CHURCH: Chris, I think that, in the situation here, that Pat was speaking off the cuff. Actually, he was speaking as political commentary.
I don‘t—from what I read in the transcript—I didn‘t see the show. I read the transcript. He sure seemed to me to be someone who was basically speaking as a frustrated American, more than an evangelical leader.
MATTHEWS: But didn‘t he say 23 times, something like that, that this action ought to be taken. It wasn‘t—it wasn‘t really off the cuff, was it? This was a show that he could have corrected at any point during the show. He could have said, I didn‘t mean to say kill him. And he never did. He said assassinate.
SUTTON: Well, I didn‘t hear the word assassinate.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he used it.
SUTTON: I saw the word take him out.
Now, what I see here, though, is—the question is this. Is the guy a danger and is he a terrorist—a proponent of terrorism? And if he is, I mean, that needs to be looked at carefully, but Pat Robertson‘s not the person to look at it carefully, and he‘s not the one who makes those kind of decisions.
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking for evangelicalism on the program tonight—and I‘m putting you in a big-time catbird seat here, Reverend Sutton, but Christianity, does it believe in assassination?
SUTTON: No, it doesn‘t.
As a matter of fact, to talk about killing somebody because it‘s the best thing to do—what I read was that he said it‘s better to take him out—quote, unquote—than to go to war against him, his country, for $200 billion. And it looked like he was framing it in an economic position.
But, from my perspective, I mean, what he said was wrong. I think it was unwise. And, if he had to do it over again, I would hope that he would be more careful in what he said.
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, “DEMOCRACY NOW”: Reverend Sutton, I‘m very surprised you‘re simply saying you think it‘s unwise and not saying that it‘s immoral, that it‘s evil, that, to call for the assassination of anyone, let alone a world leader, is absolutely, unequivocally wrong.
But I don‘t think it‘s just you falling short here. I think what‘s most significant is that President Bush this week, who has spoken out publicly a number of times this week, while he is busy demonizing peace activists, has not said one word about Pat Robertson and this call.
And you have Defense of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saying, he‘s a private citizen, yet not unequivocally condemning this call for the assassination of a foreign leader.
SUTTON: You know, I don‘t know Hugo Chavez, but I do know that, by reputation, he is a very ruthless man.
And the question that I would ask is this. Is this the same kind of scenario that unfolded in Nazi Germany? Is it a situation where you have a ruthless dictator who is going to bring the world into war? I don‘t know…
GOODMAN: Reverend Sutton, are you suggesting that Hugo Chavez killed six million Jews?
SUTTON: No, I didn‘t suggest that at all, and you know I didn‘t suggest that at all.
What I did suggest was that it needs to be considered that he could be a very ruthless man. And Pat Robertson—I‘m not going to justify what pat said. I don‘t think it was right. I don‘t think it was wise. But, at the same time, I suspect that our State Department has probably looked over those kinds of scenarios.
GOODMAN: Well, it‘s interesting you raise our State Department, because Robertson has also talked about nuking the State Department. In 2003, he said…
GOODMAN: I‘m just going to quote him. He said, what we need is for somebody to place a small nuke at Foggy Bottom, which is where, of course, the State Department is.
This is not Pat Robertson just once advocating violence. He‘s done it over and over again. You might be right this was off the cuff.
SUTTON: OK, let me say this about Pat.
GOODMAN: Who cares whether it was scripted or off the cuff. This man said it.
MATTHEWS: OK, let him answer. Let him answer, Amy, please.
SUTTON: Pat is a man who sometimes does—speaks for Pat and not for evangelicals.
He doesn‘t speak for me. And there have been times in his life when he‘s said things that the rest of us just kind of shudder at. And this is one of those scenarios.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Reverend, I say things I shudder at myself sometimes. But, you know, he did say something very fascinating about three weeks ago.
And I wonder. I really think you have got to wonder about the competence—and I don‘t mean moral competence, just, is the guy sort of losing it a bit, when he says something like praying to the lord that there will be more vacancies on the Supreme Court coming up quick, in other words, praying for the demise of a Supreme Court justice, so that this president could have more picks.
MATTHEWS: Does that strike you as an odd use of prayer, to call for the demise, the death of people, so that there will be more opportunities for a conservative court appointments?
SUTTON: Now, did he use the word demise or did he just say—use the word departure?
MATTHEWS: Well, no, he said—no, no, it was very interesting. He said he wanted more vacancies and he wanted them fast. I mean, it‘s very hard to ignore what he was saying.
SUTTON: I‘m one of those who tend to agree with that.
SUTTON: I‘m one of those who tend to agree with it. I‘d be happy if some of the Supreme Court justices would retire and President Bush had the opportunity to appoint others. But I know that‘s not the issue in this…
MATTHEWS: OK, fair enough. So, we‘re talking about retirement.
We‘re not talking about demise. We‘re not talking about…
SUTTON: Yes. I don‘t want you putting words in his mouth. I mean, he says enough things off the wall.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think his words were clear.
Let me go back to Jim Wallis again.
Jim, you know, you‘re a moderate or a liberal person. A progressive, I guess, is a safe phrase for you in the evangelical world. Do you think anybody cares that you, from your side of the thing, of the world, of the evangelical world, says that Pat Robertson ought to quit?
WALLIS: Well, the World Evangelical Alliance and the National Association of Evangelicals have denounced Pat Robertson‘s statements here.
He‘s calling for the killing of a foreign leader. He didn‘t bother to ask, in this case, what would Jesus do? Here‘s somebody who has championed Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses around the nation. He forgot one sort of troublesome commandment about, thou shalt not kill.
And he‘s showing again that Pat Robertson doesn‘t believe in democracy. He believe in theocracy. There have been little Hitlers all over Latin America…
WALLIS: … for years that have killed tens of thousands of people. And the U.S. has in fact supported them. Pat Robertson hasn‘t had a word to say about those ruthless dictators. He doesn‘t like Chavez because he is an anti-American leader sitting on lots of oil.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK, we are out of time. Gentlemen, gentlemen…
SUTTON: Chris, let me jump in on this.
MATTHEWS: Well, very quickly, sir.
SUTTON: OK, quickly.
Theocracy is a—to say that he wants a theocracy is an idiotic notion. He doesn‘t want a theocracy. I heard—heard—read yesterday that some of them said that he was a reconstruction and dominion theologist. That‘s a postmillennial construct. And he‘s a premillennialist. That is absolutely absurd.
Well, I think we have to understand that, when we have democracy around the world—and I believe in it—sometimes, people are going to vote for guys we don‘t like. And that‘s part of the deal of democracy.
Anyway, thank—and we don‘t try to kill them because we don‘t like them.
Anyway, thank you, Jim Wallis, calling us from Route 95 on his cell phone. He‘s editor in chief of “The Sojourners” and author of the best-seller “God‘s Politics.”
Amy Goodman, thanks for joining us again.
And, the Reverend Jerry Sutton, again, thank you for you great hospitality down in Nashville.
Coming up, the majority Democratic Massachusetts state legislature, the great and general court of Massachusetts holding a constitutional convention next month to take up an amendment changing the state‘s legal gay marriages to civil unions. But does the amendment only change the name? Are we just arguing about nomenclature here?
And, later, the state of emergency on our borders against illegal immigrants. Is the federal government getting serious or simply making it look that they are getting serious?
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