Jerry Falwell speaks

The Reverend Jerry Falwell is running his mouth again. This time he’s gone ballistic towards Hillary Clinton.

WASHINGTON — Nothing will motivate conservative evangelical Christians to vote Republican in the 2008 presidential election more than a Democratic nominee named Hillary Rodham Clinton — not even a run by the devil himself.

That was the sentiment expressed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the longtime evangelical icon and founder of the once-powerful Moral Majority, during private remarks Friday to church pastors and activists as part of the Values Voter Summit hosted this weekend by the country’s leading Christian conservatives.

A recording of Falwell’s comments was obtained by The Times, and his remarks were confirmed by eyewitnesses.

“I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate,” Falwell said, according to the recording. “She has $300 million so far. But I hope she’s the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton.”

Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: “If Lucifer ran, he wouldn’t.”

At that moment in the recording, Falwell’s voice is drowned out by hoots of approval. But two in attendance, including a Falwell staff member, confirmed that Falwell said that even Lucifer, the fallen angel synonymous with Satan in Christian theology, would not mobilize his followers as much as the New York senator and former first lady would.

One critic who has been observing the conference said Saturday that Falwell’s words offered a rare glimpse into how religious conservative leaders were planning to inflame opposition to the Democrats with below-the-radar messages that are often more scorching than the ones showing up in public.

“He was calling Hillary Clinton a demonic figure and openly arguing that God is a Republican,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “It’s hard to know whether people thought he was joking or serious, but once you start using religious imagery and invoking a politician in this way, it’s not funny. A lot of people who listen to him do think that she’s a dark force of evil in America.”

This man, a reverend, has some serious hate towards Hillary. And when did God join a political party?

Falwell’s remarks about Clinton were part of a 40-minute address at a private breakfast that included assurances that God would preserve a Republican majority in Congress and that moderates such as former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani could not be allowed to win the GOP presidential nomination.

So even a moderate Republican won’t do for Falwell? This is why I can’t stand these religious leaders getting involved in politics. In my eyes they want to rule this country. Folks like Falwell are no different than the religious fanatics in Iraq.

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