"The Bible Belt is Israel's safety net in the United States."
—Jerry Falwell on CBS' 60 Minutes, October 6, 2002
Jerry Falwell told CBS' 60 Minutes last October that the Prophet Mohammad was "a terrorist" and a "violent man of war." This blasphemous remark insulted Muslims everywhere. Falwell's remarks followed a series of anti-Islamic statements from leaders of the Christian Right, including Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Vines of the Southern Baptist Convention. The outcry from the Islamic world was immediate, including demonstrations in major Islamic cities.
The timing of Falwell's interview was curious, coming as it did on the eve of President Bush's address to the nation calling for an attack on Iraq. After Sept. 11, 2001, the president solidified political support from two important U.S. constituencies previously deemed "soft" for the Republican Party: the fundamentalist Christian Right and the American Jewish community, particularly the powerful pro-Israel lobby. George Bush Sr. had been unable to mobilize support from these vital political components, but George W. has been able to build a powerful alliance that includes the pro-Israel lobby, the Christian Right, and neoconservative ideologues at the highest levels of decision-making in the Bush administration. Their ideology is supported by a network of financial backers of the conservative wing of the Republican Party and the arms industry and multinational construction firms such as Halliburton and Bechtel.