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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 24, 1998
6:20 PM
CONTACT:  Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Joseph Conn or Rob Boston
conn@au.org / boston@au.org

TV Preacher Pat Robertson Expands On 'Gay Days' Comments
Suggests Fires In Florida May Have Divine Origin
 
WASHINGTON - June 24 - TV preacher Pat Robertson has expanded on his recent warning to Orlando, Fla., suggesting that fires in Florida are divine punishment.

On the June 8 edition of his "700 Club" show (released to the media by Americans United for Separation of Church and State), Robertson denounced Orlando and Disney World for welcoming gay tourists to the theme park during a privately sponsored "Gay Days" weekend. Robertson predicted dire consequences.

Noting that the city government allowed the display of rainbow flags on light poles, the TV preacher warned that acceptance of homosexuality could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs and "possibly a meteor."

On today's show, Robertson returned to the subject.

"And you know, as I've been reading and praying, we had quite a flap the other day when we were talking about that gay pride day in Orlando and everybody laughed, but nevertheless, here's what I saw in the Bible," Robertson said.

Noting that the Florida fires are often caused by lightning, Robertson cited biblical prophecy. Quoting from Revelation 8:7, Robertson said, "'There was an angel who sounded,' it said, 'his trumpet and there came hail and fire'  and, of course, fire is lightning  'and it was hurled down upon the earth.'...And that's exactly what is happening."

Quoting from another passage in the Bible, Robertson said people must "turn from their wicked ways" and pray to bring rain and stop the fires. He urged city councils, mayors and religious leaders to declare days of fasting and prayer.

"Pat Robertson just doesn't get it," said Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn. "Respect for diversity is not wicked. It is deplorable that Robertson is using the tragedy of these fires to promote his religious and political agenda."

Lynn noted that as a matter of fact, the fires in Florida began over Memorial Day weekend, a full two weeks before the "Gay Days" event at Disney World.

Lynn was also critical of Robertson for calling on local government officials to declare prayer days. "Robertson is free to preach what he wants," said Lynn, "but he is not free to merge church and state. Decisions about when and how to pray should be left up to our houses of worship, not government officials."

Robertson, who serves as chairman of the Christian Coalition, has often demanded that government comply with his interpretation of biblical law.

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