Here is a partial transcript of the debate between Sutton and Matthews (via the Church-State Network):
MATTHEWS: 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?Unless I miss my guess, Rev. Sutton even pulls a flip-flop at the end of that exchange.
SUTTON: 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.
On a related note, Jim Wallis, who will be at Vanderbilt on October 13 and 14 to deliver the Cole Lectures, was less evasive and misleading in attempting to hold Robertson responsible when he wrote this week that Robertson put biblical ethics and the Ten Commandments aside in advocating assassination. Wallis also called Robertson "an embarrassment to the church." Given Jerry Sutton's deceptive defense of Robertson, I would have to say that the local pastor is no less embarrassing to the Nashville religious community.