NEW YORK -- Penthouse magazine released an interview Thursday in which the founder of the Moral Majority blasts former President Jimmy Carter for giving his famous 'lust' interview to Playboy -- 'a salacious, vulgar magazine.'
Sandwiched in between photo layouts of naked women, sex ads, bawdy jokes and vulgar cartoons, the interview with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, 46-year-old Baptist minister, takes a generally critical view of American morals.
Falwell, contacted in Washington, said free-lance writers Andrew Duncan and Sasthi Brata were guilty of 'deceit' because, in requesting interviews, they told him they would use the material in a book and a London newspaper.
'We would never knowingly give Penthouse magazine an interview,' Falwell said. 'I would certainly never want to encourage their distribution by giving them one word of interview which might cause someone to purchase the magazine.
'Our attorneys are looking into the possibility of legal action against Penthouse and Mr. Duncan and Mr. Brata for attempting to do damage to our reputation and ministry by leaving the impression that we knowingly gave an interview to Penthouse magazine.'
A Penhouse spokesman said the two writers 'told Jerry Falwell up front that they would endeavor to sell their story wherever they could. Nothing else was said about it. The question whether or not they would sell their story to Penthouse or Playboy never came up. He didn't ask.'
In the interview, Falwell said he never objected to then presidential candidate Jimmy Carter admitting in the l976 Playboy interview he had lusted after women in his heart.
'There is not a man on earth alive today who was never guilty of lust,' Falwell said. 'Because we are human beings.'
But, he added, 'Giving an interview to Playboy magazine was lending the credence and the dignity of the highest office in the land to a salacious, vulgar magazine that did not even deserve the time of his day... I feel that he was pitching; he was campaigning to an audience that doesn't read the Baptist Sunday schools quarterlies.
Falwell, the self-styled 'noisy Baptist' who has built up his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., into a 17,000-member organization, was also critical of television.
'Take the soap operas in the afternoon,' he said. 'They teach women how to run around on their husbands in a very sophisticated fashion and get by with it.'
'So I say that television has become a vendor of perniciousness. And I think we need some men and women at the top who are not motivated by the gods of the almighty dollar.'
He also denied that he was against women's rights.
'I am more for rights of women than the true feminists are,' he said. 'What the true feminists are doing is advocating a unisexual society, which I think is demeaning to womanhood.'