Television evangelist Pat Robertson, speculating with a magazine interviewer over his possible run for the presidency in 1988, indicated that he considers opposition to abortion and support for school prayer to be necessary qualifications for anyone he would appoint to the Supreme Court.
In an interview in the Jan. 17 Christianity Today, Robertson is quoted as saying that as president he would push to amend the Constitution to authorize prayer in schools.
"But I would prefer to see the mortality tables do their work in relation to 80-year-old Supreme Court justices. If two new justices were appointed, we wouldn't need constitutional amendments regarding abortion or school prayer," he said.
In the interview, which appears in a question and answer format, Robertson said he is considering running for president because "I have received a leading from God similar to what I had when I came to Virginia Beach to start the Christian Broadcasting Network. But running for president is so monumental that I want to check it out with religious leaders and others whose opinions I respect."
One such meeting, held in suburban Washington late last year, involved Jerry Falwell, Campus Crusade President Bill Bright, Southern Baptist Convention President Charles Stanley, black Baptist leader E.V. Hill and Tim LaHaye, head of the American Coalition for Traditional Values.
Robertson reported that "the consensus was that evangelicals urgently need a voice to represent their point of view. They felt it was a win-win situation. If something happened to bring about a presidential campaign, it would be good for evangelicals and for the nation.
"If it did not result in receiving a nomination or winning the general election, then it would still bring unity in the body of Christ and give Christians a focus of discussion in the councils of leadership in our nation."
He said that within the evangelical community generally, "I am being encouraged from every sector, from very conservative fundamentalists to centrist evangelicals to charismatic Pentecostals" to make the race for the top office.
"It seems there is a hunger in the hearts of millions of religious people for a voice to represent conservative, traditional, moral, family values in our country," he said. "However, that doesn't imply a decision on my part."
He said that as president, he would not use his power "to force people to accept certain religious values. However, all law represents somebody's value structure. The moral values of our schools will either be based on Judeo-Christian values, humanism or communism. It will either be the values that made this country great, or the values of those who supplanted them over the last several decades.