The Rev. Pat Robertson -- a televangelist known for making controversial comments such as blaming "sinful" jazz music for Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans -- has weighed in on another issue: Tuesday's Dover Area school board election.

The Christian right political activist and one-time presidential hopeful addressed the "good citizens of Dover" on his show, "The 700 Club," last night after a short segment about intelligent design and the election defeat of the board that supported it in Dover.

District voters ousted eight current board members who support requiring that intelligent design be mentioned in high school science classes and replaced them with members of political group Dover CARES, whose candidates have said intelligent design belongs in an elective course, not in science.

"If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city," Robertson said. "And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there."

Robertson's words sparked outrage from many residents of Dover.

Issued statement afterward: A Robertson spokeswoman said he was unavailable for comment because he needed to finish a book that was due yesterday.

But Robertson did release a response to media requests through spokeswoman Angell Watts.

"I was simply stating that our spiritual actions have consequences and it's high time we started recog-
nizing it," he said. "God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in His eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin ... maybe he can help them."

The Rev. Warren Eshbach, spokesman for Dover CARES, said he didn't want to get into a battle of words with Robertson.

"The community of Dover needs healing and we need to begin to work together," Eshbach said.

Dover CARES member Victoria Reiber said Robertson's "harsh" comments will not be beneficial to mending the community's wounds.

"Personally, I don't think God is going to forsake us," she said.

Winning candidate Larry Gurreri said Robertson's comments are "sick."

"We (CARES candidates) all believe in God," he said. "We didn't throw God out of our lives. ... I think he's wrong. He doesn't know us. How can he talk about us?

"To be a man of God I'd be ashamed to say the things he's saying in the way he's saying them."

One of Gurreri's former opponents, defeated board incumbent David Napierskie, said Robertson went "too far."

"I mean, he's entitled to his opinion, but I don't think it's appropriate to label all of the people of Dover in that sense," Napierskie said. "Quite frankly, the Dover CARES people are entitled to their opinions ..."

Lawsuit tie-in: The mention of intelligent design in science classes spurred a federal suit against the school and its school board.

Intelligent design says living things are so complicated they had to have been created by a higher being, that life is too complex to have developed through evolution as described by 19th century English biologist Charles Darwin.

The parents, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said the board had religious motives for putting the policy in place.

Board members who voted to include intelligent design in the curriculum have said it is a scientific theory and does not promote religion. Intelligent design names only a "designer," not the Christian God, they said.

The trial ended a week ago.

Former school board member Jeff Brown, who resigned from the board more than a year ago in protest of his fellow board members' decision to add intelligent design to the science curriculum, said Robertson's comments contradict intelligent design proponents' testimony in federal court.

"According to sworn testimony, intelligent design has nothing to do with God," he said. "Then Pat Robertson says if you don't support it, God will hate you. These clowns want it both ways. 

"I have a zero tolerance for sanctimonious morons who try to scare people."

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5434 or ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.