Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Behar's apology.
NEW YORK CITY, New York, March 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – ABC’s The View panelist Joy Behar apologized publicly today for characterizing Vice President Mike Pence’s Christianity as a “mental illness” on nationwide television. She did so after first apologizing to the Vice President privately and being encouraged by him to apologize to all Christians.
“I think Vice-President Mike Pence is right,” Behar said on the show. “I was raised to respect everyone's religious faith and I fell short of that. I sincerely apologize for what I said.”
Pence told Sean Hannity Monday how he had asked Behar for a public apology.
“I felt it was important that I defend the faith of tens-of-millions of Americans against that kind of slander,” he said, referring to him asking Behar to apologize publicly.
TELL DISNEY: Don’t make Elsa a lesbian in Frozen 2! Sign the petition here.
On February 13, Behar mockingly called the Vice President’s faith “mental illness” because he listens to God speaking in his heart during personal prayer. The next day a somber Pence responded that such an attack on Christian prayer “was just wrong.”
“I’d like to laugh about it, but I really can’t,” the Vice President told Mike Allen of Axios in subdued tones. He emphasized that The View’s deriding his Christianity is “an insult not to me, but to the vast majority of the American people who like me cherish their faith.”
The View participants were discussing former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman’s comment that the Vice President “thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you,” Joy Behar ridiculed. “That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices.”
“It’s just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance,” Pence responded a day later. “I’d like to be light about it, but I really can’t – not for my sake, but for the tens of millions of Americans who cherish their faith, I just, I can’t be silent.”
ABC-TV’s phone lines were inundated with over 30,000 calls from offended viewers.
Prior to Pence speaking publicly about the private apology, Disney CEO Bob Iger, which runs ABC-TV, confirmed that it had happened when a shareholder complained at last week’s meeting.
“What do you say to the tens of millions of Christians, and President Trump supporters, that your networks have so blatantly offended and ascribed hateful labels?” shareholder Justin Danhof asked Iger.
“First of all, Joy Behar apologized to Vice President Pence directly,” Iger answered. “She made a call to him and apologized, which I thought was absolutely appropriate.”
Fox News reported that Pence accepted Behar’s phone-in apology. However, the Vice President made it clear that he wasn’t offended out of self-concern but on behalf of the millions of Christians who watch The View. He said Behar owes an apology to them on her show.
Behar’s manager Bill Stankey told the Washington Post that Behar “apologized to the Vice President, he accepted and said he wasn’t offended by her comment for his own sake but on behalf of the millions of evangelicals who watch ABC and her show,” the White House source confirmed. “He encouraged her to make the same apology publicly on the show that she did privately to him.”
Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, which urged Christians to write and call ABC, said Behar’s private phone apology was inadequate. It hoped for a public one.
“The bigoted statements made about the Vice President’s Christian faith offended hundreds of millions of Christians across the country, the largest faith group in the United States,” Bozell told Fox News. “Their apology should therefore be as public as their insult.”
The View’s Meghan McCain, an Evangelical Christian, had previously also apologized to Pence on air. “I’m a great admirer of Mike Pence and his family,” she said. “I would like to apologize to him and his family in particular. This is a show where we respect one another.”
McCain added that she has sometimes felt that “liberals say, ‘We need to be tolerant of everyone’ except prolifers, except Trump supporters, except gun owners, except for everyone in the red in the middle of the country.”
McCain was immediately interrupted and told her impression was “not actually true” by The View host Whoopi Goldberg.
The American Thinker’s Monica Showalter notes that in an age when Christians are becoming increasingly fearful of speaking out publicly, Pence has proven a laudable exception.
“It’s the big problem in the Christian community these days,” Showalter wrote. “Not even the Pope wants to admit he’s Christian, it sometimes seems.”
In contrast, “Pence didn’t back down and that sets a good standard,” Showalter opined. “And in doing this, he made it just a little easier to be Christian.”
“Hollywood culture and people like Joy Behar have gotten away with putting Christian beliefs down for decades,” Showalter concluded. “Now with Pence’s leadership and viewer anger working in tandem, the cost of that just went up for the intolerant.”