Jerry Falwell is dead.

He was 73.

Was he a good man?

A tolerant man?

A loving man of God?

Or did Jerry Falwell preach hatred in the guise of love?

Was he a creator of hurt?

Did Falwell dedicate his life to punishing those he believed did not follow in God’s light or did he welcome them in from the cold shadows?

Do men like the reverend Jerry Falwell find Heaven in the end? How do we know? Where is our proof beyond the faith of belief? Do all deeds matter in the defense of moral duty?

Are we better off with Jerry Falwell in the world of the dead or not?

What is Jerry Falwell’s international human legacy and what warnings must we take from his life in his death?

25 Comments

  1. Let’s see… maybe… no… could be… most likely… definitely… not really… dunno… we can’t… doesn’t exist… no way… hadn’t really thought about it… is that last one an essay question?

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  2. Hi David,
    I think we should learn lessons from Jerry Falwell’s method of spreading the Word.
    There’s always an ever present danger that any type of power will result in corrupting a person. We see it all the time in all sorts of areas where people become leaders of others. Just as politicians have fallen because they’ve become intoxicated with the power, the same is true for evangelists and others who have a calling to spread any particular message. The pharisees of the New Testament days were prime examples of religious leaders who followed the law, but failed to love.
    For anyone interested in converting others, it is important to not become so fixated on power, that one loses the key message given by Christ to love every fellow human being, especially the sinners. Remember that Rahab, a prostitute who helped the Jews take Jericho, is included in Jesus’ lineage in the Book of Matthew to remind everyone that even those caught up in bad circumstances can be good people.
    The story of the prodigal son is important to not forget because it tells us that God always welcomes people home, even if they’ve lead a life that others would condemn. We also need to remember to not be like the jealous brother who complained when his long-lost brother came home.

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  3. Thanks for your keen comment, Chris.
    I think Jerry Falwell was a man filled with hatred for those unlike him and his founding of the Moral Majority brought us where we are today with an Imperial Presidency. He has a lot of debts to humanity he did not yet pay in life.
    When he called Ellen DeGeneres “Ellen DeGenerate” — I knew then he was no man of God because the God and the Jesus I grew up with didn’t call people names or seek out publicity to raise money for churches, universities or law schools.

    TIME: Jerry Falwell called you Ellen DeGenerate.
    DeGeneres: Really, he called me that? Ellen DeGenerate? I’ve been getting that since the fourth grade. I guess I’m happy I could give him work.
    TIME: It must be odd having your sexuality a subject of national debate.
    DeGeneres: Yeah. That’s why I want to get beyond this. I mean, I understand the curiosity and I understand the not understanding of it. Because I didn’t understand for a long time, and I’m still struggling to–I have the same problems that a lot of people do. But let’s get beyond this, and let me get back to what I do. Maybe I’ll find something even bigger to do later on. Maybe I’ll become black.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986189-2,00.html

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  4. Hi David,
    There are too many words! Just too many words in the English language to describe the Rev. Jerry.
    There I so many words I could bake a cake, but no one would want to eat it. Racist, bigot, right of Attila the Hun, tunnel visionary, radical right-wing conservative, fundamentalist, gay basher…
    And the cherry on top of the cake: Christian. (He really embodied those principles.)
    I just hope that whenever I get where I end up, he’s not the Walmart Greeter!
    Donna

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  5. Donna!
    You were caught by Akismet! I fished you out!
    I appreciate your vitriol in every way. Didn’t Falwell blame 9/11 on Lesbians and Gays?
    How does a man of that sort of cloth find purchase on the American airwaves? He may have his followers — but why does the major media become sycophantic to help spread his hatred? In the name of news? In the idea of being fair?
    Why would any television station SELL him time to poison the air with such Bible-belting hate?
    The current veneration of him that is going on all over the media right now is sickening. Why isn’t he being called out? Why do they fear him even in his death? When will the record be set straight on the damage he’s done to the psychology of this country?

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  6. Hi David,
    Sycophantic? David, you are starting to remind me of Buckley. 😀 (Who, incidentally, is my favorite columnist. Not because I agree with his conservative positions, but because I admire his command of the English language. I’m not being sycophantic, am I?)
    I don’t understand the media play. The only thing I can conclude is that Jerry was a controversial character, and controversy sells news.
    And Chris, I don’t think power corrupted Jerry. I think he was corrupt to start with.
    Donna

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  7. Donna!
    Yes, you are a sycophant — for just the wrong sort of person! 😀
    You’re right that it’s all about selling eyes. It makes me wonder what sort of coverage the Brown Shirt movement would get on the air today? Would they be made into Freedom Fighters struggling to unify Germany?

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  8. Nicola!
    He’s a devil you should know — so his evil can be fought in the pulpits and pubs and in the streets:

    JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters — the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats — what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact — if, in fact — God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.
    PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.
    JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.
    PAT ROBERTSON: Well yes.
    JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”
    PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system..
    JERRY FALWELL: Pat, did you notice yesterday the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang “God Bless America” and said “let the ACLU be hanged”. In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time – calling upon God.
    PAT ROBERTSON: Amen

    http://www.actupny.org/YELL/falwell.html

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  9. Hi David,
    And would I be a sycophant for you, or Buckley? Both, I think 😀
    As regards your documentation of the comment between Pat Robertson and Jerry, and Jerry’s comment about “calling upon God.”
    Yes! Jerry, Let’s ask God what he thinks about your close-minded, idiotic ramblings?
    Amen.
    Donna

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  10. Donna —
    I am accepting sycophants! You know where to apply. Don’t forget your registration fee! 😀
    Falwell apologized a lot for that conversation — I don’t think Robertson ever did. Falwell always apologized when he went over the line but he knew his message got through.

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  11. Hi Katha —
    Oh, Falwell is an important fundamentalist preacher you should know. The past 30 years his fingers have been in every cultural, ethnic and political pot. He had influence and power — why, I do not know — and he often said rotten, hurtful things to a wide variety of people.
    You should also know Pat Robertson, founder of the 700 Club:

    Quotes from Pat Robertson
    “I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he [Chavez] thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.” [8/22/05]
    “Islam, at least at its core, teaches violence. It’s there in the Quran in clear, bold statements.” [7/14/05]
    God “will remove judges from the Supreme Court quickly.” [1/3/05]
    Gays and lesbians are “self-absorbed hedonists … that want to impose their particular sexuality on the rest of America.” [11/30/04]
    Gays and lesbians are “self-absorbed narcissists who are willing to destroy any institution so long as they can have affirmation of their lifestyle.” [8/16/05]
    “Kwanzaa is an absolute fraud.” [12/6/04]

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200508230006
    Robertson runs CBN: The Christian Broadcasting Network
    http://www.cbn.com/

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  12. Hi David,
    I don’t know about a registration fee, but I will pay homage to the English language. It’s power is great, and those that command it, command armies! 😀
    As far as the brownshirts, probably CNN would have given them major press. This was, after all, in the early days when Hitler was perceived as sane, a rising star on the Nazi horizon.
    Donna

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  13. Katha —
    I think people are drawn to fundamentalism because it turns the world into black and white and right and wrong. If you are bored or non-curious, finding “The Right Way” with a group of similar belief holders can be a powerful form of inclusion even if the thing that is binding you is hate and not love.

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  14. Donna!
    For you, the fee is waived! I’ll double Emily’s registration fee to cover yours — she’s writing checks with her left hand this week, so she’ll never know the difference.
    I agree the word is powerful. I wrote about that here in “Garrison Keillor’s Mightier Pen.”
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2006/02/20/garrison-keillors-mightier-pen/
    You’re right CNN and all the major networks would’ve had a “Brown Shirts” series of documentaries celebrating the dawn of a terrific new day under the leadership of a young, brooding, genius named Adolph…

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  15. Hi David,
    After I wrote my comment, a bad thunderstorm blew through our city and knocked over a tree in backyard. I wonder if it was some sort of sign? :mrgreen:
    I also have a new Four Corners post in the queue.

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  16. I, being a Christian, never found anything to like in Jerry Falwell. He did spread what I consider hate and definitely projected a life and persona that was at odds with the way I see Jesus in the Bible.
    That being said, I will not condemn him, as he would so easily condemn others he considered not worthy. I take the high ground, as the central character of the New Testament would. The funny irony is that Falwell would probably condemn me and the way that I conduct myself and my humor. Funny thing.
    I just found this and realized that someone that Falwell not only condemned, but actively fought against also takes the high ground. There may just be a lesson in here somewhere, lol.
    Larry Flint on Falwell

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  17. Hi Eban!
    I like your philosophy of living.
    I don’t think the dead, who were purposefully evil in their lifetimes, deserve any special consideration when they are gone.
    I read an article this morning about people stoning Falwell in his death — and the article argued that Falwell should expect nothing less since he spent most of his life stoning others.

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  18. Thanks for that link, Mike!
    My “favorite” Falwell line from that site:
    “Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.”
    That… from the founder of Liberty University…
    Ugh.
    Some people you just have to think — “It’s better for the rest of us that they’ve moved on…”

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