Ok, I waited a few days out of respect for the dead. That’s it. Jerry Falwell, although he seems to have mellowed a bit toward the end of his life, was a powerful corrupter of christianity’s message. He used christianity as a power group to vilify and scapegoat others for political gain. President Bush’s statement acknowledges this: “One of his lasting contributions was the establishment of the Liberty University, where he taught young people to remain true to their convictions, and rely upon God’s word throughout each stage of their lives.” (Or you could check out the parody of Bush’s weekly radio address).
Aggk. Such an interpretation Falwell had! His legacy university, like Robertson’s, will continue to roll out new “christian” lawyers, new haters to work the judicial and legislative – and even executive – branches of government.
“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.” – Jerry Falwell
Instead of bringing out the best in others, Falwell led the movement to appeal to the worst in every christian. Falwell’s interpretation of “God’s Word” required opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, homosexuality, gambling, rock music, Teletubbies, global warming, the ACLU, stem-cell research…. and liberals, even christian liberals.
This via Crooks and Liars (because I only have network tv at home):
Hitchens Brutally Eulogizes Falwell on Hannity Colmes
Oh my. Tell us how you really feel, Chris. Whenever you get Hannity to call you a “jack@ss” on air, you know you must be doing something right.
Hitch’s assault on Ralph “Tinkerbell” Reed for his ties to Abramoff alone make this an instant classic.
It’s astounding to hear Sean Hannity — the King of demonizing people for single instances of perceived transgressions (for which they apologize profusely — see: Sen. Byrd, Dick Durbin, John Kerry etc.) — dismiss away Falwell’s long record of hateful comments. Apparently it’s not OK to blame American foreign policy for terrorism, but it’s OK to blame the ACLU and gays.
If you think you can stomach it, check out how Coultergeist remembers Falwell. Are there no depths to which this wretched and poor excuse for a human being is willing to sink? I think that question was answered long ago.
Think Hitchens was unfair? Beyond the well-quoted examples about 9/11, witches, and the other blame games, take a look at this excellent article by Max Blumenthal – “Agent of Intolerance.”
“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” –Jerry Falwell
Falwell in brief:
- Annual revenues of his ministries total more than $200 million.
- In 1965, he gave a sermon at his Thomas Road Baptist Church criticizing Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, which he sometimes referred to as the “Civil Wrongs Movement.” He regularly featured segregationists like George Wallace and Lestor Maddox on his “Old-Time Gospel Hour” show. Falwell announced that integration “will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city,” he warned, “a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife.” Later, he disavowed his views on the matter.
- Falwell founded Lynchburg Christian Academy in 1967, a day school which now enrolls more than 1,000 children through high school. Get ‘em while they’re young… His Lynchburg Baptist College is now Liberty University…
- During a TV debate in Sacramento, California, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches “brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” When gay activist Jerry Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if he could produce it. Sloan did, Falwell refused to pay, and Sloan successfully sued. Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the judge in the case was prejudiced because he was Jewish. He lost again and was made to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and court fees. (Pro-Israel and Anti-Jewish…)
- In 1979, Falwell founded the so-called “Moral Majority,” the movement that included such loving Christians as Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, and Tim LaHaye. They brought fundamentalist evangelicals to politics – specifically Southern conservatives into the Republican Party. Moral Majority’s stated mission was to “reverse the politicization of immorality in our society.” In the 1980s, Falwell’s group claimed 6.5 million members, raising $69 million for conservative politicians and helping to elect Ronald Reagan president in 1980. In 1986 Falwell founded the Liberty Foundation as a way to broaden his base. Through these groups, he influenced the election of President George H.W. Bush in 1988, several conservative Supreme Court decisions, and the creation of the so called “Christian Coalition.”
- By the mid-1980s, evangelical Christianity received a bad name as television preachers such as Jim Bakker went to jail for fraud. Falwell became chairman of PTL, Bakker’s ministry, in March 1987. He resigned months later as PTL’s deficit ran to $70 million and debt mounted at his own organization. Falwell resigned as Moral Majority president in 1987 and dissolved the organization in 1989. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition took over for religious-right Republican politics throughout the 1990s.
- In her 1996 autobiography, Tammy Faye Messner (you may remember her as Jim Bakker’s ex-wife), accused Falwell of a “history of telling incredible lies.” “Jerry Falwell’s steamroller flattened our lives and everything else in sight, but nobody had the courage to stop his plunder of PTL.”
- Between 1994 and 1996, Falwell covertly paid more than $200,000 to individuals who made damaging allegations – some of which were either fabricated or grossly exaggerated – in the “The Clinton Chronicles” video. The video claims that Clinton was a drug addict, and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas (this seems to have been the origin of the Clinton “body count” urban myth). Falwell helped bankroll the venture via the “Citizens for Honest Government” (CHG) group, and later admitted he didn’t know if the allegations were true or not.
- In 1996, he became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (only then?).
- In 1997, Falwell accepted $3.5 million for Liberty from a “Moonie” front group.
- Jerry Falwell wrote in America Can Be Saved that “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them.” Despite Falwell’s denial, Sword of the Lord Publishing, which produced the book, confirms that Falwell wrote it.
- In 1999, he told an evangelical conference that the Antichrist was a male Jew who was probably already alive.
- In the aftermath of 9/11, he infamously said “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.’” He apologized, but as with other statements, he later reiterated it in rephrased forms.
- In 2004, he created the so-called “Faith and Values” Coalition, to support President George W. Bush and promote the nominations of anti-abortion conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
- In 2005, Falwell spearhearded the campaign to resist the so-called “war on Christmas.”
- In 2007, Falwell described global warming as a conspiracy orchestrated by Satan, liberals, and The Weather Channel.
Rob Kall at OpEd News sums it up:
There are those who say one should not speak ill of the dead. I disagree. Now is the time when others will try to honor and glorify an evil, small, ugly, meanspirited fool who did immense damage to so many spheres of modern life– modern Christianity, American Politics, television, education and through all of those, the rest of the world. His support of right wing extremists enabled corporations and war hawks to exploit their opportunities to wreak war, havoc, violence, hate, irrevocable environmental damage, poverty and suffering upon millions.
Don’t sing “ding dong the merry-o” just yet, though. The house may have dropped on Falwell, but the movement Falwell helped to get going has moved on – and they’re worse than the other one was. It will take more than a bucket of water to free the guards.