I was going to use my own words, but I’m trying to be a better person (and I am not doing very well at that, but I am trying)… so, I will let Alan Wolfe of Salon.com discuss the passing of Falwell.
One never wants to speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Jerry Falwell, how can one not? Falwell will always be remembered for his “700 Club” comment in the wake of Sept. 11: “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.'” Even though Falwell later apologized, the damage had been done: A sacred moment had been used for profane purpose.
And that, really, is Falwell’s legacy. To the religious life of the United States he made no significant contribution. But to the political life of the country, he made one: He founded the Moral Majority. In so doing, Falwell managed to take something holy — one does not have to be a Christian to admire the life and teachings of Jesus Christ — and turned it into something partisan and divisive. Falwell, the quintessential conservative Christian, was always more conservative than Christian. To the extent that history will remember him, it will be as a politician, not as a preacher.
Instead of pondering Jerry Falwell’s legacy, we would be better off asking how this man ever become a public figure in the first place. America has had more than its share of religiously inspired demagogues — Dr. Fred Swartz, Billy James Hargis, Carl McIntyre come to mind — but they are forgotten figures, marginal even to the times in which lived. One would like to believe that the United States has become a bigger and better country since the days when men like them preached about captive nations and denounced the pernicious influence of rock ‘n’ roll. But then there is Jerry Falwell. In death, as he did in life, he reminds us that demagoguery never dies; it just changes its form. Jerry Falwell expressed great hate for a lot of his fellow Americans. It is no wonder that so many of them will greet his death with something less than love.
Someone sent me an email, and in it they quoted Falwell’s infamous quote about 9/11 — “God continues to lift the curtain and … give us probably what we deserve”. That person then cleverly said: “Given today’s news, I guess that’s true.”
I just have to say that if Dante were alive today, and writing about how Falwell should have died, Dante would have written his death as including 1,000 angry hornets being shoved down his throat while he was anally violated by an angry boar. But, who am I to put thoughts in Dante’s mind?
Someone using the name “Pixelmonkey” said this about Falwell:
Falwell was nothing more than a “media personality”. Like so many others who have filled air time with their vapid ideas – Anna Nicole Smith, Tucker Carlson, Pat Roberston – he offered nothing of substance to the culural dialogue. Like a good old fashioned huckster, he used hate and religion to manipulate his target demographic. Funny how those were the two things Jesus himself hated most. I think Falwell’s downfall is that he skipped over the Sermon on the Mount because that kind of gospel won’t line your pockets and get you invited on Hannity and Colmes. What is interesting is that for a personality like Anna Nicole Smith I actually felt bad because it was obvious she was a victim. Falwell was no victim. He was just plain vain and greedy. Its just too bad this couldn’t have happened 70 years sooner. It would have saved many people a lot of pain.
Lets let Falwell now speak for himself.
“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”
“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”
“Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions”
“[Homosexuals are] brute beasts…part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.”
Here you go, Jerry. This is what I’ll always think of when I think of you… this ad, and how you made Larry Flynt into a Civil Liberties hero.