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"Falwell's death is ..."

The elephant in the room everyone seems to be avoiding on the blog this week is the sudden death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Although I emphatically reject many fundamentalist notions of Christianity, I once heard Falwell on a PBS program explain fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture in a clear and engaging way. I often wished Id seen more of that side of him.

But at odds with that friendly face on the PBS special was the man who not only denounced what he perceived as sin, but went so far as to claim that some of the worst global and national tragedies--AIDS, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina--were Gods punishments.

How are Americans remembering Jerry Falwell? One way to get some sense of the breadth (if not depth) of opinion is to google a specific phrase, in this case, "Falwells death is " Sadly, those gloating over Falwells death were running about three to one over those lamenting his demise.

Not surprisingly, several writers turned Falwells own propensity to brand various disasters as punishments from God against him:

--"Falwell's death is the wrath of a just God against hate-filled bigots...."

--"falwell's death is God's way of telling the conservatives to back off ... "

--"Falwell's death is the wrath of a just God against hypocritical religious fundamentalists. ..."

I cant reprint many of the comments from the blogosphere, so high were the levels of vitriol. Suffice it to say that most were of the "dancing on his grave" variety. A sampling of the milder comments (spelling and punctuation have been left intact):

--"I actually believe that Falwell's death is soemthing as welcome to you as Saddam's or Osama's. You cannot distinguish between nuisances ..."

--"Watching the media coverage of Jerry Falwell's death is pretty nauseating. He is largely being portrayed as a man who inspired many and generally did good ... "

--"my only personal "gut" reaction to Jerry Falwell's death is but: "Another phony con-man bites the dust."

--"While rev. falwell's death is a loss to family and friends, it is no loss to those who seek equal rights for all men and women to pursue the american dream. ... "

A few bloggers like this one called for some restraint in the grave dancing: "I did not believe his celebrating Matthew Shepard's death was in any way appropriate, and I don't feel celebrating Falwell's death is appropriate."

In the end, what was Jerry Falwell to us Catholics, and why should we care what legacy he left?

For starters, Fundamentalists perpetuate errors about Catholicism that many of us find ourselves having to correct. No, we dont worship saints or the Virgin. No, we dont worship graven images. No, we do not believe that those who are not baptized go straight to hell. No we dont believe that everything in Scripture is literally true.

Falwell, with his well-publicized comments about punishments from God-many of which he tried to backpedal on-made God look like a monster. Catholics do not believe in a God that wants little children to die of AIDS as a punishment for the sins of society. Or a God who would take out half the Gulf Coast with a hurricane in a snit over New Orleans gay parades.

What seemed to enrage Falwells detractors most was his triumphalism and belief that he could read the intentions of the Almighty. Using those same tactics as Catholics will not win us friends, converts or the salvation of others.

Finally, Falwell was such a master at the sound bite that his most outrageous statements attracted press coverage. And when he tried to be more thoughtful and to enlarge on matters of faith, he was largely ignored. The press must take some blame for that. But Falwell himself, nobodys fool whatever you thought of him, also fed the beast. Our faith--and that of Jerry Falwell--deserves better.



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I suspect what people are avoiding is saying something ill of the dead--an old Catholic and Irish rule. But since you raise the issue, for me Falwell wasn't the elephant in the room, he was the crazed Protestant in the room. How crazed we are now only fully comprehending as the inner workings of the Bush administration are slowly coming to full attention on front pages.

I agree with Peggy Steinfels about the hesitation to speak ill of the dead. However, I attended the funeral of a dear man this morning who earned the praise of everyone for his love for his family and everyone with whom he came into contact, regardless of differences in religion, race, economic status, or any other "distinction." Jerry Falwell made his disgust clear with many different types of human beings, all of whom are created in the image and likeness of God. From my reading of the encomiums written about him, the main reason people are celebrating his legacy is that he was able to rally many people of his ignorant and biblically illiterate ilk to vote for candidates who were just as narrow-minded as he was to show up on election days... and we see that got us.

Rather than say he 'brushed his teeth every day", I will say he was a great communicator. Not when he was interviewed or questioned but when he was left to just say it without interruption. He did speak "trippingly on the tongue" as many influential people have. He did represent most of the religious middle class. Which should tell us something.Yet as this God co-opted presidency shows we need more than words. "Facta manet, verba volent." Words fly but deeds remain.Good example is the latest on Wolfkowitz whom his friends at Pennsylvania Avenue supported completely.'t Osama mean well also?

I wasn't aware that "de mortuis nihil nisi bonum" was particularly Irish.

Amazing what the Irish accomplished--creating Latin when they were still pagans!

As venomous as his remarks were on Anderson Cooper 360, Christopher Hitchens said many things with which I just couldn't disagree. Falwell's life (and death) demonstrated, he said, that "one can get away with the most outrageous offenses against truth and morality if you're able to get yourself called Reverend." Recounting Falwell's support for the most fanatical elements in Israeli society, and rightly blaming Falwell and his Christian Zionist ilk for bearing enormous responsibility for the misery of Palestinians, Hitchens then went on to reiterate his point. "We should stop crediting people who say 'I'm a person of faith.'" I have to agree. Enough already with automatic deference for "people of faith" -- a vacuous term to begin with, a way to avoid serious theological argument by not calling yourself Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. And enough already with coddling evangelical loons like Falwell, especially when they have both a history of supporting racism and segregation (a bit of Falwell's c.v. that even the NYT didn't see fit to bring up) and an open desire to see whole categories of human beings destroyed. Peruse the "Left Behind" series, and please don't say that it isn't representative. They're best-sellers, for God's sake -- someone is reading and enjoying them. Of course we should pray for Falwell -- charity demands it. But "no speaking ill of the dead" is no demand of charity. As a historian, I don't have that luxury. Remembering Falwel's ugly history should compel us to pray just as hard for the many people he maligned and mistreated.

The Irish don't speak ill of the dead? I'll have to tell my mother's family that (if I can get a word in edgewise). The funeral luncheon is when the beer and long knives come out, everybody trying to "correct" the eulogist's impressions that the departed had any virtues whatever.Once they're done working over the newly dead, somebody says, "Well, poor Bobby couldn't help how he was with his mother and all." And then they'll start in on past generations.Lovely people.

"Lovely people"Ah.Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se

There are Irish and then there are Irish. Check out Alice McDermott's Charming Billy for another version of the after-funeral lunch (this one in the Bronx).

I don't sense that many who've posted here appreciate the extent of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's ecumenicism and the way he worked with Catholics and others of good will to promote justice, respect for human life and to protect our religious liberties in an aggressively secularist society.Falwell did not share the anti-Catholicism expressed by some other Protestants (both liberal and conservative). The March 1985 issue of Falwells Fundamentalist Journal contained the following statement on page 14: Extremists who declare that the Papacy is anti-Christ, or who dehumanize others with emotive declarations of their own bigotry, are insensitive to others and lack the love of Christ.In an interview with the National Catholic Register published in the May 9, 1982, issue, Falwell said that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II are the greatest men in my lifetime. Many devout RC's would agree with him.In Christianity Today, Feb. 21, 1986, Falwell stated that Catholics made up the largest constituency (30%) in the Moral Majority. Clearly the Moral Majority was a truly ecumenical exercise.In his autobiography "Strength for the Journey," Falwell referred to the Catholic brothers and sisters in the Moral Majority (p. 371).In his January 1985 Moral Majority Report, Falwell called the pope and Billy Graham great moral and religious leaders.Christianity Today, Nov. 2, 1979, records an ecumenical gathering Falwell attended in 1979. Seated with Falwell on the platform were ministers of varying racial, ethnic, and denominational backgrounds, including Catholic theologian, William H. Marshner.Falwell was one of the speakers at the April 1980 Washington for Jesus rally. Fellow speakers were Catholic priests John Bertolucci, John Randall, and Michael Scanlon.In 1985 Falwell invited Senator Edward Kennedy to speak at Liberty Baptist College and Thomas Road Baptist Church. The Senator announced to the audience of 5,000, I am an American and a Catholic. In conclusion here are Falwells words When New Yorks Cardinal John OConnor died on May 3, 2000: The Cardinal and I differed on a few theological and social issues, but my respect for him was unwavering because of his ministerial kindness and unconditional willingness to help those in need. . . . Every pastor in America can learn a great lesson from this man. We should never permit our political or social differences to hamper our God-given instruction to minister to our fellow man. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I cannot expect people to take this message seriously if I am unwilling, as a representative of Christ, to meet them where they are. Change in peoples lives comes after a relationship with Christ begins, so we must be frequently disposed to taking the Gospel to unfriendly environments. Cardinal OConnor embodied this mandate. I am grateful that John OConnor -- a man of courageous faith -- had such a profound influence on the Catholic Church through his fifty-five years of ministry. I pray that another pro-life, pro-family minister can be found to fill his significant and substantial shoes.I've never read that Rev. Falwell use the scandals to berate the Church.Rev. Jerry Falwell was a good man - a man of God who preached the Gospel as he understood it. Those of us who have the benefit of the Magisterium and the fullness of Christian truth expressed in the Catholic Church should be edified by his witness.The Maid

"Charming Billy" saved me a lot of money in therapy bills. Only book I ever read that made me proud to be Irish, for all that Cahill says we saved civilization.I'm sure there are generous and wonderful Irish people out there. I'm just not one of them or related to any of them.And, speaking of generous people, The Maid has, as always, an articulate and well-documented point of view that speaks generously of Rev. Falwell.We simply disagree.I feel more cynical about Falwell's contribution to ecumenism; I think his making nice with Catholics was a way to bring them into his voting fold, not to find theological common ground with them his minimizing the "theological differences" w/ Cardinal O'Connor aside. Being, as I am, in the trenches with militant fundamentalist and evangelical family members, I have to say that neither Falwell nor Pat Robertson or other F/E leaders have done much to improve grass roots relations between F/Es and Catholics. Most F/Es will tell you they see the Church is an impediment to right belief and salvation.

"Jerry Falwell was a good man -- a man of God who preached the Gospel as he understood it." Oh Maid of Kent, to put it as eloquently as that remark deserves, what a crock. Let me share just a few of Rev. Falwell's more "edifying" gems of "witness":"If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God's word and had desired to do the Lord's will, I am quite confident that the 1954 [Brown vs. Board of Education] decision would never have been made. Facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of [racial] distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line. The true Negro does not want integration...He realizes his potential is far better among his own race. Integration wil destroy our race eventually." [1958 sermon in Lynchburg]"It is very obvious that Communists are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed." [1964 sermon on what he called the "civil wrongs" movement] "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians, the ACLU, People for the American Way...I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" [Bloviation on Pat Robertson's program the morning after 9/11]The Metropolitan Community Church (a gay-friendly church in San Francisco) was, according to Rev. Good Man, "a vile and Satanic system" that will "one day be annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven." Its members, Rev. Edifying continued, were "brute beasts." When Falwell denied making these statements, he offered $5000 to anyone who could prove he made them. When confronted with a videotape, Falwell refused to pay. Only after he was sued did he fork over the money. In short, he lied, and acknowledged the truth only under legal pressure. There's an even longer stream of bilge: calling Desmond Tutu a "phony," praising the South African apartheid regime as "a bastion of Christian civilization," as well as the oh-so-edifying bile about AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, and the Tsunami of Christmas 2005. In short, it doesn't matter a damn that he wasn't "as" anti-Catholic as other fundamentalists. With friends like Rev. Edifying, we don't need enemies.

Oh, and on he subject of the "ecumenicism" of Rev. Edifyng and Good Man Who Preached the Gospel As He Understood It, let's not forget that "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew," and that "the Antichrist is living among us today, as an adult male Jew." Oh, I forgot, he said nice things about Catholics. I'm sorry.

I have to say I appreciated Jean's last comment which acknowledges that her observations on the Irish say much more about Jean and her family than about the Irish generally. I'm certain she would also want to ammend her initial observation that "Catholics do not believe in a God that wants little children to die of AIDS as a punishment for the sins of society" to read "Catholics do not believe in a God that wants ANYONE to die of AIDS as a punishment for the (perceived?)sins of society."Perhaps a bit more thought and a bit less typing?

Okay, let's be ecumenical and admit that in addition to crazed Protestants, there are crazed Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. (not sure about Buddhists), who may be crazed each in their distinctive way, but in common traduce their religion in the service of an agenda that is usually the polar opposite of what their religion teaches.

First and obviously, may he rest in peace.Beyond his outlandish statements though, I feel that Falwell's lasting and unfortunate contrinution is the kind of right wing Christianity that is completely self assured in its literalism and whose apocolyptic politics have served as a disastrous under[pinning to our political landscape. Worst, the appraoch of this "certainty" has deeply rent the society and made bipartisanship a major problem.The acolytes of Falwell, Roberston ,Dobson, etc. I know are the acolytes of Rush as well - he usually serves as the wellspring of their original opinions.There is a kind of inchristian loathing in many of them I find for those who disagree with them and an almost puedoomniscient approach to the way they iscuss problems.This is not meant to convey either a jusgement on some of the good things the moral majority accomplished nor their intentions.At base though I feel the Country is worse off for what they've brought and bring to the table of our comunity.

Eugene,I don't see any evidence that Rev. Falwell was some kinds of racial separatist or segregationist - perhaps you have never visited his church or his university. Do you have a source for that 1958 sermon Eugene and, presuming you do have a source, did Rev. Falwell ever revisit that subject within the last forty years?His church and university are integrated.Re. his views on homosexuality and abortion - those are precisely the areas where he agreed and worked with our holy mother Church. His Christianity was traditional not revisionist. If you want to read some vile words about our Church and Christian teachings about these topics check out Rev. Spong's website. I'm sure we could go through Rev. Spong or even Sr. Joan's public speeches and, taking things out of context, find items that do not appear edifying. The fact remains that he worked hand-in-hand with the Catholic Church on many issues and even Ted Kennedy felt at ease giving a speech at Falwell's university.I think Margaret underestimates the way our faith & its teachings shapes our positions on these issues and informs the positions we choose to support. The secular culture does recognize this fact evidenced by its longstanding efforts to remove religion from the public square.By the way Eugene...Falwell supported the idea of a married clergy and minimalist liturgical ceremony. On those topics he agreed with many liberal Catholics.The Maid

Comparisons are odious but many times revealing. Our inspirational Ted Hesburgh was in the center of the Civil Rights movement in the fifties and sixties. (Just one of the striking accomplishments of this great Catholic priest). Hesburgh was appalled at what he saw, especially in the behavior of the Protestant ministers, among whom was Falwell.He urged them to support voting and educational rights for blacks. The Ministers told him that "they would be driven out of town." Ted Hesburgh took much flak but was absolutely marvelous in getting important southern leaders to come around. This is just one area.Hesburgh had an immense influence on the changing of the Soviet Union as he made key friendships top Russian leaders when this was frowned upon by both sides. He also did not allow the students to collapse the school as many other colleges did. So much so that Nixon misinterpreted his meaning.Then there was the environment and the watershed independence of Catholic colleges. This was a man of God who knew how to handle the Curia. All he had to do was pick up the telephone to Paul VI for the Curia to backtrack. Even Ottaviani wanted to be his friend. How he packed it all into one life is astounding.As the historian , John Tracy Ellis wrote, when comparing Hesburgh with all the American bishops and clergy in the five hundred years of America: "It is not even close."I understand Ted Hesburgh wants to just have the word "priest" on his tombstone. Apostle would be more like it. But if he wants priest I say let it abound all around him.He will be 90 on May 25. Happy Birthday Ted and Thank God for you.

Dear Maid: Why is condemnation of Falwell a "liberal Catholic" thing? What does his support for married clergy or liturgical simplicity have to do with his odious public stances?Obvously his opposition to abortion and homosexuality were "traditional." Is calling gays and lesbians "brute beasts" traditional? Ah, there's the Edifying language of charity. Is the imagination of heavenly celebration at their destruction "traditional"? No -- the better adjective would be "pathological," or "homocidal." As for my sources, they're derived from Max Blumenthal's recent article in the Nation -- and please, no evasive maneuvers about how the Nation is a "secular" journal. The quotes can be verified from any number of books and articles about Falwell. (I notice that you don't deny the veracity of Falwell's anti-Semitic remarks.) Yes, Falwell did "revisit" the subject of race and segregation -- under considerable prodding and historical pressure. He started Lynchburg Academy in the 1970s as what the local newspaper called "a private school for white Christians." In the late 1970s, when Jimmy Carter started talking about revoking tax-exempt status for "Christian" schools on the basis of de facto segregation, Falwell started to like black people enough to let them in his school. And besides, as the Trent Lott incident a few years back demonstrated (recall Lott's praise for Strom Thurmond), a lot of ole-timey bigotry remains right under the surface, needing only a little prick to be revealed. Frankly, I don't trust Falwell's "conversion" on racial matters. By the way, it's odd that an apparently "traditionalist" Catholic would argue that Falwell's Christianity wasn't "revisionist." I'm sure that on the question of transubstantiation, for instance, you'd find him anything but "traditional."

I am a member of one of the groups that Falwell tried to blame for every thing wrong in the world.So, to quote from the Wizard of Oz:Ding, dong, the witch is dead. The wicked witch is dead!May he reap on judgement day what he has sown on this earth ... and not a moment too soon, either.

Yes, Richard, I would agree with your emendations re: AIDS. Thank you for keeping me thoughtful. I will try to type less in future, too.Jimmy, much as I understand your reaction, the point of my post wasn't to rejoice over Falwell's demise but to point out where I think Catholics should separate themselves from F/Es, their beliefs and tactics. Maid, how did Bishop Spong get into the conversation? Failing to agree with you about Jerry Falwell is not equivalent to extolling Shelby Spong, is it? Spong is one of the reasons I left the Anglican communion.

Actually Latin was created by a group of "pagans" and they were linguistic cousins of the pagan Irish. But does anyone know what the Irish for "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" is? Unagidon perhaps? If you can't say it in Irish. the Irish can't have said it, no?

I have no intention of pretending to feel sad that he is gone.Let someone else more eloquent than I (and more aggrieved by the man) have a word:

Jean,Spong is an example of a Protestant cleric who unlike the late Rev. Falwell is openly antagonistic toward Catholicism & traditional Christianity. Eugene,I don't know the context within which Falwell may have used the term "brute beasts" about anyone though I have seen and heard about all kinds of people doing "beastly" things at times. I think on another topic there was conversation about the conquistadors - and some references to some rather unpleasant indigenous practices in ancient America. Can we call anything "beastly" and if so do you think it much worse than "intrinsically disordered"?Recently I"ve even heard the Catholic liturgy for Good Friday described as anti-Semitic so the accusation seems to be running around these days - I cannot judge Falwell's soul and neither can you but I will point out that Rabbi Daniel Lapin is speaking very highly of his good friend Rev. Jerry Falwell. Something tells me he is in a better position to judge Falwell's relationship to Jewish people than either one of us. Additionally, Falwell's support for Israel is well known.I cannot evaluate your historiography about Falwell's school & minorities but I can recognize where the school is on these issues today. Going back nearly fifty years and judging someone is something that seems unfair to me especially when the person being criticized has had remarkable courage and value in defending the family and the unborn - something far more courageous than speaking out on an issue that requires no risk in our contemporary culture. His & his school's subsequent actions also testify to his good will in this area. Falwell paid a very high price for his public positions against pornography and on these other moral issues. He also was severely criticized by some fellow Protestants for being friendly to and working with Roman Catholics.Falwell's Christianity was Protestant for sure but in our post Vatican II age we can understand him to be a separated brother in less than full communion with the Church but certainly a Christian all the same with whom we can and did make common cause in many ways.The Maid

I also don't wish Rev. Falwell any ill will. R.I.P.However (and I intentionally left a little extra room as a I scrolled down to let my well wishes rest in an appropriate amount of space), I can't help remembering Rev. Falwell's (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts on behalf of Karla Faye Tucker, the born-again Christian prisoner sentenced to death in Texas for the gruesome murders committed in 1983. She was eventually executed in 1998, but not before an all-out campaign by Falwell and Pat Robertson to have her death sentence commuted. I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, so I applauded their efforts to save her life, but it was patently clear from comments they were making to the media that they were motivated by her born-again status and not by the immorality of the death penalty itself. In fact, I remember Rev. Falwell being backed up against the wall during a TV interview, when all he could say in response to a question about why he wasn't fighting to commute the death sentences of black Muslim prisoners, for example, "There's something about the sincerety of this woman's religious conversion that's touched me." I could be wrong, but I don't remember him ever working so hard again to get a death sentence commuted, unlike JPII who routinely petitioned U.S. officials to commute all death sentences, regardless of a prisoner's religious convictions or lack thereof.

In a not especially positive obituary in the NY Times, some gracious sentiments: "For all the controversy, Mr. Falwell was often an unconvincing villain. His manner was patient and affable. His sermons had little of the white-hot menace of those of his contemporaries like Jimmy Swaggart. He shared podiums with Senator Kennedy, appeared at hostile college campuses and in 1984 spent an evening before a crowd full of hecklers at Town Hall in New York, probably not changing many minds but nevertheless expressing good will."

"Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se"An bhfuil daoine ag labhairt Gaeilge sa Chommonweal anois? go h-ana mhaith ar fad!

Really I see Spong and Falwell as two sides of the same coin.Both of them let a lot of people off the hook if they had sins they themselves did not find especially appalling. Spong, for example, could forgive sexual sins. Falwell could forgive murder.Moreover, where Spong sought to revamp traditional teachings, Falwell sought to revamp liturgical and clerical traditions.Both have worked equally hard to undermine Catholicism whether they said so overtly or not.

Tinky Winky is a Martian.Anyone like Falwell who hates Martians has his head screwed on loose.And that's the honest-to-goodness truth!

Joseph, I don't think you fully grasp the dangers the Teletubbies pose to our children.Tinky Winky is a seriously disordered individual who should gently but firmly be separated from his purse and required to bond with a plastic AK47 like other little boys.The entire program is pushing a leftist utopian vision, witness the lack of stores, factories, banks or the presence of industrious individuals who would provide role models preparing the Teletubbies for a life of hard work and thrift.Further, the landscape is allowed to remain in a wild and unproductive state, riddled with weeds and infested with very large rabbits, clearly an indication that the Green Party and PETA are trying to influence the values of the show's viewers.The surreal nature of the surroundings--the baby in the sun, the human-like vacuum sweeper, the narrator from nowhere--are all reminiscent of and indicate a tolerance for hallucinogenic drug use. The lack of any religious symbols whatsoever underscore the fact that the producers are exalting a highly secularized society.Most insidious, however, is the baby patois the characters use, guaranteed to be so damn irritating to a parent that he or she will vacate the room within 30 seconds, leaving the producers a clear field to mold the pre-school minds of their intended audience to their evil will.And that probably brings whatever meaningful conversation we might have about Rev. Falwell to a close.

It's a wise poster who know when to declare fini. Than you, Jean

For anyone still looking at this thread, I recommend the following stemwinder from "The Nugent Experience" blog (no relation to Ted):

Talking of the best way to end this thread, the nod has to go to Antonio for referring us to the Phil Nugent article. It is a must read, giving brilliant history and critique of the origin and evolution of the far right represented by Falwell. Here is Nugent's equally on target conclusion:"For all the power that is wielded by the current membership of the religious right--and in 2004, it was just enough for them to almost single-handedly, albeit narrowly, elect a monkey to the post he had already proven himself unfit to hold and incapable of managing competently--I doubt that its leaders are as familiar to the public at large as Falwell was in his day. They've hunkered down and are quietly going about the business of trying to control this country; they're not out there acting the buffoon and grabbing microphones, and they're certainly not going to be plunging down any water slides. It's kind of a shame that they've learned so well from the late Reverend's example."

I can't speak to the Irish question or ecumenism, but as someone who went to school "right down the road" from Rev. Falwell's bastion in Lynchburg so to speak, and who met along the way many other F/E and Baptist Protestants, let me just say, the time to show courage and solidarity for civil rights was during the 50s, when Virginia abolished elected school boards rather than have them plan for integration, and when some Virginia counties actually shut down their public education systems rather than run their schools on an integrated basis. And what's important to remember is that many people did better, and most people certainly avoided capitalizing on hatred of equality, as Falwell did. Most preachers were more or less silent on the issue of civil rights, perceiving as they did the injustice of Jim Crow laws but hardly willing to alienate their congregations and disrupt their own lives. Very few showed the courage of the father of a friend of mine, who told his congregation that segregation was unbiblical. Even he limited his overt support after that incident, being given less than one month to pack up and find some other posting, and only that much time because the congregation felt so sorry for his wife. No, if Falwell revisited his early hate speech regarding civil rights, he did so only after the damage was done and it was politically inexpedient to disdain the justice and downright rightness of the cause of civil rights and racial equality. Even Strom Thurmond changed his tune. So here is a fair epitaph for Jerry Falwell: Willing to find the lowest common denominator among Christians and say what was necessary to preserve political power for himself and his followers.

I enjoyed watching Larry Flynt comment to Larry King that Falwell was a man he *totally* disagreed with but who was truly sincere "and not out for the buck." They spoke often and Flynt considered him quite a friend and confidante. I also found Rooco Palmo's connection to Falwell interesting here at the Busted Halo site: guess you had to know the man to really appreciate him. The rest of us can only remember those awful sound bites on CNN late at night...

I don't understand why more people don't understand the personal and political risks the late Rev. Falwell took to speak out for:a. the unborn,b. biblical morality,c. marriage,and the risks he took in his ecumenical Moral Majority and in his friendships with Catholics including the late John Cardinal O'Connor. Falwell was severely criticized by other Fundamentalists for working in common cause with "Papists".His charities are well known and continue to this day. I wonder if some criticisms of Rev. Falwell here are inspired by disagreements with his theology and pastoral work more than on the phantom issues of segregationism or anti-Judaism both proven false by more contemporary actions by Rev. Falwell himself and by Rabbi's who speak highly of him even to this day.If displeasure with Rev. Falwell is really grounded in theological & moral disagreements than we should examine our approach to ecumenicism.

Maid wrote,"I wonder if some criticisms of Rev. Falwell here are inspired by disagreements with his theology and pastoral work more than on the phantom issues of segregationism or anti-Judaism both proven false by more contemporary actions by Rev. Falwell himself and by Rabbi's who speak highly of him even to this day.If displeasure with Rev. Falwell is really grounded in theological & moral disagreements than we should examine our approach to ecumenicism."Perhaps what we can all agree with is we base our decisions on emotions rather than reason. For example, Rocco really might be said to really lose it because he chose to believe something about Falwell from a meeting with him-- and his family involvement.If we are honest we will admit that our emotions control us more than we realize or admit. Except me and thee, of course. But even thee .......

My wifeand I have agreed that to have the last word in a discussion usually means self-justification. I pass this piece of wisdom on to the Maid and all others who seem to want to think they have that last word.

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