I guess I should have expected it. We do live in North Carolina, Buckle of the Bible Belt. (I just coined that, if you use it I expect royalties!)
Rev. Mike Turner, of the First Baptist Church here in town eulogizes Falwell in the Daily News.
From the article:
Whether Catholic or Baptist or something in between, many people – maybe more than we’ll ever know – admired and followed the fundamentalist preacher from Lynchburg, Va. Over the last 30 years, Falwell’s was the nation’s loudest voice for traditional values. On issues like abortion, homosexuality and church-state relations, the news media invariably sought him out to speak for the conservative Christian perspective. And Falwell never let them down; he had an opinion on everything.
Well, that’s all pretty true. Millions of Americans did indeed admire and follow Falwell and his teachings. I suspect the good reverend and I will disagree on whether Falwell’s influence was a positive one for the country.
Turner continues the thought with the next paragraph.
Even his missteps – and there were many, from the fiasco surrounding Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their PTL ministries to his lawsuit against Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine – didn’t in the end diminish the scope of his influence or the scale of his achievements.
“Missteps”? While the examples given by Turner might indeed be categorized as missteps, allow me to present some of Falwell’s more egregious “missteps”, ones for which he more likely to be remembered, and quite deservedly so:
(From the collection of Rev. Big Dumb Chimp)
“Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions”
“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”
“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country”
“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being”
“Textbooks are Soviet propaganda”
“There is no separation of church and state. Modern US Supreme Courts have raped the Constitution and raped the Christian faith and raped the churches by misinterpreting what the Founders had in mind in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
“The Bible is the inerrant … word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible,without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc.”
“The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior.”
“I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One’s misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status.”
And Rev. Big Dumb Chimp’s all time favorite
“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”
However idiotic, hateful, uninformed, or just plain insane these little gems might be however, I think that at the top of the list of Falwell’s psychotic and sociopathic quotes has to be this one,
“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.'”
It’s a perfect example of his delusional, divisive rhetoric. Jerry Falwell was a man whose primary legacy will be one of fear-mongering and hate-spreading, of oppression and suppression.
I’ll not sugar coat a cow patty, just because the cow patty is in his grave.
It’s people like Jerry Falwell who give Christianity its public face and invite the harsh criticism Christianity receives from non-Christians. When ordinary Christian leaders like Turner sweep Falwell’s Greatest Hits under the carpet, they are complicit in his evil and immoral behavior, and implicitly condone his words.
It is the Turners of the world who need to loudly condemn the likes of Falwell if the image of Christianity is to ever be anything more than the raving caricature it has become in the eyes of the non-Christian world.