Bil Browning

Wow. Okay then. Tell us how you really feel.

Filed By Bil Browning | May 18, 2007 3:18 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, The Movement
Tags: Jerry Falwell, obituary, Roanoke Times, Virginia

Just in case you missed the Roanoke Times' editorial about Jerry Falwell's death, I'd like to point you in the right direction.

I have an ex-boyfriend that grew up in Lynchburg and Roanoke. He told stories about meeting Jerry Falwell and the conversations that they'd had. I always found it amusing since the ex was by far the most femme guy I had ever dated, that the religious right had made such a hardcore recruiting effort on him. (In fact, my ex started to transition at one point, but then apparently decided against it. I dunno. He just never finished it, so for a while he walked around with a beard and fake boobs. Slowly, he went back to being more male-oriented.) He used to say that there were two types of people in his hometown: those who hated Jerry Falwell and those that worshipped him.

So where does the Roanoke Times fit? I'll let the subquote kick things off: The Rev. Jerry Falwell died Tuesday. A lifetime spent judging others has ended.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell met with his maker Tuesday. We hope he was embraced by a loving, forgiving God. Falwell did enough judging for any one man here on Earth during his 73 years.

His most dramatic proclamation -- one for which he would apologize but that cost him many supporters -- came in the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Falwell blamed it on gays, lesbians, feminists and liberals. He commonly attacked these groups as being responsible for the moral decay of our society.

Throughout his career, Falwell carried his remarks far beyond the pulpit, becoming one of the first and most successful televangelists.

He then parlayed his popularity into trying to run the nation. He founded the Moral Majority, which claims among its credits the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Republican takeover of Congress and the religious right's takeover of the Republican Party.

It was Falwell's interjection of religion into government and his insistence that those who did not subscribe to his fundamentalist beliefs were against God and country that were so offensive.

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Bil, this made my day. I lived in Roanoke for my late teens and early twenties, and it was the best/most confusing time of my life, made worse by the unbearably creepy dichotomy between fundamentalists and progressives in the area.

I miss that place dearly sometimes. While I never met Falwell, I did have a lot of fun on the campus of Liberty, fun that was most definitely NOT in the rule book. Ah, those days.

A. J. Lopp | May 19, 2007 6:06 PM

I am pleased that I have heard commentary such as highlighted in this post not only from personal friends and contacts in my face-to-face world, but also in the media, and sometimes from famous journalists.

Bill Moyers offered a careful but surprisingly frank assessment of Jerry Falwell's career during his PBS show on Friday night (May 18 - I was not able to find a transcript on the PBS website), clearly making the point that America does not need for someone else to rise up and assume Rev. Falwell's role on the national scene.

(Unfortunately, almost certainly someone will try --- still, maybe the trends of the times will not cooperate quite as they did with Rev. Falwell himself.)