May 152007

Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority and the face of the Religious Right during the 80’s, is dead at 73.

Falwell was known for his opposition to gay rights and his harsh language towards gay people.  After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, he blamed the attack on “the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians”.

He supported apartheid:

In the 1980s Jerry Falwell was an outspoken supporter of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. When president PW Botha was elected President by the White South African minority, Reverend Falwell went to South Africa and made statements supporting the government there and urging American Christians to buy Krugerrands, a coin issued by the South African Government[17]. He drew the ire of many when he called Nobel Peace Prize winner and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu a phony. He later apologized for that remark and claimed that he had misspoken.

His views on Jewish people (of which Jesus was one I’d remind him) were not very flattering:

Falwell has asserted that when The Antichrist (“The Beast”) comes, he “must be, of necessity, a Jewish male.”

After Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith tells a Dallas Religious Right gathering that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” Falwell gives a similar view. “I do not believe,” he told reporters, “that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew.”

He had no shame when it came to money: 

November 1997: Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University’s financial woes. The donation, and several Falwell appearances at Moon conferences, raised eyebrows because Moon claims to be the messiah sent to complete the failed mission of Jesus Christ, a doctrine sharply at odds with Falwell’s fundamentalist Christian theology. (In 1978, before the Moon money started flowing, Falwell told Esquire magazine, “Reverend Sun Myung Moon is like the plague: he exploits boys and girls, and he should be exported.”)

And don’t forget, this is the same guy who decided Tinky Winky must be gay.

However in his later years he did mellow some and in August 2005 he made some statements that seemed to endorse some limited protections for gay and lesbian citizens.  Falwell stated that equal access to housing and employment are basic rights, not special rights and said that he supported civil rights for gay people. Guess he was getting concerned about this day coming, and learning first hand that God considers everyone his child.

“I may not agree with the lifestyle,” Falwell said. “But that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that… part of our constituency.

“Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value,” Falwell went on to say. “It’s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on.”

I wish he and his family peace.

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