Jerry Falwell, American Taliban

Jerry Falwell died this week. There’s quite a bit of traffic coming into my page where I dubbed Falwell one of the American Taliban in disgust over his using the 9/11 terrorist attacks to further his own agenda. I followed some of those links back to the blogs which were quoting me, with titles such as “JERRY FALWELL IS DEAD. Good.” and I’m glad he is dead. Indeed there were so many that I Googled the combination of “Cassingham” and “Falwell” …and got a couple of hundred hits.

And what timing: I just finished updating blog postings from 2002, which included an entry titled Evangelical = Hatemonger? (which, I’ll hasten to add, was not sparked by me, but by a Christian pastor who is sometimes ashamed to be known as a man of the cloth.) Falwell is a supreme example of what Pastor John was talking about in his letter there.

It will be interesting to see what people have to say about Falwell in the comments to this entry, and whether anyone cares to defend his zealotry — just the sort of hatred and shit-stirring that led our founding fathers to decide that a “separation of church and state” was a good idea when setting up our country.

Falwell certainly didn’t believe in that tenet: “The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country,” he said in a sermon “celebrating” the country’s bicentennial (July 4, 1976. Source: Positive Atheism [Link removed: no longer online]). Though my favorite quote there was something he said on CNN in 1997: “Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.” I’m sincerely hoping that’s not a slam on Mrs. Falwell.

Goodbye and good riddance, Mr. Falwell (using the title “Rev.” is an insult to the men and women who truly believe in salvation). May your shoes be filled by a true spiritual leader who doesn’t believe that their way is the only way. There should be room in his or her heart for those who don’t seriously believe, as Falwell did, “If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.” To see a failed human being, Falwell needed only to look in a mirror.

Last, regarding Get Out of Hell Free cards: Falwell’s is most definitely stamped “VOID”.

21 May Update

I’m going to hell again, I guess, for an editorial I wrote for Friday’s free edition (above). In it, I note “It will be interesting to see what people have to say about [Jerry] Falwell in the comments to this entry, and whether anyone cares to defend his zealotry.”

I should have been more specific: I meant a thoughtful, reasoned defense, and there has been precious little so far (see comments). And despite my asking people to make their remarks in public, on the blog, email flows in. Such as Stephen:

Geez, Thank god I never upgraded. I love it when liberal hatemongers can’t seem to get past their own hatreds so much they don’t realize that much of what they perceive as hate is nothing of the sort.

So… preaching hate is fine; objecting to it is an opportunity for name-calling. And isn’t the interjection “Geez” a diminutive for yelling “JESUS!” as a curse? Tsk tsk. And I thought not capitalizing “god” is supposed to be an insult to Him. Does that mean Stephen is going to hell?

And yeah yeah, I’m a liberal hatemonger; when I slammed Clinton I was a Rush Limbaugh Republican. In other words, If anyone dares to criticize a conservative, he must be not just any sort of liberal, but a hateful liberal; if anyone dares to criticize a liberal, he must be a hateful conservative.

Bullshit.

There’s a reason that less than a third each of the public registers as either Democrat or Republican — the largest “party” by far is independent. The two parties, by their insistence that everything has to be black and white (or red and blue) alienates voters who know that there is more to talk about than the extremes.

More of us are in the middle than at the edges, and we can, will, and should call others to task for the damage they cause by preaching hate, no matter what side of the political spectrum they’re on.

Yes, the “normal” unsubscribe rate is about double this week, representing people who would rather run and hide their eyes than actually debate important issues. But that’s still a very small number — well under half of one percent of the readership. I said what I thought needed to be said, and I’ll suffer the circulation drop proudly.

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67 thoughts on “Jerry Falwell, American Taliban

  1. I’m with you all the way here, Randy. Falwell was indeed a failure as a human being. If he’d like to see a truly inspiring human he should look at the people who you feature in your weekly “Honorary Unsubscribe” feature. Thank God you clearly weren’t tempted to feature Falwell there!

    Indeed there was no temptation to include Falwell in the HU section, not when I have people like Anna Radosz (this week’s honoree) to hold up as inspiration to us all.

    P.S.: I’m truly saddened to see that anyone outside the U.S. has any idea who Falwell is…. -rc

  2. Falwell (along with Robertson, Wildmon, and Phelps, et al) should have remembered their story about the Pharisees before crowing about their moral superiority over us mere ignorant Christians or worse, non-Christians.

    It was the Pharisees who were most influential in the death of Christ. To emulate them in the NAME of Christ is probably the biggest hypocrisy that many religious leaders display.

  3. I appreciate your thoughts about Jerry Falwell. Good riddance. I am disgusted that our Republican politicians seem to think that their apparent acceptance of that bigot’s thinking is necessary to validate their candidacy. Also, the spineless reports from the media reinforce their worthlessness as reporters of the news.

  4. One must wonder, however, if his final words were “…and if this isn’t true, may the Lord strike me down where I stand!” You can only use that statement so many times before you get taken up on it. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I’m thankful that his personal brand of hate will no longer poison the world.

  5. Can’t say much more which hasn’t been said…other than to raise my glass & hope Jerry & these other “christian” leaders bring their asbestos swim trunks when they get their “final” reward.

  6. Pray tell. What is the difference between Jerry Falwell and the “Rev.” Al Sharpton and the “Rev.” Jesse Jackson? Bigotry swings both ways.

  7. Sad as it is, Falwell`s ill reputation precedes him around the world.

    Being completely honest, though, I know of him because of keeping tabs on news about education, and he was referenced well and wide by proponents of Intelligent Design. But that`s the whole other can of worms.

    Frankly, I`ve been worried lately. I’m used to hearing that the source of religious controversy is the Middle East — as most of other people usually assume. But to realise that controversy is most abundant in what was supposed to be world`s superpower… Now that gives one a need to pause and think.

    What astonishes me overwhelmingly, though, is the issue of religious hatred against your OWN nation. Falwell blaming USA for 9/11 is bad enough, but it could be understood as an underhanded PR trick.

    But what about Phelps picketing Falwell`s funeral? Isn’t that just inane? They were preaching the same message after all.

    At times like this… I`m glad I was born in USSR. Despite all the political hijinks and revolts. I can understand fighting for who gets my tax money… But fighting over who gets to censor my mind?

    If there really is a God, he probably hates a fair chunk of America right now — for reasons entirely imaginable (Like, being the most problematic region spiritually-wise ^_^).

    Amazing that even people in the former Soviet Union know who Falwell was (and still despise him). Alice refers to Phelps; that would be Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, who likes to picket funerals of (say) fallen soldiers because the military tacitly accepts gays in its ranks. He has announced they will picket Falwell’s funeral because Falwell, who was also very anti-gay, didn’t scream at some people if it didn’t suit him. Phelps and Falwell are indeed cut out of the same cloth — yet it’s revealing that one hates the other. -rc

  8. Jerry Falwell killed the Republican Party. No longer a bastion of individual rights, fiscal and personal responsibility, the GOP became a group of finger-pointing, shrieking, vicious emotional rhetoric-preaching cowards, more interested in who went to church on Sunday than in who believed in fiscal responsibility in political office. They smeared and libeled everyone who was not a member of their insular group, and made Jesus a hate-word.

  9. Indeed, I say good riddance to Falwell. He did, however, provide us with a few memorable moments, i.e. the Tinky Winky affair. How could you not laugh at this man, whether in amusement or in disgust. If I believed that a place such as Hell existed, I would be reassured that he’s there this very minute, schmoozing with the Devil himself.

  10. The York Daily Record (York County, Pa) ran this headline the day Mr Falwell died:
    “JERRY FALWELL WAS A FORCE”

    Only one letter off from the truth.

  11. Regarding the Falwell’s not supporting the “separation of church and state”:
    Jesus himself mandated separation of Church and State when He said: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

  12. When I heard that Jerry Falwell died, I immediately remembered the lyrics of an old Bob Dylan song:

    Well, your clock is gonna stop
    At Saint Peter’s gate.
    Ya gonna ask him what time it is,
    He’s gonna say, “It’s too late.”
    Hey, hey!
    I’d sure hate to be you
    On that dreadful day.

    Old Jerry’s got some explaining to do at the pearly gates. I’d sure hate to be him.

  13. In a way, I am thankful for the existence and career of Jerry Falwell. It took a man of his extreme buffoonery to demonstrate to the masses just how bad his brand of “Christianity” was, and to get everyone looking more closely at the beliefs and motivations of his more, ah, serious contemporaries.

  14. Christianity is exclusive. Christ for all his compassion spoke about the exclusivity of His way when He said the only way to see God is through Jesus Christ Himself. Jerry Falwell spoke to that. Many will dislike him for that as you have posted in your blog. Yes Jerry was strident and he said some harsh things even some things that were inconsiderate. However, the devil loves it when christians fight among themselves as it means he is winning. I really like many of your stories but am disappointed at your harsh judgement of Rev Falwell, and yes it is definitely truly a Reverend and I do believe that God welcomed him into Heaven with a well done oh good and faithfull servant comment.

  15. Wow, Mark from Atlanta. Thanks for reinforcing the belief that Southerners are particularly ignorant and narrow-minded. “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” indeed! Since I don’t believe in either Heaven or Hell, I don’t have a clue where Mr. Falwell is right now, and frankly I give less than a s**t about it. But what “servant’s” role did he fill except to incite hatred and intolerance? This is a man God is going to reward with admission into Paradise? In that case, I want nothing to do with your God.

    That’s exactly what I meant by people like Falwell pushing people away from church, from religion, from Christianity. And thanks for reminding us that not everyone from the South is narrow-minded, Carol. -rc

  16. I believe that this jerk’s passing is a blessing. However, I have a question. When are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson going to follow his lead?

  17. Wasn’t going for another comment, but Mark’s response had literally jarred it out of me.

    My issue with Falwell is not that he was preaching Christianity, but that he preached hate.

    Don’t confuse hate and force, though. Jesus himself drove the peddlers out of temple with fists – that`s force. But that’s not Falwell’s message, is it? No, he urged followers to attack every “peddler” in their own home and toss them out as far as possible. But the world needs peddlers just as much as preachers.

    I do not believe in God – brought up in USSR, I am born agnostic, and hold true to that. But even to me, the christian message of peace and love sounds pretty enticing.

    The voice of God sounds clear and true – but the hand appears to be the hand of Ku-Klux-Klan. It’s easy to be in peace if you toss out everyone disagreeing, no?

    To quote Ghandi – “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

    Falwell had perverted the message of christianity, which does have its merits, into political warmongering sloganeering, and abused it to whip up the religious frenzy. Thankfully, he was inept enough at it to make it obvious. But that does not mean that someone a bit more devious won’t get enough clout to trigger new age crusades.

  18. just the sort of hatred and shit-stirring that led our founding fathers to decide that a “separation of church and state” was a good idea when setting up our country.

    Where exactly did they decide that? Was that maybe in the Articles of Confederation? The AoC were replaced a couple hundred years ago by the Constitution, which conspicuously lacks a “separation clause”.

    Wait, no, now I see that it wasn’t in the AoC either. Religion is only mentioned in Article 3, which obligated the states to common defense against attacks on account of religion (not exactly separate, IMO). So how was our country “set up” with a “separation of church and state”?

    And thanks for reminding us that not everyone from the South is narrow-minded

    It’s an essay in itself that you needed reminding.

    While I have no interest in nitpicking tiny points, the phrase “separation of church and state” indeed isn’t in the constitution. But to say there is “no separation clause” is ludicrous; it’s called the First Amendment. One must only look to the founding fathers to understand the concept: the phrase was coined by Thomas Jefferson himself (remember him?), who in public called for a “wall of separation between church and state.” -rc

  19. Seveal years ago while at a business conference we were “treated” to a guest lecturer who obviously supported the Right Rev Jerry F. When I complained to the organizers for having such a speaker, I was told this, and it has a wide application:

    Advertising is like being in a Supermarket. We go there to buy the stuff we like, and ignore that which we hate. We don’t go yelling and screaming for the nearest exit if they carry Chick Peas instead of Garbanzos. Although I don’t always agree with all newsletters I get, my small military disability reflects my own commitment to the process where we may all speak our mind and try to persuade others to our way of thinking. With no penalty to those who do not!

  20. Upon hearing of Falwell’s death I was horrified to realize that the first word that entered my head was “Good!”

    I was raised in a God-fearing Baptist home. Over the years, however, my entire family has wandered away from that church — precisely because of men like Jerry Falwell. We are now Buddhists, Agnostics and there’s even a Druid.

    Having seen so many driven from the Christian church by such hate, I could easily imagine that the Anti-Christ would look a lot like Falwell. Who better to destroy a religion?

  21. In Texas, we have an expression:

    “Don’t talk about the dead unless it’s good.”

    For example:
    “Jerry Falwell died.”
    “Good!”

  22. While I don’t agree with the tone Jerry Falwell tended to communicate with, I don’t understand how that makes him hateful. Tactless, unkind, insensitive, sure. Do these things make one hateful?

    But let’s say he was hateful because of the things he said. Then Randy Cassingham obviously hates Jerry Falwell. Yet he doesn’t find that morally wrong?

    So what is the difference? Isn’t this the same bigotry you condemn? I fail to see the difference – and I’m not justifying Jerry Falwell!

    How is it OK for this blog to hate Jerry Falwell (by speaking out against him publicly and condemning him), but it’s not OK for Jerry Falwell to hate things he disagrees with by speaking out against them publicly and condemning them?

    I will simply approve your comment and let other readers answer you. -rc

  23. “I will simply approve your comment and let other readers answer you. -rc”

    Randy, I’m amazed that you didn’t simply point Jerry in Orlando to your essay after 9/11, where Falwell not only (as you rightly said) committed treason in his remarks about what prompted the attacks on innocent civilians, but used the occasion to spew hatred at groups of people who have done no harm to him, or anyone else. Exactly like the taliban, he used religion as an excuse to persecute others and to justify his hatred and destruction. Is THIS “what Jesus would do”? I say no. Falwell may have said “hate the sin, love the sinner” but he didn’t walk that talk: he hated the sinner, and loved that their “sins” justified (in his mind, and those of his mindless followers) condemnation not as an effort to “save” them, but to score political points and donations to his favorite cause: himself.

    Why didn’t I point Jerry to my 9/11 essay? Two reasons: I already did so in my editorial this week (and he either didn’t read it then, or rationalized its points), and because if I did point it out again, then others wouldn’t bother — I want it to be clear that I’m not standing alone here in calling Falwell to task for his unchristian attitudes and condemnations, but rather that I’m joined in a chorus by an extremely diverse selection of readers, such as you. My guess is, other readers will come up with even better examples than my own prior writings. -rc

  24. Putting it bluntly…

    Hating Jerry Falwell is reasonable, because the man was a clear threat to well being of numerous people. He incites religious intolerance which historically has proven, more often than not, to end up in violence.

    Participating in Jerry Falwell’s hate is not reasonable, because people he hates have nothing to do with him — he simply objects to their PERSONAL choices, which don`t involve him in any way.

    The reasoning is entirely same, as, for example, hating Hitler.

    Hating Hitler is reasonable, because he had triggered the biggest war to ever scar the planet, and did while doing so had performed numerous actions which do not particularly aid the war effort (Holocaust comes to mind).

    Hating jews by Hitler’s example is not reasonable, because jews do not harm anyone, nor incur losses on anyone simply by being jews.

    There, I hope this makes things clear. It is reasonable to hate things… Key word reasonable. Hating without a valid reason is what breeds most return hate.

  25. I believe that every human life is sacred and it’s wrong to revel in the death of anyone no matter how evil or immoral. When Sadaam Hussein was executed, I was saddened, not because I thought it necessarily wrong or undeserved, but because it was the loss of a human life, and even when that loss is warranted, it is an occasion for sadness.

    So I found myself very unsettled when driving down the road, hearing Jerry Fallwell was dead, and then hearing the word “good” come out of my mouth.

    The moment I caught myself rejoicing, I felt very guilty. But at the same time, I tried to understand why when I could mourn even a murderer and oppressor like Sadaam Hussein, my unguarded reaction to news of Fallwell’s death was relief and rejoicing.

    It is a testament to the hatred and evil Jerry Fallwell promoted, the intolerance and bigotry he represented, and the personal animosity he generated that someone who could even mourn Sadaam Hussein couldn’t extend Fallwell the same courtesy.

    I find it ironic that Fallwell’s followers could say “the Devil can quote the bible to serve his own purposes” to dismiss those they disagreed with, yet were blind to the fact that their leader was the personification of that statement.

  26. Long time reader, first time blog commenter.

    I know very little about Jerry Falwell, and didn’t really have an opinion about him. I raised my eyebrow a bit at your editorial, but before I got upset I realized a couple of things. First, that you’re writing your opinion, and I’m free to agree or disagree. Second, you’ve made in so very clear over the years that your job is to entertain first (and I have to admit I did get a couple of chuckles from your editorial too), and to provoke thought second. So I realized: instead of getting upset, maybe I should think first. Maybe I should research Jerry Falwell and see for myself what he preached.

    Maybe I should look at what other commentators, Christian and otherwise, said about Falwell and not form my opinions based on just one, even if it’s you, whom I greatly admire and respect. Maybe, in other words, I should simply think — and thank you for provoking that thinking. It is, after all, why I pay for your newsletter: you DO both entertain me and provoke me to think, even about things that unsettle my Bible-Belt-based view of the world. And for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  27. The editorial on Jerry Falwell was good – if there was ever anyone in need of a GOOHF card, he was it. I, too, would like to see a reasoned defence of his actions & words. It would give some insight into the mindset of intolerance, and perhaps allow a chance to wedge a crack in the walls of self-righteousness.

    But what really capped it off for me was the Honorary Unsubscribe. Here is someone who is truly worth remembering.

  28. Since I became a Christian many years ago, I have disagreed with most mainstream evangelicals and their views on homosexuality, religious tolerance, etc. It saddens me greatly when preachers like Falwell go around preaching hate, bigotry and intolerance. In all my dealings with fellow believers, I have found very few (perhaps This is True’s pastor?) people who believe as I do. Nearly every day, I have the opportunity to “deal” with gays, lesbians, atheists, non-theists, and other non-Christians. They know I am a Christian and I know where they stand as well. The best part – we all get along! We laugh, cry, work and play together. We are best friends. If they decide they want to change and follow the God I follow, then great. If not, then great. None of us “preach” to each other, though we have very good discussions on religion, politics and other taboo subjects. We are adults about it and know we disagree on many things. In the end, we are still friends.

    Perhaps Falwell’s passing will allow someone who is more godly to come in, take his place, and stop alienating everyone else. We can only pray….

    Our conclusions are identical, then: “May [his] shoes be filled by a true spiritual leader who doesn’t believe that their way is the only way. There should be room in his or her heart for those who don’t seriously believe, as Falwell did, ‘If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.'” Thanks for your amen.

    But sadly, here’s the reality of Falwell and his followers: I, and you, because we don’t agree with them, will be branded “not true Christians”. Which translates to “not as good as me”. They actually think they’re right(eous), and therefore we are going to hell. (Been there, got out with my card.) It’s the same thing as those who don’t believe Catholics are “true Christians” (or Mormons, or “that OTHER Lutheran sect”, or…). Their false pride is stunning, and does nothing but gather the few close-minded at the expense of those who actually follow Christ’s teachings. -rc

  29. 1. Yep, guilty as charged. Had not read the 9/11 article before commenting. (“Fundamentally Wrong”)

    2. I read the article, but it quoted what I had remembered him saying, and the further explanation was consistent with what I had read on this latest post.

    3. I thought his comments seemed *prideful and self-righteous* to me rather than hateful, but upon reading several definitions of “hateful” I have to admit it captures the attitude of how he expressed his feelings toward those on his list of sinners. So, yes, I agree he was hateful.

    4. Let me be stubborn now. What’s wrong with being hateful? Most of the comments on this blog are just as hateful as he was. What’s the moral difference? Aren’t you accusing Falwell of moral inferiority and bigotry because of his hate? And all the commentors here are OK being hateful back at him, why?

    5. There was a comment on the “Fundamentally Wrong” article which I thought perfectly summarized what I would have expected an appropriate response to be from someone who found Falwell’s hate offensive:

    “I saw a news article about these two chuckle heads on Friday. I happen to be Pagan … I’m also bisexual, so I guess that makes me even more to blame, huh? Anyway, I did what is probably the worst possible thing that I could do to these guys: I forgave them. I sent a letter to each of them telling them how we need to stick together in these times of crisis and how we should put aside our differences and be Americans first. Frankly, I expect being forgiven and offered words of solace by a Pagan is far more galling to any condemnation that I could ever make. –Fred, Illinois”

    More power to you, Fred!

    5. I think you should dismiss Falwell and put him back in the humor category along with the rest of the self-unaware individuals who make silly public statements. But why continue the hate yourself?

    I appreciate your putting thought into your response, and more thought into your previous post, Jerry — thank you. I truly respect that you have done so.

    Your points are good, as is your question. What’s the difference between Falwell’s hate and those who are posting here? I would say that I don’t hate Falwell, though I certainly hate what he did to people who did him no harm. That is, after all, what they say: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” But I think I’d be lying if I said that about Falwell; I don’t think I feel hate, but I do feel contempt, and if you did a similar lookup to what you did on your own words, you might find contempt and hate are “close enough” in this case as it was close enough in your case — and I’d have to agree with you.

    But again, what’s the difference? It’s this: I don’t hold myself up as a paragon of Christian virtue; Falwell did. I didn’t promise to be Christ-like; Falwell did. I do not hold myself up as a pastor of the people; Falwell did. And he failed again and again to be that paragon, to live his life in Christ, to pastor those who needed guidance to fulfill their desire to be Christ-like. I (and other posters here) didn’t make such promises, so we’re not hypocrites. Falwell was.

    Further, we don’t condemn faceless groups (like “gays” or “pagans”) and shake fingers at them — we don’t know them, we don’t know what they do, we don’t know what they think. But that didn’t bother Falwell: he did condemn such people, even though he didn’t have the moral standing to do so. But we can — and some would say the responsibility to — respond to those who went out of their way to hurt others. In this case, that would be Falwell.

    I hope this all made sense — it’s very late where I am right now, and I’m road-weary. If you need anything clarified, please feel free to let me know. -rc

  30. I am in complete agreement of your assessment of Jerry Falwell–the man was a zealot and a judgmental jerk. Who dares call his organization the “Moral Majority”? According to whom? Mr. Falwell had plenty of “moral” issues to deal with when he was alive, let us hope he’s learned to be a bit more sympathetic in death.

    Now, if we could only get rid of the “Moral Majority”, the world would be a whole lot better for it. After all, shouldn’t we all live by our own set of morals which, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights and morals of others should not be an issue anyway?

  31. There are many ways to be seduced by power. Politics is one, but religion is certainly another. Falwell had a very colorful family history here in the wilds of Virginia. Shortly after becoming a preacher, he started broadcasting on the radio, impressed with the immediate local fame the radio brought him. If I were a believer, and I’m not really, I would think that the devil seduced him into believing that the end justifies the means.

    If I were a believer (and I’m not really 🙂 I would have to believe that God wants us to act out of love toward our fellow man, not out of fear. I think Jerry forgot that part of the lesson. And I don’t hate him for it.

  32. Jerry Falwell was a religion salesman, nothing more and nothing less. Like Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggert and the Rev. Gene Scott (my personal favorite among the bunch by the way), he was his own product. Salvation was secondary. I recall a wonderful quip about Oral Roberts, unfortunately I cannot recall who said it, that went, “The only denomination that man knows is 10’s and 20’s.”

    I will not miss Jerry Falwell, nor his antics, nor his bigotry. I will not mourn his passing. I am sad for those who truly believe that the road to heaven is through the mud of ignorance.

    You will take hate mail for your rant, Randy, which makes me sad. There are more decent people out there than there are loonies, and I am sure you know that. The Silent Majority, the Moral Majority, or a Majority of One — none speaks for the true soul of decent humanity.

  33. Yes, the man did preach an exclusionary, narrow-minded, fear-based religion. That is sad. However, I think that it is people like him that is hastening the enlightenment of the world.

    As the polarity of current philosophies become more and more marked, it will reach a point where the majority of people will cast off the fear, the exclusiveness, and the black/white thinking.

    We are all One, and we are all in this together.

    I think that it was a tough role Rev. Falwell had to play, in this installment of the Game, and I’m sure that his soul was damaged by it. I hope for him that he experiences true healing, and that the role he chooses for his next incarnation is much happier.

    By the way, it was people of his ilk that encouraged me to walk out of fear-based religion, and has, so far, led me to becoming a Wiccan.

    In other words, Falwell did us all a favor …by serving as a terrible example? Yes, I suppose that’s a valid point! He certainly caused millions of Christians to rethink whether they wanted to continue on in their churches. It would be enlightening to see just how many walked out because they didn’t want to follow his example. -rc

  34. Randy, it’s not that I disagree with your condemnation of Jerry Falwell’s agenda so much as the vitriolic tone you take on the occasion of his death. Be blunt if you will, but he was a human being presumably loved and missed by family and friends. Out of respect for their feelings my preference would be to take the high road and note the passing of a controversial public figure who had more than his share of admirers and detractors. There’s plenty of time later to explain why we count ourselves among the latter.

    I understand your point, but now is when people care. Later, he will be forgotten by most — on purpose — and they’d wonder why I was rehashing old news. The time to put history in perspective is before people file things away. -rc

  35. Nice obit and blog on Falwell, Randy. You hit the nail on the head. There isn’t a stack of GOOHF tall enough to help that poor sap. I was embarrassed for the Christians when I heard Falwell’s bleatings and I’m an atheist.

    BTW, did you read Christopher Hitchen’s Slate column on Falwell? I liked it.

    I’ll see if I can catch up with it once I get home. -rc

  36. Obviously Falwell did some horrible things. In fact, he acted exceedingly unchristian.

    I just hope Randy and some of the other posters who are so misguided as to think that Falwell=Evangelical or Falwell=Christian will rethink their position. Falwell doesn’t represent Christianity, even Evangelical Christianity. He damaged both of those religions/denominations pretty badly, along the lines of the corrupt rulers in government (also holding the title of Pope, unfortunately) who did things like encourage crusades.

    Also, I encourage people to look up the origins and meanings of the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.” It came about a little while after our country was founded, and was used in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a friend in Danbury CT. The gist of the letter was that Connecticut could have its own official state denomination, and that we lived in a great country because people could move out of the state of CT if they preferred a different denomination. The supreme court lifted the phrase out of context some time later, and people continue to abuse it to suppress religious expression.

  37. No matter how much I disagree with them, I always have a certain amount of respect for people who are willing to stand up for what they believe.

  38. Randy, normally I agree with what you say, and enjoy reading about the problems that idiots usually cause themselves. This time, though, you’ve really gone over the top.
    Falwell wasn’t a great man, and he did some stupid things that made me ashamed to be part of the same religion as him. Celebrating his passing is going too far, though. You did go over the line this time. Heck, even Larry Flynt put the past behind him with regards to Falwell.
    Take care, keep up the great and thought-provoking read.

  39. Being a non-theist, I’ve always just sat back and chuckled about the antics of evangelical types. One does not need to be a “famous” preacher to qualify for the attention of others. Too many members of the clergy subscribe to the “my way or the highway to Hell” method of affecting people’s lives and wallets. I’m not saying all religious leader-types are money grubbing egotists. There are countless others who are truly in the business of helping people. Unfortunately, those similar to Falwell muddy the pot for the rest of their particular slice of society.

    The intolerance preached by the “Moral” “Majority” is what saddens me when I think about religion. I think that sometimes we forget about kindness toward our fellow humans and acceptance of diversity. How boring it would be if we were all the same! There would be no such thing as this forum. We’d have no need for the thoughtful interaction and discussion that sets us apart from the other mammals. Maybe this is what the falwells of the world want…a herd of brainless cows with fat purses to follow them and hang on their every syllable. Are those types too lazy to do their own thinking? I don’t hate them. Rather, I pity them as they either weren’t taught to think for themselves or are constitutionally unable to do so.

  40. Jerry Falwell was a man who loved the power and the attention. He had one god and that was money. Just like so many of the tv preachers, he wanted it all. He hated anyone that did not believe like him, and that catagory are most of us in the world. He had more than his 15 minutes of fame, and now it is time to turn off the television and his mindless rants and forget the man.

  41. Ok, I did go back and read ALL the comments on this post.

    I think I can defend Jerry Falwell’s mindset – such that he would end up being judged as simply insensitive and confused about the difference between his role and God’s role – rather than as an evil manipulator of people. This is like being an attorney for someone accused of first degree murder when my client is only guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
    (It reminds me of how most attorneys who defend such people are viewed. Oh well.)

    First, Biblical Christianity views ALL men as corrupt. Many Christians forget this or think their salvation somehow makes them morally superior. Oops. Falwell forgot to include himself in the list of people who may have caused God’s judgment on America.

    Further, language in the Bible DOES speak of groups of people who are characterized (and condemned) by their behavior. E.g. “adulterers,” “murderers,” “violent men,” etc. This illustrates the corruption of all mankind, as everyone finds themself in at least ONE of those lists by the time they are done reading the whole Bible. Jerry forgot to mention the list to which he belonged.

    Jerry Falwell was using language, tone and style similar to Biblical writings. Only he forgot that God was the one who explained when there was a connection between judgment and calamity. In fact, the entire book of Job explains how impossible it is for men to know the cosmic meaning of current events. Job’s friends had it all wrong. That didn’t stop Falwell from trying to interpret current events from God’s perspective, though.

    Did Falwell *knowingly* make statements that he understood could only be made by God, or did he do it in prideful ignorance? Only God and Falwell know the answer. Hmm. Maybe the Devil knows, too. But we living ones don’t. (Unless he said something publicly).

    *Should* he have known better? Of course. He was a scholar of the Bible. But we’re all corrupt, and pride is, ironically, one of our biggest corruptions.

    Second, there is no end of examples in the Bible of God bringing judgment on a nation because of their corrupt ways. Most often this judgment took the form of military defeat. That this could occur in the modern world is something anyone holding a belief in God’s sovereignty should accept. Again, the mistake is interpreting modern events with a perspective that only God has. Yet Christians like to use ambiguous Biblical prophecies to speculate whether those prophecies could be speaking of modern day events. It’s tempting, but dangerous, to go there. Only God knows. Falwell went there.

    Did he do this knowingly for the purpose of stirring up hatred toward his enemies? If so, he was very evil. If not, he was merely arrogant and ignorant. Only God and Falwell (and maybe the Devil) know. Maybe *only* God knows his real motive. I certainly don’t understand much of what I do.

    I could go on, but I won’t.

    My conclusion: While American culture’s sense of morality has a wide range, much of Falwell’s morality fell outside this range. Our view of justice is more homogeneous, though. We don’t condemn people who are not yet proven guilty. If we do, we do it with a guilty conscience ourselves, knowing that due process was skipped.

    So by condemning Falwell without knowing his motives, we are simply judging him without proof. There is public proof that he said some wacky things which were completely out of sequence with American moral sensibilities. In fact, this website is exactly where they belong. But whether those things were wacky or wicked is a matter which we can’t know.

    Here’s how I look at it, Jerry: one can choose either the “Christian Ideal” (“judge not, lest he be judged”) or the worldly way (“judge — and prepare to be judged”). By his profession, you’d think Falwell would have chosen the former. But he did not. He indeed judged, and harshly. He chose his own path and thus he set the rules. To complain that the rest of the world used his own rules to condemn him doesn’t strike me as reasonable. That said, I’m glad someone thoughtful stepped up to the task. Even though this forum is essentially anonymous (except for me), it takes guts to take what you know will be an unpopular position, and I respect you for it. -rc

  42. Care to know why there aren’t more supporters of Falwell on here? Two reasons. First, he doesn’t need them. Second, most anyone who would support him is being brushed off as “ignorant” (as I probably will be for confessing to living in Florida) or “hateful” simply because I don’t hate Jerry.

    First, a little background about myself and what little “contact” I had with Pastor Falwell. I was never a drug user, never a “bad boy,” never what most people would call the scum of the earth (although that will no doubt change after this message). I was also hopelessly depressed, feeling 100% unloveable. I was almost one of those “statistics” you read about when I had a gun — more than likely loaded, although I didn’t know how to tell — to my head at the age of 10. No, I wasn’t captured by the so-called “American Taliban” or by the horrific “fundies.” It was my own hand holding that gun. Anyhow, several years later I heard a message from a physicist who, as I thought of it at the time, “believed this God business.” He made it quite clear to me that I was loved by God, so much that His only Son died for me. All that was missing was the definition of one key word: salvation.

    Jerry Falwell provided that definition on May 28, 1977, through his televised service that I “just happened” to watch. I made my commitment to Christ — not to Jerry Falwell — that evening, and to this day I do not regret it. (Oh, sure, I’ve had my doubts, but those would take far more time and space than I have right now.)

    Jerry Falwell may not have been Christ-like to some people. I know I’m not. I do know that I do my best, and I believe he was doing the same. I didn’t always care for his apparently arrogant attitude, but that’s my problem for the most part.

    Did he preach hate? Yes and no. Did Jesus preach hate? Yes and no. Jesus taught to hate sin, but love the sinner. “Oh, yeah, right,” you might say. I know, it’s easier said than done; even after 29 years of “practice,” I still haven’t gotten that part down yet. I’m learning, though. I’ve learned how to care for a high-school graduate who dissed all of her class, and classes to come, simply because she and her father managed to get all public school graduations out of a comfortable, safe auditorium and back into the Florida heat of football stadia simply because that auditorium just happened to be the sanctuary of a church, and there was the shape of a cross made in the wall panels. (And, no, I don’t agree with the vox populi about the so-called “separation of church and state,” but again that’s another long message.)

    We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We all have our particular points of rebellion, where we say “I don’t care what you say, God, I’m doing this!” Jerry Falwell did as well, I’m sure. Perhaps he had the notion that he had to look perfect or lose credibility. I cannot speak to that, because I didn’t know him well at all. All I know is that the sins he mentioned — abortion on demand, homosexuality, you name it — are sins because they aren’t healthy. God tells us not to choose them because He cares about us. So Rev. Falwell didn’t make that part clear. I’m sorry. I don’t know his heart, and neither do most any of the respondents here, I suspect. All I know is that God’s message is true, like it or not.

    Did he get out of hell free? Nope. He got out by the price paid by Jesus Christ, if he believed what he taught me about salvation. If he didn’t, then he didn’t.

    Your introductory defensiveness will cause many to skip your message. Too bad. (Note that only ignorant or hateful posts get that label, and even then only rarely so; yours appears neither.) -rc

  43. Once again you nailed it!

    I am a born again Christian, but I do not believe that we should put labels on ourselves as liberal or conservative because it ties us to ideas that may not line up with where we are spiritually.

    Your characterization of Mr. Fallwell was right on target. Christians are to be known by “how we LOVE one another.”

    I wish there were a way that self proclaimed “voices” of large groups of people could be challenged as to their authenticity. I seriously doubt if most born again Christians want to be identified with Mr. Fallwell any more than most conservatives want to be identified with Rush Limbaugh or Liberals with Al Franken.

    Thanks so much for expressing what I believe is the REAL voice of the people when you express your thoughts on intolerance and stupidity.

  44. You definately do not pull any punches. I am a Christian, but I love your work. I am not offended when you put out articles condeming Christian idiocy, rather I am offended by their idiocy.

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your wit and warnings. I find I am sobered many weeks by the thoughtless people who claim to be “right” on whatever issue they decide is important, and narrowmindedly refuse to accept that thoughtful people may disagree with them. I am in seminary right now and am astonished at the volume of things I don’t know, and the more I learn the less I seem to know. One thing that is certain, God has not asked us to judge others, but to love them, whether they agree with us or not. Thank You again for your though provoking insightful work. I hope that I can live up to the standard of excellence that you continually set.

  45. Falwell is one of the many reasons I quit watching Phil Donahue many years ago. The main reason was because Donahue had lost control of his show and let the guests take over while he occasionally made half-hearted attempts to say something. Falwell had taken over and was ranting, and anyone who wanted to make a comment or ask a question was treated very rudely as he talked over them by raising his voice. It is very hard to see the Christian in someone who treats people so badly. Arrogance and rudeness have no place in someone who professes to be Christian.

    I also learned while in school a few years later that he had several 18 wheelers set up as television stations with more than $18 million worth of equipment in each one. Shades of Jim Baker. I realize we are all humans first, and our beliefs and professions later, but it is hard to look at someone who presents himself as corrupt and self-serving as a servant of God. There are many people in public life who don’t present themselves this way, and who don’t give in to temptation when it crosses their path. Unfortunately, he wasn’t one of them. It is rare that someone makes me truly angry, but he accomplished just that on Donahue. When I realized I was so angry I actually wanted to kick in the TV screen, I exercised my right to turn the channel. People should use this right more often.

    Money and power often corrupt the best of people, but to turn you back on what you profess to believe dosen’t help your cause. Falwell preached one way, and lived another. People can see through that, or at least I hope they can — sometimes I really wonder.

  46. Many looked at the late Jerry Falwell as a harmless buffoon, but I did not. Jerry Falwell was to religion what Howard Stern was to sex; you could always count on both to say the most outrageous thing that would come to mind in their quest for fame and media attention.

    The real danger of Jerry Falwell was not in the outrageous things he said, but rather in the ready acceptance of these pronouncements by an unsophisticated public looking for someone to champion their prejudices and lead them back into the 1950’s, when things made sense to them.

    Our nation, once considered as utopian by most of the civilized world, is racing toward self destruction on all fronts: Our political leaders display questionable ethics and little integrity; our religious leaders have watered down church doctrine so as not to offend any of their dwindling flocks; religion has been replaced as “the opiate of the masses” by professional sports; athletes often being known more for their public behavior than for sports accomplishments, with bad behavior getting the most recognition and suffering few consequences; celebrities being created and publicized by gossip tabloids that flourish while legitimate newspapers struggle to stay in business; the replacement of good manners by selfishness and civility by rudeness; sexuality flaunted as preteen girls copy the clothing styles worn by TV and music video performers, who in turn have copied the clothing styles of hookers; sex being used by every TV and magazine advertisement regardless of appropriateness; topics once only whispered about with a priest, now the theme of much TV entertainment and films.

    The list is almost endless.

    The reality is that although nostalgia reminds us of “Ozzie & Harriet”, the 1950’s world much more resembled “Peyton Place”. Life was indeed simpler with all the dirt swept under the rug.

  47. I find it a wonderful addition to your newsletter when you include irate commentary from your (mostly free) readers. I especially liked the comment from “Stephen” about your being a “liberal hatemonger”. It was very funny that someone would accuse a person who has made several remarks and written several stories about “non-liberal” matters of being blinded by their own liberal hatred. Apparently, Stephen must have a slight case of cataracts and didn’t see all the scandal over the years that surrounded Mr. Falwell and his “Christian” practices.

    I think that the loudest most irrational people who comment on your newsletters are the ones who don’t understand that to be truly unbiased you must report information for both sides of the public opinion meter in an equal manner. You find hilarious, stupid, irrational, unfair, unjust, and just downright aggravating situations in the world today and provide them to us with a few little tidbits of your opinion. Most of the time it makes me laugh, sometimes shake my head, but it mostly makes me think about the situations and issues in your articles. I think that’s what your newsletter is all about; making people THINK about the issues, not sway their opinion. Stephen summed it up best: “I guess some people are just hate mongers who can’t seem to get past their own hatreds so much they don’t realize that much of what they perceive as hate is nothing of the sort.”

  48. And once again, I`m pulled back by a comment.

    There is a good reason why people would hate Falwell.

    Namely, unless you agree with him unquestioningly, he will proclaim you to be the sludge of the world, and call the people to attack you.

    Personally, with me being agnostic and gay, Falwell condemns my very nature. If I were to try and “adjust” myself to what Falwell preaches, there`d be nothing left of me.

    I do not think Christianity is the way to go. I do not want it to control my life. And I do not want someone forcing Christian ideals on me – they are not mine.

    Everyone has their own path, putting it metaphorically, and forcing everyone on one highway might be comfortable for making sure everyone goes where YOU want them to, but only a small fraction of them will ever arrive where THEY want to be.

    To sum it up – Christian ideals might be sound for some people, but they are not universal truth. Falwell tried to force it as universal truth, and thus tried to violate everyone`s freedom of mental choice. For that he might be as well hated – not a lot of people love those who are violent to them.

  49. Jerry Falwell was a good man. He had the courage to speak his convictions even when he was criticised for it. He held himself to be responsible to a higher power. The problem that some have is that they do not understand the difference between hating the SIN and hating the sinner. Reverend Falwell called SIN “SIN”. He did NOT hate gays any more than he hated adulterers or even murderers.

    It should be noted that Rev Falwell apologized for his remarks about 9/11 – not many days after he made them. An event that was widely ignored by the media.

    Finally, I will take to task many here for two things.

    Tolerance: You profess yourselves to be tolerant and criticise those on the right for being IN-tolerant. Yet, you post comments like “I’m glad he is gone”.

    Civility: Consider the effect of comments like “I’m glad he is dead” on his ife and family. Civility is dead. We no longer care about the effects of our comments on others.

    ALL of your points have been covered here. Even his apology. The media didn’t cover it? I did, and that report is still on the page I pointed you to. And indeed we were more civil to Falwell than he was to us, The rules go both ways. -rc

  50. Been covered in a few forms or other, but let me try to distill this:

    Falwell was an Idiot! That’s not a hateful statement, simply a point of his intelligence.

    As a Christian, I don’t have the capacity to judge whether he goes to Hell. EVERY person screws up and Falwell was no different, just more famous for it. That’s between him and God.

    Am I glad that Falwell is gone? You bet. We have enough intolerance and war going on in the world without another one fueling the flames of righteousness. That doesn’t mean that I’m glad he’s dead; just that he’s no longer spewing HIS version of Christianity.

    I’m tired of the ‘one extreme or the other’ that we’re forced into. I can belong to a faith and still renounce an extremist of that faith.

    Faith is a personal spiritualism. Once it becomes organized and established into a church, it stops being personal and becomes a club with by-laws and membership requirements.

    “Why would I want to join any club that would accept someone like ME as a member?” ~ Groucho Marx

  51. In Australia we have heard of Jerry Falwell Twice.

    Once for his 9/11 comments, which were dismissed as but one man in a forest of crackpots in an absolute borderline sidenote to the tragedy. I would not have remembered the name if Randy didn’t make the connection in this article.
    Second, he died. Why does this count to us? Oh, I see, he had a massively inappropriate amount of influence in secular politics given no one actually voted for him. Politics that have dictated our own foreign policy to us for over a decade now.

    This disturbs me no end. Australia was always a place where religion was mostly debated in a personal domain between religious people and those who opted in. Not splashed forcefully into the public domain.

    Now all that sudden and unexpected hoo haa we had in recent years about gay marriage, abortion and religion being shoehorned into public institutions makes sense.

    May his unrepresentative meddlesome organisation of puritans fall upon itself in his absence.

  52. Props to you for being open and honest with your opinions, the latest example regarding Falwell. At least when you give *your* opinions, you intelligently debate them which doesn’t have to affect *my* opinions, but an intelligent debate may in the long run.

    I don’t understand why people can’t accept that different opinions and viewpoints are ok, it’s simply part of what makes people unique. Sure, you probably won’t be close friends with somebody who has completely opposite values as you do, or read editorials from an author with consistantly opposite viewpoints, but to sit and read a weekly email like True of which you enjoy ~99% of for possibly years and then unsubscribe because of single opinion you disagree with…. I’m shaking my head in bewilderment.

    Because some people can’t defend their opinions in an intelligent way, and must reject any challenge to their beliefs. It’s truly sad to see. -rc

  53. Man, you are indeed my idol. I’m a Christian, but there is so much wrong with institutionalized Christianity that I steer clear of it.

    Your greatest gift is that of demonstrating the ignorance of others and attempting to combat it with common sense, a commodity seriously lacking in the world today.

    If I was a fat-cat CEO or a rich Hollywood star, I would donate a subscription for everyone you’ve lost. Alas, i’m just a poor boy, trying to keep my own head above water. Hopefully, someday i will be able to do something in return besides renewing my Premium sub. Thanks, Randy, and God bless you!

    Careful with that idol worship! I think that’s a sin or something. 😉

    You are far from rare: a Christian who is sick of the politics involved, and leaving the organized church because of it. It truly is sad.

    As far as supporting me, helping to support my work with your Premium subscription is VERY important, believe me. If it weren’t for you and people like you, I would not be able to continue publishing. Simple as that. Thanks. -rc

  54. One thing I find particularly interesting is that Falwell said that all these “alternative lifestyle” men and women helped 9/11 happen. Yet HE is the one on T.V., claiming to be a paragon of the Christain faith while condemning people (hating the sinner as well as the sin) because they don’t think and act exactly like himself.

    I recently listened to an interview of a comedian who’d done a lot of international shows recently. He talked about how in India, the two most popular American shows are “Friends” and “The Jerry Springer Show”. They are broadcast in 13 different dialects. He said quite a few people over there think that all we do is go to coffee shops and sleep with our sisters. Now, this may have been a joke (he is a comedian after all), but it got me thinking. Those shows are based in reality, although they’re really far from it (sorry, I think Jerry Springer is all a hoax).

    A couple people from other countries have posted about how they know of Falwell. Is this the kind of stuff that we’re sending out to the world? Who’s to say that Falwell himself isn’t partially to blame for 9/11?

  55. I have to say that your comments on Falwell (I refuse to use Rev. for him, Jackson, or Sharpton) were pretty well on target. I sometimes have to wonder, though, how much of his rhetoric is due to stupidity. The one shining example of this (if you remember it) is his calling the Teletubbies gay because one of them has a triangle antanea in his head! How stupid and inane can you get?!! THEY HAVE NO GENDER!! I still laugh whenever our 3-year-old watches them. I watch them with her a lot of times knowing full well I am condeming both of us to Hell for eternity – NOT!!

    I don’t know which would be worse – living under Falwell or the Taliban. Thank God we only have one of those to worry about now. See you in Hell.

    “Remember” the Teletubbies Incident nothin’! I wrote about it! It’s in Volume 5. You’ll get a good chuckle out of it. -rc

  56. Gandhi said it so well: “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

  57. You don’t appear to have written about the New York Times, Time magazine or Newsweek beating Falwell to the punch in “outing” Tinky Winky – all national media with, I’d wager, a larger reach than Falwell ever had. Nary a word when the Village Voice or Toronto Star made a “gay Tinky allegation”, or when USA Today wrote about one of the two Washington Post articles on the subject. The topic didn’t seem to merit your attention until Falwell followed suit; then, suddenly, the notion was worthy of ridicule in this instance, and this instance only.

    Curious. I can’t imagine why.

    There’s a big difference about reporting on something, and screaming about it in exaggerated terror. The first doesn’t make news; the latter does. Falwell certainly knew that; “curious” you don’t. -rc

  58. He’s only registered my attention three brief times in my life (well, four now), so I know jack about what he does and less about what he believes. But “screaming about it in exaggerated terror”? Why do I doubt that ever happened?

    Seriously now, a guy with your experience in calling out other people’s BS shouldn’t have so much trouble confining himself to supportable claims. Or are you just screaming about it in exaggerated terror? It’s hard to tell in print.

    We see things differently. There’s no shame in that. Falwell quivered in fear over Tinky Winky being purple (so is Barney the Dinosaur) and “carrying a purse” (actually a “magic bag”, according to the show’s producers — you know, like what Felix the Cat carried). Rational people simply rolled their eyes. Me, I’m bored with it. -rc

  59. It’s not so much what Falwell espoused as it was the lobbying power he accumulated to further his agenda. His demagoguery has hijacked the Conservative political platform and created such kneejerk fear reactions as the proposed Defense of Marriage Amendment to the Constitution.

    Now, I don’t know about YOUR marriage, but a couple guys getting married in San Francisco or Massachusetts, or wherever it is, sure isn’t going to affect MY marriage. To hear Falwell tell it, though, that Amendment very well could have protected the U.S. from the 9/11 events, not to mention the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    But then, to hear Falwell talk about a God given to anger and fits of retribution sounds like a God who isn’t much in control of himself. Sounds pretty impotent. As a father, no matter how much my children may anger me, I would not turn my back on them and refuse to protect them.

  60. Thomas Jefferson is big around these parts (Richmond, VA). So a lot of folks know that he wanted only these achievements on his tombstone:

    1. Author of the Declaration of Independence
    2. Founder of the University of Virginia
    3. Author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (basis for part of the 1st Amendment).

    These three trumped his service as our nation’s third president; he thought that religious freedom was more important.
    Here’s to another part of the 1st Amendment: free speech. Keep up the good work!

    I’m well aware of the first two items in your list, but was not familiar with the third — the Virginia Statute — they didn’t teach much in schools in my day, either….

    The linked reference to the Statute notes that indeed, those are the three things he found most important from his own life, not being president. -rc

  61. As a Christian, I have long been saddened by the fact that many people think Jerry Falwell and others like him represent Christianity. They are responsible for driving so many away from the joy of Christ. I treasure my friends who are gay, lesbian, pagan, whatever – just like Jesus did.

    One thing that I struggle with a lot and would like to see discussed more – how do moderate and rational Christians (we do exist) speak up against this type of hate in an effective way? I see over and over again in the media calls for the “mainstream Muslims” to condemn the “extremists”. I think that is also important for Christians. Extremist Christians have been responsible for at least as many killings as Muslims over the centuries.

    I struggle with how to effectively let people know that the Falwells of the world do NOT represent all or even most Christians. I speak up in the private settings I inhabit. I send letters to the editor which are rarely printed (I suspect because rational is not nearly as entertaining as Falwell’s or Judge Moore’s antics). I’ve read the comments here – there are a number of Christians who clearly were not comfortable with what Falwell was saying in the name of Christianity. How do we get heard? I’d love to see some discussion of that here.

    Thanks for your thoughtful newsletters and blog. I’m a long-time Premium subscriber with no intentions of canceling. How boring would this world be if we all agreed on everything?

    Very. And you do raise an excellent point and question. By their nature, fundamentalists like Falwell are loud and obnoxious, rather than quiet love-thy-neighbor types. You are already doing a fine job, I think: writing letters to the editor (the more that thoughtful Christians do this, the more newspaper editors will “get the message” that the majority of Christians really are good people, not like the in-your-face finger waggers like Falwell.

    And, of course, you can post thoughtful messages on blogs and forums, just like you did. The more you do this, the more people will realize that the Falwells of the world are the exceptions, not the rule. Keep it up. -rc

  62. NOT a comment on the unlamented (by me) demise of Mr. Falwell, but on your comments on “Independant” voters. I am one of them, I vote for the person, and not for the party. But I’d like to offer a radical suggestion via your blog: Why not have an amendment to our Constitution requiring that all ballot entries include a selection of “NONE OF THE ABOVE?” If “NOA” takes the majority of the vote for a particular office, then it would be mandated that another election be held, within a very short time, and with entirely new names on the ballot. And it be done repeatedly until a person is elected to the office, whether it be local dog catcher, or the President of the United States.

  63. What’s the matter, Randy? Can’t take the heat of someone with intelligence that doesn’t agree with your constant obsession of padding your already overinflated ego? I think you need to seek some professional help. What a two bit whinner.

    Do America a favor and stop writing altogether or learn to accept criticism from all walks of life and be willing to post such.

    I’m not sure what this refers to; the only message I find that I’ve sent to you was a note to say that your point was already well covered in previous comments. But I’ll reply to your points here one by one:

    • I’m fine with intelligent messages. Haven’t seen one from you.
    • You do seem to be an expert on professional help. The only insanity I see here is someone clinging to a point already made, and coming back for more anyway, on a terribly old issue. Isn’t that the definition of insanity — doing the same thing again and again in hopes the outcome will differ? It won’t.
    • I don’t know what a “whinner” is. Someone who whinnies? I do see at least a part of a horse from here, but somehow I don’t think that’s what you had in mind.
    • You seem unclear on what it means to be an American. The American Way doesn’t include attempts at censorship. If you don’t like my writing, quit coming to my web site to read what I have to say. (And re-read point 2.)

    There. All better now? -rc

  64. “…your constant obsession of padding your already overinflated ego…”

    One time I had need of an attorney. He told me what he charged and added, “I’m damned good at what I do.”

    Now, I find such a statement means only two things: Either he’s an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about (and he’ll be out of business very soon) or he’s damned good at what he does.

    I have a lot of respect for those with overinflated egos. I have considerably less tolerance for those who continually equivocate (now THERE’S the correct usage of the word) on a subject.

    Since this publication has been around for a lot of years and is still growing, I’d say that the overinflated ego is well-earned and to be envied. (BTW, the attorney was also well worth what he charged.)

    P.S.: For Randy to take personal time to respond, in all the volume of comments, is a sign of respect right there, regardless of favorability or lack of it. Too bad some don’t recognize respect when it’s offered.

    While I may not one to judge, my ego is actually fairly healthy, especially considering how few writers are successful on their own, that I’ve had my hand in on saving quite a few lives, and I have a great wife. All in all, I’m just a regular guy. After meeting plenty of prima donnas from Hollywood and elsewhere, I wouldn’t have it any other way. -rc

  65. I’m bemused by the fact that several readers wondered why you didn’t revile Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson while criticizing Falwell.

    Falwell’s death made him temporarily newsworthy. Seems obvious.

    Moreover, Sharpton and Jackson are far less influential than Falwell was; he founded the “Moral Majority,” slung the Republican party so far rightward that it’s now devouring its own hiney, and invented the abortion debate, forcing it to become a public, legislative decision instead of the private decision it should be.

    Jackson and Sharpton are well to the fringe of the Democratic party, if they’re even in the tent at all. The vast majority of Democrats keep their distance, not true of Republicans with Falwell.

    I’d have to do a search of my stuff to be sure, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t stories making fun of the doings of both Jackson and Sharpton. Even if there are none, they still have plenty of time to be featured!

    But the real point here is the implication — that I bash the right more than the left. When Clinton was in office, the charge was reversed: that I bashed the left more (Example). It’s all perception. -rc

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