Remembering Jerry Falwell

The Rev. Jerry Falwell — longtime foe of GLBT people, women, and those who thirst for justice and equality — died today.

When I heard the breaking news, my reaction shocked me. I wept.

I met the man. (Read about it here.) Saw him preach from the pulpit of his magnificent Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. Talked with him. Found him funny, interestingly enough. I never approved of his positions, his statements, his actions, what he did to the American political landscape. I am well aware of the human cost much of his ministry caused — and told him so to his face. We were able to disagree without being disagreeable, which I see as a good thing.

This does not change the fact that the right-wing televangelist and Moral Majority founder disappointed me on a human level numerous times. Neither do his unchristian activities erase the fact that his ministry has done good as well. A fair person must note that too.
And now, suddenly, he’s dead. How could anyone with a heart not react with sadness on some level?

In various places on the net, I’ve been reading people’s reactions to the news. Won’t link to them — I don’t want to call anyone out or make them feel bad or attract people to come and bash me for daring to feel sadness.

So I’ll just say this and then go sit quietly for a while: Yeah, Jerry Falwell did some fucked-up, downright evil things in the name of Jesus. Enormously hideous and horrible things. He was virulently homophobic, a onetime (?) segregationist, a proponent of the traditional man-in-charge relationship model, and more. All true. All terrible. This should not, must not be forgotten.

Still, that’s no justification for dancing on his grave. ANY death is a diminishment of the human family. We debase ourselves when we engage in hideous schadenfreude, and I’m seeing way too much of it today. It’s devastating. And it’s wrong.

Why are humans so damned cruel?

Rest in peace, Rev. Falwell. May your successor achieve more success than you did in embracing all of God’s children. May those you harmed, if they still live, find healing and justice. And may the rest of us remember this:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Seven times seven times…

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7 thoughts on “Remembering Jerry Falwell

  1. What an interesting CityPaper article! Can’t help noticing Falwell’s alleged change of heart at the end of that article preceded his infamous post-9/11 remarks, though.

  2. Hi Thomas! Believe me, after the 9/11 attacks, in which I lost loved ones, the memory of Falwell’s earlier statements hit me like a sledgehammer. Made the horrible tragedy that much more tragic for me. I hear from Soulforce that, at the end, Falwell was beginning to backtrack on protecting glbt people against housing and employment discrimination. But it’s so sad that he never saw the light about complete equality under law for all.

    I am of many minds about the reverend. I can’t say he was a good person. He was, however, a human being. It is certainly valid to talk fairly about the bad and good things he did (IMO he did much more harm than good), but feeling joy over a death — any death… I just can’t fathom it. Not built that way, I guess.

    Hoping you and your wife and Maddie are thriving!

  3. The negativity you portray about Falwell is because you don’t believe in what he believed in. You cover your contempt by feining admonishment of those who do what you feel but don’t have the balls to do. That makes you worse than them.

    Rot in Hell.

  4. Hmm… and pray tell, what gives you insight into what really is going on inside my mind? Oh, you are making an assumption likely based on your own beliefs. Not useful or worth worrying about, though you will be in my prayers. But for the record, you could not be more wrong (and only God is qualified to compare my worth with that of others).

    For the record, IMO, I am no better and no worse than any other human, and that includes Jerry Falwell.

  5. Natalie,
    That wasn’t directed at you personally. It was the thread. I deal with GLBTs by the dozens each and every day. I have for years. In all honesty they are, for the most part, the most dreadful, miserable, self-righteous, deceitful group of people I deal with. The only groups worse are the drug addicts, and the drug addicted GLBTs are the worst of the worst. I will add that of the more than 10,000 I have met and taken care of over the last 30 years, some of them (clean GLBTs) are some of the nicest and sweetest I have ever met. Unfortunately, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason and I was responding to the stereotypical GLBT and the stereotypical GLBT reponses in the above thread.

    I am sure you are a wonderful person. Who knows, maybe we have already met.

  6. Perhaps. That would be cool. The good thing is we have met now, and I
    feel privileged.

    I do become concerned when people use their particular experiences as
    a template in their dealings with people with whom they have never
    dealt. (Sometimes I do that too, sad to say.) While I certainly
    understand and can relate to your experiences (I’ve done my share of
    volunteer work with all stripes of addicts, and yes, most were *very*
    difficult), it just doesn’t follow that most glbt people are the same
    way. Not in my experience, anyway (and that shouldn’t be considered
    representative of anything beyond my own experiences). But I know way
    too many non-addict gays (and non-gays) who are just tremendous
    humans, and I know very badly behaving addicts who remained horrid and
    others who matured into terrific, empathetic, responsible people. At
    the same time, I have witnessed some usually wonderful people say some
    pretty hideous things regarding Jerry Falwell; you should see the
    drubbing I am getting from them — even from some friends who can’t
    let go of their hatred. I guess we should assume that most people are
    fragile combinations of good and bad — and encourage the good, in
    others and particularly in ourselves.

    In the case of Falwell, I am genuinely sad — one, because I met him
    and saw good and bad sides of him up close; two, because he never got
    over his ignorance and intolerance; three, because a lot of people do
    miss him — he was loved even when he didn’t love others; four,
    because we have to deal with his shameful legacy; and five, because
    the human family is that much smaller..And while I believe he did more
    harm than good, he was a charmer who was very nice and respectful to
    me, which I will never forget.

    I am so glad you wrote back!

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