Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Theocratic leader Jerry Falwell dies.

Jerry Falwell, one of the founders of the modern “Religious Right” has died. He was 73 in spite of apparently having been born in the Dark Ages. A fundamentalist Christian Falwell advocate big government in the realm of personal life. When the terrorists attacked on 9/11 Falwell claimed that “abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU” anyone who supports a secular state “helped this happen.” He then backtracked on the statement after he was severely criticized.

Falwell was one of the men who helped covert the Republican Party into a theocratic movement that has culminated in the George Bush White House.

I had met Falwell on a couple of occasions. The last time I saw him was some years ago when he was the featured speaker at a rally to pass the “Right to Decency” bill introduced by in the state legislature by fellow fundamentalist Republican Don Boys. The bill would have mandated imprisonment for homosexuality by making it a felony punishable by law. The legislation would give an automatic 2-to-21 year prison sentence for anyone convicted of being gay. Only days later I saw Falwell being interviewed at a press conference where he was asked about his groups position on the rights of gay people. Falwell claimed he has never advocated stripping gays of their rights this in spite of appearing, only days earlier, as the main speaker at a rally calling for the incarceration of homosexuals. Apparently honesty was not high on the list of “moral” issues.

Falwell claimed he had “a divine mandate from God to go right into the halls of Congress and fight for laws that will save America.”

Falwell began his career as a televangelist with a radio show The Old-Time Gospel Hour where he regularly featured extreme racists like Lester Maddox and George Wallace. Falwell later dropped these positions and instead focused on scapegoating homosexuals, a topic that obsessed him. In 1984 he had a television debate where he was charged with calling the pro-gay Metropolitan Community Churches ‘brute beasts”. Falwell publicly denied ever saying such a thing and promised his opponent $5000 if he could prove he did. The man had a video tape of Falwell saying this. Falwell then refused to pay up and was sued for breach of promise. The court ruled Falwell did indeed break his word and did owe $5000 to his opponent. Falwell appealed that ruling claiming the judge was biased and he lost that suit as well. But Falwell’s views on the matter are illustrated by his remark: “Thank God for these gay demonstrators. If I didn’t have them, I’d have to invent them. They give me all the publicity I need.”

Falwell supposedly died of heart problems.