Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Rev. Jerry Falwell Dies

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, a long-time nemesis of LGBT activists and progressive organizations and political factions, died yesterday after he was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] and other GOP Presidential hopefuls, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other religious figures have added their condolences to the already long list of public tributes. But Falwell's vitriolic anti-LGBT rhetoric simply cannot be ignored.

Falwell publicly secured his anti-LGBT credentials with his support of Anita Bryant's efforts to repeal a South Florida gay rights ordinance in the late 1970s. The outspoken minister's categorization of AIDS as God's condemnation of homosexuality further enraged activists while his denunciation of the Teletubbies because he believed Tinky Winky was gay bordered on the absurd. Falwell further vilified himself among progressives after he said gay rights supporters and others caused the Sept. 11 attacks in the days after the tragedy.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, CNN and the BBC are among the media outlets to report Falwell's anti-gay legacy. The National Lesbian & Gay Task Force and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation also drew attention to these sentiments in their public responses to Falwell's death.

Falwell certainly became a national [and perhaps mythical] figure who did not fail to influence politics and the movement he helped to create and elevate out of the pews. His many supporters will continue to praise the good work they feel he has done and they will seek to romanticize his life in the coming days and weeks. But he leaves behind a divisive legacy of homophobia and intolerance from which even those within his own constituency have begun to distance themselves. This legacy remains an essential part of the Falwell story that must be told.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

I think it's more accurate to restate Falwell's theory of God's wrath in response to ""the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America."

He didn't exactly accuse them of "causing" 9/11, rather that the attack on the country was in response to "alternative lifestyle" and "secularization" ...

Obviously, Falwell was a lunatic. I have a feeling (and hope) that as these older weed-like Christian right leaders die off that the fanatical science-rejecting intensity of religion in this country will moderate itself with younger generations...

BTW, have you seen Jesus Camp? You should.