Wednesday, May 16, 2007

R.I.P. Jerry Falwell

By now I'm sure you've heard the news about the death of Rev. Jerry Falwell. Founder of the Moral Majority back in the 80's, Falwell led the rise of conservative Christian politics and made them an undeniably influential and powerful voting block. Along the way, he created plenty of controversy--even making Christians wince.

Falwell had plenty of enemies. When you enter the political fray, that's to be expected. And Falwell said plenty of controversial things that brought him criticism. As a public figure, that's also to be expected. Entering the public arena is like going into a boxing ring--expect to get hit.

Now Falwell is dead. But instead of letting the man rest in peace, Falwell's enemies can't help but jab him one more time. mocks him with the Teletubbies' Tiny Winky waving good-bye; years ago, Falwell's magazine suggested Tinky was gay and a bad role model. Atheist "evangelist" Christopher Hitchens spewed distain and contempt for Falwell on CNN. And then there's this from the AP:
Matt Foreman, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, extended condolences to those close to Falwell, but added: "Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America's anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation's appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation."
The man is dead. Can't his enemies simply express their condolences--as insincere as they may be--and say no more? It's funny to me that the person showing the most grace right now is the undignified pornographer Larry Flynt, who released the following statement:
My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends.
In the Wild West, when a bad guy got shot dead, at least he was given the dignity of a funeral, with the parson presiding, and the sheriff with his head bowed and hat over his heart.

But you know what? I doubt that Falwell is upset with those who are scorning him once again. In fact, he's probably smiling. Falwell enjoyed the public attention and he certainly relished a good fight. Even more, I imagine that Falwell is busy delighting in seeing his Savior face-to-face.

You may think that Falwell was a scoundrel, but those are precisely the kind of people that God loves and Jesus saves.

R.I.P. Jerry.

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