The Rev. Falwell’s Death and Liberal Hate

Yesterday, I found that the left has gone too far in celebrating the Rev. Falwell’s death. I don’t agree with Falwell’s politics or his creed, but he was a husband and father and by all accounts, a pretty decent man albeit with some crazy, nonsensical ideas. But then, so is Jesse Jackson. The most that can be held against him are his inflammatory words. Linking to the hate only perpetuates it, but here are some quotes:

Thank you, Death!!!

The psycho-Christian leader, Rev. Jerry Falwell, is DEAD!

YEAH!!! HUZZAH!!! One less pro-Medieval/Dark Ages/Crusades, theocratic, homophobic, sexist/patriarchal/misogynist, (racist?) superstitious fanatic in this country. Compassion for bigots my fucking ass! ::spits bitterly:: He showed no such thing to those who were not of his ilk. Like your typical extremist, bigoted Christian, he didn’t believe in the “do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” or “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” parts of the Bible. No, instead he believed in “do as I say, not as I do.” Cult leaders and the jackass, LSD-doin‘, pot-smokin‘ hippies of the sixties and seventies did and still do the same thing– picking and choosing what they liked out of “holy texts” to serve their own egotistical ideological purposes. Wow, Christians or any other religious/superstitious fanatic(s)– Islamic terrorists, Orthodox Jews, pro-caste system Hindus, etc.–not practicing what they preach or their “holy text(s),” and/or using religion/superstition as a means to promote and excuse their bigotry, what a shocker!

Or how about this one:

The gates of hell swing open and Satan welcomes his beloved son

Jerry Falwell’s dead.

Guess god liked the ACLU better after all.

I’m sorry, but this is just sad. Did Falwell blow up buildings? No. Did Falwell shoot anyone in the name of God? No. Did Falwell kidnap and torture innocent people? No. Did Falwell stand up for what he believed was right. Yes. Is that a crime in this country? Apparently so. I do not believe in the type of Christianity that Falwell believes in. I disagree with him on nearly every point.  But, what it comes down to is that all the hate is generated because of a difference in ideology. In my view, these hateful comments are no different than Fred Phelps and his hateful bunch of homophobes in Kansas who protest soldiers’ funerals. Rather than the shrill politics of hate, I think we need the voice of reason here which acknowledges the death of a fellow human being with a modicum of dignity:

Jim Wallis: The Passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell

I was saddened to learn that Rev. Jerry Falwell passed away this morning at age 73. Rev. Falwell and I have met many times over the years, as the media often paired us as debate partners on issues of faith and politics. I respected his passionate commitment to his beliefs, and our shared commitment to bring moral debate to the public square, although we didn’t agree on many things. At this time, however, what matters most is our prayers for comfort and peace for his family and friends.

Or how about these sensible thoughts:

James A. Forbes Jr.

James A. Forbes Jr.

Senior Minister, The Riverside Church

The Reverend James Alexander Forbes Jr. has been Senior Minister of The Riverside Church, an interdenominational, interracial, and international congregation in New York, since 1989. The “”On Faith”” panelist also hosts “The Time Is Now” on Air America Radio. more »

Main Page | James A. Forbes Jr. Archives | On Faith Archives

Forthright and Fallible

I offer a word of condolence to his family, his university and the movement he founded.

I grieve his death and I grieve that many of the people to whom I was pastor were told by Rev. Falwell that they were not Christian, that they were not pleasing unto God.

While his perspective was different from mine, I must acknowledge the diligence and dedication, clarity and conviction which characterized his leadership. He was a formidable adversary for the left and an effective champion of the religious right. Excessive sometimes in his characterizations of positions he did not like, approaching methodologies of demagogue, but firm and forthright in what he believed.

I take from his ministry the importance of courageous declaration of truth we feel assigned to promote. May liberals and progressives bring a level of determination to promote the perspectives they hold with a measure of the force that we always found in Falwell.

These are the words of a gracious man. Falwell’s family are in my thoughts as well.

18 thoughts on “The Rev. Falwell’s Death and Liberal Hate

  1. I have such mixed emotions. There was a time when I fell squarely in the Falwell Fundamentalist camp. I could at the time understand the Moral Majority position and thought it was a wonderful thing. Later as I began to come out of that coma, I could see how dumb many of his remarks and stances were. I am sure that Telly Tubbies are celebrating everywhere.

    There have been people whom I was glad to see die, like Saddam, or any terrorist, and hopefully Osama one day. However while I am somewhat glad that Jerry’s voice is gone, I do not rejoice at the death of the man, and I feel for his family and even his church people.

    Extremism is always doomed for failure, on either side of the debate. I hate extremism either extreme religion or extreme liberalism. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Oh what blasphemy I speak to my fundamentalist friends from the past, but it is the absolute truth, (ha, funny coming from me).

    He is not in Hell, there isn’t one.
    He is probably not in any heaven either, not sure there is one.

    If there is anything to hope for out of this it would be that this will begin to be the end of extremism. However I know that this will not happen in my lifetime or probably in my children’s lifetimes, but I can have my hopes and dreams can’t I?

  2. I actually attended Liberty University for a semester a few years ago. I had the opportunity of meeting Rev. Falwell personally, I wrote of it on my blog this morning: http://www.waughthinks.wordpress.com

    Falwell was a well intentioned man. I did not agree and still do not agree with everything that he believed in, but he truly exemplified passion and was a great example of what this country is all about: freedom.

  3. MOI,

    I understand where you are coming from but honestly, this could be titled Falwell and conservative hate. It’s a double-edged sword, it really is. 😦

  4. Rebecca,
    I agree there is hate on both sides, but my point in posting was the awful exultation and glee in the death of another who also had the freedom to speak out in public about what he really believed. Regardless of his speech, his death is not the appropriate occasion to celebrate.

  5. I’m in the same position Noogatiger is. I’m glad that his hateful speeches and such will stop, but I didn’t want death to be the reason why they stopped. I would’ve liked to see him change here, and reach out to the people he hurt, because he would’ve been a better person that way. I always wondered if he was truly happy with this viewpoint — although Mike says he was passionate and well-intentioned.

    I do cringe at the amount of hate coming from those who are celebrating — because this makes them “better” than him how, exactly?

  6. Heather,

    I think the mistake we make is trying to understand why people make remarks we see as hateful. I could just as easily assume that the folks who celebrated his death were unhappy and bitter people. They may not be. “Hate” is in the eye of the beholder after all. Everyone has a different eye and everyone sees hate where there may not be any, just as someone may see sin where there may not be any. We reflect our own natures onto the world and then get angry if that’s the response we get.

    Having been on the fundie side for some years, I can see how you can honestly believe you are “loving” someone yet hate their behavior, which is what Falwell and other preachers like him claim to be doing. I don’t think, in our society today, that it’s really possible to separate a person, that’s worth loving and that has dignity as a human being, from the acts that they do or the words they utter. I think we should, but I don’t think we are able to in this politically correct, racially charge environment that we’ve constructed.

  7. Mystery,

    **Everyone has a different eye and everyone sees hate where there may not be any, just as someone may see sin where there may not be any. We reflect our own natures onto the world and then get angry if that’s the response we get.**

    True. I’ve always tried to apply the Golden Rule, and so could honestly not understand how Falwell could think those he was against appreciated his behavior. But from his viewpoint, he would probably feel that he would want someone to treat him that way, if he was in ‘eternal danger.’

  8. Heather,
    Caveat: I’m not saying I like what he says, just that I understand it.

    Good thoughts. (I sound like SNL’s imitation of NPR…good times, good times.) 🙂

  9. Mystery,

    No worries — if you liked what he said, this post would’ve gone much differently.

    Question for you, though –**I can see how you can honestly believe you are “loving” someone yet hate their behavior, which is what Falwell and other preachers like him claim to be doing.**

    I’m not sure if this will make sense, but after you were no longer a fundamenatlist, did you still see that behavior as driven by love (from their perspective)? Because it’s always come across to me as a deep-driven need to be in control

  10. Heather,
    I knew some people in fundamentalism who were visibly and obviously driven by love to condemn a behavior, yet love nonetheless. They didn’t want anyone to suffer what they perceived was a terrible fate. Heck we do it with our own children. We hate that they may be drug addicted or involved in abusive relationships, but we love them fiercely. We see what they are doing to themselves. We tell them how they can be helped out of the situation, but sometimes it’s not heeded. I don’t agree with Falwell’s “list” of sinful behaviors, but it’s the same principle I think.

    But yes, some do it out of pride and a need to control. People love to put other people into categories and assign rote answers to every problem. That’s hubris and does not take into account the diversity and complexity of the human condition.

  11. ** knew some people in fundamentalism who were visibly and obviously driven by love to condemn a behavior, yet love nonetheless. They didn’t want anyone to suffer what they perceived was a terrible fate.** I guess that’s why I find it so odd. I would have a very hard time loving someone if I thought that all of humanity deserved to go to hell, but for the grace of God, could get into heaven, instead. Because then what would I be loving about the person? And it just seems to be a horrible view to hold of humanity. I’m not saying that everyone is perfect — but we have a mixture of good and bad qualities, and to tell someone who tries very hard to be decent and loving and just that they ‘deserve’ hell is just … wrong.

  12. Some people that I love very much still believe that God is at war with Satan for the souls of mankind and that at the end of the world, god will judge everyone and the damned will burn in hell for all eternity and the rest (a small minority) will go to heaven forever and ever. I believed it once too. BUT, I know that they believe what they believe with honest hearts. I thank god I have a different revelation. But it is not hatred that makes them believe this way; it is fear. I cannot condemn them for their beliefs. It is honestly believed, and they truly believe their eternal salvation depends on that set of beliefs. Just becasue secular progressives do not share their view does not make them wrong. Or hateful.

    I am not familiar with the direct words of Jerry Falwell, but I’m sure he was sincere in his beliefs and felt like what he was saying he was saying for the good of mankind. At any rate, I am a conservative, and I would like to know exactly what is meant by “conservative hate” it seems like when a conservative simply has an opinion that does not meet the standards of the thought police it is deemed hate speech. I’m not saying there are not conservative dolts, but by and large, they are a pretty mellow bunch (with the exception of Michael Savage, whom most conservatives repudiate). For proof of this one only has to visit some conservative sites like Townhall.com or Redstate.com to see the level of discourse that transpires there versus sites like move on.org or Daily kos. Seriously, the vulgarities and hatred spewed certainly do give credence that liberalism is a mental disorder.

    So, if anyone would care to share some direct quotes that prove that Jerry Falwell was full of hate, i would be happy to see them. May he rest in peace, and may he find all that he hoped on the other side.

  13. I have been puzzling over this. Your title includes the wording “liberal hate” and I’ve been wondering what the difference is betwwen this and the sort of hatred expressed by certain Christian fundies. I’ve also been puzzling about your recent post about why some Christians try to convert others, and it’s close cousin why some Athiests try to convert others. I’m wondering whether all of these have nothing to do with belifs at all, but are a deeper expression of some human behaviour that certain personalities are more predisposed towards.
    A penny for your thoughts.
    Jon

  14. Jon,
    Howdy! I’ve wondered myself why, when reading my post, some people think I’m making a distinction between the two hates. The point is. I’m not. I’m giving them both their due. I’m trying to show that both sides are hate-filled when it comes to people, places, and things. Liberals seem to reserve all of their vitriol for certain persons: Bush, Falwell, etc. They hardly ever discuss ideas, except for Noam Chomsky (perhaps this is why he’s the liberal academics god right now). Conservatives (i.e. Christians) reserve their hate for worldviews and lifestyles, although Bill and Hillary Clinton still hold a special place in their heart hell to this day.
    Is this a result of “personalities?” I think not. It’s clearly a result of how deeply and emotionally people buy into a system of thought or world view, one which they will do or say anything to protect. Fallwell was a very real threat to those who jumped up and down like children at his death. How much of a threat mere words can be if he never acted on them is beyond me.
    In other words Jon, there is no difference between liberal politico and fundie christian hate. Both think they are absolutely right in their thinking and both are happy when their opponents die. It’s a battle of ideologies and world views as I noted on my earlier posts. But I also did want to note the unmitigated and galling glee that was expressed over someone’s death, which, no matter who’s doing it, I find appalling.No matter how much of a bastard Saddam Hussein was, the phone video of his death was inappropriate and nothing more than a snuff film in the violence porn world.

    Personally, I don’t believe any world view strong enough to hate people like the liberal political crowd or the fundie christians do. No ideology is worth trading human integrity and decency for.

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