arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell, possibly the most influential Christian leader of the last thirty years, died this week. There are many people in this country that looked to him as the chief defender of the Christian faith, a man of great conviction and courage. Perhaps he was all this, but there many of us that saw a very different man.

He came into the national political stage with the founding of the Moral Majority and the subsequent rise of the religious right in the early 1980’s. Ronald Reagan was elected president in part due to support from Falwell’s followers. His efforts seem to recast Jesus Christ as sole property of the conservative Republican movement. Naturally, this sent off waves of alienation throughout the rest of the Christian community in the United States. Many of us do believe in the good works Christ did, but we’re not willing to let it dictate our political views. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having morality in a society, but Falwell blurred the lines between church and state so much that it gave Christianity a bad name in other countries that are dominated by other religions.

In some of these countries, Falwell would have been perceived as a traitor seeking to overthrow the government. In the 1990’s several episodes of his “Old Time Gospel Hour” had nothing to do with faith, Jesus, or prayer. On these episodes, he would offer a videotape documentary about Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities to anyone who sent a donation to his program. The “Old Time Gospel Hour” became the “Get Bill Clinton Out of Office Hour”! Keep in mind this was before anyone heard of Monica Lewinsky. Falwell could only get away with this sort of shenanigans here in the United States; in other countries, he could’ve been stood up against a wall and shot.

Then there was the time he became a critic of children’s television when he went after the Teletubbies. He reasoned that they were part of the homosexual agenda because one of the Tubbies carried a purse. The gay community will not miss him, but I can just imagine how the Teletubbies are taking the news of his passing. They will probably hold a solemn ceremony in his memory, complete with a paper mache mock-up of Falwell himself. Then one of the Tubbies may do something naughty - say, play with matches - and “accidentally” set Falwell’s effigy on fire. This episode will most likely never air, but it could show up on YouTube any day now.

Falwell’s stance on environmental issues also didn’t impress me. He and his followers were against heavy, intrusive government regulation of industry just so we can all breathe a little easier. He reasoned that the good Lord has promised us a new world in the hereafter, and we don’t have to be concerned about keeping this one clean. My response to this has always been, why should God give us another world after He’s seen how we’ve trashed this one? Shouldn’t we ensure the future survival of the human race by leaving behind a clean environment? Wouldn’t we prove ourselves worthy of a new world if we kept this one as clean as possible?

Then there were his light-hearted moments, like the time he showed videotape of himself bungee jumping. Or the time he slid down an amusement park water slide – in a suit and tie – to celebrate pulling PTL Land (or Heritage USA) out of bankruptcy. It’s special times like that that make me wonder why the Jerry Falwell action figure never sold very well.

So, the man is gone, but his legacy will be with us for many years to come. Many people will not miss him or his brand of Christianity. In a more Christian spirit of being kind to the dead, I should point out that he was just a man, no more, no less, who devoted his life to his interpretation of God. As the Teletubbies might say, “Huh-oh!”

1 Comments:

Blogger Sally said...

Tinky Winky is currently carrying a black pocketbook to show his deference.

Jerry Falwell was probably the most un-Christian Christian I've ever seen. But then again, what do I know? I'm just an amoral liberal. I'm going to go hug a tree and meditate.

May 21, 2007 at 10:12 PM  

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