Jerry Falwell, long-time evangelical minister and founder of the ambitiously named "Moral Majority" movement, died today at the age of 73 in Lynchburg, VA. Earlier this afternoon, he was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University, and was hospitalized, where his condition was reported as "unresponsive." He died some time later, leaving a great void in the American culture of hate, paranoia, and pseudo-religious fascism.
Today's GOP debates will doubtless be peppered with competing homages to Falwell: yet another reason to keep the television off.
Falwell was instrumental in popularizing the notion that Jesus-worship had a place at the table of American politics. This was the first hint of his insanity. Perhaps his brain was being eaten by syphilis, or perhaps his family should have bought him some tutoring in American History. It seems the Falwell Saga could've been prevented....if only we recognized the danger signs...
One memorable quote was:
"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."
-- sermon, July 4, 1976
It seems ironic that the college which he led bore the name "Liberty," for clearly Falwell was inspired by the bloodier tales of the Crusades. There was no "liberty" in his plan. Falwell's was a bleak vision of spiritual dictatorship, where Jesus-worship was spread through aggressive missionary tactics. Short of total victory, we were doomed as a people.
According to Falwell, everything from 9/11 to AIDS was the fault of American social liberalism. Apparently, we've pissed off God, so he sent us some nice people in a couple of airplanes to teach us a lesson.
What a sweet thought.
If it's true, I'm sure God and Falwell will get along just swimmingly, now that he's been spirited away... And may the arrogance of his kind die with him.