Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Jerry Falwell Dead at 73. Because of Him, Three Republican Candidates Deny Evolution.
Jerry Falwell passed away today at the age of 73. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the folksy, small-town preacher who used the power of television to found the Moral Majority and turn the Christian right into a mighty force in American politics during the Reagan years, died Tuesday at 73.
Falwell was discovered without a pulse in his office at Liberty University and pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later. Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell's physician, said he had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality.
Driven into politics by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established the right to an abortion, Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979. One of the conservative lobbying group's greatest triumphs came just a year later, when
Ronald Reagan was elected president.
Falwell credited the Moral Majority with getting millions of conservative voters registered, aiding in Reagan's victory and giving Republicans control of the Senate. "I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved," he said when he stepped down as Moral Majority president in 1987.
We might have a cure for AIDS, Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer, and a host of other diseases that people like Falwell like to claim are God's collective curse on mankind.
Fellow TV evangelist Pat Robertson, himself a one-time GOP candidate for president, declared Falwell "a tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation."
The rise of Christian conservatism — and the Moral Majority's full-throated condemnation of homosexuality, abortion and pornography — made Falwell perhaps the most recognizable figure on the evangelical right, and one of the most controversial ones, too.
Not that I "believe", but wouldn't it be a nice irony if Saint Peter denied Falwell entry into the Heavenly Kingdom on the basis of his silly characterization of Tinky Winky?
Over the years, Falwell waged a landmark libel case against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad, and created a furor in 1999 when one of his publications suggested that the purse-carrying "Teletubbies" character Tinky Winky was gay.
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 1980s marked the religious conservative movement's high-water mark. In more recent years, Falwell had become a problematic figure for the GOP. His remarks a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, essentially blaming feminists, gays and liberals for bringing on the terrorist attacks drew a rebuke from the White House, and he apologized.
Jerry Falwell, as you may be able to guess from the content of much of this blog, is someone I will not miss. He was a man who misused his ability to influence people. He, Pat Robertson, and others of their ilk, are divisive forces in this country. Their narrow viewpoints harm the cause of true scientific progress, and the damage they have inflicted since they began interfering in politics has weakened this nation.
Don't believe me? The dolt in the White House is the inevitable result of mixing religion and politics. The idea that a "folksy" rube with simple, Christian values, yet absolutely no curiosity of the wonders of the natural world, could lead this nation found lots of appeal with the intellectually challenged in this country, and the entire world has been paying a terrible price for our collective lack of judgement these past six years.
Separation of church and state is the most important notion that the founding fathers devised. Until the birth of the United States, every nation on earth had its politics and religious beliefs intertwined. I hope that we will soon embrace Thomas Jefferson's lofty ideals and become a nation that is no longer guided by silly superstitions.
Full Jerry Falwell Memorial Article
On a similar note, are you as disturbed as I am that three Republican presidential candidates, in front of a live televised audience, denied that evolution is real? Check out the following New York Times debate recap excerpt:
There were revealing moments that went past the well-rehearsed lines by all the candidates. Three of the candidates — Mike Huckabee (former Arizona Governor), Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — raised their hands to signal that they did not believe in evolution.
The now late Mr. Falwell did his work well with these men. I just wonder how many of the other candidates actually hold similar notions, but were too smart to say so in this forum. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that these men have taken such a ridiculous position. Huckabee and Tancredo are simply crazy, and Brownback is both crazy and is playing up to the anti-evolution constituency of his state. To say that their insane views on evolution should automatically disqualify them from serving the public in any official capacity, let alone that of President of the United States, is an exercise in understatement.
I certainly hope enough smart people out there vote to keep these clowns out of our affairs for good.
Full GOP Debate Recap Article