Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Where will the Reverend end up?

It's bad manners to speak ill of the dead. Not to mention that it feels like I'm bucking for a lightning bolt from the great beyond, especially when the dead guy in question claimed to be a man of God. But when it comes to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, I'll make an exception.

Claiming to be a messenger of God and a follower of Christ, Falwell had a vengeful and spiteful interpretation of the Lord (he claimed the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina were God's punishment of an America gone astray — nevermind that the Christian god is supposedly one of unending love and forgiveness).

He also stoked the fears and prejudices of society, again, not something the Jesus of the Gospels would have done. Most notably, Falwell's campaign against the rights of homosexuals in this country should be viewed as something entirely un-loving and un-Christian. (Keep in mind, in the four Gospels Jesus mentions homosexuality a total of zero times, and is not mentioned in the entire Bible more than three or four).

Falwell was truly a visionary, a man who transformed religion from a private conviction into a made-for-media, publicly consumable product. He extended a powerful hand toward millions, and millions returned his offer. He offered hope and strength to many, but his politicization of religion (remember the "Moral Majority"?) is one of the most dangerous things to happen to U.S. democracy since World War II.

His legacy is far from decided. But from this early vantage point, it might be a legacy of lesson — that those who say they do the work of God often turn out to be false prophets.

1 comment:

Erdos56 said...

It may have been dangerously influential in waves through Reagan and moving into Bush Jr., but I am hopeful that it has also spent its wad. Church attendance has been on the decline for decades, with an increasingly graying population among the remainder. Also, rising education levels tend to counteract the effects of extreme religious belief, and have been rising as well.

I keep hoping for a more vocal blowback by moderate xtians who see politically extreme positions as counter to their faith. Maybe, maybe...