Jerry’s Kids

May 16, 2007

Since there’s nothing more predictable than a contrarian, it was only to be expected that the death of Jerry Falwell would occasion at least one piece telling us that the fuss over Falwell’s hate-speech ministry was overblown, that his influence on American politics was never all that great to begin with and is now fading even among religionists.

Go tell it to the little wingnuts who grew up with Falwell as one of their touchstones of conservatism. Andrew Sullivan highlights a fond reminisence by Al Mohler of the night he first saw Falwell, claw in claw with singer Anita Bryant as she fought to stop a law extending anti-discrimination laws to include gays:

Not marriage; not hate crimes: just a basic anti-discrimination ordinance. And she opposed it by accusing gay people of being pedophiles, out to molest other people’s children. This was the occasion for a spiritual epiphany for Albert Mohler. Thanks, Jerry, for the memories.

Over at the National Review Online there are plenty of other wingers flapping for their departed hero. I’d say they’re a bit closer to the truth on this one than Alter.

Meanwhile, one of the best extended pieces on Falwell’s influence may be found here at Orcinus.


One Response to “Jerry’s Kids”

  1. Alison Says:

    I’ve met plenty of religious people who don’t advocate any of the hatefulness or bigotry for which the bible lends plenty of support. However, I think that once some of these people get a microphone and a TV camera, it somehow becomes OK. Of course, it could also be that there are enough people who would feel guilty about their own nasty impulses who need to justify continuing to hold them – and that’s why these preachers of awfulness get the mikes and cameras in the first place. Just as pieces about rampaging teens and violent minority criminals get airplay, while the honor roll students and middle-class minority acheivers get brief, if any mention, the preachers who spew the vitriol are far more entertaining.

    Falwell, Robertson, Roberts, all the way on down to the cable-show religionists, give people the justification they need to continue their small-mindedness, and that makes them feel good. The grandstanding is entertaining, and some people really get off on being able to be in perfect agreement with someone who’s famous on TV. That crumbles completely if they have to even be exposed to the idea that their hero might be wrong. The Falwell fans will never abandon the idea that Falwell was a kind and loving man of god, because then they’d have to confront the thought that they might not be as kind and loving as they insist they are.

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