A collection of responses regarding Jerry Falwell’s death from various groups and people is below:
While we recognize and respect the grief of friends and relatives, it must be acknowledged in the wake of Rev. Falwell’s death that he and the organizations he founded, especially the so-called Moral Majority, were serious threats to our Constitution and, specifically, the separation of church and state.
We cannot and must not lionize Rev. Jerry Falwell because he is now dead. We expect that some politicians beholden to the religious right, who perhaps owe their political careers in part to Falwell, will praise him for his religiosity or avuncular style. The truth is, however, that the Rev. Jerry Falwell was a dangerous man who opposed and worked against many of the key values underpinning our secular American democracy.
Jerry Falwell politicized religion and failed to understand the genius of our Constitution, but there is no denying his impact on American political life. He will long be remembered as the face and voice of the Religious Right.
Falwell reached his apex of power in the 1980s. Since then, leadership of the Religious Right has passed to James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Donald Wildmon and others. However, Falwell remained influential in politics, with Republican presidential candidates seeking his support this year.
Americans United extends its condolences to members of Dr. Falwell’s family, the congregants of Thomas Road Baptist Church and the students and staff of Liberty University.
Lane Hudson at the Huffington Post:
He was a hateful person who did not serve to inspire the better nature of America. Instead, he used religion to propagate hate and discrimination for as long we anyone can remember. Forgive me if I don’t cry.
So, he hated women, blacks, gays, jews, liberals, progressives, atheists, agnostics, foreigners, and anybody else who disagreed with him. He broke the law. He established a university that institutionalized everything he was about. I hope it all goes with him. The brand of conservative hate he represented has no place in what this country should stand for. Forgive me if I don’t cry.
James Dobson of Focus on the Family:
Our hearts and prayers go out to Jerry’s wife Macel, his children Jerry, Jonathan and Jeannie, and his church. This is a tragic loss for them – and for all Americans. Jerry’s passions and convictions changed the course of our country for the better over the last 20 years – and I was proud to call him my friend.
It was Jerry who led an entire wing of Christianity, the fundamentalist wing, away from isolation and into a direct confrontation with culture. It was my honor to share the front lines with him in the battle for righteousness in our nation. We will continue that fight, in his honor, until our mutual goals are achieved.
My wife and I have sent our condolences to Macel Falwell and her family. Jerry has been a tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation. Liberty University is a magnificent accomplishment and will prove a lasting legacy. Jerry’s courage and strength of convictions will be sadly missed in this time of increasing moral relativism. I join with the tens of thousands of his friends to mourn the passing of this extraordinary human being.
It is a difficult issue to address: How do you properly criticize the man who caused so much harm to so many people, while at the same time showing some respect for his family who may not have had much of a choice in the matter and are grieving at the loss of a loved one?
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