Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Forgive me if I'm dry-eyed. The Carpetbagger Report has a fine round-up of his greatest hits. And please read Bruce Wilson at AlterNet on the subject of whether this means the religious right is losing influence. (Short version: no -- this hydra has many heads, and keeps growing new ones, often with government support.)


"Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."

--Barry Goldwater


Oh, here's an item about Falwell that probably won't show up in most of his obituaries, from 1985, before apartheid was dismantled:

Brisk and confident, treated more like a ranking diplomat than a preacher, Jerry Falwell concluded an inspection tour of South Africa by spending not only six hours with Foreign Minister Roelof F. Botha but an hour with State President P.W. Botha. Upon his return to the U.S. last week, Falwell denounced the drive in Congress for economic sanctions against South Africa and urged "reinvestment" instead of divestment. Falwell opposes apartheid, but professed faith that Botha will dismantle the system eventually, if only everyone is patient. The alternative, he said, is either a more draconian white regime or a Soviet-aligned revolution. Falwell also insisted that nonwhite South Africans agree with him. Referring to one who does not, Nobel- Prizewinning Bishop Desmond Tutu, Falwell said, "I think he's a phony, period, as far as representing the black people of South Africa."

Falwell's bellicose entry into the South Africa tangle produced an unholy uproar. A leading U.S. clergyman, President Philip Cousin of the National Council of Churches, said Falwell is "acting like a segregationist." Even the State Department appeared embarrassed. A spokesman termed Tutu a "recognized black leader" and a "voice of moderation in the midst of violence and repression." Last Friday Falwell said on CNN that his use of phony was "unfortunate," and wired an apology to Tutu. He planned further explanation on his own Sunday TV show.

He was heating up an issue that has engaged churches internationally for a quarter-century. A phalanx of Christian groups in and outside South Africa is demanding an immediate end to apartheid as immoral. Falwell's agreement with Botha and his soft-pedaling of the anguish faced by South Africa's blacks infuriated many commentators. In addition, says Evangelical Historian Richard Lovelace, Falwell's visit "detoured around the local Christian community," and, he concludes, "his reputation is bound to suffer."

Alas, it didn't -- at least not with his many fans.


RELATED: "The true Negro does not want integration...He realizes his potential is far better among his own race...We see the hand of Moscow in the background...We see the Devil himself behind it...It will destroy our race eventually..." If Falwell said that in 1958, as the Rude Pundit reports, then I think we've established a pattern.

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