Burn in Hell, Jerry Falwell

Okay, I wasn’t going to write about Falwell’s death… but then I thought, what the hell, all the cool kids are doing it. Let’s start with a stirring eulogy by Christopher Hitchens:

Okay, I wasn’t going to write about Falwell’s death… but then I thought, what the hell, all the cool kids are doing it. Let’s start with a stirring eulogy by Christopher Hitchens:

“People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup.” Ha! Yeah, Hitchens is kind of an obnoxious asshole who loves to hear himself talk sometimes (seriously, “Chaucerian frauds”?). But when he’s right, he’s right.

Marc Adams came to SFU in 1998 to talk about his experiences growing up gay in a fundamentalist Baptist environment. Adams had gone to Falwell’s Liberty University. He survived—not all gay students did.

Marc talked about Kent, a student who was kicked out of Liberty for being gay. Even though they were in the same prayer group together, Marc was too busy trying to “become straight” to reach out to Kent. They never talked about being gay, not even as Marc helped Kent carry his suitcases to the curb. Marc feared a close association with Kent would arouse suspicions about his own sexuality. “A couple months after that I got a letter from him in the mail and the first thing he said was that his parents obviously did not kill him, but they did throw him out of the house and he was living on the street. He told me though, that he had found a way to cure himself of his homosexuality, that he had been able to do it, and he left a phone number for me to call. And so I called the number and it rang to his parents house and his brother told me how Kent had, just a couple days earlier, broken into their house and taken one of his father’s guns, and blown off the back of his head.”

I remember some members of the audience were in tears during Adams’ talk. Me, I wasn’t crying; I was angry. If I’d had the power, I would have cheerfully burned Liberty University to the ground right then. Though he didn’t pull the trigger, Falwell and his followers are to blame for filling that boy’s head with lies, fear and shame, making him feel he had no other options.

Here’s something I didn’t know: before getting into the homophobia and anti-abortion business in the 70’s, Falwell used to be a segregationist. From a sermon he made four years after the 1954 landmark case Brown v. Board of Education:

“If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made,” Falwell boomed from above his congregation in Lynchburg. “The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

Falwell’s jeremiad continued: “The true Negro does not want integration… He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.” Falwell went on to announce that integration “will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city,” he warned, “a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife.”

Not too surprising from a little toad (thanks, Christopher!) whose other career highlights include bigotry, lies, corruption, and the outing of Tinky Winky. Blaise Pascal wrote, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Falwell spent his life proving Pascal right, and inspiring others to do the same. He was a monster and a creator of monsters. The world is better off without him.

PS: This will blow your irony meters. Apparently, Fred Phelps (yes, that Fred Phelps) will picket Falwell’s funeral. For real. Damn, that’s too funny.