Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rev. Jerry Falwell Laid to Rest

Thousands Turn Out for Falwell Funeral

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; 2:35 PM

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Thousands of mourners attended the funeral Tuesday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the folksy evangelist who built the Moral Majority into a conservative Christian empire that influenced national politics.

The funeral returns Falwell to his roots _ the Thomas Road Baptist Church, where he started as a young preacher in 1956 with just 35 parishioners in an old abandoned soda bottling plant.

Today, his son Jonathan Falwell leads Thomas Road Baptist, and the sanctuary seats 6,000.

More than an hour before the service, crowds were being directed to overflow seating in Liberty University's 10,000-seat basketball arena and its football stadium. About 300 police and other personnel were helping manage the crowd, Lynchburg Police Chief Charles W. Bennett Jr. said.

More than 33,000 people had viewed Falwell's body over four days as it lay in repose.

"He was a champion of the fundamental values that we hold dear," said fellow Virginia evangelist Pat Robertson, citing Falwell's stance against abortion and homosexuality. "He stepped on some toes."

Some Republican figures were expected for the funeral, but none of the party's presidential candidates said they could attend. The White House was sending a midlevel aide. Among the Virginia Republican leaders attending was Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Falwell, 73, died a week ago after collapsing in his office at Liberty University. His physician said Falwell had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality. more

Now that Rev. Falwell is properly buried allow me to take a moment to reflect on his "legacy".

Falwell's primary achievment was in motivating a large number of mainly protestant Christians to become engaged in the political process. Thats a good thing in my opinion. Of course I'd also say that if he had organized left handed people. In the process he helped shape the platform of the GOP today which is no mean feat. In doing so he also became a spokesperson for Protestant Christianity in America and its in that role that he probably did more harm than good.

His denouncements of gays and "abortionists" were often hate filled to the point that they were clearly in conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ such as "Love thy neighbor as thyself.", Do unto others as you'd have done to you". (You can read many of his infamous quotes here.)

By doing so he portrayed his faith as being bigoted, intolerant, hypocritical, close minded, and hateful. There isn't any way to count the number of people he turned off of Christianity or the number of gays he inspired to organize. But I wish I had a nickel for each of them.