15 May 2007

Falwell Falls, Teletubbies Still Standing

Jerry Falwell died today. In 1979, Falwell founded the Moral Majority, a religious special interest group that worked to conform law and policy to their view of religion. At various times, he spoke out against scientists, secularists, Jews, gays, and teletubbies.

To me, Falwell was the epitome of what's wrong with politics. It is true that Jews and Romans killed Christ, but that's actually incidental. They just happened to be in power at the time. Christ's execution was the result of collusion between church and state.

I would argue that all progress we've made in the West traces back to a separation of state force and individual opinion - allowing the individual freedom to argue for, and live by, standards that aren't normal and aren't enforced by the state. Falwell was one of these reformed segregationist who was offended by the parade of abnormal that characterizes America, a man eager to stamp out deviation from his interpretation of God's true law.

My own faith represents about 1/100th of 1 percent of the US population. Nonetheless, there are members of my faith who feel an affinity with the political goals of Falwell and his ilk. That kind of thing just scares me. The best any of us can ever hope for is the freedom to live our own lives. I've no illusions about keeping my rights should there become a national conversation about the ONE way that should guide our politics. And in truth, although minority religions like Bahai or Jews are the first to go in a purge of religious deviancy, it doesn't take long before the Protestants and Catholics are casualties as well. There are very few winners in the battle to align church and state. My contempt for Falwell doesn't follow from my contempt for religion but, rather, my fondness for it.

Falwell was a throwback to the time when each colony represented a particular faith. That he was embraced by so many is proof that we still do a poor job of teaching religion in our schools. In a sane society, he would have received no more publicity than someone advocating the reinstatement of royalty or child labor.

Falwell is dead. One can only hope that the theocon movement he helped to inspire soon follows.

Among those happy to see him go:
Boing Boing
Sadly, no

Among those sad to see him go:
Founder's Ministry
Captain's Quarter's

13 comments:

Dave said...

While I agree with everything you say, why is it that when I saw the story on TV, the first thing I thought was, "I'm so sorry." I don't have an explanation, but that is what I thought.

Ron Davison said...

Dave,
Because humanity trumps ideology?
I find the idea of royalty odd but still think it's sad that they executed Marie Antoinette.

Peter said...

"To me, Falwell was the epitome of what's wrong with politics."

Amen. :-D

Proudly atheist since 2003.

Peter said...

"To me, Falwell was the epitome of what's wrong with politics."

Amen. :-D

Proudly atheist since 2003.

Peter said...

oops :)

i guess that makes two of me

Ron Davison said...

Peter, Peter, Peter.
I rather like the idea of submitting comments in duplicate. It makes me think that I should save all my files to my hard drive twice, kind of an automatic backup.

cce said...

I had nothing but contempt for the guy...no sorrow here. Just one great big cheer - GOOD RIDDANCE!

David said...

My, my, aren't we all sensitive. Chill.

JF's main contribution was in the area of free speech in losing the SC case to Larry Flynt.

Proudly a Landmark grad since longer than I can remember.

Damon said...

I'm not sure why...but whenever I hear somebody say "good riddance" to the death of a non-violent man, it makes me shudder.

He meant absolutely nothing to me, but I guess I'm one who believes that you respect the dead and their family and loved ones by keeping your mean-spirited opinions to yourself.

Damon said...

Say what you want about the guy...but he was hardly Adolf Hitler.

Ron Davison said...

He who lives by the sword dies by the sword? Or, in Jerry's case, He who lives by controversy dies by controversy.
He was one of those rare characters who was more of a symbol than a person.

David said...

I hesitate to use this comment on your site Ron-O but a leading talk radio guy called these people who display their hatred for Falwell as being "out of the mainstream of human decency." Close.

Ron Davison said...

David,
It could be true. It could also be, as the Rev. Falwell himself would have told you, we reap what we sow. Jerry offended lots and lots of people. It's not really much of a surprise that some would hurl a few invectives at him on his way out.