[Vision2020] A Prayer for Falwell: Let His Era Pass with him

nickgier at adelphia.net nickgier at adelphia.net
Mon May 21 09:06:09 PDT 2007

Just in from the Bible Belt.

Posted on Thu, May. 17, 2007, The Charlotte Observer

A prayer for Falwell: Let his era pass with him


Merciful Father, hear our prayer: Please let the death of your wayward servant the Rev. Jerry Falwell be a sign that an era has ended, and a new one has begun.


We know it's up to you to grant forgiveness. We know we need to turn the other cheek. We know (especially here in the South) it's poor form to speak ill of the dead.

But so help me, on the occasion of Falwell's death, I have to confess: I'm having a hard time living up to those ideals.

I know I should try harder. But it would help if we knew that the passing of this fallen man also signals the end of an era when your word was used to divide, blame and demonize on behalf of an agenda found in no book your hand ever wrote.

Whip up fear with blame

"I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle ... all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say `You helped this happen.' "Those are the kinds of words I'm talking about, Lord.

After terrorists felled the World Trade Center, smote the Pentagon and crashed a plane in Pennsylvania, killing thousands on Sept. 11, 2001, your wayward servant blamed that attack on his hand-picked scapegoats.

The spite slithering out of those words is bad enough.

But even worse, Lord, this man, an ordained minister, has said such things in your name. How can you turn the other cheek to that?

Or this?

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

You and I both know that's not true. You are not vengeful, you are merciful.

It's just one fallen man's devilish game, played to the emotions of those who are ignorant, afraid or both: Demonize people you disagree with and blame them to whip up people's fears.

He's not the only one, but Falwell made quite a splash doing that sort of thing. His movement, the Moral Majority, colored the landscape of conservative Christian politics with a deep hue of intolerance -- an abomination in your name.

Nothing moral about lies

There's nothing wrong with political activism. I figure that's why you gave us brains, Lord. I hope I'm right.

But there's nothing moral about throwing around scary stories at the expense of charity and understanding. There's nothing moral about telling flat-out lies. There's nothing moral about using religion as a weapon against people who don't think the way you do.

Those tactics have driven a wedge as sharp as a serpent's tooth into our political and spiritual life. They've left us arguing about abortion instead of trying to care for unwanted children. They've left us condemning sexuality instead of fighting a global AIDS explosion.

They've left us divided, and pointing fingers, when we ought to be sorting out differences together.

"I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved." Falwell said that in 1987 when he stepped down as leader of the Moral Majority.

Yes, and many Christians shudder at where the country is thanks to snakehandlers like Falwell.

We commend to you, Lord, the soul of your wayward servant. He had a profound influence on politics and culture in the past two decades. But he led us by dividing us, and invoked your name to do it.

Please, let that era be over. It needs to pass into dust.

Mary C. Schulken

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