On Tuesday, 15 May 2007, Jerry Falwell passed away and entered into eternity. Jerry founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University, and the Moral Majority.
I never really knew the man, but I have heard stories from people who have attended Liberty University and they have some great stories about him. They told stories of how he would race kids on campus in their cars. How he would support students on his own dime to be able to attend the University. It really made this man who was basically a Christian celebrity a real human being to me.
I know that over the years there was many people whose lives were profoundly effected by this man’s ministry and many people got to know Jesus as their own personal savior because of him. And because of his church and university there will be many more lives that will still be able to be affected by his ministry. That to me is one of the best things we as Christ followers can do.
But sadly one of the things that he will be known for is as a uniter and a divider.
“We will always remember him as a founder and leader of America’s anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation’s appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an advocacy group.
To me the line that says, “someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation,” is one of the saddest lines. I hope that that can never be said about me. Christ never called us to condemn the world, but to love people and to bring heaven to earth. The Church has not been doing a good job of this, especially when it comes to the homosexual community. Jesus ate with sinners and associated more with them then he did with the religious people of his day, but unfortunately we have that totally wrong today.
Falwell is credited with launching the effort that has put issues such as the teaching of evolution, same-sex marriage, abortion rights and stem cell research near the top of the mainstream political agenda. “Values voters” were viewed as a prize, the group that helped elect George W. Bush president in 2000 and 2004.
I find it absolutely amusing that the Moral Majority has been convincing us in the Church for years that those are basically the only issues that matter to God. But yet they totally neglect things like environmental concerns, which are things we are told to care about back in Genesis 1, and also things like non-violence, which is what Jesus taught. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that those are other things are just as important, but I think we have negelected some important things just because they were not a part of the Republican agenda. In my opinion, I think the biggest problem with the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition is that they are more Republican than they are Christian.
But I want to bring this back around to Jerry’s life. I may not agree with everything that he has done or said, but I will have to agree with one of his public statements.
“The solution to America’s serious moral and spiritual problem is not political. We’re in need of a religious awakening.”
— at a Christian rally outside the U.S. Capitol in 1996.
He is right. The solution is for Christian’s to care more about the lives of their neighbors and less about who gets into whatever political office. That is the real way to bring about change in our country. Thank you, Mr. Falwell, for living your life for God the best way you knew how.