Five minutes after the death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, online news photos of Teletubbies were everywhere. Millions of his followers may still be rushing to blog their indignance over the fact that Falwell’s over-the-top homophobia seems to be the only image of the founder of the Moral Majority. It is sad that one man’s legacy can be reduced to a ridiculous rant of intolerance, but, possibly more than anyone else, Falwell himself knew that America’s special form of Christianity needed color and entertainment.
When Jerry Falwell responded to Asia’s tsunami disaster with Bible texts to thousands of Muslim and Hindu victims, I called him God’s Ambulance Chaser. Now he’s viewed as the ringmaster of a circus that delighted audiences with the antics of the PTL Club and Jimmy Swaggart.
Will anyone take his place? America’s new Christo-fascists take a more serious view of theocracy and eschew Falwell’s flamboyance. Reconstructionists like Gary North consider theatrics like the Tinky Winky affair rather sordid. Even Pat Robertson knows he never had Falwell,s flair (one-ton leg presses and protein pancakes aside). With the passing of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Christian Right will look more dour, even more sinister to millions of Americans. If ever there can be a light side to intolerance, he provided it.
DAN VOJIR is currently writing a book titled: Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburgers: How to Become a Lion and Respond to the Christian Right.