Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 16, 2007
RELIGION/POLITICS: Jerry Falwell's Legacy

Like a lot of conservative pundits, I could exhaust my server with examples of things Rev. Jerry Falwell said that I would not want to associate myself with, the short summary of which is that for much of his career, he was not a political asset to the conservative movement. (Go here, though, for one example of me defending Falwell on theological grounds)

But a man's passing has a way of focusing attention on the big things he did with his time on this Earth, rather than the raw, rough edges of his public statements. And an article in the current New Republic inadvertantly gives Rev. Falwell a legacy any man would be proud to leave behind:

The Catholic Church was the first to attack abortion: Even before Roe, the Church hierarchy coordinated a parish-by-parish effort to stop any sort of reform bill, including those for therapeutic abortions. This predominantly Catholic movement didn't broaden into the more ecumenical one we know until the late '70s and early '80s, when Protestant evangelicals first joined in. In 1978, Jerry Falwell preached his first sermon on abortion; a year later, the newly formed Moral Majority put abortion at the top of its list of secular humanist scourges. Two years later, Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate in U.S. history to run on a party platform that condemned abortion.


PS - That TNR piece also claims - revealingly, of the dehumanized mindset that sets in on this issue - that partial-birth abortion isn't a big deal because "only" 2,200 of them are performed a year . . . how, I ask, would the writer of that piece respond if a conservative said that "only" 2,200 deaths from the Iraq War per year was too small a number to be of concern to anyone, or that "only" 2,200 executions a year shouldn't be enough for anyone to care about.

I thought so.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Politics 2007 • | Religion | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

Falwell's reputation was hurt when he tried to be what he wasn't - A Politician. Personally, as a conservative, I'd cringe whenever a religious type enters the political arena out of fear that we'd all be labeled based on a few ill chosen words. While Falwell will be remembered by the mainstream for the sound bites he provided for Carson and Leno, it is an incomplete picture of the man. I never met the man, but understand that people who actually got to know him ended up liking him. For example, I read yesterday that after their famous dueling lawsuits, Falwell and Larry Flint became friends. With some folks it is easier to dislike the media caricature than it is to dislike the person who often is not the same as the perception.

Posted by: largebill at May 16, 2007 10:31 AM

Gag. Sorry, if there was such a place as hell Falwell would be sitting there right now.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 11:39 AM

I think what Falwell did was bring out into the open what the majority was thinking at the time. We were just starting to recover from the 60's and learning that "free love" wasn't really free. I agree with Crank that I didn't care for much of what Falwell stood for, but he did help us point in a much better direction as a country.

Posted by: maddirishman at May 16, 2007 12:20 PM

That's crazier than you thinking KC was going to be good this year.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 12:27 PM

Classy, jim. Were you raised in a cave by wolves or something? Decorum isn't fatal. Really, it isn't.

Posted by: War Unicorn at May 16, 2007 12:40 PM

I guess I have as much decorum as Falwell showed in his life. You get what you give my man.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 1:44 PM

If KC were hitting just as well as they did last year, they would be at .500 or better. The starting pitching has been great.

Posted by: maddirishman at May 16, 2007 1:56 PM

Jim, thanks, I knew you'd have my back.

Posted by: Tinky Winky at May 16, 2007 3:11 PM

You and SquareBob Spongepants. You bet.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 3:28 PM

The thing about Falwell was he put his money where his mouth was. He ran his university for decades and educated thousands of kids. He invested in an unwed mothers home and network that went nationwide, giving homes to thousands of unwed women so they didn't abort their kids.

Rubber? Meet road.

He had the courage of his convictions. Yes, he said stuff that was controversial, but he took it right out of his theology and owned it publicly.

I think in the last few years he realized he'd become a devisive icon and withdrew from the limelight. I know I saw a lot less of him.

Having been raised Christian and spent thousands of hours in churches I know that the vast, VAST majority of Christians aren't like the charicature they've been made sometimes with the unwitting help of people like Falwell and (the much worse) Pat Robertson.

I suppose its pointless to say all that. In the social environment we live in today its OK to dance on someone's grave if you dislike their politics or religion. Too bad for us.

Posted by: DaveW at May 16, 2007 3:45 PM

No dancing. No glee. Just opinion.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 4:14 PM

Your argument about 2,200 has no merit, and misses that substance of the article. If American troop deaths were 2200 per year, and 1.3 Million Iraq's died every year from the war - I'd have to say the Iraqi deaths would scare me more.

It's not about dehumanizing, it's about the fact that this does not solve the problem with abortion, it only brings up an emotional facet of it. The problem is not the 2200 - the problem is hundreds of thousands that could be prevented by proper contraceptive education, and availability. Let alone the 3/4 of women who claim they could not afford to raise a child.

Posted by: dave at May 16, 2007 4:22 PM

When my time comes, I sure hope those who have simply disagreed with my politics or my beliefs have a little more class than some people have bothered to show.

Wishing for those you simply disagree with, to burn in hell is really petty. Unfortunately it has become the norm among certain groups of people these days.

Posted by: Fatal at May 16, 2007 4:30 PM

Didn't wish for him to burn in hell since I don't believe in such a place. In my honest opinion he, like everyone else, is (or will be I suppose) wormfood. If however, there is some sort of karmic afterlife center I would imagine that Falwell is not exactly in the VIP area. If this had been stated when he was alive would that make you feel any better because I am sure I felt this way 24 hours ago.

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 4:34 PM

Courage of his convictions? On the abortion issue, as on every other, Falwell was pandering to what he thought was the main chance-of-the-moment to augment his access to power and cash flow.

He really was the toad he resembled.

Posted by: Brian H at May 16, 2007 6:51 PM

Clearly my knowledge of potentially homosexual cartoon characters is not up to snuff. It is, of course:

SpongeBob Squarepants

Posted by: jim at May 16, 2007 6:59 PM

And as far as JF's current residence goes, my only request of God in that regard is that, whichever of the two Hs JF is in, He send me to the other one. Since I am >60 now, you may take it confidently that I am not saying this out of youthful bravado.

Posted by: Brian H at May 16, 2007 7:01 PM

Jim, "SquareBob Spongepants" sounds really gay.

Posted by: The Crank at May 16, 2007 7:14 PM

Actually,Fatal,when it comes to classy it's hard to top Falwell's remarks after 9/11.
Something nice to say-hmmm.How about this?Between him and his buddy Pat Robertson,Falwell seemed to be the less batshit crazy of the two.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at May 17, 2007 9:10 AM

The litmus test for those equating abortion to murder is this: assuming you're also behind the death penalty, are you in favor of the death penalty for physicians who perform abortions? I expect there would be a great number of conservatives who would answer "yea" to that, but a great number more who wouldn't.

More: abortion is not a tragedy. A tragedy is bringing into the world lives that cannot be properly cared for. I recall a group of Planned Parenthood protesters being confronted by one particularly brave young woman who demanded of them, who among you is going to take this child? It shut them up, which is what they deserved.

Posted by: Rob McMillin at May 20, 2007 9:06 PM
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