No man in the last century better illustrated Jesus' warning that "All men will hate you because of me" than the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who left this world on Tuesday. Separately, no man better illustrates my warning that it doesn't pay to be nice to liberals.
Falwell was a perfected Christian. He exuded Christian love for all men, hating sin while loving sinners. This is as opposed to liberals, who just love sinners. Like Christ ministering to prostitutes, Falwell regularly left the safe confines of his church to show up in such benighted venues as CNN.
He was such a good Christian that back when we used to be on TV together during Clinton's impeachment, I sometimes wanted to say to him, "Step aside, reverend -- let the mean girl handle this one." (Why, that guy probably prayed for Clinton!)
For putting Christ above everything -- even the opportunity to make a humiliating joke about Clinton -- Falwell is known as "controversial." Nothing is ever as "controversial" as yammering about Scripture as if, you know, it's the word of God or something.
From the news coverage of Falwell's death, I began to suspect his first name was "Whether You Agree With Him or Not."
Even Falwell's fans, such as evangelist Billy Graham and former President Bush, kept throwing in the "We didn't always agree" disclaimer. Did Betty Friedan or Molly Ivins get this many "I didn't always agree with" qualifiers on their deaths? And when I die, if you didn't always agree with me, would you mind keeping it to yourself?
Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.
Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9/11 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 -- the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and "the Reverend" Barry Lynn.
Second, Falwell later stressed that he blamed the terrorists most of all, but I think that clarification was unnecessary. The necessary clarification was to note that God was at least protecting America enough not to allow the terrorists to strike when a Democrat was in the White House.(If you still think it isn't Christ whom liberals hate, remember: They hate Falwell even more than they hate me.)
I note that in Falwell's list of Americans he blamed for ejecting God from public life, only the gays got a qualifier. Falwell referred to gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle.
No Christian minister is going to preach that homosexuality is godly behavior, but Falwell didn't add any limiting qualifications to his condemnation of feminists, the ACLU or People for the American Way.
There have always been gay people -- even in the prelapsarian '50s that Jerry Falwell and I would like to return to, when God protected America from everything but ourselves.
What Falwell was referring to are the gay activists -- the ones who spit the Eucharist on the floor at St. Patrick's Cathedral, blamed Reagan for AIDS, and keep trying to teach small schoolchildren about "fisting."
Also the ones who promote the gay lifestyle in a children's cartoon.
Beginning in early 1998, the news was bristling with stories about a children's cartoon PBS was importing from Britain that featured a gay cartoon character, Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubbie with a male voice and a red handbag.
People magazine gleefully reported that Teletubbies was "aimed at Telebabies as young as one year. But teenage club kids love the products' kitsch value, and gay men have made the purse-toting Tinky Winky a camp icon."
In the Nexis archives for 1998 alone, there are dozens and dozens of mentions of Tinky Winky being gay -- in periodicals such as Newsweek, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post (twice!), The New York Times and Time magazine (also twice).
Michael Musto of The Village Voice boasted that Tinky Winky was "out and proud," noting that it was "a great message to kids -- not only that it's OK to be gay, but the importance of being well accessorized."
All this appeared before Falwell made his first mention of Tinky Winky.
After one year of the mainstream media laughing at having put one over on stupid bourgeois Americans by promoting a gay cartoon character in a TV show for children, when Falwell criticized the cartoon in February 1999, that same mainstream media howled with derision that Falwell thought a cartoon character could be gay.
Teletubbies producers immediately denounced the suggestion that Tinky Winky was gay -- though they admitted that he was once briefly engaged to Liza Minnelli. That's what you get, reverend, for believing what you read in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and Newsweek. Of course, Falwell also thought the show "Queer as Folk" was gay, so obviously the man had no credibility.
Despite venomous attacks and overwhelming pressure to adopt the fashionable beliefs of cafe society, Falwell never wavered an inch in acknowledging Jesus before men. Luckily, Jesus' full sentence, quoted at the beginning of this column is: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."