Jerry Falwell (1933-2007) has passed away today. He loomed large as a formative figure in the politics of the American church in the 20th century. He was passionate about his beliefs. As I watch MSNBC on cable tv Rev. Al Sharpton is commenting on how he believes Falwell was a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person whose beliefs and convictions did not change when he went off camera.
The landscape of church politics is certainly different today than it was in the 80s. It is fair to say that the church is no longer voting in a large block for the most conservative candidate. There is a growing diversity in the political views of Christians and religious people, in general. Homosexual rights, immigration, the environment, the use of the military, and domestic spending are a few of the issues on which Americans of faith differ.
With the increasing diversity amongst the American faithful the coming elections become more and more interesting.
The Rev Jerry Falwell, whose evangelical convictions and organisational abilities, including as a founder in 1979 of the Moral Majority movement, did much to place religious conservatives in a role of great influence in American politics, died on Tuesday in Lynchburg, Virginia, of apparent heart failure at the age of 73.
He was a figure of immense controversy over the last 40 years, outspoken to the point that his apologies appeared almost as regularly as his thundering denunciations. To him the three great scourges afflicting his country were "atheism, secularism and humanism," and nothing would deter him from defeating his evil trinity...
....But it was his role, along with two others, in setting up the Moral Majority in 1979 that made him a national political figure to be reckoned with. Until then evangelicals had been mostly apolitical, but his voter registration drives and his encouragement to pastors to use their churches as political pulpits introduced a new force into national political life.
Dismissive of President Jimmy Carter, whose was uncharacteristically contemptuous in return, he put his forces to work hard for the election of Ronald Reagan. In all subsequent Republican administrations, he has been a welcome guest at the White House, even though he disbanded Moral Majority in 1989.
Karl Rove, the current president's political mastermind, openly courted the support and advice of religious conservatives. With the passing years, others of similar persuasion but with less fiery oratory, like James Dobson of Focus on the Family, became, arguably, more influential, as in the anti-abortion and anti-homosexual struggles, but all owed a debt to the Rev Falwell. [Taken from MSNBC]