Editor's Note: The Reverend Jerry Falwell passed away at age 73 early this week. Most readers are familiar with the man’s homophobia, anti-Semitism (wonder how the religious right in Virginia and South Carolina feel about the name Blumenthal), and Falwell's generally crazed view of the universe.
But Max Blumenthal at The Nation reveals the genesis of Falwell’s fame: Racism:
As with his positions on abortion and homosexuality, the basso profondo preacher's own words on race stand as vivid documents of his legacy. Falwell launched on the warpath against civil rights four years after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools with a sermon titled "Segregation or Integration: Which?"
"If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God's word and had desired to do the Lord's will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made," Falwell boomed from above his congregation in Lynchburg. "The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line."
Falwell's jeremiad continued: "The true Negro does not want integration.... He realizes his potential is far better among his own race." Falwell went on to announce that integration "will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city," he warned, "a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife."
As pressure from the civil rights movement built during the early 1960s, and President Lyndon Johnson introduced sweeping civil rights legislation, Falwell grew increasingly conspiratorial. He enlisted with J. Edgar Hoover to distribute FBI manufactured propaganda against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and publicly denounced the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "civil wrongs."
In a 1964 sermon, "Ministers and Marchers," Falwell attacked King as a Communist subversive. After questioning "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations," Falwell declared, "It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed."
… The gushing eulogies of Falwell by leading GOP presidential hopefuls demonstrated the preacher's earthly limitations and his enduring influence. Under Falwell's guidance, the Christian right subsumed much of the Republican apparatus and now holds the key to the presidential nominating process.
McCain, Romney and Giuliani may never see eye-to-eye with Falwell, even in heaven, but in the end they paid fealty at his grave.
They're all Jerry's kids now.
Read more at Agent of Intolerance.