Jerry Falwell may well be best remembered as the founder of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University, a staunch segregationist, the man who said AIDS was God's judgment against homosexuals, that called the purple teletubby, Twinkie Winkie, gay, the "father" of the Anti-Gay Industry, and as the co-founder of the Moral Majority in 1979.
What is not so well known about Jerry Falwell, is that in 2005, two years before his death, he said in an appearance on MSNBC television, that he was not troubled by reports that the nominee for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John G. Roberts (whose appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate) had done volunteer legal work for gay rights activists on the case of Romer v. Evans.
Falwell told MSNBC's Tucker Carlson that if he were a lawyer, he too would argue for civil rights for LGBT people. "I may not agree with the lifestyle, but that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that part of our constituency," Falwell said. When Carlson countered that conservatives "are always arguing against 'special rights' for gays," Falwell said that equal access to housing, civil marriage, and employment are basic rights, not special rights. "Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value. It's an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on."
Jerry Falwell it seems, had begun to see the error of his ways in his waning years. It would, unfortunately, be too late to undo all the damage to the civil rights of countless Americans of color, of the LGBT communities and of our belated response to the AIDS epidemic under Ronald Regan who listened to Falwell's Moral Majority and ignored it for many years. And it was too late to undo the damage done by his false beliefs about race and sexual orientation to the millions of his followers.
In 1979, Jerry Falwell formed the conservative Christian political force he called the Moral Majority. One reason he did so was his opposition to integration of public schools. "If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God's word and had desired to do the Lord's will," he said about the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision, "I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made.... The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line."
He encouraged his membership to become elected to school boards because as he stated: "That certain teachings in public schools and secular education in general, are breeding grounds for atheism, secularism, and humanism," which he claimed to be in contradiction with Christian morality. He called on the United States to change its public education system by implementing a school voucher system which would allow parents to send their children to either public or private schools. His motives were to decrease the number of children attending public schools until they all would be shut down or taken over by Christian churches that toed his line.
Jerry Falwell wrote in America Can Be Saved that "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them."
Jerry Falwell always claimed he believed in the inerrancy of the Bible and followed it strictly, he might have done some good for his fellow man had he realized the Old and New Testaments contain a total of 31,156 verses - of which over 6,000 deal with alleviating poverty, defending the oppressed and caring for the widow and fatherless child, while not one verse deals directly with schools, abortion, segregation based on race or gay marriage.
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