Rev. Jerry Falwell 1933-2007
Behold this day I am going the way of all the earth, and you shall know with all your mind that of all the words which the Lord promised to perform for you, not one hath failed. -Joshua 23:14
I did not see eye to eye with Jerry Falwell on matters of theology. He was a Baptist and I am a Catholic, we needn't go into the nuances of our obvious disagreement on that score. Yet I think that people of faith who believe that while on earth we must strive to do the Lord's work in the public square have lost a champion in Jerry Falwell.
It has been Jerry Falwell, perhaps more than any other figure, who has carried the torch for the message that morality matters in the public square and that Christian people have the right and the duty to engage the culture and use the political system to promote a values-based vision for society. You don't have to always have agreed with Jerry Falwell to understand the singular importance of what he accomplished for the political power of Christian America. Falwell showed people of faith-both evangelical Protestants as well as traditionalist Catholics-that we do have power in our votes and that if we stand together we cannot be ignored.
I also believe that Falwell came to appreciate that orthodox Catholics were his allies in the fight for a Christian nation. Over the years, he allied himself with the late Archbishop of New York John Cardinal O'Connor. Together, they fought the militant Left to uphold the sanctity of human life and the bonds of the traditional family. O'Connor, the former military Archbishop and Navy Admiral, forbade the Draft-Dodging public Adulterer from entering St. Patrick's Cathedral as long as he was alive, while Falwell held court on the public airwaves for "ABC-Anyone but Clinton." When Cardinal O'Connor died in 2001, Jerry Falwell mourned. When Jerry Falwell died, true Catholics reacted in both mourning and in defense of Falwell.
How important was Falwell's work to all orthodox people of faith? So important that the enemies of the Lord and the Cause spent a good part of the day yesterday bashing Falwell with hate-filled drivel and invective in the blogosphere. Certain of our friends on the Left (of the irreligious variety) know in their hearts that they do not have a belief system worth fighting and dying for on its own merits, so they instead spend their day attacking Falwell's. When I read some of the excrement that passed for conversation yesterday, I could not help but think of the words of Our Lord:
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
Jerry Falwell was not a perfect man. I would be among the first to say that he had his faults and that he was not always careful with his words. Falwell, however, enjoyed a spiritual gift that did not always give him the ability to restrain what he said. In the end, this proved irrelevant, because he left a legacy for all of Christendom to remember him by. Not since the Apostle Paul have Christians been able to use their political status (Paul used his Roman citizenship to his benefit) to advance their interests in the way that we can today-largely due to the work of Jerry Falwell. Falwell reminded us that it is okay to fight for what we believe is right-that being Christian does not mean we have to sit back and take it while the cultural Left sends the country to Hell in a handbasket. We can fight just as hard as the anti-religious Left can.
That is Jerry Falwell's lasting legacy-he showed believers how to use the system to work for them. The reason that the Left so hates Jerry Falwell is that Falwell used his influence while on this Earth to insure that the militant Left will not have their rootless, valueless, Godless society in America-not without first destroying the temples of the righteous-temples the gates of Hell shall not prevail against, and neither shall the socio-cultural Left.
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.-Psalm 126:1