The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s body had not yet reached room temperature when the vile began to spew forth from his enemies’ mouths and finger tips. Just three hours after his death was announced, Christopher Hitchens, the atheistic columnist and author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, bared his own venomous fangs on national TV, declaring Falwell an “ugly little charlatan” who lived an “empty life.” He declared that there was no heaven for Falwell to go to, but he sure wished there was a hell for him to rot in.
In the succeeding 24 hours, a host of left-wing bloggers and commentators – and their enablers in the “mainstream media” – did their best to make Hitchens’s comments seem tame.
Have they no shame? Have they lost all sense of common decency and respect? If not for the reverend himself, at least for his grieving family and friends?
The Left would have us place five-day waiting periods on the purchase of guns, and many would even ban the ownership of firearms. They would never ban criticism of public figures, and neither would I. But you would think a waiting period of at least five days would be acceptable to them before they begin assassinating the dead, wouldn’t you? Not by law, of course, but at least out of human compassion and a sense of propriety?
Ever since Falwell burst onto the public scene with the launch of the Moral Majority in 1979, the Left has been aghast at his unapologetic defense of traditional morality. Falwell determined that it was not enough for Evangelicals to preach the Gospel on Sunday, but to name sin sin in the public sphere, as well, for Christ came to redeem not just individuals, but nations. The Bible reveals murder, theft, homosexual behavior, adultery and a whole host of things to be sin, and Falwell said so, though not always in the most tactful ways. While recognizing the great good he accomplished both in and out of the limelight, this author has many times been chagrined by Falwell’s rhetoric and the conclusions he expressed while he fulfilled what he understood to be his calling.
But one thing we never saw was Falwell spitting in the fresh graves of his opponents. Judging by their own rhetoric these past 40 hours or so, his opponents would lump the late Baptist minister in with Fred Phelps and his gang, who routinely show up at funerals with picket signs and raised voices that say, “God hates fags” and “Your son deserved to die” and worse. But Falwell, for all his faults, believed in a merciful God who sent His Son to save sinners, a universal class of people that Falwell testified included himself.
Falwell was much too decent a man to descend to the depths of the Phelpsians. The irony is, his opponents have.