I heard Falwell one too many times while growing up. He's one of the prime reasons that I am no longer a somewhat devoted churchgoer. My mother would make me watch him when I was younger. I'm still scarred from the experience of growing up in the Evangelical / Pentacostal Church in America. When I was growing up, I went to an Apostolic church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, in Detroit, MI. What is the Apostolic Church? Well, take the most rigid teachings of evangelicalism and triple them. That would pretty much sum up the church of my childhood. At least the choir was always good.
It's so sad cause I really wanted to believe in God.
I cannot mourn Falwell's death. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the forces in the United States that have made us not united, but grabbing for each other's throats. Political power and religion do not mix. I will stay out of your church if you stay out of my life, is my basic premise. Falwell couldn't honor that. He demanded that I attend his church and he insisted on telling me that my life was wrong, perverse, wicked and demented. Let me tell you, I haven't even been kissed since 2001. I'm as chaste as the driven snow. I'm also straight, but happen to believe in gay rights. Oh boy, I'm a baaaadddd girrrlll.
So, while I say to his family and friends that I am sorry for your personal loss, I can say for myself that I cannot mourn him and will not miss him. If you think that is harsh, just remember, it's people like Jerry Falwell who helped me become the person I am today.
On top of it all, Falwell said these words after September 11, 2001 struck the city in which I live and it is these words that forever closed the door to religion for me:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" (a sentiment with which Pat Robertson concurred). I believe it's people like Falwell, who "know" that we are all going to hell and deserve it, who are the real culprits. If God is anything like I was told by the likes of Falwell (and my own mother), I have no need of God. And I have no need need of Jerry Falwell. Though I think I'll keep my mom.