Jerry Falwell may have died, but his fundamentalist political agenda will live on.
By Julie Marsh
Jerry Falwell may have died, but his fundamentalist political agenda will live on. Unfortunately.
I’m using the term fundamentalist as it was used in this recent USA Today article, in which Falwell was described as “a buoyant fundamentalist who preached that all things were created by God in six historic days, that Satan was the agent of evil in the world and that the Bible was entirely true, without error and authoritative in all matters.” And I say that it’s unfortunate that his agenda will live on because all three points above – God creating the universe in six days, Satan’s responsibility for evil, and the complete, literal truth of the Bible – are all false.
Furthermore, such beliefs – whether you accept them to be true or not – have no place in politics. And according to the platform of The Moral Majority Coalition, that’s exactly what he wanted and what other fundamentalists still want.
Ironically, at the height of the civil rights movement, USA Today says, “Falwell argued that the clergy should stay out of politics.” But with the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Falwell’s thinking began to change, and he “forged an alliance with those of other beliefs, including Catholics and Jews – a step that appalled some fundamentalists.” As John Green, author of The Faith Factor: How Religion Influences American Elections, noted: “For Falwell to come along and argue that people of different religious faiths should set aside their theological differences to cooperate in politics because they had common values was an extraordinary idea.”
On one hand, the article states that, “Falwell is credited with launching the effort that has put issues such as the teaching of evolution, same-sex marriage, abortion rights and stem cell research near the top of the mainstream political agenda.”
But then, several paragraphs later, the article takes a different view on Falwell’s political legacy: “His greatest influence was on issues closer to home – opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, supporting the teaching of creationism in public schools and resisting gay rights.”
I think it’s fair to say that the latter portrayal is more accurate. That is, with respect to the first quote, Falwell didn’t support the teaching of evolution, same-sex marriage, legalized abortion, or stem cell research. Opposing all of the above – that was his political agenda, using a literal interpretation of the Bible as his justification.
Study of the Bible has revealed such a sufficient number of inconsistencies that a literal interpretation of it is indefensible, let alone a proper basis for legislation. Likewise, scientific evidence concerning the age of the Earth and the evolution of the species that inhabit it -- humans, other animals, and plants - have soundly countered the idea that the Earth was created in six days (by a deity or not).
Yet Falwell’s supporters persist in their belief that the core tenets of fundamentalism are valid -- not only to govern their personal lives, but to govern this country -- and call themselves and their crusade a “Moral Majority”. To me, their views are neither moral nor accurate, and I hope that they will never become the majority.
Julie is a former Air Force officer and professional project manager turned web writer. She spent four years at the Pentagon and five years in New York City, and her suburban life in Colorado seems pastoral by comparison. She's no political pundit, but she is an objective thinker in a sea of partisan propagandists. She writes for The Mom Slant, Cool Mom Picks, and is co-founder of The Parent Bloggers Network.
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