Sunday, May 20, 2007

Falwell, personality, politics and religion

In response to Jerry Falwell's death, I've been reflecting on personality, politics and power, especially as it relates to the church.

I'm going to go back years, to my life as a young adult, living in Virginia. Those were Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Jim and Tammy ruled the religious airwaves.

Back then, I was not a particularly religious person. I wasn't really a Christian, though I had some vague notion there was a God, a Creator.

I wanted nothing to do with religion, as represented by these demagogues -- and let me emphasize, they were big. They and their like-minded minions seemed to define communal religion, which was mean, grasping, greedy, small-minded and selfishly ego-centric.

I wanted nothing to do with it.

I remember the Bakers taking away their toll-free number for prayer, and leaving one only for people to call in donations for their many projects, like mansions, more diamonds for Tammy, etc. People calling in for prayer concerns were just being whiny and taking up too much valuable time.

Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell ... well. White (straight) male supremacy. Everybody do as they say. They're in control.

Falwell attacked women, gays, Jews, anyone not ultraconservative. Even Teletubbies, for Heaven's sake.

His legacy is one of prejudice, and of playing to prejudices for political gain; of combining church and politics for personal power and glory.

May God have mercy on him.

I believe God does have mercy, and Falwell is healed, and literally, sees the light now.

Thank God I'm not a member of his or Robertson's church. I'm an Episcopalian, right? We believe in welcoming all to the table. Women aren't flamboyant armpieces or relegated to silent kitchen duty, but have a place in the church. We believe in the via media, and using reason.

Except the Falwellians have made a pretty good assault on the Diocese of Central Florida, and they rule with impunity in other places. Iker, Duncan et al would rather subject us to ecclesiastical fascists like Akinola than recognize a female presiding bishop. They call for foreign interference in our national church, overturning the whole tradition of the church they claim to uphold, to get their way. For power.
Like Falwell, they play on and incite prejudices. They used one diocese having a openly gay bishop, chosen by the people of his diocese, in the same process that made them bishops, to start this whole comtemptible mess.

No more than I would have been a member of Falwell's or Robinson's church do I want to be a member of their version of the Episcopal Church.

I've said a lot on this matter. For a more succinct view, go to Padre Mickey's Dance Party: This Is All I'll Say On The Subject.

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