Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jerry Falwell's Interpreter

politcal cartoon by D. McClintock


Jerry Falwell, the famous Bible-thumpin' televangelist of the Religious Right, passed away on May 15, 2007. I watched with bemusement Ridor's brief video blog on Falwell. His reaction to the breaking news was predictable. When I saw the breaking news I was flooded with memories of my involvement in fundamentalist Christianity during the heydays of the Religious Right in the '80s. (Yep...I was a born-again, evangelical Christian!) Anyone remember Riverdale Baptist Church in Landover, MD.? That church had many deaf members in its congregation and it provided interpreted services as well as separate Sunday school classes for children and adults. When I was at MSSD I'd attend this church almost every Sunday for two years. The church would later have a fall-out with the deaf community during the late '80s (I think) over the issue of interpreters. I believe Rev. Jerry Falwell was a guest speaker at the church a few times, although I've never personally met or listened to him. The stories I heard of him from deaf patrons and interpreters who met him present quite a different picture of the personality apart from the image he was portrayed as in the media.

Whatever you think of him, whether you agree with his politics or not, it is indeed true that he was very deaf-friendly and he provided interpreters at his church for many years. It is true that his university provide support services for deaf and hard of hearing students. I happen to know of a few deaf Christians who went to Liberty University, and they reported to me how great and kind as a person Rev. Falwell was. That is one big positive thing that can be said about him. The interpreter whom I met at Riverdale Baptist Church described him as very "warm and affable" and that he was easy to approach if you wanted to discuss a problem and he'd listen to you with wide-open attentive eyes or ears. Well, it's a shame this aspect of his personality wasn't shown much on television. Plus it did not help that he made several outrageous statements over the years, especially those over 9/11 and Telebubbies (which I thought were stupid). Even more puzzling was his friendliness with Rev. Sun Myung Moon, world-famous cult leader who claimed to be the Messiah and who had himself coroned as a king in a Senate office in Washington, D.C. (click on the link and you'll see a picture of them chummy with each other, buddy-buddy!). Falwell became something of an embarrassment to the Religious Right movement, anyway, shortly before I dropped out of Christianity in '83. This may surprise you, but as someone that was close to being a Young Republican back then, I used to admire him. Oh, well...

I think I read somewhere from a personal account that Jerry Falwell mellowed a bit as he aged and he concentrated his efforts on theological issues and running an university after the Moral Majority disbanded. I wonder what his reaction was like when he arrived to find heaven filled with Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists...(I don't believe in hell). :-D

My sincere condolences to Falwell's family and friends and the deaf Christian community in Va. who know him.


Lantana said...

That was very nice, Dan. My daughter who lives in Lynchburg (Concord) is a follower of Jerry Falwell and I have been to his church, met him, shook his hand and attended a Sunday sermon. You are right, there were interpreters available left and right. One of them interpreted for my daughter's wedding while I was there. Jerry Falwell left a wonderful legacy, regardless of what people say about him. He accomlished more good than bad.

BobRRR said...

I heard that Jerry was a warm and friendly person. He was supposed to meet gays and lesbians and go over what he has said in a violent, hate and discriminating way. Then thousands of anti-gay bigots called him and demanded him to cancel a meeting with gays and lesbians. He gave in. It is simple because he needs his anti-gay audience to stay in power. He could have been much a better person. Unfortunately, he didn't give it a chance. It is a good riddance yet. At a same time, I thank him for opening Middle America's eyes that he spews hatred and discriminations against gays. That caused to increase more gay rights for LGBT communities. We need bigotry and hatred for increasing LGBT. Come on and say something hateful against gay marriages. We need gay marriage rights. Thank you, thank you anti-gay bigots! ;-)

Bob Rourke

Anonymous said...

He was biased person.

Anonymous said...

I don't like him because he was against gays and lesbians. I agree with Bob Rourke, We should have gay marriage rights. We do need EQUAL rights regardless who we are.

Anonymous said...

To me, Falwell was a joke and while I didn't celebrate his passing, I didn't mourn it other than the usual sadness when someone passes away. But it was wonderful reading about both another perspective of the man and how he was in relation to deaf people. Thank you, Dan!

Anonymous said...

He prolly did not follow bible as it was sin to eat a lot (gluttony or something).

He blew it when he had big breakfast that morning and he was on the floor...

Did he have sex with someone in office?

Who knows? I not judge.. it is St. Peter who said something to him at the Pearly Gates.

Good riddance to him! He was a major embarrassment and a biased egoist.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Falwell is not a Christian. Jerry's Liberty University expels all LGBT Christian students. A true Christians would love, respect and support everyone else, including LGBT who are God's children (God made them). God is about love, hope, inclusion and faith. Unfortunately, Jerry sets a bad example for his 20,000 Liberty University students. The Liberty graduates will condemn LGBT which is gravely immoral. Morality is about loving, respecting and supporting people, not imposing their irrational fears and beliefs on others, banning gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partners. Wish him good luck at the Pearly Gates. And it is a good Riddance off from face of earth.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter what Jerry Falwell did to gays and lesbians. The Scripture says actions of gays and lesbians are wrong. (Romans 1:26 - 28) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Many of you have misunderstood about the love of God. Hope you reconsider what the Scripture says and repent your sins. God is not mocked by your actions.

Thank you

Allison Fanara said...

Hi, Dan!

How do I contact you? Your post on Jerry Falwell gave me an idea, and I'd love to tell you about it - and do keep us informed about ComicCon Deaf Artist booth (darn about this year) because I'm one of the fans who met you there in 1987 while you were wearing that fabulous leather jacket, "Grateful Deaf!"....


Anonymous said...

Anonymous above who mentioned the script (Romans: whatever...)

The fact: You are killing many gays and lesbians youth because you are discounting them to low self-esteem which leads to suicides.

Remember one of those ten commandments, "THOU SHALL NOT KILL".

You must have misunderstood the love of God. Hope you reconsider the love of God and repent your sins. No, no, no "Repent your sins" is terribly awful insulting. I take back my words, "Repent your sins". Let me DELETE MY "Repent your sins". DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE - I promise that I WILL NEVER SAY, "REPENT YOUR SINS" to anyone! No more! No more! Love without expectation is the best way. God is about love, hope and faith.

I pray for you to open your heart and mind. Equal support, equal respect and equal admiration is certainly tough and challenging. Try it. Good luck!

Dan McClintock said...

To Lantana,

You're welcome. Yes, left and right, that's what I was told. Impressive.

To Bobrrr,

Would you believe one Baptist church (Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.) actually wanted to picket his funeral? What friendly, warm, compassionate Christians this church must be filled with...

To the rest of anonymous posters, what is immoral? I can only say that in my view rape, pedophilia and sexual slavery are immoral.

To Allison,

Yes, I remember you. How are you? You may email me at I welcome ideas and comments from any reader! :-{)


The One and Only Ridor said...

Falwell was *not* nice person. His evangelical messages were to stabilize the status quo and bigotry!

Why do you think we struggle in getting our rights as a gay man?

It is because of Falwell's influence upon the masses against my pursuit of happiness!

You re misguided.


Scott Thies said...

Hmm, no hell? Well, Bible(KJV) says in Rev 20:14 that both death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire.

Hmm... believe or trust Dan's opinion or the word of God? Best to trust God not him. We all go "grave" but our soul will be separated from THE Creator forever, unless YOU...confess that

Jesus, Son of God,

is the propitiation by faith (Romans 3:23-26, read that too.)

I believe Jerry Falwell will see God and all those born-again folks (Christians, mind you!- 1 Peter 4:16; Jn. 1:12, 3:3-7 -- in other word why quit being a Christian or worst still a sinner rather than the saint, huh?)

Continue praying for the follow students to preach Jesus' name! Not just Jerry's name! (unless students don't know how to follow Christ's steps. Sad)Amen? S@