How Did Everyone React to Jerry Falwell’s Death? May 15, 2007

How Did Everyone React to Jerry Falwell’s Death?

A collection of responses regarding Jerry Falwell’s death from various groups and people is below:

American Atheists:

While we recognize and respect the grief of friends and relatives, it must be acknowledged in the wake of Rev. Falwell’s death that he and the organizations he founded, especially the so-called Moral Majority, were serious threats to our Constitution and, specifically, the separation of church and state.

We cannot and must not lionize Rev. Jerry Falwell because he is now dead. We expect that some politicians beholden to the religious right, who perhaps owe their political careers in part to Falwell, will praise him for his religiosity or avuncular style. The truth is, however, that the Rev. Jerry Falwell was a dangerous man who opposed and worked against many of the key values underpinning our secular American democracy.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Jerry Falwell politicized religion and failed to understand the genius of our Constitution, but there is no denying his impact on American political life. He will long be remembered as the face and voice of the Religious Right.

Falwell reached his apex of power in the 1980s. Since then, leadership of the Religious Right has passed to James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Donald Wildmon and others. However, Falwell remained influential in politics, with Republican presidential candidates seeking his support this year.

Americans United extends its condolences to members of Dr. Falwell’s family, the congregants of Thomas Road Baptist Church and the students and staff of Liberty University.

Lane Hudson at the Huffington Post:

He was a hateful person who did not serve to inspire the better nature of America. Instead, he used religion to propagate hate and discrimination for as long we anyone can remember. Forgive me if I don’t cry.

So, he hated women, blacks, gays, jews, liberals, progressives, atheists, agnostics, foreigners, and anybody else who disagreed with him. He broke the law. He established a university that institutionalized everything he was about. I hope it all goes with him. The brand of conservative hate he represented has no place in what this country should stand for. Forgive me if I don’t cry.

James Dobson of Focus on the Family:

Our hearts and prayers go out to Jerry’s wife Macel, his children Jerry, Jonathan and Jeannie, and his church. This is a tragic loss for them – and for all Americans. Jerry’s passions and convictions changed the course of our country for the better over the last 20 years – and I was proud to call him my friend.

It was Jerry who led an entire wing of Christianity, the fundamentalist wing, away from isolation and into a direct confrontation with culture. It was my honor to share the front lines with him in the battle for righteousness in our nation. We will continue that fight, in his honor, until our mutual goals are achieved.

Pat Robertson:

My wife and I have sent our condolences to Macel Falwell and her family. Jerry has been a tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation. Liberty University is a magnificent accomplishment and will prove a lasting legacy. Jerry’s courage and strength of convictions will be sadly missed in this time of increasing moral relativism. I join with the tens of thousands of his friends to mourn the passing of this extraordinary human being.

There are also a couple bloggers that hold nothing back.

It is a difficult issue to address: How do you properly criticize the man who caused so much harm to so many people, while at the same time showing some respect for his family who may not have had much of a choice in the matter and are grieving at the loss of a loved one?

[tags]atheist, atheism, Jerry Falwell, American Atheists, Moral Majority, Constitution, separation of church and state, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Religious Right, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Donald Wildmon, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University, Lane Hudson, Huffington Post, gay, Jew, agnostic, Focus on the Family, Christianity, Macel Falwell[/tags]

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  • How do you properly criticize the man who caused so much harm to so many people, while at the same time showing some respect for his family who may not have had much of a choice in the matter and are grieving at the loss of a loved one?

    First of all, he was 73 years old. We’d all like to live to be 100, but 73 is a respectable age. This is not a tragic death. This is the natural life cycle at work. So I don’t think there is really a need to tip toe on eggshells here.

    Second, I don’t know why it is any different to criticize him now that he is dead rather than when he was alive. I don’t think anybody who is criticizing him now would have had any problem saying the same things just a few days ago. Sure, he can’t defend himself now, but the criticism now is not any different than it was just a few days or a few years ago. He’s had ample time to respond to the criticism, and he has.

    Third, I don’t know about the family not having much choice in the matter. Sure, the kids had no choice in who their father was, but if he was 73, then his kids are well into middle age and have the ability to make up their own minds and speak for themselves by now. I don’t know if his wife shared his views, but personally, if I was married to a homophobic bigot, I would be divorced by now.

    When you put yourself into the National spotlight spewing hatred, your death is not going to pass unnoticed. Falwell made his bed and now he is going to be buried in it. I’m sure his family understands this and if they don’t then they are very naive. Death gives us a chance to reflect back upon a person’s life and hopefully learn a little something from them. Sometimes the world is just a little bit worse off when someone dies. Other times, you just have to take what you can from it and move on. Falwell knew what type of legacy he was leaving and I don’t think anyone has to apologize for calling a spade a spade.

  • I noticed most of the atheist blogs had to mention it in one way or the other. I tried to find a little humor in it.

  • Mriana

    My first reaction was to dance for joy, then I thought that is rather rude even though I could not stand the man. I don’t think he was a very happy man with all the hate he had for others. I don’t see how anyone can love themselves when they say and do such mean and hurtful things to and about others. I find it sad that it appears he may have been miserable all his life given how he treated others.

    While a part of me is glad he won’t be able to do those things anymore, I know someone else will pick up his torch. So it won’t end with his death, but I think it would be awfully low of me to rejoice that the man is dead now.

    So, all I can say is that I give my condolenses to his family. Beyond that, I cannot say I feel bad about his dying, but I will not stoop so low as to rejoice about it.

  • Tim

    I would do as any other respectable person would do. Keep my mouth shut at least for a while if I had something bad to say about the man, and offer my condolences to his family. You might not agree with him in any way, but to some people you might look pretty bad if you’re calling a dead guy names and not caring how his family feels.

    Let me ask you this. If you had a close family member that did some really stupid stuff, would you want to completely disown them just because they believe differently? And when they die, won’t you feel at least a little bit hurt about it? I know some people would say “NO!” but I don’t know…even as an atheist I was hurt when people died even if I didn’t like them in any way shape or form. But that’s probably just me…maybe I’m strange.

    As a Christian. I offer my prayers to his family. Not because I support his causes (actually, I had never heard of the man till today) but because that’s what I would do for anyone. In both ways, I’m not offending anyone, and I’m also not supporting anyone. It works for me!

  • Mriana

    Hey, I did say that would be low of me if I did and I did not call him any names. I spoke about his actions, which is not the same thing.

  • Tim

    I know, I didn’t mean you in particular, or anyone. I just meant how I feel. Actually, I think we posted at almost the same exact time, because I did not see your post before I put mine up. Sorry if it seemed like I was talking to you! (in fact, we were an awesome 3 minutes apart!)

  • Mriana

    😆 Oh ok. Yes, that happens. It gets confusing sometimes. As much as I could not stand the things he said and did, I just can’t bring myself to return it all, even if he is dead.

  • Darryl

    Tim said,

    As a Christian. I offer my prayers to his family. Not because I support his causes (actually, I had never heard of the man till today) but because that’s what I would do for anyone.

    Do a bit of research on the life and works of brother Falwell and I’d bet that you’d cut more slack to his detractors.

  • Robin

    I choose not to be hypocritical. I disliked the man when he was alive and have nothing good to say about him in his death. The world hopefully will be a little better off. I would like to think much better off, but as someone else pointed out, there will be somebody else that will pick up and carry the torch.

    I would add, if I had to, I would extend my condolences to his family. Even the most vile of person, is loved by someone.

  • anti-nonsense

    My first reaction was “Ding, Dong, the asshole is dead!”

    However, I am trying very hard to control my reaction and not metaphorically tap-dance on his grave before he’s even buried.

    First of all, because he surely had some people that cared about him and are grieving his loss, and second of all, because I think if the atheist community tap dances on his grave it will just give the religious right more mud to sling at us. And third of all, because his death really doesn’t change much in the grand scheme of things. And fourth of all, because celebrating people’s deaths is just plain low.

  • And fourth of all, because celebrating people’s deaths is just plain low.

    Yes, but criticizing a man after he dies is not the same as celebrating his death. I’m not throwing a party, but like you, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and pretend that he had even an ounce of decency in him. He was a hateful man and his death does not change that.

  • Kathleen

    Falwell did an excellent job of showing us — in full SurroundSound — just how ignorant, bigoted and small-minded the majority of Christian fundamentalists are. Virtually every time he opened his mouth, another inane, faith-based bit of garbage came forth — allowing the rest of America to see the true colors of the rabid fundie right.

    For that I will thank him.
    RIP, Jerry. Bummer about that heaven thing, eh?

  • I would be a hypocrite if I said I like the guy. Farwell is a good example of the intollerance produce by too much religious conviction.

    Big deal! So he’s dead, what about it. There are still a lot of intollerant, religious fanatic out there that is a real danger to society. Farwell is just a tip of the iceberg.

    Oh and by the way, I am very glad to find this site. It is very interesting and I would like to ask the permission of the owner that I place this site as a recomemded list.


    Pinoy Atheist

  • li


    there is this page i found which tracks all the top blog news about atheism in just a single page
    you are on it too

  • Nance Confer

    Not a tear was shed here.


  • Mriana

    And fourth of all, because celebrating people’s deaths is just plain low.

    Anti-nonsense, I’m glad I’m not the only one here who feels that way. We may not liked what he did, he may have been the poster man for anti-tolerance, and hurt a lot of people, but if we don’t like this stuff, then we really shouldn’t return it- even if the man is dead. I think it sets a bad example to curse and spit on a misguided miserable person’s grave and reinforces to his family the he was right, even though he was wrong.

    It sounds like we both think a like in that respect.

  • stogoe

    Well, I’m celebrating that this hateful sack of blood money has breathed his last. But only a little. There’s lots more work to be done. They can’t all live to be 70+ and die peacefully. Some will have to have their Jesus-Bubble purposefully dismantled.

  • How do you properly criticize the man who caused so much harm to so many people, while at the same time showing some respect for his family who may not have had much of a choice in the matter and are grieving at the loss of a loved one?

    I’m sure his family has people to comfort them. But the fact remains Falwell was a terrible person. In my blog post you linked, you might notice I never mentioned religion. I do not judge Falwell a stinking waste of a human being because he was religions but because he was a racist, classist, sexist, religiously bigoted warmongering stinking waste of a human being. Does it matter if he liked little kids and dogs? He provided material support for . . . how many atrocities? For the apartheid in Palestine, for the current bloody and murderous war in Iraq, for every petty brutal colonial war in America ever waged? And the attacks on minorities, women, non-Christians, civil rights for us all?

    I’m not going to do something like Phelps and picket his funeral. I’m not going to invade his family’s life with criticism of Falwell’s hideous life. But . . . the man was as evil as any who lived. We no holding back critics of Falwell are not attempting to intrude into anyone’s private life, so on what grounds should we bother showing respect for him?

    You “respect” his family by not intruding on private grief, not by limiting your critique of a criminal’s deeds.

  • diana

    He’s in a better place.

  • valmorian

    better for US!

  • Tina

    As a Christian women, I do find that there is pressure to be a certain way in my circle, which often feels like predjudice or oppression. I don’t agree that Mr. Falwell should be praised for being hateful or predjudice. As I agree that this way of thinking is a bit to narrow and I would argue anti-biblical since Jesus was a great Women’s advocate and loved and healed people who were sick and outcasted from society. However, I refuse to carry a victim’s mentality and harbor negative or unforgiving feelings about someone I have never even met. Just as any abuser or Tyrant would have it, I would then be under his control through my feelings. Instead, I would admit he is a great leader and didn’t apologize for himself, which most great leaders never would. I wish I could be that strong and unapologetic. So I would have to admit too that any disdain for Mr. Falwell would impart be from my own feelings of jelousy as I know I will probably never have that much impact, although brutally self-righteous, and contribution as he did. Further, I think I speak for most Christians when I say, that true Christianity is far removed from hatred and I stand with those who feel mislead from angry people who defame Christians by claiming they are Christians. So if that is the only thing holding you back from embracing the peacful love of Christ, I wouldn’t let a sloppy self-righteous person hold ya back!

    In Christ,

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