September 14, 2002
A Soulforce Response: Once Again, Jerry Falwell Advances Our Cause
Mel White, Executive Director, Soulforce, Inc.
(Laguna Beach, CA) This morning, before sunrise, our 800 line lit up with calls wanting a Soulforce response to Jerry Falwell’s comments blaming gays and lesbians for the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Immediately, I checked the Washington Blade web page for more information.
Apparently, on Thursday morning, September 13, in one of his rare guest appearances on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, Falwell placed "…a lot of the blame [for the destructive hijackings]" on the Federal Courts "for throwing God out of the public square" and on his usual list of those "who have tried to secularize America: pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, and People for the American Way."
With Pat Robertson nodding his ascent, Jerry Falwell explained the tragedies in New York City and Washington, D.C., as proof that "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."
After his comments came under fire, the Washington Post called Falwell who placed "…all the blame legally and morally on the actions of the terrorist…" but he explained that America’s "…secular and anti-Christian environment left us open to our Lord’s [decision] not to protect. When a nation deserts God and expels God from the culture…the result is not good."
Later in the day, on a CNN talk show, Jerry Falwell apologized for his remarks. Apologize or not, before we waste too much anger on the words of Jerry or Pat, let’s consider the probable consequences of their politics of blame.
First, it was gratifying to learn that the White House immediately issued a statement calling Falwell’s remarks "inappropriate" with a clear advisory that the "The President does not share those views." By frustrating the President’s call for national unity during these most difficult days, Jerry and Pat have lost even more political clout and public credibility. And I am grateful every time the President has cause to distance himself from leaders of the extremist right.
Second, I’m guessing that in the next few weeks, clergy and lay leaders alike from every faith tradition will distance themselves from Jerry and Pat’s unwise and untimely dialogue increasing their isolation from the mainstream Christian community as well.
Third, many of our families and friends who are still confused by Jerry, Pat, and others who misuse the "clobber passages" to caricature and condemn us, will be shocked by this theological premise that God, let alone God’s gay and lesbian children, could have anything at all to do with the terrorist’s despicable acts. A member of my own family, with deep religious roots called Jerry’s remarks, "The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard."
Every time Fred Phelps and his family appear at one of our Soulforce Direct Actions carrying his "GOD HATES FAGS" signs, I am grateful. Once again, Jerry and Pat have joined Fred on the frontlines of ignorance and bigotry and I’m convinced that their words will help our cause.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Jerry and Pat genuinely believe that the acceptance of sexual and gender minorities will lead to God’s judgment and wrath against our nation.
Jerry and Pat are not phony. They are fundamentalist Christians and like fundamentalist Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, fundamentalist Christians are known by their "urge to purge." They believe they are called to "cleanse" society of all they find "unclean" and by cleansing society they will "save it."
Osama bin Laden is a Muslim fundamentalist. He believes that Allah wills him to destroy America, "the Great Satan." He is convinced that his war against our nation is Jihad ("holy war"). The terrorists who hijacked the planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were convinced that Allah will reward them for their sacrifice.
Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are fundamentalist Christians. They believe that they are called by God to cleanse this nation of sexual minorities (and pagans, feminists, abortionists, etc.) and thus to save it. They believe that those who advocate the acceptance of sexual minorities (and other liberal causes) are an "abomination in God’s sight" and must be converted or purged. And though Pat and Jerry have never called for violence against these "enemies of God" at least one of the biblical verses they misuse regularly to condemn sexual minorities states clearly that we are "…worthy of death and should be executed, (Leviticus 20)."
And though I am convinced that their extremist remarks are isolating them from the American mainstream, I am still deeply concerned about the consequences of the antigay jihad or holy war that Robertson, Falwell and the other spiritual extremists (terrorists) are waging against us. Their daily misuse of a handful of Biblical verses to condemn sexual and gender minorities still confuses good people of faith across the nation. Those good people of faith who have been convinced that homosexuality is a sickness, a sin, and a threat to the nation, are now waging war against us in and through their mainstream Roman Catholic and Protestant churches to deny us our religious and our political rights and protections.
Following the guidelines of relentless nonviolent resistance (as taught by Gandhi and King), Soulforce volunteers are committed to taking our stand against the untruth that leads to suffering and death for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. And though we are convinced that the extremist language of Pat and Jerry and the others will eventually turn the entire nation against them, we are determined to confront their untruth relentlessly with the truth that God created His lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children and loves them exactly as they were created.
Soulforce, P.O. Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Toll Free: (877) 705-6393