Liberal Bloggers Rip Into Falwell After Death

July 7, 2008 - 8:23 PM

(CNSNews.com) - "The gates of hell swing open and Satan welcomes his beloved son," a prominent left-wing blogger opined on her website at the news of the death Tuesday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

"Guess god [sic] liked the ACLU better after all," wrote Amanda Marcotte on her blog Pandagon.com, in reference to the American Civil Liberties Union, a target of controversial comments Falwell made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Marcotte has a history of provocative anti-Christian writing that resulted in her leaving the presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards earlier this year. But while some pundits on the left voiced qualified condolences over the death of Falwell, sentiments similar to Marcotte's echoed across the liberal blogosphere Tuesday and Wednesday.

The activist left-wing site IndyMedia carried the headline "Hallelujah! Theocratic Huckster Jerry Falwell Dead At 73."

Posting on one of the most-visited liberal blogs, the Huffington Post, writer Kirk Snyder said, "Jerry Falwell is dead but his political legacy of hate and discrimination lives on among the fundamentalists ... Anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-science, Falwell - along with his friends in the Republican party - spread anger, bigotry and intolerance all the while hiding behind God and a twisted interpretation of 'family values.'"

Falwell, a Christian evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., made many foes because of his opposition to abortion, homosexual activism and same-sex "marriage."

Writing on the blog FireDogLake.com, a writer going by the name of TRex declared, "Falwell is the man we have to thank for the 'Christian' Right's ongoing assault on the wall between church and state and the unconscionable incursions of religion into American public policy."

"The infringement of snake-handling faux-Christian bigotry into government has placed our country years behind the rest of the world in terms of personal liberty, women's rights, gay rights, public health, AIDS treatment and research, and education," TRex continued.

The vitriol aimed at Falwell reflects worse on those expressing it than on the deceased leader, said the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, an ally of Falwell on many issues.

"I ignore these people, because I know where they're coming from," Sheldon told Cybercast News Service . "When people resort to name-calling, you know they have no substance. It's gigantically ironic that these people who claim to be liberal and free use such vulgar and absurd statements."

Joe Carter, director of web communications for the conservative Family Research Council, said the more prominent bloggers cannot be entirely dismissed, given their political clout.

"These people are not representative of the Democratic Party, but this is the crowd the party plays to in seeking the support of the netroots," Carter told Cybercast News Service. (Netroots is a slang term used to describe online political activists.)

Some online critics such as Daily Kos, the largest of the liberal blogs, turned to parody.

It carried a spoof by the "Afterlife News Service" that said "the late Jerry Falwell said today from the afterlife that 'pagans, abortionists, gays, feminists, lesbians, the ACLU, People for the American Way, Al Gore, Daily Kos and other immoral, liberal groups and individuals bear full responsibility for the heart attack that claimed my earthly life.'"

The parody was referring to a comment Falwell made after 9/11 in which he suggested that groups "who have tried to secularize America" had "helped the attacks happen." Under fire, Falwell later said he was quoted out of context and that the terrorists alone were responsible for the attacks.

In reference to another controversy, TMZ.com, a website that covers the entertainment industry, posted a picture of a character from the Public Broadcasting Service children's television show, the Teletubbies, waving goodbye under the words "Jerry Falwell 1933-2007."

In 1999, Falwell was criticized for suggesting that the character, colored purple and named Tinky Winky, could be a covert homosexual symbol. Reports at the time had indicated that in parts of the homosexual community in Britain, Tinky Winky was considered something of a "gay icon."

'In hell with Hitler, Reagan'

Still, some online comments bypassed any attempts at "humor" and resorted to anger.

"Falwell went to hell," said a posting on the Democratic Underground blog. "That's where he belongs. He's with Hitler, Pol Pot, Reagan, Strom Thurmond and Saddam now."

A reader of that blog subsequently responded, "Sorry, but even hell has standards for entry."

Others expressed anger that some liberals had voiced condolences for Falwell.

"I do not think Falwell had a heart of gold and certainly no tears were shed in my house today," Kevin Naff, managing editor of the Washington Blade, wrote on the publication's blog.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Tuesday described Falwell as having had a "heart of gold."

"The truth is that Falwell was a calculating charlatan who cruelly demonized and scapegoated gays and lesbians throughout his twisted career," Naff wrote. "As a child of the 80s, I grew up listening to Falwell's gospel of hate.""

But hate is exactly what Falwell's detractors are displaying, said Matt Barber, policy director for the conservative Concerned Women of America.

"They accuse Rev. Falwell of hate while they are pulling away their masks to show they indeed are haters," Barber told Cybercast News Service. "This is about killing the messenger. They don't hate Jerry Falwell as a person. They hate God. Jerry Falwell is a convenient target because he represented the word of God."

Barber conceded there was no guarantee that there would not be similar behavior from the right if an equally controversial liberal figure died, but he said if there were such a reaction, it would be less widespread. "There could be fringe elements of the right that would engage in hostile rhetoric after the unfortunate death of a liberal," Barber said.

"What we are seeing now is systematically a pattern of secular humanism," he added. "There are people on the left that are showing compassion and sincere condolences, but they are out of the left's mainstream."

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