Jerry Falwell was a poison, a jowly backwoods cretin who used his abilities to calmly, smilingly spin entire worlds of nutzoid damnation and spew them into the airwaves to build the illusion of an empire, all fake gossamer and cash. For the better part of four decades, his gluttonous, bovine visage befouled our television screens, slavering ratings whores of the news networks ready to lift his gargantuan belly, resting it on their heads, to fellate him for all the good quotes he could weave from cultishly mad religious fervor, always smiling, that smug fuckin' smile of self-righteousness, of acting so God-stoned that he couldn't wipe Christ's blood out of his eyes. No wonder he was a man who looked like he enjoyed his pork rinds - he always had the Jesus-spliff munchies.
You could populate entire vital nations with the people he despised and wanted to cast into pits of despair if they didn't accept his Son of God, a pissy little deity who, like an overly inbred emperor, demands unquestioning loyalty and obeisance. To give yourself to Falwell's God was to announce to the world that all questions from "Why is there war?" to "Why does Grandpa have bleeding hemorrhoids?" could be answered with God's name and will invoked. What an amazingly ignorant way to exist. And all you needed to join in was to give your hard-earned money to him. "If we don't tithe, we rob God," Falwell told his stupid flock. Give part of your Social Security check to the man, not the God, but the man, Falwell, who would, he assured you, do God's will with it. And how did you know God's will would be done? Because Falwell assured you it would be. Because, oh, sweet bliss of tautologies, Falwell knew. How did you know Falwell knew? Because he told you so. No wonder George W. Bush is president.
And he used that cash, guilted out of the pockets of his parishioners, to take religious faith and drag it into the gutter of politics to rape it and beat it and cut it and leave it a scarred freakish shell of what it might have been, appealing to the basest instincts of people to perpetuate lies and illusions. So rather than devote all his resources into doing the shit that maybe Christ might have wanted him to do, like, you know, help the poor, Falwell split the difference, building the Moral Majority, his TV show, and his (eventually-called) Liberty University, all things that paid lip service to doing things in God's name, but were really about the greater glory of the man, not the God, but the man, Falwell.
Part and parcel of that was to toss red meat to the faithful, telling them who to hate, who to spurn, who to despise, all couched in terms of trying to "change hearts" and get them to accept his Christ. Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, gays, liberals of any faith, illegal immigrants, anyone who didn't fit into his version of Christianity (which meant "people who give money to Jerry Falwell") were merely more bits of coal for Lucifer's fires. Motherfucker said, flat out, that Anne Frank, Gandhi, Muhammed, and Buddha were in hell. He pretty much started the culture wars, against anyone who supported abortion, feminism, or funding for AIDS research, looked at pornography, made art that he deemed wrong. Yes, there were preachers before Falwell who goddamned masses of people, but Falwell did it with a bigger microphone and satellites and cable TV, and with that voice, and that smile, that attitude of rationality, as if anyone who didn't feel the same way he did must be a fool. His fetid rhetoric made intolerance and hate seem like moral stances.
And, up to his death, all the politicians since Reagan let him into the White House had to make offerings to Falwell in order to get his blessings for their candidacies. But the Republicans (mostly) were more than willing to degrade themselves and do a little moral and ethical striptease for Falwell, at Liberty University events, in private, whenever, making sure that Falwell would not send his zombie hordes out to drag down a potential president. John McCain must be feeling pretty skeevy this morning, covered, as he was, with Falwell semen from the lap dance he gave the man just a few weeks ago. Falwell made sure that the Republican party was dragged from moderation to monkeyfuck madness. And, thanks to Falwell, it will be a generation before the GOP recovers.
His father was a violent redneck bootlegger who shot his own brother, but, lo and fuckin' behold, accepted Christ on his deathbed. Falwell was born again when he heard a radio preacher. He sued Larry Flynt because Flynt dared to publicly spank him by creating a mock ad about Falwell fucking his mother in an outhouse. Falwell lost when the Supreme Court said that anyone was free to make fun of assholes like Falwell (and non-assholes, too). He pushed the Congress to go after Bill Clinton for the "good" of the nation when, in reality, it helped set the nation on its current path of real, actual damnation.
The Rude Pundit hopes that, after his death, Falwell awoke, and, much to his horror - eternal horror, as it will turn out, found himself in hell, nude, trussed up, his ass plugged with a spiky mace. Falwell looked around him and saw dancing demons with gigantic, barbed cocks and flames. Oh, shit, this wasn't the way it was supposed to be. And Falwell tried to speak, but he discovered he had no voice, no way to say anything, and no one to hear him that would care. Then, the demons would hold his mouth open and start to stuff his gullet, with the corpses of people who died of AIDS, with the burnt remains of men and women who keep dying in all the wars he helped support in the name of Israel and Armageddon, with cash, tons of cash, and his mansion, and his cars, and his school, and tapes of his Old-Time Gospel Hour, and his books and his recordings and every bit of evidence that he was ever on the earth above, shove into his fat mouth, his saggy ass cheeks quivering, needing to push it out, but unable to. Shove that in there until that bastard blows up, showering the giggling demons with his viscera and gore, and then let them eat his remains, shit out the pieces, put him back together, and start all over again.
Or, maybe even moreso, the Rude Pundit would like to think that, at the moment of his death, as he collapsed behind his desk, Falwell did not see any light, any path through the clouds, just a brief realization that this, indeed, was it, and that he was so very wrong, just before eternal darkness clouded his foul brain forever.
Update: Sometimes you forget how exhilirating Christopher Hitchens can be when he's on your side.