Monday, June 17, 2024

the last book I ever read (The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta, excerpt five)

from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta:

The latter years of Falwell’s life had been forgettable. He still preached to a large congregation and reached a sizable audience with his TV and radio programs. Yet his influence was dwindling. Ever since he disbanded the Moral Majority in 1989—sensing, rightly, that he’d lost sight of his responsibilities as a pastor—Falwell had been eclipsed by a new generation of Christian culture warriors. He launched the “God Save America” campaign in 1996, and a new radio program, Listen America, in 1998, but neither one did much to move the needle. Republican leaders would still make the pilgrimage to Lynchburg, but it was proving more an obligatory photo op than a kissing of the ring. Falwell didn’t take well to the diminished role.

Clinging to relevance in increasingly transparent and pitiful fashion, Falwell had, by the turn of the century, reduced himself to a caricature, more a punch line than a provocateur. He reacted to actress Ellen DeGeneres’s coming out by calling her “Ellen Degenerate.” He ranted about Tinky Winky, an animated purple creature on the toddler-aged TV show Teletubbies who was supposedly homosexual despite a lack of reproductive organs. He predicted that the Antichrist would be arriving soon and added: ‘of course he’ll be Jewish.” He said the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed three thousand people were “probably deserved” because of how America had turned away from God, and blamed “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians”—as well as the ACLU—for inviting such devastation on the country.

Less visible, but every bit as problematic, was his mismanagement of Liberty University.

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