Jerry Falwell, R.I.P.

An old order is dying, literally and figuratively. The death of Jerry Falwell harbingers an era of greater tolerance. The historical movement toward the acceptance of diversity of many kinds (a phenomenon of the mid-50’s and the 60’s) has been slowed by the rise of Falwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk in the 70’s and 80’s. Their profound though relatively short-lived influence on American political life reminds me of the saying that the brightest colors are reserved for sunset.

Certainly Generation Next has a more inclusive attitude to race, ethnicity and gender issues. And the current generation of evangelical leadership, while still uncomfortable with and rigid about these issues, can work with those they disagree with on issues that matter to both. The paradigmatic moment here being Rick Warren welcoming Barack Obama to his Saddleback (mega) Church and their shared commitment to fighting Aids in Africa. For a current New York Times take on the boomer evangelicals click here.

Now I know one should not speak ill of the dead. But the reverend’s passing should not be occasion for retiring “Jerry Falwell’s God,” a satire sung by Roy Zimmerman. Forgive me.

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