At one time I found him an embarrassment, but the guy changed his viewpoints and his life along the way...
He used to be known as a bigot. A designation he earned.
I remember being in a hotel room watching the cable news channels the night Ellen Degeners 'came out.' The announcement said there was going to be an interview with Chastity (Cher's daughter) Ellen and Jerry Falwell. I remember thinking, "This is going to be a blood bath!"
Ellen came out swinging and Falwell told her, "Ellen I really love you and Jesus loves you. Jesus loves all homosexuals, but the Bible says what it says and I need to stick with that, but you need to know I really do love you!"
I kept thinking, "This is Falwell, the guy that is known for being so harsh and bigoted?" I thought of John, the Son of Thunder being transformed.
By the end of the interview Elllen was eating out of his hand. It was amazing!
Falwell has made a lifestyle out of getting himself in trouble, but he also has a way of getting himself out. Many times by simply changing. It's pretty rare for public personalties to admit they are wrong and to change their postions radically. Yet Falwell did it. Pretty courageous and pretty risky.
I doubt if I lived in Lynchburg if I would go to Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church Falwell started when he was 22. His expressions of worship just don't do it for me. But things have changed in the Lynchburg institutions he started too. DC-Talk, one of the original Christian hip-hop groups comprised of black and white members was formed at Liberty University. Not bad for a guy that was once known as a bigot! Today his university is a center for modern Christian music performences. And this from a guy that used to think rock music in any form was evil. People can change. And they do.
He also made some crazy remark about the Tele-Tubbies. I can't defend that one. But I do think they are weird!
I hope I too can grow. I thank God for Jerry Falwell and that God let some of his growth be public. It makes me think maybe there is still hope for me! Maybe.
Here's a great comment on Jon Trott's blog about Falwell.