Although Jerry Falwell is well known for his homophobia, as a founder of the Religious Right, he is also a racist. As I pointed out in my last post, Fundagelicals have kept their racism hidden behind a smokescreen of “pro-life” and “anti-gay” rhetoric. Now that the Religious Right has gained real political traction, their racism is no longer hidden, and they have been emboldening to push their White Nationalist agenda openly.
Let’s take a trip back in time and remember the racist foundation of the Religious Right before they hid it. Here are a few choice quotes from Jerry Falwell’s sermons.
In his 1958 sermon titled Segregation or Integration: Which? Falwell said, “If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made . . . The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.” Falwell in an effort to sidestep integration opened his Whites only school, Lynchburg Christian Academy.
In his 1964 sermon, Ministers and Marchers, Falwell attacked The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a Communist subversive and questioned “the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations,” Falwell continued that, “It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.” For Falwell, Civil Rights were not only anti-Christian but also anti-American.
Although Falwell later recanted his Ministers and Marchers speech after the election of Ronald Reagan, he opposed the sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa and accused Bishop Desmond Tutu of being a phony “as far as representing the black people of South Africa.”
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20 NRSV)
Founders of the Religious Right preached a message that scratched the itch of a racist America. As it says in 2 Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires.” (2 Timothy 4:3) This message has now resurfaced and rather than denounce it, the new leaders of the Religious Right stay silent.
The sickness at the roots of the Religious Right tree that was planted by Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Robison, and Weyrick has now come to full blossom and produced the bitter fruits of neo-Nazi movements, White Nationalism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigration sentiments. It isn’t just marches and hate speech now; it has bloomed into full-blown violence in our streets. The fruit is now manifest and it is not only bad but evil.
It is time the Church speaks out against how truly sick the Religious Right has become. Since their rise to power, not only have hate crimes spiked but Church attendance has declined. The Millenials and Zoomers are not going to show any interest in a Church that refuses to practice the message that their founder preached: a message of love and inclusiveness. Until we return to the radical inclusiveness of the Gospel, outsiders will stay outside. They will not beg to be included; they will simply let an old sick and bitter tree die off. We must speak and act or the fruit born of racism will be forever associated with Christianity.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.