“Jesus with an Uzi”
My friend John Whitehead recently spoke with The Hook:
Whitehead no fan of Falwellâ€™s church-state brew
While lauding the personable and prankster sides of fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell, who died yesterday in Lynchburg, freedom fighter John W. Whitehead reveals that he was no fan of Falwellâ€™s mixing of church and state.
â€œI would eat dinner with him,â€ says Whitehead, â€œbut as far as his philosophy, I couldnâ€™t disagree with him more.
â€œHis view of things was typical Christian right-wing fundamentalists,â€ continues Whitehead, â€œbut I hate to use the word Christian because I canâ€™t picture Jesus with a Uzi. Falwell probably could.â€
Ironically, it was Whiteheadâ€™s 1981 book, The Second American Revolution, that inspired many of the same believers who became part of the Moral Majority, the Falwell-founded group that typically argued for a hawkish foreign policy. Whitehead says he later changed his mind about mixing church and state. (Incidentally, in his most recent essay, Whitehead says that Jesus would definitely oppose the war in Iraq.)
Although he provoked smiles in 1999 when he suggested that one of the Tele-Tubbies might be gay, Falwell provoked widespread shock when he declared, while the twin towers were still burning, that 9/11 was caused by â€œthe pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians.â€
â€œI said oh, oh, somethingâ€™s wrong here,â€ Whitehead recalls. â€œYou get nervous when someone says theyâ€™re speaking for God.â€
One other area in which Whitehead and Falwell did agree was a case in which Rutherford Institute attorneys successfully fought for the right of Liberty University football players to kneel after successful plays. The practice had been seen as unsportsmanlike grandstanding, Whitehead recalls.
Whitehead also reveals a couple of interesting Falwell-as-prankster stories, which may be revealed in the next issue of the Hook.
[Note: Whitehead has broken bread with many major religious leaders and politicians, including Mr. Falwell. ]