Falwell Gets a Mixed Welcome In Texas

Jerry Falwell just can't seem to escape his reputation as being fast-and-loose with the truth. The Religious Right leader encountered unexpected criticism as he prepared to speak in Lufkin, Texas, today.

Falwell's appearance at a Religious Right get-out-the-vote group was preceded by a scathing editorial in the local Lufkin Daily News. Marc Masferrer reminded the community that the TV preacher is embroiled in controversy surrounding his recent misuse of his website for partisan political purposes.

Moreover, Falwell then defended his actions by openly lying on national television about his history with the IRS. Falwell denied the fact that tax-exempt status of the "Old Time Gospel Hour" had been revoked for two years after money it had raised for charitable purposes had been diverted to a political action committee.

When confronted with a document bearing his own name, he still tried to dodge the truth.

In addition to his disregard for American tax law, Falwell's intolerance should not be forgotten, argued Masferrer. This is the same Jerry Falwell who strangely declared that one of the Teletubbies was, in fact, gay and who, only two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, declared:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Masferrer encouraged his readers to not attend the local Falwell event and chastised the local organization, Vision America, for inviting him.

In response, the director of Vision America attempted to defend Falwell by obscuring his record. The Rev. Rick Scarborough falsely claims that Falwell never acknowledged guilt in the "Old Time Gospel Hour" dispute. Documentation of the events prove otherwise.

Scarborough points to the work of Liberty University as a sign of Falwell's positive contribution to American life. Yet in celebrating the recent creation of a law school at Liberty, Falwell declared it is his hope that his students roll back reproductive choice, gay rights and other court decisions. The school, he said, will serve to "to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are skilled in the legal profession."

This radical agenda for America goes against our constitutional tradition of separation of church and state. Falwell is anything but a hero to America's churches. His work with Vision America is part of his broader scheme to politicize America's houses of worship. By encouraging religious leaders to risk their tax-exempt status, Falwell shows blatant disregard for American tax law.

It finally appears that his radical activities are catching up with him. Kudos to The Lufkin Daily News for standing up to this Religious Right radical.