I was not at all happy to see Rev. Al Sharpton who—despite his recent rash of semi-statesmanlike conduct—has a history of demagoguery, being treated seriously this week. Not only did the Democrats give him speaking time, but CNN used him extensively as a regular commentator.
Now comes news that the GOP may have found someone even worse than Sharpton to put front and center in their convention! The Carpetbagger Report says that it seems the GOP may ask Falwell to give an invocation.
I admit that I used to have a soft spot for Falwell. He used racially mixed audiences in his show. He seemed cleaner than, say, the Bakers. And he took a vacation from politics to concentrate on religion when all the TV preachers were getting indicted. (Yes, 1989 was a convenient time to leave the TV evangelism/politics thing, the bloom was off the rose, but his claim that he felt a need to concentrate on spiritual issues was nonetheless plausible.) He seemed horribly wrong, but sincere, and up to a point I like sincere better than apathetic.
But then he lost it. First he endorsed felon Oliver North for Senate. Then in the late '90s he got back into politics. (According to this summary I learn he'd never 'left' as much as I thought anyway.)
Then Falwell attacked Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies (a UK children's show), claiming the character was a gay icon (he, gasp, carries a red purse in some episodes).
Then Falwell really went too far, saying, a few days after the 9/11 attacks:
“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.'”
Yes, Falwell later offered a non-apology apology, but even so, could the GOP really put this man on stage in New York?
P.S. Please don't say 'oh, it's just an invocation, not a political statement'. In some ways, that's worse: this is a man whose theology is that all non-Christians (as he defines that term i.e. including Catholics, Muslims, Jews, atheists) not to mention gay people are damned. And whose theology argues that the state's toleration of non-Christians (as he defines it) is not only wrong, but invites divine retribution.