Jerry Falwell (Aug. 11, 1933-May 15, 2007)

As some of us mourn the death of Jerry Falwell, others are condemning him for his views on feminists, gays, lesbians and liberalism. Even though many did not agree with his teachings, if we take a moment to look at Falwell's deeds we might see him from another perspective.

For instance, Falwell took the congregation of the Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, Va., from 35 adults to a membership in excess of 24,000; they celebrated the church’s 50th anniversary last year. He also founded Lynchburg Bible College, now Liberty University, and the National Liberty Journal. Even though he at one time supported racial segregation, in later years he apologized and opposed segregation, declaring that we as Christians must be willing to reexamine ourselves and forgive the mistakes that we have made in life. He may not have been perfect, but at least he was willing to repent; he was no hypocrite. 

The Rev. Falwell has been a good friend and there are many things of which the public simply does not know. Years ago I invited the Rev. Al Sharpton to be my guest at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. In our discussion I told him that he should meet Falwell. He readily agreed, stating that although he did not agree with Falwell's views, he had no problem meeting him. I introduced them and they became good friends. Falwell often spoke fondly of Al Sharpton. Jesse Jackson said that he had a heart of gold.

Falwell was a sincere, devoted and generous example of a man who lived what he believed. Yes, he had his shortcomings, but don't we all? Let's put this man to rest with all of his frailties and good deeds. After all, one day we will all have to answer for our deeds — both the ones the public knows about and, most certainly, the ones they don’t.