Hart: Falwell's Foibles

By Ron Hart
Times Free Press
September 3, 2020

Photo by Steve Helber of The Associated Press / In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, Jerry Falwell Jr., right, answers a student's question accompanied by his wife, Becki, during after a town hall on the opioid crisis at a convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. On Aug. 25, 2020, Falwell said that he has submitted his resignation as head of evangelical Liberty University.

My great-grandfather was a Methodist minister with a sense of humor. His rural congregants loved him. When a parishioner suggested that he ask God for rain to relieve a drought, Great-Grandad told him he would but that he was in sales, not operations.

Today it seems that the era of the humble minister is long gone, replaced by televangelists and mega-church "charismatics" with big hair, hot wives and impossibly white smiles. They seem to be losing touch with those of their followers who are not zealots. Religion has been Swaggart-ed, Haggard-ed, Bakker-ed, Bishop Eddie Long-ed, pedophiled and, as a result, demeaned.

Sex scandals among the clergy seem all too common. This also explains where those Bibles left in all those hotel rooms come from.

The latest on Jerry Falwell Jr.: The president of Liberty University and religious icon is being forced out after a sex scandal. Apparently at Liberty the kids will soon be taught that marriage is a holy union among a woman, a man and the pool boy.

The Falwells reportedly enjoyed the wife having sex with their pool boy while the husband liked to watch. I always wondered why big-time preachers seemed to know so much about sin when they preached. I am beginning to understand.

If it is discovered that the Falwells used church money to pay the pool boy for his seven years of service, they might have real problems. Talk about robbing Paul to pay for Peter!

These huge churches and colleges choose their pastors based on charisma, marketing sense and their ability to be trusted with sensitive personal information much the same way Tom Cruise picks a wife.

Churches have done so much good for so many over the years. They are there to relieve anxiety, comfort the afflicted, house AA and Boy Scouts meetings, run food banks, child care and schools, and provide a sense of community. As a minimal-government libertarian, I feel a church that tends to the needs of its neighbors serves a valuable role, one that government cannot do well or even should. It's a shame when stories like Falwell's surface.

Much of the problem in America is that the younger generation was not brought up in a good church. Now with liberal education swaying kids' thinking, the seven deadly sins are viewed as their Bill of Rights.

That is why the older you are, the more likely you are to attend church. The Christian Science Monitor reported that older people read the Bible three times more than millennials. This is not surprising. It's akin to cramming for finals.

The other mounting problem with organized religion is that, historically, churchgoers were conservative. But like most donation-funded enterprises, big religious organizations like the Catholic Church have become unaccountable and liberal in their politics. This further puts them at odds with those predisposed toward Christianity.

"Prosperity gospel" seemingly is surviving. The complicating dynamic is that woke-ism, environmentalism, etc., are becoming the new religions and the leftist politicians who push them are the new clergy. Our youth increasingly order their lives around these tenets, diminishing the significance of traditional organized religion.

As neo-liberals, the clergy find themselves being hypocrites by having to defend the sometimes homophobic, violent and patriarchal tenets of the Bible. Even jihadists, who have to defend the Koran, are having problems. When they promise suicide bombers 72 virgins in paradise, they have to footnote it. Now they are saying, "Yes, there will be 72 virgins, but it will have to be just one from each recognized gender."

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed satirist, author and TV commentator at or on Twitter @RonaldHart.

View other columns by Ron Hart

Ron Hart








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.