May 15, 2007, - 1:43 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES ****
Sad news today that Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority and Liberty University, died this morning at age 73.
Jerry Falwell was a patriot and loved America. He loved its Judeo-Christian values, and he did his best to preserve them. And contrary to the constant, unfair vilification by liberal Jewish figures, Jerry Falwell loved the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Dr. Falwell helped inspire thousands of Christian tourists to visit and donate money to Israel, when it was in the worst economic doldrums of two Intifadas (Muslim uprisings). I met and heard him speak at a small dinner in 2000 and enjoyed it immensely. He was a vital part of the Reagan Revolution.
I didn’t agree with everything Jerry Falwell said–like his statement that America was at fault for 9/11 because of declining morals, etc.–a statement for which he quickly and thoroughly apologized. (We could have been the most moral country in the world, and 9/11 would have happened anyway.) And I didn’t care for his all-too-tight association with pan-Islamist money-launderer and Jack Abramoff co-conspirator Grover Norquist.
But Falwell was a very important man because he galvanized America’s Evangelical Christians to get involved in politics and take back the country. That’s important because it will be one of the things–if anything works–that stops Muslims from taking over and transforming the nation: the strong Christian traditions our country maintains and that Falwell helped protect by establishing one of the most momentous political movements of our time.
Additionally, overall, Falwell–among few others–understood the danger that Islam (and improperly projecting it onto our Judeo-Christian heritage) poses to America, well before 9/11. From my March 16, 2001 column:
Last week, the Rev. Jerry Falwell told Beliefnet.com, a religion website, that when it comes to applying for federal funds under President Bush’s proposed faith-based initiatives program, “Islam should be out the door before they knock. … The Moslem faith teaches hate.”
Falwell was swiftly attacked by Muslim groups and was forced to apologize, explaining to USA Today that he meant that any group that is anti-Semitic, racist or in any way bigoted should be disqualified from the funds. He clearly told Beliefnet, “I think that when persons are clearly bigoted towards other persons in the human family, they should be disqualified from funds.”
But my experience with President Bush’s star Muslim recipient of the proposed funds — Imam Hassan Qazwini, religious leader of Detroit’s Islamic Center of America mosque — illustrates that Falwell was right.
When he held his January press conference announcing the issuance of an executive order for the faith-based funds, President Bush featured Qazwini front and center, among the 35 religious leaders on stage with him. He introduced Qazwini, the only Muslim and Michigan’s only religious representative at the White House press conference, as “my friend from Michigan.” According to the Detroit Free Press, Qazwini met with Bush in Texas in December “to advise him on formulating the pair of executive orders issued” for federal funding of faith-based initiatives. Qazwini’s mosque will certainly be a major recipient of the funds.
But Qazwini’s receipt of tax-funds, let alone his close friendship with Bush and attendance at the White House, should disturb all Americans. When I attended Qazwini’s mosque on Nov. 15, 1998, it was one of the most frightening, hate-filled occasions I’ve ever experienced. On that day, at Qazwini’s invitation, the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan spoke to the mosque’s congregants and was received with a hero’s welcome. Qazwini and Osama Siblani, editor of the Arab-American News, introduced Farrakhan as “our dear brother,” “a freedom fighter,” and “a man of courage and sacrifice.”
Farrakhan’s same old anti-Semitic, anti-White canards were no surprise. It was the cheers and fervor of Qazwini and his congregation that were so chilling. Watching the audience of more than 1,000 Arab-American and Black Muslims who surrounded me in the mosque rising up and hatefully screaming about “the Jews, the Jews,” I realized how my grandparents must have felt in Nazi Germany.
During his hour-long rant, Farrakhan spouted his usual pap claiming the Jews control the U.S. government, saying that the “core message” of his speech was “the evil power of the ‘Zionists.’ … [They are] forces of evil.”
But, clearly, “Zionists” was his euphemism for the Jews. He shouted out Jewish-sounding surnames of Clinton administration cabinet members and asked the crowd, “Rubin, who is he? Cohen, who is he?” The audience stood up and — in an angry frenzy — shouted, “A Jew, a Jew!” (Actually, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen is not Jewish. He’s a Unitarian.)
Farrakhan denounced the Jews as “forces of evil. … We should perform a jihad (holy war). [They are] frightened, and we must frighten them even more.” This garnered thunderous applause and cheers from Qazwini and his congregants. He continued to describe Jews as “these people in positions of power with a Satanic mentality … [who] deceive us.” More cheers and applause from Qazwini and the crowd. . . .
If Qazwini’s Islamic Center of America is any indication — and it certainly seems to be — of the behavior of Islamic recipients of federal funds for faith-based initiatives, Falwell is right. They should be ineligible for taxpayer-funded means of spewing such hate. . . .
While the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council both denounced Falwell’s comments, neither they nor Bush’s “friend from Michigan,” Imam Qazwini, ever denounced Farrakhan’s bigoted, hateful comments. And President Bush’s strong ties to Qazwini are troubling, especially with the advent of federal funding of faith-based initiatives — and Qazwini as Bush’s star recipient of them.
Yes, Jerry Falwell was right. And he will be missed. He may be gone, but his contribution to maintaining decency and morality in America will be here for a long time. As will the Evangelical political movement he founded.
Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rest In Peace.
**** UPDATE: Reader David writes:
Reports are that Dr. Jerry Prevo from Anchorage, Alaska, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Liberty University will take over the church and university.
**** UPDATE: Even though I’m not a Christian, I like Rev. John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church of San Antonio, Texas, whom I think is a good replacement to emerge as the spokesman for the new generation of Evangelicals in America.
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