I never met him.
And unlike many of the leaders of the Religious Right, he never took me on by name, not when I was at SIECUS and not when I decided to become a minister. We probably disagreed about everything and certainly about areas related to sexual justice. He was anti-feminist, anti-choice, and anti-LGBT equality. For awhile in the early 1980's, I had a bumper sticker that proclaimed, "The Moral Marjority is Neither."
It is hard to be forgiving. I can still hear him blaming pagans, feminists, and gays and lesbians for 9/11. I remember when he refused to have a meal with the people from Soul Force. His latest condemnation of Richard Cizek was featured on my blog...and who can forget the campaign against Tinky Winky?
But, he was an effective religious voice for his beliefs in the public square and a tireless advocate. When I ask audiences to name a religious leader speaking out about sexuality issues, his name has always been first. His commitment to young people through Liberty University was admirable. In addition to his national activities, he continued his pastoral activities at a local church. I'd like to think twenty years from now, I'd leave even ten percent of his legacy in the public arena.
The Religious Institute extends its sympathy to Rev. Falwell's family, his friends, his church, his university -- and yes, his followers. His life was a life well lived.