When I was a student at Southern Seminary in the 1980s, I was engaged with others in calling on that institution to join the efforts aimed at sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa. Rev. Jerry Falwell was an outspoken critic of sanctions and defender of that regime.
When I pastored First Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, in 1988 and the AIDS epidemic was raging, Jerry Falwell was fundraising by fear-mongering against homosexuals.
This week, his son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., told a convocation of his students in his role as President of Liberty University that they should get a conceal and carry permit for arming themselves so they could take out Muslims. He later qualified his statement to say only terrorist Muslims. No matter, he has singlehandedly made his university a very dangerous place, not because he will provoke terrorists but because he cannot see how students that are carrying guns might use them against roommates, other students, paramours or pizza deliverymen who refuse to make change.
He’s a chip off the block, for certain. What he is not is a representative of Christ the Peacemaker who urged his followers to make peace, telling them they would be called children of God for doing so. If Americans are going to ask Muslims to speak up and denounce terrorists then surely this call for accountability can and should be extended to Christians and especially Baptists who are maligned by such irresponsible rhetoric from a man who purports to be both a Christian and a Baptist. Shame on President Falwell and the board of trustees of Liberty University who sanction his dangerous, unChrist-like speech. You are, sir, an embarrassment to Christ and owe your students, their parents and guardians; Baptists and Christians; and Muslims an apology. We won’t hold our breaths.