In my earlier post I attempted to take the long view, giving what I think will be the paragraph or two devoted to him in the history books a century from now. In doing so I omitted some of his more controversial aspects.

Gateway Pundit has coverage of the anti-Falwell blogosphere reaction, including comments being added to his site.

I now want to address three controversial aspects of Falwell's career.

1) His anti-homosexual-practice stance and preaching. While Falwell usually was condemning the practice of same-sex sex, and the political activity of groups like ActUp, his own rhetoric could be heated. It is indisputably true that he advocated, over and over again, hating the sin but loving the sinner. It is also indisputably true that his rhetoric sometimes seemed harsh and loveless on the topic. I think the explanation lies in the nature of conservative Southern preaching. Populist rhetoric in the South, whether preacher or politician, has as one of its necessary motifs "the enemy" who is condemned harshly and made fun of. (Think George Wallace and the "pointy-headed intellectuals who can't even park a bicycle straight.") Falwell did not overcome this aspect of his background.

2) His initial comments following 9/11 that God was punishing our nation. While offensive to many people, Falwell was in the direct line of preachers going back to New England Puritans and beyond them to English Divines who interpreted historical events in light of the actions of a righteous God. Disaster, to these preachers, always called for self-examination to see what sins God was punishing. Days of Prayer and Fasting following setbacks always included confession of sins, individual and corporate. Cotton Mather would have made comments similar to Falwell.

3) His involvement in the PTL ministry after the fall of Jim Baker. I am unaware that a full and unbiased accounting has yet been made of Falwell's actions in what may have been an attempt to "save" PTL. Baker himself remains bitter over Falwell's involvement and thinks it was a power play over assets. Perhaps a biographer in 40 years can sort it all out.

More on Falwell and race here.

Earlier post on Falwell and history.