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Op-ed: Falwell was 'unintentional godfather' of some creative gay-rights projects
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Published: Monday May 21, 2007
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Despite attacking gays and lesbians from the pulpit and frequent media appearances, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell was the "unintentional godfather of some creative gay-rights projects," Deb Price writes for Detroit News.

"Jerry Falwell was confronted during a 1984 TV talk show by audience member Jerry Sloan, a friend from their Baptist bible college days," Price writes. "Why, the Californian asked, had the televangelist called the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church a 'vile and Satanic system (that) will one day be utterly annihilated?'"

Price continues, "Falwell denied making the slam and told Sloan he'd give him $5,000 if he could prove otherwise. Sloan produced evidence. When Falwell refused to pay up, Sloan sued, won and used his winnings to start Sacramento's gay community center."

Sloan jokes that "Jerry Falwell is indirectly one of our community center's godfathers."

Excerpts from column:

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In Falwell's distorted version of Christianity, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals." His blend of old-time prejudices stunted our nation's growth and is a prime reason it continues to lag behind much of the Western world in treating those of us who're gay with fairness.

But, ironically, Falwell was the unintentional godfather of some creative gay-rights projects. Soulforce, dedicated to peacefully challenging anti-gay religious leaders, was started by former Falwell ghostwriter Mel White. Soulforce sponsors the Equality Riders, young Christians who travel from campus to campus, urging evangelical colleges to embrace their gay students.

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Even conservative Christians have warmed to gay people. A 2004 Los Angeles Time poll found, by 51-to-33 percent, fundamentalist Christians want laws to protect gay workers from discrimination. And by 63 to 31 percent, born-again or evangelical Christians favor expanding hate crimes laws to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a new Gallup poll shows.

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FULL COLUMN CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK