For years I’ve been mildly frustrated by the lack of attention given in mainstream media and public discourse to religious fundamentalism’s1 core values, roots and origin story, goals, and their incomprehensible disconnect between what they teach and how their leadership actually live. The hypocrisy is staggering2 .
But I think when the Christian Nationalists’ stormed the capitol on January 6th, supposedly doing this in the name of Jesus, killing, hurting, and terrifying people in their effort to end democracy in the Uniter States, media and less religious Republicans began to wake up. And now the truth is beginning to be talked about in the public square. A number of deeply conservative and very religious people are now beginning to see what has been true all along. They are starting to condemn what their own self-professed religious teaching would describe as the pure filth of their leaders and the way they have strayed from living righteous personal lives.
This documentary, God Forbid, focuses primarily on the Jerry Falwell dynasty. It is superb. It covers a vast amount of near history. It’s flabbergasting. It’s high drama. You simply couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.
The documentary explains how this movement became what it is today. And it exposes the obscene hypocrisy of Jerry Falwell, Jr. And he’s just the tip of this iceberg.
To be clear: I could care less what Jerry and Becky do in their sex lives. That’s between them. After all, their chosen sexual lifestyle, their sexual preferences, don’t involve me. If they enjoy sexual kink, I just don’t care at all as long as nobody is being taken advantage of or hurt. If they enjoy drinking alcohol – whatever. I could care less.
But it’s the hypocrisy of them doing one thing and punishing their students at Liberty University for doing the same things that repulses me. But, even worse than that, their trapping young people into doing the very things they publicly condemn and punish others for doing goes well beyond entitlement and is nothing short of predatory. And I think the documentary makes a very compelling case that their behavior went well beyond the disgusting ugliness of hypocrisy and deep into predatory entrapment.
You see, I don’t think it’s right to take advantage of anybody else for your own sexual gratification. That’s just wrong. It’s wrong to trap people into doing sexual things they don’t want to do. No matter how you slice it – Wrong!
I have blogged many times about the origin story of the extremist religious fundamentalist movement in this country3. My posts have often focused on Bob Jones University and not Liberty University. But make no mistake, it’s all the same. Bob Jones and Jerry Falwell, Sr. may have been rivals4 competing for students5, but, in my opinion, they are both cut from the identical same cloth.
I highly recommend everyone watch God Forbid. Make up your mind for yourself. Who comes across as more believable: the young, horny, digital native pool boy who saved every photo, text, and FaceTime call, or Jerry and Becky jet setting around the country perpetually lying with impunity about one thing after another? Look for yourself: was Jerry drunk when he was speaking (slurred) to 10,000 Liberty University students with a glass of something in his hands he was too unsteady to keep from spilling as he spoke? The producers let them all speak in their own words. Brilliantly done.
It’s a fascinating, well-told story that easily falls into the category of truth being stranger than fiction. And the production value of the documentary is also very well done: high energy, moving at a fast clip with good music and great time-lapses of the gorgeous Miami beach area! Must-see TV!
They now prefer to be called “evangelicals” in an effort to disassociate themselves from religious terrorism. ↩
Now certainly many individual, well-meaning people work very, very hard to live by the teachings they have been told are how God wants them to live. The unspeakable hypocrisy is, however, a glaring feature of many of their leaders. ↩
This post provides the best overview of the recent history of the movement. Here are numerous other posts at my blog focused on the christian school movement, or Bob Jones University, or homophobia, or racism (They even named a men’s dormitory after the Grand Cyclops of the KKK in Alabama – no, really!), or misogyny. It’s all pretty nasty stuff. ↩
By the way, the history of that rivalry is hinted at in this documentary. ↩
Looks like Falwell won. ↩
Streaming on Hulu when I watched it. ↩