Should we take a long look at these things? I want to. I want to feel sorrow for Falwell’s family and think this is a man who tried his best to invite God into his life and transform the world according to that vision. I want to judge the Spanish missionaries with kindness and realize that in their hearts they were bringing civilization to an uncivilized people. That’s what the Pope was doing in postulating that the native people of Brazil had been “silently longing” for the Gospel.
Unfortunately, that is ridiculous. Unfortunately, the manner in which Europeans invaded and destroyed the people on this continent five hundred years ago was a terrible and evil thing. Unfortunately, Jerry Falwell was a horrible hateful person. Good intentions are not enough. These people spread evil and hatred through our world. They are dead. Their lives were devoted to creating ugliness. And the best we can say of them is that they provide a cautionary tale, reminding us that it is not enough to want to do the right thing.
I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not.