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Remember Jesus Freaks?

05.24.2007 05:27 | DISPATCHES

Has any American death in recent years been greeted with more jubilation than Jerry Falwell's? (Aside from Timothy McVeigh's.)

Christopher Hitchens called him an "ugly little charlatan." Journalist and historian Rick Perlstein said, "He was of course a monster." Amanda Marcotte, who gained notoriety blogging for the John Edwards campaign, wrote: "The gates of hell swing open and Satan welcomes his beloved son."

Ms. Marcotte's sentiments are variations on a theme expressed in countless blogs and their comments: "Rot in hell, Falwell." Conservatives and fundamentalists, of course, blanched.

Sure, it's disrespectful of the dead. But to progressives and the LBG community, revisiting Falwell's tawdry history can be another important step in dismantling Christianism, Christianity's equivalent to Islamism, which seeks to superimpose religion on the state.

It began with that national embarrassment, the Terry Schiavo affair, and was given a boost by the disgracing of Ted Haggard. Now we think we've found a way to use Falwell's death to expedite the process even further. Why not dust off that old phrase "Jesus Freaks" and slap it on today's fundamentalists?

Technically, it doesn't apply because that's what members of the Jesus Movement, a byproduct of the sixties counterculture, were called -- and later called themselves. But as it waned, along with the counterculture, many of its members were folded into mainstream Christianity.

However, unlike today's fundamentalists, such as Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson, who seek to impose a kind of Christian sharia (Muslim law) on the state, the original Jesus Freaks were innocuous. The mindlessness they shared with a similar phenomenon, the Hare Krishna crew, made them objects of derision.

Jesus Freaks were not only the fan, or devotee, kind of freaks, they were the round-peg-in-a-square-hole kind who don't fit into the culture at large. Yet today's fundamentalists are even more authentic in their freak-dom. In fact, they're mutants. (No letters or emails, please.)

But what would Jesus call them? Or, more to the point, how would he react to today's fundamentalists who consider their doctrines in-Falwell-ible?

To find out, let's summon up an expression of the utmost sorrow from the Bible. If you're Irish -- or a fan of Hellraiser -- you know it well: "Jesus wept."

But first, let's change the tense from past to present. Then, when Falwell, engorged with entitlement as ever, shows up at the pearly gates, what happens?

"Jesus freaks."


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