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Home/Rod Dreher/The Falwells: Victims Of Fundamentalism?

The Falwells: Victims Of Fundamentalism?

The Cuckold, The Sex Minx, and the Pool Boy (Reuters graphic)

Jerry Falwell Jr. and his minxy wife Becki spoke to Vanity Fair about allegations that the Evangelical empire-builders are closet pervs who enjoyed threesomes with the pool boy. It’s actually kind of sad, the whole thing — a real Preacher’s Kid debacle. Excerpts:

A short while later, the Falwells sat in the kitchen and began to talk about the tumultuous events of the past two years. The wide-ranging conversation was one of many we had over the past eight months. What emerged was an intimate look inside a very public marriage as well as a Shakespearean drama about fathers and sons and the burden of legacy. For the first time, Falwell opened up about his true spiritual beliefs and how they diverge from those of his infamous father, who cofounded the Moral Majority and waged a scorched-earth cultural war for four decades. When I told Falwell that many people thought he, consciously or not, wanted to destroy himself, he considered it for a moment.

“Subconsciously, yeah, I believe that’s true,” he said, nodding. “It’s almost like I didn’t have a choice.” He went on: “Because of my last name, people think I’m a religious person. But I’m not. My goal was to make them realize I was not my dad.”

Jerry Jr. portrays his late mother, Macel, as a hard-shell Baptist who made him and his late father miserable. For example:

Looking back, Jerry said that his father’s peripatetic lifestyle provided a reprieve from an oppressive marriage. “My dad wanted to travel the world as an escape,” Jerry said. He recalled that his mother’s provincial worldview grated on his father. “She wanted to live a small-town preacher’s life. She didn’t let him mess around,” Jerry said. Divorce was out of the question. According to Jerry, his dad found ways to take the edge off at home, even though Macel never allowed alcohol in the house. “Sometimes he would drink a whole bottle of Nyquil. He called it Baptist wine,” he remembered. Jerry grew up to learn that he too could have a private life that didn’t align with his public persona.

Baptist wine? Holy cow.

Jerry Jr. talks about his rebellious youth, and how he became a Christian:

Jerry was at a spiritual crossroads. He didn’t want to be a fundamentalist, but he wasn’t an atheist either. Jerry said he majored in religious studies at Liberty so he could figure out what he really believed. It was during a course on apologetics—the study of defending Christianity to nonbelievers—that Jerry said he was persuaded it was “rational” to believe Jesus was literally the son of God and the miracles of the Bible happened. “I became a true Christian in college,” Jerry told me. Newly confident in his faith, Jerry decided believing in Christ didn’t mean he had to follow the evangelical rules. After all, Jesus was a rule breaker too. “Organized religion says you have to earn your way to heaven. What Jesus said was, ‘You just have to believe,’ ” he said.

Well, that’s mighty convenient.

The Falwells go on to tell a story about how Jerry Jr. was brought in to save Liberty U. from bankruptcy, and having done so, was named by his father as his heir apparent. Jerry Jr. tells Vanity Fair that he’s not a very religious person. OK, fair enough — but then he should not have accepted the presidency of a fundamentalist university. That is stone-cold hypocrisy. They sure did like the money and the prestige that came with the gig, the Falwells did.

On the perv question, Becki admits to having carried on an affair with Pool Boy, but they both adamantly deny Pool Boy’s claims that Jerry Jr. like to watch him roger the First Lady of Liberty U. That seems to contradict this audio recording Pool Boy released of a phone conversation he had with the Falwells, in which Becki complains that Pool Boy (Giancarlo Granda) is hurting her feelings by telling her about all the women he’s hooked up with, and Jerry Jr. mock-chastises him. I guess it will all come out in court. It takes real nerve to have been exposed as complete sexual hypocrites, and to blame fundamentalist Christianity in general and Mama Falwell in particular for all their travails.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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