Obviously, Falwell understands the controversy. After all, in 2000, McCain described the reverend as an 'agent of intolerance.' The love/hate relationship between Jerry and John has been well documented, explored, and mashed on by numerous analysts.
For those who don't want to read the article in its entirety, here's a sample from the reverend's printed sermon:
Many have wondered if my invitation to Senator John McCain...represents my support for his possible run for the presidency in 2008. It does not.
The senator's speech does not symbolize an endorsement of an unannounced candidacy on my part, and it does not mark the quest for an endorsement on his part. Mr. McCain has never sought such an endorsement, and I have not offered one.
To understand the significance of Mr. McCain's commencement address, it helps to understand Liberty University.
Thus begins the Falwellian spin to convince us Liberty University is a beacon of diversity--that Rev. Jerry invites speakers from all 'walks of life' to spread enlightenment.
Has Falwell ever considered inviting the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, non celibate Anglican bishop in the Episcopal Church's history to speak to Liberty's graduating class? Based
on performances from the Jerry Falwell annals of oopsies (outing Teletubby Tinky Winky), we must assume that the bishop has never made the short list. The truth is that Jerry has been forced to kiss and make up so many times, his mouth has taken on a permanent pucker.
Continuing to defend the selection of McCain, Falwell praised the senator's service to country:
'Who better to remind us that sometimes deep sacrifices for our country are necessary to protect the freedoms--like freedom of speech--that we all enjoy?' Seems Jerry has used this freedom so very, very liberally over the years to blame every ill in this country on gays and lesbians, the ACLU, feminists, and, well, anyone who disagrees with his religious fundamentalism.
In the past, John McCain has disagreed with Jerry Falwell. Sadly, for those who valued the 'maverick' in McCain, he and Rev. Falwell now appear to be aligned. In fact, they seem to be joined at the lips. McCain has sold his soul to a man who's in a photo finish with George Bush as America's Next Top Embarrassment To His Species--a clear and dismal sign of the poor choices we have for leadership in this country.
Stay tuned. Probably, Sen. McCain, former nonconformist, is working on his own op-ed--to clarify that his acceptance of Falwell's invitation to speak at Liberty's commencement is simply that, only an acceptance, and not really his endorsement of the religious right.