The service was very moving and very evangelical—including a sermon and “alter call.” Franklin Graham gave a wonderful eulogy and warmly embraced the Falwell family. Although Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham had their disagreements, look for the next generation to work closer together.
The most impressive part of the funeral service was the way all the Falwell children honored their dad. It’s so hard to find a charismatic leader of Falwell’s standing today who has good relationships with their kids. The press is already eating Rudy Giuliani alive for his dysfunctional family. And, of course, even Ronald Reagan had to deal with black sheep in his immediate family. Seeing Jerry’s children honor their dad made me respect Jerry all the more.
While I was waiting in line, I thought about Hustler’s founder Larry Flynt. Jerry and Larry were mortal enemies but later developed a cordial relationship after Jerry lost his Supreme Court case against Larry (Jerry had a remarkable talent of being a friend to anybody). I mentioned to a friend of mine at the funeral that “Larry should take note. Anybody can win a Supreme Court case. But Larry Flynt will not have a funeral like Jerry Falwell’s!”