I knew he was terribly homophobic, but I didn't realize he had been a segregationist in the 60s (he referred to the Civil Rights movement as the "Civil Wrongs" movement) as well as a supporter of apartheid in the 80s.
Although many of my religious readers are angered by the analogy between gay rights and black rights, Falwell's life provides another datapoint that the two are more similar than gay rights opponents might like to admit. Here's Falwell on Brown v. Board of Education:
If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made…. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”
Falwell was the founder of the so-called "Moral Majority" movement, which was perhaps the beginning of the Christian Right voting bloc and prominently included Pat Robertson whose law school boasts 150 alumni in the current Bush administration.
Falwell was not an irrelevant religious nut -- he had friends in high places. Bush 41 spoke at the commencement ceremony of Falwell's Liberty University in 1990 while he was president, referring to Falwell as "a loyal friend." Falwell was a huge supporter of Bush 43, who called him personally when Falwell was hospitalized in 2005. Karl Rove delivered the commencement address in 2004. John McCain famously delivered a commencement speech at Liberty last year after having publicly criticized Falwell in the past.
Falwell represented much of what's wrong with American politics, American religion, and, most notably, the intersection between them. I take no joy in a man's death, but let us not forget that the backwards ideology he spent his life representing continues to thrive in 2008.