Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Courting Falwell

It just wasn’t evangelist Jerry Falwell’s day. On Monday he lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal. In a nutshell, this man of the cloth is in a lather because:

A. A gay man from New York City draws people to his web site by using a common misspelling of the reverend’s name as the site’s domain name.
B. A synagogue near Falwell’s Virginia-based Christian ministry has erected a huge banner on its grounds visible to all that reads, “The Religious Right Is Wrong.”
C. Members of a lesbian volleyball team refuse to stop posting leaflets saying Falwell is intolerant and not very Christianly on his ministry’s property.
D. The federal government is threatening to revoke Falwell’s ministry’s tax-exempt status if the evangelist holds a series of political conferences denouncing Democrats as “minions of the devil.”


A: Christopher Lamparello’s site — — contends that Falwell is wrong in preaching that gay people are sinners who could become heterosexual if they wished. At the top of the site a disclaimer reads: “This Web site is NOT affiliated with Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell or his ministry” and there is a link to the Falwell Ministries’ site. In addition, Lamparello’s web site does not have photos and does not have items for sale.

Falwell’s camp maintains that Lamparello’s domain name is nearly identical to the trademark bearing Falwell’s name and could confuse web surfers.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Lamparello is free to operate his “gripe site” about Falwell’s views on gays and that he “clearly created his Web site intending only to provide a forum to criticize ideas, not to steal customers.” The Supreme Court has now refused to take Falwell’s appeal of that ruling.


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