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Falwell, the man who accused the Tinky Winky of being gay and blamed 9/11 on pagans, gays, and the ACLU (among others) has died.

Although I feel terribly for his family, for whom this has to be incredibly sudden, I can't help but wonder where his evangelical followers will go from here. Will Dobson take further control (which could be either good or bad, as he has begun to voice his disappointment in the way that President Bush has promised the evangelicals all sorts of things that he refuses to carry through on)? Or will someone new rise up? -- I don't see many young charismatic rising stars in the evangelical movement right now, so that, if nothing else, seems unlikely.

Does Falwell's death toll the beginning of the end of the evangelical movement? Or, perhaps, does it toll only the further mainstreaming of that movement, in which all our political leaders are evangelical leaders, and all our religious leaders take determined stands on politics, and in which we no longer need Falwells, Robertsons, and Dobsons to support the evangelical cause?

Democrats need to get religion now more than ever. We have our opportunity. Let's make sure the hole gets filled with an evangelical leader who preaches our values: ending poverty, ensuring the equality of all people, the power of peace, and caring for the environment (someone who can support evangelical Richard Cizik in the face of the steadfast opposition of Dobson and other evangelical leaders). The Bible can be used however one wants it to be -- let's play the game of politics and seize the opportunity to use it to our advantage.