Pious Pagans

In 'Gladiator,' the Rev. Jerry Falwell finds many comparisons to modern-day politics.

Jerry Falwell, a Baptist minister, is chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and founder of the now defunct Moral Majority. He is a nationally known, often controversial, voice on matters of faith and politics. Pastor Falwell took time this week to discuss "Gladiator" with Jonathan V. Last.

"Gladiator" is the story of Maximus (Russell Crowe), a general in the Roman army at the dawn of the Christian era. When the dying emperor asks Maximus to succeed him, he earns the enmity of the emperor's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who disregards his father's wishes, grabs the throne, and has Maximus' family killed. Maximus himself escapes, however, and vowing revenge on Commodus, rises as an anonymous gladiator to face his rival.

In "Gladiator," we have this emperor whose unbridled ambition and flexible morality places his country in danger. Maximus, on the other hand, is a religious man, persecuted for trying to bring down the emperor. Does that make him Ken Starr?

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Well, I don't think it makes him Ken Starr. I consider Ken Starr a great American who did his work and did it well. At the same time, I believe Maximus

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