May 15, 2007


Television Evangelist Falwell Dies at 73 (SUE LINDSEY, 5/15/07, The Associated Press)

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73. [...]

Falwell credited his Moral Majority with getting millions of conservative voters registered, electing Ronald Reagan and giving Republicans Senate control in 1980.

"I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved," Falwell said when he stepped down as Moral Majority president in 1987.

The fundamentalist church that Falwell started in an abandoned bottling plant in 1956 grew into a religious empire that included the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, the "Old Time Gospel Hour" carried on television stations around the country and 7,700-student Liberty University, which began as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. He built Christian elementary schools, homes for unwed mothers and a home for alcoholics.

Liberty University's commencement is scheduled for Saturday, with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the featured speaker.

Sen. John McCain, the school commencement speaker last year, said Tuesday that his prayers were with Falwell's family.

"Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country," McCain said.

Last year, Falwell marked the 50th anniversary of his church and spoke out on stem cell research, saying he sympathized with people with medical problems, but that any medical research must pass a three-part test: "Is it ethically correct? Is it biblically correct? Is it morally correct?"

Falwell had once opposed mixing preaching with politics, but he changed his view and in 1979, founded the Moral Majority. The political lobbying organization grew to 6.5 million members and raised $69 million as it supported conservative politicians and campaigned against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and bans on school prayer.

Falwell became the face of the religious right, appearing on national magazine covers and on television talk shows. In 1983, U.S. News & World Report named him one of 25 most influential people in America.

When he founded the Moral Majority the pundits laughed at him. Then he helped elect Ronald Reagan and the joke was on them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2007 2:22 PM

If you have time in your schedule check out the real world sometime.

"against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and bans on school prayer"

He helped elect Republicans, but other than that he was a complete crashing, unmitigated failure. A comparison of 1970's America with 2007 shows that Larry Flynt beat him like a drum.

Of course he did try and I suppose it is more courageous to try and make a complete fool of yourself than to not try at all.

Posted by: h-man at May 16, 2007 2:36 AM

Tinky Winky's probably relieved.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at May 16, 2007 7:07 AM


Falwell was never the showman that Pat Robertson is - and I doubt that the 1970s compare favorably with 2007. Remember, in 1975 there weren't many conservative voices speaking out in the "culture war". Jerry Falwell was a boor sometimes, but he was a foot soldier who would speak at Harvard (they booed him, forcing even Teddy to admit it was a bad day for Harvard). He founded a serious college, and walked away from the limelight (instead of following it, as so many have done).

Larry Flynt didn't win anything except the money of foolish men.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 16, 2007 7:31 AM

Jim Hamlen
I grant everything you say. I stated he was courageous. OJ says he "died in the world he made". I'm merely saying Larry Flynt won this battle in the culture war and unfortunately Falwell died in Flynt's world.

Posted by: h-man at May 16, 2007 7:49 AM

Watch a movie from the 70s--Jerry won.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2007 11:26 AM

Star Wars was evil?

Posted by: Really at May 16, 2007 11:35 AM

"against (1)abortion, (2)homosexuality, (3)pornography and (4)bans on school prayer"

1) abortion going strong.
2) We are now seriously discussing "Gay Marriage"
3) Mainstreaming of pornography. Crotch shots of Brittany
4) Is there now prayer in public schools?

Movies and TV sitcoms?** You're kidding right. "Three's Company" was considered risque in the 70's. Recently we suffer from "Will and Grace". Who was the hero in the movie "The People vs Larry Flynt"

**Granted movies may have been bad, but Falwell wasn't in opposition to leisure suits and Disco, although he should have been.

Larry won.

Posted by: h-man at May 16, 2007 12:00 PM

Yes, Star Wars is evil.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2007 12:15 PM

Abortion is losing, gay marriage lost, prayer and religion are everywhere in public schools.

Pornography did go mainstream.

No one went to see the movie, Jerry won.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2007 12:17 PM

The third-way must mean "Declare victory when you have your head handed to you on a silver platter".

Posted by: h-man at May 16, 2007 1:21 PM


Correct me if I'm wrong (I was in Kindergarten back then), but weren't the '70s a time in which Porn shops and peepshows openly advertised in local newspapers? I don't see any porn ads in my local Rocky Mountain News, so I have to conclude Jerry won that particular battle.

Posted by: Brad S at May 16, 2007 3:37 PM


I understand your points - in fact, with pornography just a click away, it is surely a bigger problem than in the 1970s, and not just for inner-city perverts.

But abortion is a losing position for the hard left, and the numbers will continue to decline. One area where abortion is increasing, though, is with Down's Syndrome children. Just last week, there was a letter on this point at Hugh Hewitt's site, which provoked a rather shrill response. My wife lost several friends about 3 years ago when someone in their circle decided to abort her baby after a test.

Prayer in public schools was lost in 1962, not in the 1970s. But academia is almost universally hostile to religion, which is one reason why Falwell founded Liberty.

Look at this way - who has a more solid legacy? Falwell or Dawkins (or O'Hair or Singer or even somebody like John Paul Stevens)?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 16, 2007 5:58 PM

It would seem like losing to a fanatic, but:

Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and
die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions,
that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded
of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of
approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes
freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2007 7:08 PM