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Jerry Falwell

Jerry FalwellAKA Jerry Lamon Falwell

Born: 11-Aug-1933
Birthplace: Lynchburg, VA
Died: 15-May-2007
Location of death: Lynchburg, VA [1]
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Liberty University Campus, Lynchburg, VA

Gender: Male
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Television evangelist

Jerry Falwell was ordained a Baptist minister in 1956. He immediately started his own church, the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was pastor until his death. He began telecasting his weekly sermons in 1968. In 1971, he founded Lynchburg Baptist College, later called Liberty University.

Born and raised in America's segregated South, Falwell preached that racial segregation was the Lord's will, but dropped such overt racism from his perspective when it became unpopular to say such things aloud. Still, from his pulpit Falwell supported South African apartheid, and opposed Nelson Mandela's release from prison. In one of his earliest appearances in the national media, Falwell made headlines by criticizing Rev Martin Luther King for his political activism. "Preachers are not called to be politicians", said the young Falwell, "but to be soul winners".

In 1979, Falwell was a founder of the Moral Majority, a political action umbrella group that sought to enact Falwell's version of Bible-based values as American law. The group, like Falwell, was opposed to women's rights, legalized abortion, homosexuals, and pornography (which Falwell defined very broadly), and in favor of thinly-veiled censorship of artwork or organizations that expressed different opinions. The Moral Majority disbanded in 1989.

Falwell sued Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine in 1984 for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, for a satirical page in the magazine wherein a caricature of Falwell remembered his first sexual encounter -- with his mother, in an outhouse. Three courts heard the case, and while the lawsuit worked its way toward the U.S. Supreme Court, Flynt stubbornly had Hustler re-publish the same article. America's highest court ruled in 1988 that Falwell was a public figure and thus fair game for satire. In the early 2000s Falwell twice sued an internet site for mocking him, alleging trademark violations and libel, but both complaints were thrown out of court.

Falwell once announced that the long-awaited "antichrist" would be a Jewish man. He criticized the children's TV show Teletubbies because he believed Tinky Winky be homosexual. In 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a gay figure, Falwell called her "Ellen Degenerate" and demanded that sponsors yank their advertising from her eponymous sitcom. He claimed that Lilith Fair, the female rock-and-roll collective tour, was named after a demon.

"AIDS", he said, "is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." Falwell also opposed the concept of public schools: "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"

In 1987, when fellow televangelist Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud and imprisoned, Falwell maneuvered behind the scenes to take control of Bakker's Praise The Lord (PTL) TV ministry. While Bakker was in prison, Falwell led PTL into bankruptcy.

Two days after September 11, Falwell fingered those he felt were responsible. "I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen". Falwell later half-apologized, "if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else" that they were to blame. But his original words were very unambiguous.

When George W. Bush took office as President in 2001 and established a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Falwell said it was a great idea, so long as Muslim groups were disqualified from receiving the money because, according to Falwell, their faith teaches hate. "Islam should be out the door before they knock", he said. The following year, Falwell noted that "Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war". He later half-apologized, saying, "I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim."

In 2004, Falwell's Liberty University added a law school, where Falwell said he hoped to produce lawyers who will be "as far to the right as Harvard is to left." The school's mission is to commingle the Bible with the U.S. Constitution, and "re-establish the connection" between church and state. Falwell began his eternal reward on 15 May 2007.


[1] Lynchburg General Hospital, Lynchburg, VA.

Father: Carey H. Falwell (agnostic, d. cirrhosis)
Mother: Helen V. Beasley
Sister: Virginia (d.)
Sister: Rosha (d. 1931 appendicitis)
Brother: Lewis (d.)
Brother: Gene (fraternal twin, b. 11-Aug-1933)
Wife: Macel Pate (m. 12-Apr-1958, two sons, one daughter)
Son: Jerry Jr. (attorney)
Son: Jonathan
Daughter: Jeannie (surgeon)

    High School: Brookville High School, Lynchburg, VA (1950)
    University:
Lynchburg College (transferred to Baptist Bible College)
    Theological: Baptist Bible College, Springfield, MO (1956)

    Arlington Group
    Christians United for Israel
    Citizens for Honest Government
    Council for National Policy
    Friends of George Allen
    Moral Majority Co-Founder
    National Rifle Association Life Member, Oct-2000
    National Religious Broadcasters Board Member
    PTL Club
    Born-Again Christian 20-Jan-1952
    Evolution Skeptics
    Risk Factors: Obesity, Homophobia

    FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
    The God Who Wasn't There (21-May-2005) · Himself
    The Hunting of the President (23-Jan-2004) · Himself
    The Last Party (27-Aug-1993) · Himself

Rotten Library Page:
Jerry Falwell

Author of books:
Listen, America! (1980, religion)
The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity (1981, religion)
Wisdom for Living (1984, religion)
Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography (1987, memoir)
Falwell: An Autobiography (1997, memoir)


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