Jerry Falwell rose to fame during the late 1970's/early 1980's with his group, the "Moral Majority"— a rather misleading name as it was neither the majority nor, in my humble opinion, very moral. Sadly, on Falwell's site today (11/10/04) is the announcement of the formation of a new group, being touted as the "Moral Majority of the 21st Century", called The Faith and Values Coalition (TFVC). Mr. Falwell says he wants to continue the "momentum" of the voters who "swept" President Bush back into office. If this weren't so typical of the kind of doublespeak and spin people like Falwell, Robertson and Dobson engage in, I'd laugh. I fail to see how it's a "sweep" when the entire election hung on the outcome of just one state's ballots. A sweep is what the Boston Red Sox did to the St. Louis Cardinals. What Bush did was more like what the Red Sox did against the Yankees: win it by the skin of their teeth. [For those who don't follow sports at all or for those reading this many years later, the above mentioned World Series took place in 2004. Boston won the American League pennant by coming from a three games to none deficit to win the last four games from the New York Yankees. They then went on to the World Series to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals four games to none.]
Falwell, like Robertson, was born in Virginia. After high school, he attended Lynchburg College to study journalism. During his sophomore year, he became a "born-again" Christian and soon transferred to a Bible college in Missouri. This was during the early stages of the civil rights movement and Falwell, throughout the 50s and 60s, was always a staunch and very vocal supporter of segregation. He is also an unabashed supporter of Israel and foe of public education. If allowed to have his way, all public schools would be closed and all students educated at church-run schools. (According to Falwell, there is no separation of church and state in the US Constitution.) Falwell got into the televangelism business in 1968 with "The Old-Time Gospel Hour", which is the longest continuously running show on television today. When Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud and sent to prison, Jerry Falwell took over Bakker's ministry, PTL (Praise the Lord), but the ministry went bankrupt in 1987. According to A&E's "Biography", there are some who suggest that Falwell deliberately ran the ministry into the ground to eliminate his competition.
Falwell has seen his "day in court" from both sides. In 1983, "Hustler" magazine ran a parody of Falwell featuring a fake interview wherein he described his "first time". Offended, Falwell sued "Hustler"/Larry Flynt for invasion of privacy, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. While a jury awarded him damages for the emotional distress, the US Supreme Court overturned that decision five years later, saying that public figures can't sue for damages for emotional distress caused by parodies. The US Supreme Court essentially told him if he can't stand the fire, get out of the kitchen.
In 1987, Falwell was fined $6,000 by the Federal Election Commission for illegally transferring $6.7 million from his tax-exempt ministry to a political action committee. Then in 1993, the IRS fined Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour" $50,000 for illegally funneling funds to a political action committee during the 1986-87 season. One has to wonder where the "morality" is these groups profess to follow when they're breaking laws intended to protect the people of the United States. One also has to wonder how effective a fine of $6000 dollars is going to be when the man had $6.7 million to transfer. That's like fining someone who steals $100,000 a mere $89.55 and not giving him any jail time. And he's still got the other $99,910.45 in his pocket!
In 2000, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) sought an injunction to stop Falwell's "People of Faith 2000" from conducting a voter registration drive that had the goal of registering 10 million new voters. Despite the groups description as "non-partisan", an interview on March 23, 2000 found Falwell stating, "It is my experience that most people of faith in this country vote pro-family, pro-life, and that will mean George W. Bush." Along with other comments that demonstrated Falwell's overtly Republican lean and scorn for Democrats, there was little doubt that the registration drive was aimed at increasing Republican voters, especially once Falwell's choice of assistant for the direct-mail adventure was made public: Richard Viguerie, a very prominent direct-mail fund-raiser for the Republican Party. [For an extensive listing of "Falwell's Follies" through 1999, click here.]
This year, with the presidential election, Falwell once again seems to have violated IRS laws by publicly endorsing George Bush through a tax-exempt organizational publication. AU has once again sought to stop Falwell's activities, but sadly, even if Falwell never says another word about Bush, the damage has been done. His followers have heard his choice and, even though Falwell insists he is speaking as a private citizen, his choice will be seen as "law" by many. [Source Please note: free registration is required at this site in order to view the article, but it is now archived and to read it in its entirety, you need to purchase it.] [Update: In July, 2005, the FEC granted Falwell a "press exemption" because he hosts the "Old Time Gospel Hour." *sigh*]
One has to wonder if Falwell sometimes forgets to think before he speaks/acts or if he just says/does outrageous things to put himself back in the spotlight.
- In 1997, a front group for Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who claims to be the messiah, donated $3.5 million to Falwell's Liberty University. After the donation from Women's Federation for World Peace, which is headed by Moon's wife, Falwell made several appearances with Moon, the man who, in 1978, he equated to the plague and said should be "exported."
- It was Falwell who said in 1999 that Tinky Winky, the purple, purse-carrying Teletubby with the triangular antenna atop his head, was actually a tool of gay activists who were pushing their "homosexual agenda" onto America's unsuspecting toddlers and preschoolers.
- In the days shortly after 9/11/01, Falwell went on Pat Robertson's CBN, and, with Pat at his side, expressing his agreement, went on to blame gays, pagans, "abortionists", feminists and a whole slew of other people for the attacks on the World Trade Center. Although he later "apologized", Falwell's anti-gay diatribes continue to this day.
- In 2003, Falwell declared that Mohammed, the revered prophet of Islam, was a terrorist. Despite an apology after world-wide outrage (including riots, protests and workers' strikes in India) in which he claimed he meant no disrespect to "sincere, law-abiding Muslims", Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khameini issued a fatwa for Falwell's death. [Note: It is often left up to the individual Muslim whether or not to follow the ruling made in a fatwa, which is, in simplest terms, a legal ruling. Most experts agree that the fatwa issued against Falwell is mainly a gauge of the level of insult that was taken by Falwell's insensitive and fanatical comments.] [Source]
- His latest foible was on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on October 24, 2004, when Mr. Falwell said, "And then marriage: the black church and the white church agree that a family is one man married to one woman." Black church? White church? Since when is segregation back in style? Or perhaps Mr. Falwell thought this was once again the 1950s or 60s when he was such a vocal supporter of segregation.
- Later in the same broadcast, in a conversation with Jesse Jackson, Mr. Falwell said that he'd "rather be killing them [Islamic terrorists] over there than fighting them over here." Perhaps Mr. Falwell sees nothing wrong with advocating the killing of others, but I find nothing in the Bible where Jesus advocates harming anyone! The closest he gets is throwing the moneychangers out of the temple.
Falwell has demonstrated his contempt for the American justice system. He's demonstrated his contempt for the beliefs of others. He's demonstrated his contempt for anyone who doesn't follow his narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant way of life. And yet millions the world over continue to look at Falwell as a pillar of society. Why? What is it that appeals to so many? What need in themselves can they fulfill by following Falwell? For answers to those questions, please read my thoughts on the whole issue.
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|Click on any of the links below to read more articles about Jerry Falwell.|
|Synopsis: A site by a gay Christian who was sued by Jerry Falwell because of the name of the site, saying it would confuse most people. The the initial ruling in favor of Falwell ignored the fact that the site has two very clear disclaimers at the very top and bottom of the front page that say that the site is not affiliated with Jerry Falwell and even provides a link to go to Falwell's site. It also ignored the fact that throughout the site, Falwell is criticized and called to task for his views on gays and lesbians. This site contains a lot of good articles regarding attacks Falwell has made on gays and demonstrates his lack agape love for gays. [Update (9/3/05): The blurb that used to be on the front page describing the lawsuit is now gone and the site is still there, so I assume the site's owner won his/her appeal. Score one for the little guy!] |
||Positive Atheism's Big List of Jerry Falwell Quotes|
|Synopsis: A large (yet only the tip of the iceberg) selection of quotes by Jerry Falwell that demonstrate his narrow-minded thinking and fundamentalist bigotry.|
||Falwell-Robertson-Bin Laden Quiz|
|Synopsis: Using the common definition of a terrorist, compare the actions of Jerry Falwell to those of Osama bin Laden.|
||Jerry Falwell and the Religious Wrong|
|Synopsis: Warning: This site contains some crude language...words like "bullsh** and "a**". The site touches briefly on some of the hypocrisies of Falwell as well as his intolerance and bigotry and provides some interesting links. But be forewarned that some of the links are by very angry people and the language can get nasty.|
|Synopsis: The Lilith Fair, an international concert event founded by Sarah McLachlan, took its name from Lilith, the first wife of Adam. (What happened to Eve?) Falwell's newspaper, "National Liberty Journal", wrote an article warning parents of the association of the name "Lilith" with evil, demonic offspring. This is an example of the extremes to which these fundamentalists go to make anyone who is not "one of theirs" appear evil and morally corrupt. [Reprint of an article that first appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, June 20, 1999; Page C01] |
||Jerry Falwell: General Teachings|
|Synopsis: A very detailed and well-referenced article describing the general beliefs of Mr. Falwell as well as some of the activities he has participated in and his accomplishments, both positive and negative.|
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