The following article is abstracted from articles
published on-line by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Read all
of it for an indication of what the Christian Right has in store for your future.
The Falwell Follies
(If the following allegations are true, Jerry Falwell
owes an apology to Jesus Christ, an apology to God, an apology to the U.S. Government and
an apology to his supporters.)
The Rev. Jerry Falwell has announced a new gambit to
increase his political profile as
campaign 2000 heats up. Since Falwell may be more prominent in the news in the coming
months, Church & State has pulled together this survey of the TV preachers
May 1979: Falwell, a televangelist and Baptist pastor in Lynchburg, Va., is recruited by
far-right activists Howard Phillips, Ed McAteer and Paul Weyrich to form the Moral
Majority, a vehicle for bringing fundamentalist Protestants into the Republican Party with
the aim of unseating President Jimmy Carter. The move was an about-face for Falwell, who
advised his congregation in 1965, Preachers are not
called to be politicians but soul winners.
MAJOR LIE # 1. March 1980:
Falwell tells an Anchorage rally about a conversation with President Carter at the White
House. Commenting on a January breakfast meeting, Falwell claimed to have asked Carter why
he had practicing homosexuals on the senior staff at the White House.
According to Falwell, Carter replied, Well, I am president of all the American
people, and I believe I should represent everyone. When others who attended the
White House event insisted that the exchange never happened, Falwell responded that his
account was not intended to be a verbatim report, but rather an honest
portrayal of Carters position.
August 1980: After Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith tells a Dallas
Religious Right gathering that God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,
Falwell gives a similar view. I do not believe, he told reporters, that
God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew. After a meeting with an
American Jewish Committee rabbi, he changed course, telling an interviewer on NBCs
Meet the Press that God hears the
prayers of all persons
.God hears everything.
1980-81: After the election of Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority begins advocating for
constitutional amendments banning abortion and restoring school-sponsored prayer. The
group also demands tax aid to religious education.
September 1982: Falwell announces a drive to register 1 million new voters before the
MAJOR LIE # 2 July 1984:
Falwell is forced to pay gay activist Jerry Sloan $5,000 after losing a court battle.
During a TV debate in Sacramento, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented
Metropolitan Community Churches brute beasts and a vile and Satanic
system that will one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a
celebration in heaven. When Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if
he could produce it. Sloan did so, Falwell refused to pay and Sloan successfully sued.
Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the Jewish judge in the case was
prejudiced. He lost again and was forced to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and
November 1984: Reports from the Federal Election Commission indicate that Falwells
Love America Committee, a political action committee formed in 1983, was a flop. The
PAC raised $485,000 in its first yearbut spent $413,000 to do so.
MAJOR LIE # 3 May 1985: Falwell
apologizes to a Jewish group for seeking a Christian America. From now on, he
says, he will use the term Judeo-Christian.
January 1987: Falwell holds a Washington news conference to announce that he is changing
the name of the Moral Majority to the Liberty Foundation. The new name never catches on
and is soon abandoned.
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR # 1
October 1987: The Federal Election Commission fines Falwell $6,000 for transferring $6.7
million in funds intended for his ministry to political committees.
MAJOR LIE # 4 November
1987: Falwell tells reporters he is stepping down as head of the Moral Majority
and retiring from politics. From now on, my real platform is the
pulpit, not politics, he says at a news conference.
February 1988: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a $200,000 jury award to Falwell
for emotional distress he suffered because of a Hustler magazine parody. Chief
William H. Rehnquist, usually a Falwell favorite, wrote the unanimous opinion in Hustler
Falwell, ruling that the First Amendment protects free speech.
June 1989: Falwell announces that the Moral Majority will shut down its offices and
January 1991: Siding with Americans United, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously
rejects Falwells quest for $60 million in state bonds for his Liberty University.
litigation, Falwell tried to camouflage the schools rigidly fundamentalist
character, telling the
court that the school would no longer discriminate in hiring or force students to attend
mandatory chapel (renamed convocation). All the while, Falwell assured his congregation
Liberty had not changed, insisting chapel will be mandatory until Jesus comes.
January 1993: In the wake of Bill Clintons election to the presidency, Falwell mails
fund-raising letters nationwide asking people to vote on whether he should reactivate the
Moral Majority. He later refuses to say how much money the effort raised and tells
reporters he has no intention of reactivating the organization.
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR # 2 February
1993: The Internal Revenue Service determines that funds from Falwells Old Time
Gospel Hour program were illegally funneled to a political action committee. The IRS
forced Falwell to pay $50,000 and retroactively revoked the Old Time Gospel Hours
tax-exempt status for 1986-87.
March 1993: Despite his promise to Jewish groups to stop referring to America as a
Christian nation, Falwell gives a sermon saying, We must never allow our
children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully
September 1993: Falwell announces he will not reactivate the Moral Majority but will
instead do political work through a group called the Liberty Alliance.
March 1994: Falwell announces the formation of a new group, Mission America, which he
claims will mobilize like-minded clergy across the country. Falwell describes the group as
personal ministry and says it will have no budget or staff. Nothing more is
heard from it.
May 1994: Jerry Falwells Liberty Flame newspaper runs an article calling TV preacher
John Hagee a heretic for saying Jews can be saved without accepting Jesus Christ. Falwell
urges every pastor to take this information to the podium next Sunday.
September 1994: Falwell endorses former Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for a U.S. Senate
seat in Virginia. Falwell glosses over Norths legal problems, saying they happened
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR # 3 1994-1995:
Falwell is criticized for using his Old Time Gospel Hour to hawk a scurrilous
video called The Clinton Chronicles that makes a number of unsubstantiated
charges against President Bill Clintonamong them that he is a drug addict and that
he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas. Despite claims he had no ties to
the project, evidence surfaced that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000 paid
to a group called Citizens for Honest Government (CHG). CHGs Pat Matrisciana later
admitted that Falwell and he staged an infomercial interview promoting the video in which
a silhouetted reporter said his life was in danger for investigating Clinton. (Matrisciana
himself posed as the reporter.) That was Jerrys idea to do that,
Matrisciana recalled. He thought that would be dramatic.
April 1996: Falwell hosts a Washington for Jesus rally in the nations
capital where he holds a mock trial of America for engaging in seven deadly sins:
persecution of the church,
homosexuality, abortion, racism, occultism, addictions and HIV/AIDS (acronym:
PHAROAH). He declares the nation guilty of violating Gods law.
July 1996: Falwell announces a series of God Save America rallies in
to stop the United States from entering a post-Christian era.
February 1997: Falwell sponsors a pastors briefing in Washington, during which he
threatens to form a new political party if Republicans waver on abortion.
June 1997: Falwell announces a plan to urge fundamentalist churches to intervene in
politics. He vows to send sample candidate endorsement sermons that pastors can read in
their churches and says he has already done this in the Virginia attorney generals
race. Falwell drops the plan after being reported to the IRS by Americans United.
August 1997: Falwell pleads for funds for a new group, the National Committee for the
Restoration of the Judeo-Christian Ethic. In a fund-raising letter, he promises to
get back in
the ring and be a spiritual George Foreman. He pledges to register 4
million new voters and mobilize 50,000 pastors. After publishing a couple of fund-raising
letters, the group is never heard from again.
November 1997: Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial
Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty Universitys financial woes. The
donation, and several Falwell appearances at Moon conferences, raised eyebrows because
Moon claims to be the messiah sent to complete the failed mission of Jesus Christ, a
sharply at odds with Falwells fundamentalist Christian theology. (In 1978, before
money started flowing, Falwell told Esquire magazine, Reverend Sun Myung Moon is
the plague: he exploits boys and girls, and he should be exported.)
February 1998: Falwell accepts a $70-million donation from insurance magnate Art
Williams, for his debt-ridden Liberty University. Falwell says the contribution will free
focus on politics again.
MAJOR LIE # 5 April 1998:
Confronted on national television with a controversial quote from America Can Be Saved!, a
published collection of his sermons, Falwell denies having written the book or had
anything to do with it. In the 1979 work, Falwell wrote, I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our
country, we wont 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! Despite Falwells denial, Sword of the Lord Publishing, which
produced the book, confirms that Falwell wrote it.
October 1998: In a fund-raising letter, Falwell announces plans to expand his ministry and
immediately rededicate myself to use my God-given skills as a national spokesman for
morality and return to the moral/political arena....[W]ith Gods anointing and your
support, you will soon think I am omnipresent.
MAJOR LIE # 6 January
1999: Falwell tells a pastors conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist
prophesied in the Bible is alive today and of course hell be Jewish.
MAJOR LIE # 7 February
1999: Falwell becomes the object of nationwide ridicule after his National Liberty
Journal newspaper issues a parents alert warning that Tinky Winky, a character
on the popular PBS childrens show Teletubbies, might be gay. (Americans
United was responsible for releasing the information to the national press.)
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