Controversial comments by leading
fundamentalist Jerry Falwell: 1979 - 2006
About Jerry Falwell:
Jerry Falwell was one of the leading
Fundamentalist Christian leaders in America.
He and his twin brother Gene were
born in Lynchburg, VA on 1933-AUG-11. He was "saved" on 1952-JAN-20 at Park
Avenue Baptist Church in Lynchburg at the age of 18. He was considering
becoming a professional engineer or a journalist. However, by March of that year,
he determined that God was calling him into some type of full-time ministry. He
took classes for two years at Lynchburg College and then transferred to Baptist
Bible College in Springfield, MO. He graduated in 1956 and became became a pastor at
Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg. He married his wife Macel two years later.
In 1979, he founded a political lobbying group, the Moral Majority. It
grew top over six million in membership, raised tens of millions of dollars and
campaigned against abortion access, equal
rights for homosexuals, pornography and bans on
compulsory school prayer. In 1983, U.S. News &
World Report named him one of 25 most influential people in America.
The Christian Post notes that his religious empire:
"... includes 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 in Lynchburg, [VA] which began as Lynchburg
Baptist College in 1971. He built Christian elementary schools, homes for
unwed mothers and a home for alcoholics. ... [After] ... the 2004
presidential election, ... he formed the Faith and Values Coalition as the
'21st Century resurrection of the Moral Majority,' to seek anti-abortion
judges, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and more
conservative elected officials." 12
He was found unconscious in his office around 10:45 AM on 2007-MAY-15. CPR
efforts were unsuccessful. He died at the age of 73.
Some events, and one non-event, in his life were:
||1971: He founded Lynchburg Baptist College. It became Liberty Baptist
College, and finally Liberty University.
||1979: He founded the Moral Majority. It played a major role in the
election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. It focused opposition of
Americans to abortion access, equal rights to gays and lesbians, pornography,
the Equal Rights Amendment and the exclusion of state-directed prayer in public
schools. He dissolved the group in 1989 after having
reached his initial objectives.
||1986-7: The IRS determined that his Old Time Gospel Hour
program had violated federal tax law. They retroactively revoked the program's
tax-exempt status. He paid $50,000 in back taxes. 6
||1983: He organized a "I love America Committee" PAC. It is
reported as having raised $485,000 in its first year, but spent $413,000 to do
||1988: He took over the PTL Ministry after Jim Bakker was removed in disgrace.
It quickly entered bankruptcy.
||1996: He hosted a "Washington for Jesus" rally in Washington
DC. He held a mock trial of the U.S. for persecuting the Church, and its
homosexual rights, abortion
access, racism, occultism, addictions, and HIV/AIDS
infection. America was found guilty.
||2004: He founded the Faith and Values Coalition to "maintain an
evangelical revolution of voters." He said:
"Yes, it is time to finish the job 1 started more than 25 years ago.
It's time to rewrite the vision to return America to moral sanity. Our
goal is to utilize the momentum of the sweeping conservative mandate of
the November 2, 2004 elections to maintain a faith and values
'revolution' of voters who will continue to go to the polls to 'vote
Christian' and call America back to God. I need your help to make this
||2005: Time Magazine's list of "The
25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America," did not include Jerry
Some controversial statements:
||Undated: This quote appears in multiple locations on the Internet,
but we cannot locate a time or location:
"I have a Divine Mandate to go into the halls of Congress and fight for
laws that will save America."
||1989: He allegedly commented about feminists:
"I listen to feminists and all these radical gals... These women just
need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a
man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew
it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate
men; that's their problem." 10
||1979: Sword of the Lord Publishing" produced a book allegedly
containing Falwell's sermons. They claim that one stated:
"I hope to 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!" 8
He is reported as denying having had anything to do with the book.
||1997-JUL: He said:
"I do not believe the Republicans or the Democrats have the solution to America's moral and spiritual dilemma.
Only a pervasive and national spiritual awakening can prevent us entering the post-Christian era as we go simultaneously into the 21st
century. I believe America is in imminent peril. We are rotting from within."
||1980-AUG: After President Bailey Smith, president of the Southern
Baptist Convention told a Dallas meeting that "God Almighty does not hear
the prayer of a Jew," Falwell is reported as giving a similar statement:
"I do not believe that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed
Gentile or Jew"
After a meeting with a rabbi from the American Jewish Committee he
seems to have changed his mind. He allegedly told an interviewer on NBC's "Meet
the Press" that:
"God hears the prayers of all persons... God hears everything." 8
||1984: Jerry Sloan claimed that during a
televised debate in Sacramento, CA, Falwell had called the gay-positive
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."
He denied saying this and offered to pay $5,000
if Sloan could produce a tape of the statement. According to an article in
Church and State magazine,
"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 court fees."
||1999-JAN: He addressed a conference of pastors in Kingsport, TN,
stating that the Antichrist prophesized in the Bible is alive today:
"Who will the Antichrist be? I don't know. Nobody else knows. Is he
alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the
Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of
course, he'll be Jewish. Of course, he'll pretend to be Christ. And if
in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll [the Antichrist] be an adult
at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere today."
This generated heavy criticism from Jewish groups.
8 He later said that he was
sorry for his comment:
"I apologize to my Jewish friends here and around the world, and I
apologize to the Christians here for having created any kind of rift. I
apologize not for what I believe, but for my lack of tact and judgment
in making a statement that served no purpose whatsoever."
1999-FEB: An article in his National Liberty Journal claimed that Tinky Winky, one of the teletubbies
on the children's show by the same name, was promoting the gay lifestyle.
"Now, further evidence that the creators of the series intend for
Tinky Winky to be a gay role model have surfaced. He is purple -- the
gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the
This idea appears to have been picked up from a gay newspaper, not
realizing that his source was a parody.
||2001-SEP-09: He said:
"Since the Antichrist will not be revealed before Jesus comes, I believe
conditions are falling in place, i.e., one-world government, so he can
rule the world after Jesus comes. But we're moving toward a one-world
government through the United Nations, through the world court and a
growing world opinion. The problem is that the one-world opinion is
taking the side of the Palestinians, not the side of Israel."
||2001-SEP-13: Two days after 9-11, in an exchange with Pat Robertson
on the 700 Club program, he is reported as having commented on the attacks on the World Trade Center
"I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully
these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked
on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the
Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with
biological warfare available to these monsters -- the Husseins, the Bin Ladens,
the Arafats -- what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule
if, in fact -- if, in fact -- God continues to lift the curtain and allow the
enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.....And 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
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."
A few days later, he is reported as clarifying his comments, saying:
"I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I
left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."
||2002-OCT-06: While being interviewed on CBS's 60 Minutes,
he contrasted Muhammad with the leaders of Christianity and Judaism.
"Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and I think Muhammad
set an opposite example."
This triggered a general strike in Bombay, India. That developed into a
Hindu-Muslim riot in which five people were killed and about 50 injured.
Iranian cleric Mohsen Mostahed Shabestari is reported as having called for
He later allegedly clarified his statement on OCT-12:
"I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an
interview for...CBS's 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many
Muslims. I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding
Muslim....Unfortunately, I answered one controversial and loaded
question at the conclusion of an hour long CBS interview which I should
not have answered. That was a mistake, and I apologize." 5
||2004: Falwell delivered a speech to the Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, in which he discussed the opening of
his fundamentalist Christian law school. He is reported as telling the Dallas Morning News:
"We are unabashedly proactive. We are on a mission to return America
to her religious heritage. We're hoping we are training the lawyers who
can turn the legal profession back to the right."
He allegedly told the Associated Press:
"We want to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are
skilled in the legal profession. We'll be as far to the right as Harvard
is to the left." 4
||2005-DEC-03: Falwell E-mailed 500,000
followers, stating that he was backing Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe
Christmas Campaign." The Associated Press quoted him as saying:
"I asked about 100,000 pastors nationwide to join me in dealing with
the grinches who are trying to steal Christmas."
The "grinches" were groups like the American Civil Liberties Union
and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. These and
other groups were trying to convince people to use generic terms like "Happy
Holidays," thus recognizing the many holy days
in December observed by various religions.
||2006-SEP-24: The New York Times
Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, looked ahead to 2008
and the possibility that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton might be the
Democratic presidential candidate. Ms. Clintonís nomination, Mr. Falwell
said to laughs, would arouse even more Evangelical opposition than
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Jerry Falwell, "Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet."
National Liberty Journal 1999
"Jerry Falwell," at:
"TV Preacher Falwell's 'Vote Christian' Campaign Sparks Controversy,"
Church and State, 2005-SEP, at:
"Jerry Falwell opens law school to train 'radical' attorneys," Church
& State, 2004-OCT, at:
"Falwell recants slur against Muhammad," Christian Century,
"At The Falwell Follies: Jerry Finally 'Fesses Up On Fox News
Channel'," Church and State, 2004-SEP, at:
"Falwell joins activists who fight 'grinches'," Deseret News,
Salt Lake City, UT, 2005-DEC-03, at:
"The Falwell follies," Church and State, 2000-MAY, at:
"Falwell sorry for saying the Antichrist is a Jew," Christian
"Falwell called NOW 'the National Order of Witches'," Media
Matters for America, 2004-NOV-23, at:
David Kirkpatrick, "Christian Conservatives Look to Re-energize Base,"
New York Times, 2006-SEP-25, at:
Sue Lindsey, "Televangelist Jerry Falwell Dies at 73," The Christian
Post, 2007-MAY-15, at:
Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2006-APR-12
Latest update: 2006-SEP-25
Author: B.A. Robinson