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Jerry Falwell’s Sunbelt Politics: The Regional Origins of the Moral Majority

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Daniel K. Williams*
University of West Georgia


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Copyright © Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2010

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1. Smidt, Corwin, “Born-Again Politics: The Political Behavior of Evangelical Christians in the South and Non-South,” in Religion and Politics in the South: Mass and Elite Perspectives, ed. Baker, Tod A., Steed, Robert P., and Moreland, Laurence W. (New York, 1983), 51.Google Scholar

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3. For biographical information on Falwell, see Harding, Susan Friend, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics (Princeton, 2000)Google Scholar; Smillie, Dick, Falwell Inc.: Inside a Religious, Political, Educational, and Business Empire (New York, 2008)Google Scholar; and FitzGerald, Frances, Cities on a Hill: A Journey Through Contemporary American Cultures (New York, 1986), 121–201Google Scholar. Falwell, Jerry, Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography (New York, 1987)Google Scholar, tells Falwell’s story from his own perspective.

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11. FitzGerald, Cities on a Hill, 148–49; Dinesh D’Souza, “Jerry Falwell Is Reaching Millions and Drawing Fire,” Conservative Digest, December 1986, 7; Laurant, A City unto Itself, 203, 255–56. For a study of the political and social culture of the southern evangelicals who moved to metropolitan areas in the mid-twentieth century, see Dochuk, Darren, “‘They Locked God outside the Iron Curtain’: The Politics of Anticommunism and the Ascendancy of Plain-Folk Evangelicalism in the Postwar West,” in The Political Culture of the New West, ed. Roche, Jeff (Lawrence, Kans., 2008), 97–131Google Scholar; and Gregory, James N., The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America (Chapel Hill, 2005), 197–235Google Scholar. For Schuller, see McGirr, Lisa, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, 2001), 241–61Google Scholar.

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14. McClellan, An Incredible Journey, 39–57, 92–157; Falwell, Jerry and Towns, Elmer, Church Aflame (Nashville, 1971), 13–20, 41, 139–55Google Scholar; Falwell, and Towns, , Capturing a Town for Christ (Old Tappan, N.J., 1973), 33Google Scholar; Word of Life, 10 September 1970, September and November 1971, TRBC 4-8, Liberty University Archives (LUA), Lynchburg.

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18. McClellan, An Incredible Journey, 95; Laurant, A City unto Itself, 204; Falwell, Jerry, “Ministers and Marches,” in Young, Perry Deane, God’s Bullies: Native Reflections on Preachers and Politics (New York, 1982), 311–13Google Scholar.

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21. Martin, With God on Our Side, 58; FitzGerald, Cities on a Hill, 171; James H. Cleaver, “Moral Majority Draws Fire and Praises,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 13 August 1981; James S. Tinney, “The Moral Majority: Operating Under the Hood of Religious Right,” Dollars and Sense, June–July 1981; Henry Locke, “Reaction to Falwell,” Chicago Defender, 26 August 1985; Falwell, Strength for the Journey, 279–99.

22. Falwell, Jerry, “Gumbel, Apologize for Bumble,” World Net Daily, 8 July 2000 ( Scholar; Tomczak, Ruth, “The Phenomenon Called Jerry Falwell,” Lynchburg, Spring 1979, 28Google Scholar; Hoyett Lemmon, Tabernacle Trumpet, 13 September 1978; Word of Life, January 1972.

23. Falwell and Towns, Church Aflame, 40–41; Falwell and Towns, Capturing a Town for Christ, 16; Word of Life, October 1971.

24. Woodward, Kenneth L., “A $1 Million Habit,” Newsweek, 15 September 1980, 35Google Scholar; Word of Life, 9 October 1969; Falwell and Towns, Capturing a Town for Christ, 12–18; Mary Murphy, “The Next Billy Graham,” Esquire, 10 October 1978, 29.

25. Jerry Falwell, Transcript of Chapel Talk, Liberty Baptist College, 30 January 1980, “Falwell Sermons—1980” folder, FAL 5-3, LUA.

26. Thumma, Scott and Travis, Dave, Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches (Hoboken, N.J., 2007), 1, 7Google Scholar.

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29. Jerry Falwell, “Strengthening Families in the Nation,” Atlanta, 1982, “Speeches 1982” folder, FAL 5-1, LUA; Falwell, Jerry, “Death of America?Faith Aflame, July–August 1977Google Scholar; Falwell, Chapel Talk, 30 January 1980.

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33. Martin, With God on Our Side, 197; Harry M. Covert Jr. to Bill Nicholson, 8 June 1976, “6-21-76—Thomas Rd. Baptist Church” folder, Paul Theis and Robert Orben Files, box 61, Gerald R. Ford Library, Ann Arbor, “HCD” to Bill Nicholson, [June 1976], and transcript of Gerald Ford’s videotaped speech for use at Thomas Rd. Baptist Church in Lynchburg, 21 June 1976, “6-21-76—Thomas Rd. Baptist Church” folder, Theis and Orben Files, box 61, Ford Library; Atkinson, Frank B., The Dynamic Dominion: Realignment and the Rise of Two-Party Competition in Virginia, 1945–1980, 2nd ed. (Lanham, Md., 2006), 441Google Scholar; “Moral Majority or Spiritual Minority?” Voice of Fundamentalism, September–October 1980, 15.

34. Jerry Falwell, “One Nation Under God on the Rebound,” Transcript of sermon, [July 1982], folder 1a, FAL 5-3, LUA; Falwell, “America Needs a Spiritual Awakening,” Transcript of OTGH Broadcast, 4 February 1979, OTGH 332, FAL 5-3, LUA. For American anxieties about the state of the family in the 1970s, see Zaretsky, Natasha, No Direction Home: The American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968–1980 (Chapel Hill, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35. Falwell, Jerry, How You Can Help Clean Up America: An Action Program for Decency in Your Community (Lynchburg, 1978), 59Google Scholar.

36. Ibid., 23.

37. Jerry Falwell, “A Vote of Confidence,” Old Time Gospel Hour transcript, 19 October 1980, OTGH 422, FAL 5-3, LUA.

38. Clendinen, “Rev. Falwell Inspires Evangelical Vote”; Falwell, Strength for the Journey, 363; Liebman, Robert C., “Mobilizing the Moral Majority,” in The New Christian Right, ed. Liebman, Robert C. and Wuthnow, Robert (New York, 1983), 59–60, 61–67Google Scholar; LaHaye, Tim, The Battle for the Mind (Old Tappan, N.J., 1980), 72Google Scholar.

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40. Moral Majority National Issues Survey, [August 1985], “Moral Majority—MM / National Issue Survey, 8/85” folder, PFAW; Kutrow, Brad, “Falwell Takes Aim at Freeze,” Lynchburg News, 16 March 1983Google Scholar; Toner, Robin, “The President’s Allies Are Rallying Round,” New York Times, 19 December 1986Google Scholar; Jerry Falwell, Direct Mail, 25 March 1988 and 9 May 1988, “Moral Majority—Fundraising Iran / Contra, 1988” folder, PFAW; Walker, Bill, “Falwell Defends Softened Stances,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 25 February 1982.Google Scholar

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