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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*
Affiliation:
University of West Georgia

Abstract

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Copyright
Copyright © Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2010

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References

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

2. Kellstedt, Lyman et al. , “Faith Transformed: Religion and American Politics from FDR to George W. Bush,” in Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present, ed. Noll, Mark A. and Harlow, Luke E., 2nd ed. (New York, 2007), 273Google Scholar; CNN Election Center 2008 (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls); Steven Waldman, “Evangelicals Made up a Bigger Part of the Republican Coalition This Time,” Beliefnet, 10 November 2008 (http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/11/evangelicals-made-up-a-bigger.html).

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.

4. For studies that emphasize the tension between business interests and social conservatives, see Frank, Thomas, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York, 2004)Google Scholar; Greenberg, Stanley B., Middle-Class Dreams: The Politics and Power of the New American Majority (New York, 1995)Google Scholar; and Dionne, E. J. Jr., Why Americans Hate Politics, 2nd ed. (New York, 2004)Google Scholar.

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9. Cobb, James C., “The Sunbelt South: Industrialization in Regional, National, and International Perspective,” in Mohl, , Searching for the Sunbelt, 30–32Google Scholar; Abbott, The New Urban America, 17; Schulman, From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt, 72, 95, 109. For additional studies of the role that industrialization and defense contracts played in the development of the Sunbelt, see Bartley, Numan V., The New South, 1945–1980: The Story of the South’s Modernization (Baton Rouge, 1995)Google Scholar; Cobb, James C., The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936–1990, 2nd ed. (Urbana, 1993)Google Scholar; and Markusen, Ann et al. , The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of Industrial America (New York, 1991)Google Scholar.

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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.

12. Strober, Gerald and Tomczak, Ruth, Jerry Falwell: Aflame for God (Nashville, 1979), 31–34Google Scholar; Smillie, 64–66, 69–70. For televangelism during the 1950s, see Hadden, Jeffrey K. and Swann, Charles E., Prime Time Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism (Reading, Mass., 1981), 25–31Google Scholar; and Harrell, David Edwin Jr., All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America (Bloomington, 1975), 41–52Google Scholar.

13. Falwell, Macel, Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy (New York, 2008), 5, 44–45, 55Google Scholar; McClellan, Ruth, An Incredible Journey: Thomas Road Baptist Church and 50 Years of Miracles, 1956–2006 (Lynchburg, 2006), 85Google Scholar. Information on the occupational status of TRBC’s early members comes partly from Lynchburg obituaries, including obituaries for Dorothy Blanks Bruner and Minnie Storey Harris, Amherst [VA] New Era Progress, 24 July 2008 (http://www.neweraprogress.com/nep/news/obituaries/article/obituaries_july_23_2008/6846/); obituary for Fannie Lee Carey Bryant, 4 March 1999 (http://www.genealogybuff.com/va/va-lynchburg-obits25.htm); and obituary for Giving Stanley Martin, 14 December 1998 (http://www.genealogybuff.com/va/va-lynchburg-obits14.htm).

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.

15. Lassiter, Matthew D. and Lewis, Andrew B., “Massive Resistance Revisited: Virginia’s White Moderates and the Byrd Organization,” in The Moderates’ Dilemma: Massive Resistance to School Desegregation in Virginia, ed. Lassiter, Matthew D. and Lewis, Andrew B. (Charlottesville, 1998), 7Google Scholar; Murdock, James, “New Defenders Group Will Open Campaign at Mass Meet April 1,” (Lynchburg) Daily Advance, 24 March 1959Google Scholar; Murdock, James, “Perrow Report Called ‘Futile’ by Supt. Story,” (Lynchburg) Daily Advance, 2 April 1959Google Scholar; Falwell, Jerry, “Segregation or Integration—Which?Word of Life, October 1958Google Scholar.

16. Laurant, A City unto Itself, 111–23; Hershman, James H. Jr., “Massive Resistance Meets Its Match: The Emergence of a Pro-Public School Majority,” in Lassiter, and Lewis, , Moderates’ Dilemma, 112–13.Google Scholar

17. Elson, Lynchburg, Virginia, 437; Laurant, A City unto Itself, 120–21, 204.

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.

19. Jerry Falwell, “Will Your Children Live Under Communism?” [1967], folder 1B, FAL 5-3, LUA; Carter, Dan T., The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics (New York, 1995), 459–60Google Scholar; Bob Moser, “Holy War,” Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2005 (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=522); Young, God’s Bullies, 200.

20. Elson, Lynchburg, Virginia, 404–5; Smillie, Falwell Inc., 87–100; FitzGerald, Cities on a Hill, 138, 153; McClellan, An Incredible Journey, 134–36, 218; Clendinen, Dudley, “Rev. Falwell Inspires Evangelical Vote,” New York Times, 20 August 1980Google Scholar; Jorstad, Erling, The Politics of Moralism: The New Christian Right in American Life (Minneapolis, 1981), 48Google Scholar.

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 (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=17776)Google 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.

27. Lynne, and Hybels, Bill, Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church (Grand Rapids, 1995), 41–72Google Scholar; Wolfe, Alan, The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith (New York, 2003), 199–202Google Scholar; FitzGerald, Cities on a Hill, 133. For the political culture of the Sunbelt suburbs, see Lassiter, Matthew D., The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, 2006)Google Scholar. For the influence of suburban political culture on evangelical churches, see Lahr, Eileen, Witnessing Suburbia: Conservatives and Christian Youth Culture (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2009)Google Scholar.

28. Sabato, Larry, Virginia Votes, 1975–1978 (Charlottesville, 1979), 13, 50, 61, 97–98Google Scholar; “Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections,” County Results for 1968 Presidential Election (http://uselectionatlas.org/).

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.

30. Fenton, Frank, “Thomas Rd. Church Cleared of Fraud, Deceit Charges,” Lynchburg News & Advance, 10 August 1973Google Scholar; Falwell, Strength for the Journey, 326–33; “Politicizing the Word,” Time, 1 October 1979, 68; FitzGerald, Cities on a Hill, 176; Feldman, Glenn, “The Status Quo Society, the Rope of Religion, and the New Racism,” in Politics and Religion in the White South, ed. Feldman, Glenn (Lexington, Ky., 2005), 298CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31. Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Direct Mailing [1979], “Moral Majority” folder, G. Archer Weniger Files, J. S. Mack Library, Bob Jones University, Greenville, S.C.; Jerry Falwell, Old Time Gospel Hour Direct Mailing, 5 April 1983, “Moral Majority—OTGH freeze, 4/83” folder, People for the American Way Archives (PFAW), Washington, D.C.; Falwell, Jerry, “Now is the Time for All Good Conservatives to Come to the Aid of their President,” Liberty Report, January 1987, 2.Google Scholar

32. Martin, With God on Our Side, 203; Jerry Falwell, introductory comments to Francis Schaeffer’s address, “A Christian Manifesto,” 21 March 1982, OTGH 492, LUA; Jerry Falwell, Address to Congressional Prayer Breakfast, 27 January 1981, “Falwell Sermons—1981” folder, FAL 5-3, LUA.

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.

39. Raines, Howell, “Reagan Is Balancing Two Different Stances,” New York Times, 4 October 1980Google Scholar; Ronald Reagan, Address to the Religious Roundtable National Affairs Briefing, Dallas, 22 August 1980, “Family Policy Advisory Board, 1980–1981” folder, box 36, Paul M. Weyrich Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie.

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

41. Dillin, John, “U.S. Conservatives on the March: Religious Right Optimistic,” Christian Science Monitor, 19 March 1986.Google Scholar

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