Jerry Falwell: Jerry Falwell's Uncertain Legacy
"Pastor, chancellor, and self-proclaimed prophet is staging a comeback
to secure his standing as a leading evangelical."
December 9, 1996
Adecade ago, Jerry Falwell was the most visible preacher in America. He led
the Moral Majority, which had thrust religious conservatives into politics;
he headed what he called "the world's most exciting university"; his Old
Time Gospel Hour aired on 200 television stations; and he was about to
become chair of PTL, the nation's largest cable satellite
Yet, in five short years, Falwell all but disappeared from the national stage.
The Moral Majority folded, Liberty University was $110 million in debt, his
television show temporarily left the air, and PTL had gone
Today, however, at 63, Falwell is staging a national comeback. In September,
he embarked on a 52-week patriotic God Save America national tour. In addition,
his independent Thomas Road Baptist Church has started giving monthly
contributions to Virginia's new breakaway conservative state association
of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the nation's largest
Protestant body. And Falwell: An Autobiography (Liberty House) hit
the bookstores this month in time for Christmas shoppers.
This year marked important milestones in Falwell's ministry. It is the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the 14,000-student Liberty University and the
fortieth anniversary of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church. And
40 years ago this month, Falwell took to the airwaves with the Old Time
In a lengthy interview with Christianity Today, Falwell reflected
on his ministerial achievements. While financial burdens at Liberty have
kept him out of the limelight for most of the 1990s, Falwell aspires to return
as a leading evangelical player. (An edited transcript of the interview is
accessible at http://www.ChristianityToday.com/ct/extra. AOL users
keyword: rnu; access ...
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