Jerry Falwell (August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007) was a politically active American evangelical, and one of the biggest influences on the conservative movement in the late 20th century and a leader in gaining Christian Evangelical support for Israel. Falwell was born on August 11, 1933 along with his twin brother, Gene. Jerry and Gene were the youngest children in a family of 5. Young Jerry Falwell excelled early: he skipped the second grade at Mountain View Elementary School, obtained his driver's license 3 years younger than the ordinary minimum age, and founded Thomas Road Baptist megachurch at age 22.
During his teen years, Falwell excelled in athletic endeavors. During high school Falwell played football, basketball and baseball. He valued athletics for their numerous benefits: teamwork, coordination, fitness and overall health.
Dr. Falwell became a committed Christian on January 20, 1952 while enrolled at Lynchburg College. He bought his first Bible the day after his baptism, and carried it with him wherever he went. After graduating Lynchburg College, Falwell enrolled in Baptist Bible College in Missouri, later joining the vaulted rank of clergy.
In 1967 Falwell started his goal of providing Christian education by founding Liberty Christian Academy (then called Lynchburg Christian Academy). Though originally a "segregation academy" (in response to forced integration of public schools) within two years the school became racially integrated. In 2005 LCA relocated next to Liberty University and took its present name.
In 1971, Falwell founded Lynchburg Baptist College (later renamed Liberty Baptist College and then Liberty University when it obtained full university status). Liberty provides an opportunity for students to gain the benefits of a rich and diverse academic environment while simultaneously offering the opportunity to become closer to God.
In June 1979, Dr. Falwell organized the Moral Majority, a coalition of groups whose mailing lists reached over 100,000 clergy representing over 7 million conservative, religious Americans. The Moral Majority, part of the Religious Right, organized a series of voting drives and political demonstrations to advance their conservative point of view and enhance the moral and religious attitudes of the nation. It is best known for supporting Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and registering millions of voters to act on his behalf. The Moral Majority played little role during the Reagan years; Falwell stepped down as its leader in 1987 and it was disbanded in 1989.
Falwell is well known outside of Evangelical circles for his claim, made on "The 700 Club" on September 13 of 2001 that it was not just al Qaeda that was to blame for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He said, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays 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.'" The liberal media jumped on his statement and Falwell apologized soon after.
Barry Goldwater, far from being a social conservative in his old age, won the praise of the liberal media by his idiotic remark that "Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's a**."
Reverend Falwell and his wife Macel were married on April 12, 1958. The couple had three children: Jerry Jr., Jonathan and Jeannie. Jerry is currently an attorney and is the Chancellor at Liberty University. Jonathan is an attorney and pastor in Lynchburg, Virginia, having taken over for his father's role as Pastor at Thomas Road Baptist. Jeannie is a surgeon in Virginia.
Reverend Falwell passed away on May 15, 2007. Macel passed away in 2015. Both are buried on the grounds of the Carter Glass Estate, a historic home in Lynchburg which is part of the Liberty University campus.
- Washington Post on Evangelical-Israeli connection, Bill Broadway, Washington Post, March 27, 2004.
- CNN article on the statement