Date of Award

5-4-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

Abstract

There have been few culture warriors like Jerry Falwell, the long time pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia and a prominent leader of the Moral Majority Movement in the 1980's. Falwell's ardently held views expressed through the deep baritone of his voice - accented with the slightest sing-song sound of a Southern drawl - led him to be regarded as the lion of the New Christian Right for decades. So often associated with his advocacy of the political process, his commitment to restoring respect for morality in American society, and his clear alliance with the Republican Party, Falwell has been labeled a fanatic for conservatism, a right-wing demagogue, and an unbearable hothead. 1 His supporters, of course, would deny these claims, considering him a bold leader in the cause of restoring American life. Both sides of the spectrum testify, at the very least, to this: Falwell was a divisive figure, eliciting few moderate reactions to his beliefs, rhetoric and objectives. Yet the person of Jerry Falwell extends beyond the banter of the culture war opinions, and his life reveals itself to be one of complexity, uncertainty and courage. To truly understand Jerry Falwell and his participation in the 1980's conservative ascent, we must explore the deep historical underpinnings for his roles as a pastor and a political activist.

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History Commons

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