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Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell is a U.S. Christian televangelist and founder of the Moral Majority.

He is an American fundamentalist Baptist pastor, born in Lynchburg, Virginia on August 11, 1933. His parents were Carey and Helen Fallwell. He has a fraternal twin brother, Gene.

He studied journalism for a time after high school (1950) at Lynchburg College[?] and then became a Christian in his second year. He then transferred to Baptist Bible College[?] in Missouri. Soon after he met his future wife, Macel Pate. They were married on April 12, 1958.

He was ordained in 1956. In 1968 Falwell began televising his services. The program was eventually titled The Old-Time Gospel Hour". By the mid-70s, he was reaching millions. In 1979, he created the Moral Majority, a group dedicated to promoting its conservative and religious (Christian-centric) beliefs via support of political candidates.

In the 1980s, fundamentalism began to get a negative image. Another televangelist, Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud and received jail time. Falwell then took over management of Bakker's ministry, PTL[?] (Praise The Lord), in 1987. PTL was soon bankrupt. Some argue (source A&E's "Biography") that Falwell deliberately scuttled the competition.

In November 1983, Larry Flynt's sex magazine Hustler carried a parody of a Campari ad, featuring a fake interview with Falwell in which he admits that his "first time" was incest with his mother in an outhouse while drunk. Falwell sued for compensation, alleging invasion of privacy, libel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A jury rejected the invasion of privacy and libel claims, holding that the parody could not have reasonably been taken to describe true events, but ruled in favor of Falwell on the emotional distress claim. This was upheld on appeal. Flynt then appealed to the Supreme Court and won on February 24, 1988 (Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell, 485 U.S. 46); the ruling confirmed that public figures cannot recover damages based on emotional distress suffered from parodies.

Falwell now is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. He leads services at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the largest church in North America.

The Anti-Defamation League and its leader Abraham Foxman have expressed strong support for Jerry Falwell and his staunch pro-Israel stand.

Controversial Remarks

A February, 1999 article in the National Liberty Journal, Jerry Falwell claimed that the Teletubbies character, Tinky Winky[?], could be a hidden homosexual symbol, because the character was purple (which he claimed to be one color symbol of homosexuality), had a triangle on his head and carried a handbag. This claim made him the object of derision by the general public and an easy target for comedians who viewed the contention as ridiculous.

After the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack, he (along with fellow televangelist Pat Robertson) made comments interpreted as blaming various groups for the attack. The two were widely condenmned for having made these comments. Falwell said:

And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. 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."
Robertson then responded:
Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

Falwell later told CNN:

I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize.

In an interview given on September 30, 2002 for the October 6 edition of 60 Minutes Falwell said: "I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war." These comments led to rioting particularly in the town of [[Solapur], India, leaving 8 people dead.

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