How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right
On Sale: January 17, 2012
Hardcover / e-Book
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Falwell did not eliminate the divide between religion and
politics. Nor did he blur it. He jumped over it, bringing
millions of voters with him, and he never looked back.
—from the Introduction
Mounting concerns over the nation’s moral decline. A
populist critique of cultural elitism. Disdain for
government involvement in private enterprise and health
care. These themes dominate our political discourse, and
have for a generation’s worth of elections. And they are
themes almost single-handedly brought to the fore by the
Reverend Jerry Falwell. As America was questioning its most
revered institutions in the wake of the Vietnam War and
Jimmy Carter’s malaise, Falwell was building his own
institutional strength and influence, answering a felt need
for certainty in a suddenly uncertain world. In this highly
anticipated major biography, Michael Sean Winters traces the
polarizing pastor’s journey to reclaim America for
Christ—and his tireless work to define the orthodoxy and
vocabulary that the Republican Party has used to great
success ever since.
Falwell was, for many, the face of Christianity in America.
The child of agnostic parents, he made a name for himself as
a pastor and later founded his own Christian university.
Initially ambivalent about politics, his controversial Moral
Majority catapulted Falwell into the political arena. His
life intersected with some of the most notable figures of
his time, from Ronald Reagan, whom he helped elect
president, to the scandal-ridden Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Falwell stared down pornographers and wrestled with women’s
groups. He battled with liberals and enforced a brand of
orthodoxy on conservatives. He was a man of strong views—and
he knew that those views were shared by millions of
Americans who were disengaged with public life. Falwell led
them into the public square, articulated a coherent
rationale for their involvement with politics, and made them
the largest and most organized constituency in the
contemporary Republican Party.
Today, no Republican candidate can hope to win elections
without the support of evangelicals and fundamentalists, and
the Tea Party has adopted nearly wholesale the rhetoric of
Falwell’s ministry. His legacy—as controversial as it is
consequential—has never been more palpable.
Tell Me More - April 26, 2012
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