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Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right A Brief History with Documents



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Bedford/St. Martin's
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As one of the most media-savvy ministers in U.S. history, Jerry Falwell figured prominently in the political mobilization of religious conservatives in the 1970s and early 1980s. Falwell’s life and work touched on almost all of the major issues of the time period: the cold war, changing gender roles, civil rights, the revitalization of American conservatism, and the Reagan revolution. In his introductory essay, Matthew Avery Sutton traces Falwell’s politicization and rise to celebrity status, using Falwell as a lens through which to view the larger movement. More than two dozen primary documents focus on the Religious Right’s emergence in the 1970s as a powerful political force and present students with first-hand accounts of the era’s culture wars. The thematically arranged documents – including sermons, letters, speeches, interviews, court documents, and children’s books – provide an up-close look at the motivations and aspirations of the Religious Right. Photographs, document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography provide additional pedagogical support.

Author Biography

Matthew Avery Sutton (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is associate professor of history at Washington State University. He is the author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, which later served as the basis for the PBS American Experience documentary on this subject. His articles have appeared in several historical journals including the Journal of American History as well as the New York Times and he has received research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation.

Table of Contents



List of Illustrations

PART ONE. Introduction: Evangelicals and the Reconstruction of American Politics and Culture

     Making Jerry Falwell

     The Origins of American Fundamentalism

     Remaking American Evangelicalism

     Race and the Politicalization of American Evangelicals

     Focusing on the Family

     Building the Religious Right

     The Moral Majority and the Reagan Revolution

     Beyond the Moral Majority

PART TWO. The Documents

1. Modern Evangelicalism Comes of Age

     1. Harold John Ockenga, The "New" Evangelicalism, 1957

     2. Billy Graham, A Christian America, March 1955

     3. Hal Lindsay, The Late Great Planet Earth, 1970

     4. Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, November 25, 1973

     5. Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, 1981

2. Race and Religious Activism

     6. Nelson Bell, A Southern Evangelical on Integration, August 17, 1955

     7. Carl McIntire, A Minister Denounces the Civil Rights Act, March 26, 1964

     8. Jerry Falwell, Ministers and Marches, 1965

     9. Bob Jones University v. United States, 1981, 1983

     10. Clarence Hilliard, Down with the Honky Christ, January 30, 1976

3. The Battle for the Schools

     11. Engel v. Vitale and the End of Official School Prayer, 1962

     12. Tim LaHaye, A Christian View of Radical Sex Education, 1969

     13. The Benefits of Lynchburg Christian Academy, Advertisement, 1975

     14. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, God in American History, 1977

     15. Duane Gish, Dinosaurs and Young-Earth Creationism, 1977

4. Focusing on the Family

     16. Carl F. H. Henry, Abortion: An Evangelical View, February 1971

     17. The House Debates 'Pro-Life' Civil Disobedience, 1985, 1986

     18. Interview with Anita Bryant on Homosexuality, May 1978

     19. Jerry Falwell, Homosexuality: Is It an Acceptable Lifestyle?, 1978

     20. Marabel Morgan, The Total Woman, 1973

     21. Interview with Phyllis Schlafly on the Equal Rights Amendment, November 1978

5. God and the G.O.P.

     22. Pat Robertson, Action Plan for the 1980s, 1979

     23. Jerry Falwell, Organizing the Moral Majority, 1980

     24. Evangelicals Share Their Concerns with President Jimmy Carter, January 21, 1980

     25. Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983

     26. Ronald Regan, Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984

     27. Larry Flynt, A Pornographer's Eulogy for Jerry Falwell, May 20, 2007


A Chronology of the Religious Right (1925-2007)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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