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Jerry Falwell's Past

August 11, 1933 Jerry Falwell, along with his twin brother Gene, is born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Jerry lives almost his entire life in Lynchburg.
June 19, 1956 Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Chuch is founded - a break-away group from the church where Jerry was saved.
1965 Falwell continues to denounce civil rights leaders, although he claims to have changed his mind about segregation and racism in the early 1960s.
1967 Falwell sets up a racially segregated "Christian" school to avoid public school desegregation, and is denounced by local religious leaders.
1967 Falwell begins his "Old-Time Gospel Hour" weekly television and radio broadcasts.
1968 Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church is finally desegregated.
1971 Falwell establishes the Lynchburg Baptist College, later to be renamed the Liberty Baptist College.
1973 The Securities and Exchange Commission charges Falwell's church with "fraud and deciet" in the issuance of $6.5 million in unsecured church bonds. Falwell admits that the SEC is "technically" correct, but a biography of Falwell written by his staff claims that his church wins the suit and is cleared of the charges. This is a lie and the church's finances are put in the hands of five local businessmen to settle matters.
May 1979 Falwell is recruited by far-right activists Howard Phillips, Ed McAteer and Paul Weyrich to form and lead the Moral Majority, a vehicle for bringing fundamentalist Protestants into the Republican Party for the purpose of defeating President Jimmy Carter.
January 22, 1980 Falwell attends a White House prayer breakfast with Jimmy Carter. He later lies about asking the president why he has "well known practicing homosexuals" on his staff, getting the answer that Carter considers himself the president of all citizens.
1980-81 The Moral Majority begins advocating for constitutional amendments banning abortion and restoring school-sponsored prayer. The group also demands government aid to private religious education.
September 1982 Falwell announces a drive to register 1 million new voters before the November elections.
July 1984 Falwell is forced to pay gay activist Jerry Sloan $5,000 after losing a court battle. During a TV debate in Sacramento, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches "brute beasts" and "a vile and Satanic system" that will "one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven."

When Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if he could produce it. Sloan did, Falwell refused to pay, and Sloan successfully sued. Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the Jewish judge in the case was prejudiced. He lost again and was forced to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and court fees.
November 1984 Reports from the Federal Election Commission show that Falwell's "I Love America Committee," a political action committee formed in 1983, was a flop. The PAC raised $485,000 in its first year--but spent $413,000 to do so.
May 1985 Falwell apologizes to a Jewish group for seeking a "Christian" America. From now on, he says, he will use the term "Judeo-Christian."
January 1986 Falwell holds a Washington news conference to announce that he is changing the name of the Moral Majority to the Liberty Foundation. The new name never catches on and is soon abandoned.
October 1987 The Federal Election Commission fines Falwell $6,000 for illegally transferring $6.7 million in funds intended for his religious ministry to political action committees.

Falwell writes in a letter attacking Surgeon General C. Everett Koop that homosexuals:

have expressed the attitude that they know they are gong to die and they are gong to take a many people with them as they can.

November 1987 Falwell tells reporters he is stepping down as head of the Moral Majority and retiring from politics. "From now on, my real platform is the pulpit, not politics," he says at a news conference.
February 1988 The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a $200,000 jury award to Falwell for "emotional distress" he said he suffered because of a Hustler magazine parody.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, usually a Falwell favorite, wrote the unanimous opinion in Hustler v. Falwell, ruling that the First Amendment protected the parody.
June 1989 Falwell announces that the Moral Majority will disband and shut down its offices.
January 1993 In the wake of Bill Clinton's election to the presidency, Falwell mails fund-raising letters nationwide asking people to vote on whether he should reactivate the Moral Majority. He later refuses to say how much money the effort raised and tells reporters he has no intention of reactivating the organization.
February 1993 The Internal Revenue Service determines that funds from Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour program were illegally funneled to a political action committee. The IRS forced Falwell to pay $50,000 and revoked the Old Time Gospel Hour's tax-exempt status for 1986-87.
March 1993 Despite his promise to Jewish groups to stop referring to America as a "Christian nation," Falwell gives a sermon saying, "We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours."
September 1993 Falwell announces he will not reactivate the Moral Majority but will instead do political work through a group called the Liberty Alliance.
March 1994 Falwell announces the formation of a new group, Mission America, which he claims will mobilize like-minded clergy across the country. Falwell describes the group as a "personal ministry" and says it will have no budget or staff. Nothing more is heard from it.
September 1994 Falwell endorses former Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. Falwell glosses over North's legal problems, saying they happened "in the past."
1994-1995 Falwell is criticized for using his "Old Time Gospel Hour" to hawk a scurrilous video called "The Clinton Chronicles" that makes a number of unsubstantiated charges against President Bill Clinton - for example that he is a drug addict and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas.

Despite claims he had no ties to the project, evidence was later found that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000 paid to a group called Citizens for Honest Government.
April 1996 Falwell hosts a "Washington for Jesus" rally in the nation's capital where he holds a mock trial of America for engaging in seven deadly sins: persecution of the church, homosexuality, abortion, racism, occultism, addictions and HIV/AIDS (acronym: PHAROAH). He declares the nation guilty "of violating God's law...."
July 1996 Falwell announces plans to hold a series of "God Save America" rallies in evangelical churches all over America to stop the United States from entering a "post-Christian" era.
February 1997 Falwell sponsors a pastors' briefing in Washington, during which he threatens to form a new political party if the Republicans waver on opposing legal abortion.
June 1997 Falwell announces a new plan to urge fundamentalist churches to intervene in partisan politics. He vows to send sample sermons endorsing candidates for pastors to read in their churches and says he has already done this in the Virginia attorney general's race. Falwell drops the plan after being reported to the IRS by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
August 1997 Falwell pleads for funds for a new group, the National Committee for the Restoration of the Judeo-Christian Ethic. In a fund-raising letter, he promises to "get back in the ring" and be a "spiritual George Foreman." He promises to register 4 million new voters and mobilize 50,000 pastors. After publishing a couple of fund-raising letters, the group is never heard from again.
November 1997 Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University's financial woes.

The donation, and several Falwell appearances at Moon conferences, raised eyebrows because Moon claims to be the messiah sent to complete the failed mission of Jesus Christ, a doctrine sharply at odds with Falwell's fundamentalist Christian theology.
February 1998 Falwell accepts a $70-million donation from insurance magnate Art Williams for his debt-ridden Liberty University. Falwell says the contribution will end Liberty's financial worries and free him to focus on politics again.
April 1998

Confronted on national television with a controversial quote from America Can Be Saved!, a published collection of his sermons, Falwell denies having written the book. In the 1979 book, Falwell wrote,

I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!

Despite Falwell's denial, the book's publisher confirms that Falwell wrote the book.

October 1998

In a fund-raising letter, Falwell announces plans to expand his ministry in Lynchburg, Va., and to

immediately rededicate myself to use my God-given skills as a national spokesman for morality and return to the moral/political arena....[W]ith God's anointing and your prayerful support, you will soon think I am omnipresent.

January 1999 Falwell tells a pastors' conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist prophesied in the Bible is alive today and "of course he'll be Jewish."
February 1999 Falwell becomes the object of nationwide ridicule after his National Liberty Journal newspaper issues a "parents alert" warning that Tinky Winky, a character on the popular PBS children's show "Teletubbies," might be gay. (Americans United was responsible for releasing the information to the national press.)
April 2000 Falwell begins to enter politics again. Backed by $1 million in contributions from conservative business interests, he claims he will register millions of conservative Christian voters in time for the November election. He readily admits that his goal is to help elect Texas Gov. George W. Bush and other Republican candidates.

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