About the Book
A major new biography of the legendary, and divisive, evangelical pastor that explains our contemporary religious and political environment in light of Falwell's enduring legacy Born in 1930s Appalachia, Jerry Falwell would become, by the end of the twentieth century, the most prominent evangelical leader the nation had ever seen - indeed, for many, he was 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. And although he was initially ambivalent about getting involved in politics, Falwell and his controversial Moral Majority rose to prominence during the paradigm-shifting1980 election. His work intersected with the major issues and leaders of the day, from Larry Flynt to Billy Graham, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton. Now, journalist Michael Sean Winters unpacks the key moments of an unlikely life and its impact on religious and political life in the United States. He recounts the night of Falwell's 1952 conversion (incidentally the same night he met the woman who would be his wife for nearly 50 years). He describes Falwell's "I Love America" rallies of the 1970s, and how the founding of the Moral Majority in 1979 catapulted Falwell into the political arena and made him a household name. And he brings to life a man with sincere beliefs and enthusiasm for his work - a lightning rod who enraged the left with his polarising tactics, but whose political cooperation prompted fundamentalist Bob Jones, Jr., to famously call him "the most dangerous man in America." In the years since Falwell's death, his legacy remains clear and strong. Indeed, Falwell single-handedly changed, for millions of American's then and now, what it meant to be a Christian. He put Fundamentalism at the forefront of the political discourse - just as mainstream Protestantism was fading from public prominence-and made the Religious Right a powerful player in American politics. For Falwell's critics and supporters alike, Winters has written a fair and fascinating account of both a life and a shift in our culture.