Author: Mark J. Rozell

professor of public policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia

Jerry Falwell (1933–2007)

Jerry Falwell was a fundamentalist Christian pastor and the founder of the Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Best known for his key role in mobilizing the Christian Right into a formidable power in United States politics, Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979, a national political organization that emphasized a commitment to a “pro-family” agenda. The Moral Majority achieved prominence very quickly when in 1980 there was a significant surge in evangelical conservative support for the Republican Party nominee for U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, and for Republican, or GOP (Grand Old Party) candidates for the U.S. Congress. Many observers credited Falwell with having played the leading role in energizing these voters to support Reagan and the GOP. After Reagan’s landslide win and the Republican successes in the congressional races as well, Falwell and the Moral Majority became prominent, though controversial, fixtures on the U.S. political scene.