Falwell will be remembered for theocratic vision for U.S., religion professor says

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A professor of philosophy and religion studies at the University of North Texas says the legacy of the Rev. Jerry Falwell - the televangelist and founder of the Moral Majority who died earlier this week - was a detrimental co-mingling of church and politics.

Dr. Joe Barnhart says Falwell "wanted to use the state to develop and promote righteousness." "But, in the process, that brought considerable harm to both," he says.

Barnhart says Falwell may best be remembered for founding the Moral Majority in 1979. The evangelist credited the organization for helping to elect both Ronald Reagan president and a Republican-led Senate in 1980.

Falwell was considered to be a leader in the conservative evangelical movement and at times seemed to be the public face of the "religious right," Barnhart says.

"He was initially an Independent Baptist who ignored the historic Baptist tradition of separating church from state. From my perspective, Falwell had a theocratic vision for the United States. He might have denied that, but his actions tell the real story," he says.

Falwell was often a lightning rod for controversy, from backing apartheid in South Africa and speaking out against Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s to blaming the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America on feminists, pagans, gays and lesbians. Barnhart says he was skilled at seeking out the spotlight.

"Falwell knew how to use the media and work behind the scenes. He was a consummate politician, in both the best and worse senses of the word," he says. "His lasting legacy will be the establishment of a college (Liberty University) for people who want a solid education in the Fundamentalist worldview."

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Category:

Latest News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Four internationally recognized artist/scholars will talk about how they combine technology, science and art as part of the Tactical Robotics Symposium: Latin American Media Art at the Intersection of the Pedagogy at the University of North Texas.

Educational researcher Michael Fullan, an internationally recognized expert on e
Friday, September 19, 2014

Educational researcher Michael Fullan, an internationally recognized expert on educational reform, will speak about "Leadership for Maximizing Impact in Schools and Districts" at this year's University of North Texas' Education Leadership Conference.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A new program under development at the University of North Texas aims to increase the diversity of the rehabilitation counseling career field, while helping students complete an education and move into the profession in less time.

Richard Dixon
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

University of North Texas Distinguished Research Professor Richard Dixon has been named president-elect of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Millions of devoted fans watch "Game of Thrones" and enjoy the book adapted by the television show, but those fans have nothing on the 300 visitors coming to UNT.