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


Latest News

Steve Wozniak
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Steve Wozniak, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, will speak as part of the University of North Texas Distinguished Lecture Series.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gulin "Eva" Gelogullari, native of the Black Sea Region of the Republic of Turkey, was named the Outstanding Foreign Student in North Texas for 2014 and awarded a $2,500 scholarship.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New UNT class explores dynamics of working with family.

Lynn Seaton
Monday, July 21, 2014

UNT College of Music jazz bass professor Lynn Seaton has been named a 2014-15 Fulbright Scholar and will depart in August for Latvia, where he will teach for the fall 2014 semester.

Monday, July 21, 2014

While the most elite college and university baseball players in the U.S. head to Omaha every summer for the College World Series, some of the most accomplished Hispanic high school seniors in the U.S. play their own series every summer -- the Collegiate World Series offered by the National Hispanic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Texas.