Falwell: Evangelicals 'Energized' for Bush
- Falwell: Evangelicals 'Energized' for Bush
Jon E. Dougherty, NewsMax.com
Wednesday September 1, 2004
The Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell has long been a best
friend to the Republican Party, as well as a tireless
champion of traditional and conservative causes.
In an exclusive interview with NewsMax, one of
America's most influential evangelical leaders says
the he expects this election to energize Christians as
Dr. Falwell believes this election is critical for the
future of America - and that George Bush ranks with
Ronald Reagan as one of America's greatest presidents.
A minister as well as a conservative stalwart for more
than 50 years, Dr. Falwell rose to national prominence
in 1980 when Ronald Reagan embraced him and his Moral
Majority as part of his conservative coalition.
But life for Dr. Falwell is much more than politics.
He is also the founder of Liberty University, a
Christian-based institute of higher education in
Lynchburg, Va. Since its beginning in 1971, the school
has grown to become the largest "distinctly Christian"
university in the world.
Dr. Falwell took time during the week leading to the
Republican National Convention in New York City, which
he will attend "from the first gavel to the end," to
talk with NewsMax about President Bush, the
Republicans' agenda, conservatism, Liberty University,
and even offering his thoughts on the Second Coming of
NM: There has been some angst, some difficulty, within
Republican ranks concerning some of President Bush's
policies. How strongly would you gauge your support
for the president?
JF: I would gauge my support for George W. Bush right
along side Ronald Reagan among one of the most
endeared men among evangelical Christians in modern
In the last four years, he has taken a bold,
unswerving stand for the unborn; he has initiated the
Federal Marriage Amendment; he has waged what I
believe to be a most successful war on terrorism; he
has been a man of his word; he and his wife Laura are
a great example to Christian young people everywhere.
I feel it is a must that he be re-elected.
NM: Are other Christians mustering as much support for
JF: I don't believe there has ever been a more
energized constituency of social conservatives than
I remember 1984, President Reagan's second campaign,
there was a high energy level among religious
conservatives. I believe it's just as high, if not
more so, right now, whereas four years ago, there was
a laxity in our camp. We didn't have a turnout like we
I think this November will be the largest percentage
and head-count turnout of religious conservatives
NM: Have you heard from religious conservatives? Is
this what they're saying?
JF: I speak about 25 times a week and travel about
300,000 miles a year. I speak to more pastors across
America, I suspect, than any other one person. I think
I have my thumb on the pulse of evangelical community
more closely than anyone I know. And this is what I
sense to be the case, in every part of the nation.
NM: What are your thoughts on the so-called gay
marriage amendment? Do you think the White House
pushed strongly enough for its passage?
JF: The president initiated the Federal Marriage
Amendment and the president came out strongly for it.
We lost 48 to 50 in the [Senate]. In September we'll
do a little better, but the issue will come up again
in January, assuming the president's re-election.
I believe that during his second term we could get a
two-thirds vote [for passage] in both Houses, and be
on our way to 38 states ratifying. So, I think the
president gave great leadership and will continue to
NM: Do you think Mr. Bush is on the right side of the
stem-cell research debate?
JF: I totally agree with the president's position on
stem cell research. He has been reasonable, is
allowing private research on certain existing
stem-cell lines, but at the same time is not allowing
the termination of embryonic lives. Most evangelicals
and pro-life people I know feel very comfortable with
the president's position.
NM: The United States has had a long and close
relationship with the nation of Israel. Do you think
the Bush administration has been friendly to Israel,
despite recent criticism of the Jewish state's
positions over settlements and so forth?
JF: The Israel issue is the stickiest one any
president has to deal with. But I think if you were to
ask the leaders of Israel today, they would tell you,
'George Bush is our friend.'
He has tried very hard to be fair with the
Palestinians. He has found, as other presidents before
him, that [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat is not a
credible partner with whom to negotiate, because his
word means nothing. So yes, I think the president has
been fair to Israel. I'm a strong Christian-Zionist,
and I feel very comfortable with the president's
NM: Would a Kerry administration be more or less
dangerous, in terms of dealing with the Middle East,
terrorism, and the like?
JF: I can only look at Mr. Kerry's voting record over
the past 19 years, and he has been the most liberal
senator in the Senate, and he's in the same Senate
with [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] and [Sen.] Hillary
Clinton [D-N.Y.]. So that's making a strong statement.
He, I think, is probably the most untrustworthy member
of the Senate, and with would make the same kind of
He is for and against every issue dealing with our
safety, whether it�s the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or
his dealings with terrorism. And now with the swift
boat controversy � and that book becoming No. 1
bestseller on the New York Times' bestseller list � I
think the American people's confidence is eroding as
they look at putting this man in position of
commander-in-chief, being responsible for the safety
of our children.
NM: How confident are you about a second Bush term �
do you think he will be more or less conservative?
JF: I think the president will be the president in a
He will get probably anywhere from two to four
appointments to the high court, simply on the basis of
age and health. I think his appointees would be far
more desirable than anything Mr. Kerry would put
forth. And considering the fact that same-sex marriage
is, I think, near the top of the agenda for the
Following the Lawrence case, which grants
constitutional protection for sodomy, and looking at
what the Massachusetts supreme court has done [in
legalizing gay marriages in that state], I think we
definitely need a president who will load that court
with people who are committed to the constitution and
to faith and family.
NM: The United Nations had said something about
monitoring our election so there isn't a repeat of the
controversy of the 2000 election. How do you feel
JF: Well, I'm just a Baptist preacher in Virginia, but
if I were the president of the United States, I
wouldn't issue a-one of them a [travel] visa.
NM: Things seem to be going well at Liberty
University. Tell us about the school's progress over
the past few years and plans for the future.
JF: Liberty University opened for its 34th year August
25. We have slightly more than 20,000 students in our
resident and distance-learning programs from 50 states
and 80 nations. Liberty has about half of those on
We opened our school of law and a new school of
government [at the beginning of the current semester],
and we already train, as a liberal arts university, in
almost every vocation and field.
We are a distinctively Christian university, with all
of our professors being committed Christians who
believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God. We
are committed to free enterprise and capitalism, and
we're as conservative as Harvard is liberal. We had
16,500 applicants for this year's freshman class, but
only 4,000 openings, so the school is booming and our
goal, in the next 15 years, is to have a university of
50,000 students � 25,000 in the resident campus
program and 25,000 in distance learning.
We have a 4,400-acre campus, and about 2,000 faculty,
staff and administrators, all of them committed
NM: We hear a lot these days that many Christians
believe that, based on current events, perhaps
Christ's second coming is near. What do you tell
people who ask you about that?
JF: Well, Scripture is clear on that. No man knows the
day or hour of His second coming.
It is my feeling, and has been for the 52 years I've
been a Christian, that we're to live every day as
though the Lord were returning today�but we're to plan
and work as though we had another 100 years, with the
next generation in mind.
The danger, if there is a danger in believing in the
imminence of the Lord's return � and I do, is to
become a fatalist, that certain things are going to
happen regardless and there's nothing we can do about
them. That isn't true. We're told to occupy until He
comes. We're told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
And we're given clear instructions about raising our
children up in the nurture and admonition of Christ.
Listen to J.R. on Talk Show America, a political conservative talk show that webcasts Mon-Fri 4-6 PM EST live on the IBC Radio Network www.ibcrn.com or 24/7 @ www.talkshowamerica.com (Recorded)