I have to disagree a bit with Peter’s contention below that Falwell was not a master of nuance or theology. I have a soft spot for Falwell for a couple of particular reasons. True, he said some stupid things from time to time (and I rap him for it in my forthcoming book on the Reagan preidential years), but it is also true that he never got a fair shake from the media. On one point he was quite sound: He usually insisted that the Moral Majority was a political and not a religious movement. This distinction was lost on the media, and also on too many of his comrades in arms such as Pat Robertson, and I think Falwell’s deciding to fold up the Moral Majority in the late 1980s was shrwed and points to a substantive difference between him and Robertson--a nuance, if you like.
There was one of other thing about Falwell I liked. In LA in the 1980s, Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour was broadcast at the same time as Jimmy Swaggert. I would tell people to toggle back and forth between Swaggert, who was leaping around the stage, crying, singing (after the style of his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis), and making absolutely no sense at all, and Falwell, who would be fixed behind the pulpit, usually saying something like "This week’s Bible verse comes from Ephesians, chapter 2, where Paul instructs us on. . ." Then there would follow a typical, calmly presented Baptist exegesis on the text. The contrast between Falwell and Swaggert couldn’t have been more dramatic and, I think, meaningful. To the contrary of Peter, Falwell was the only one of the TV preachers I could stand to watch.