Hardy Response

What impact did Jerry Falwell have on the 1980 election?

Angry about how social issues of the day were being handled by the government, Jerry Falwell created a group called the Moral Majority based solely on wielding influence on those who govern to bring America back to the moral values that he believed made it great in the first place. Many evangelical Christians saw what was happening with things like the sexual revolution, abortion laws, gay rights, and fears about desegregation in schools and turned to this new movement as a way to correct what they believed was wrong in the country. Jerry Falwell was a very charismatic leader who appealed to evangelical and fundamentalist voters through his TV show, allowing him to use his influence to mobilize his base, collect donations for his war chest,  and influence religious and political leaders to vote on pro family and traditional matters.  Three months before the 1980 election the movement announced its support for candidate Ronald Reagan over then President Jimmy Carter.  By the 1980 elections, Jerry Falwell had worked his supporters into a frenzy, energizing his base to draw support for Reagan. Activist from the Moral Majority movement were creating voting drives and informing voters of the morality scores of each of the candidates. The Movement manged to draw out millions of voters with their tactics and Ronald Reagan won the reelection over incumbent Jimmy Carter. Although not the perfect evangelical that the movement would have wanted, once Reagan was in office, the movement wasted no time in trying to influence the President on social matters that the felt needed to be changed or supported with some success.

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Banwart, D. (2013). Jerry Falwell, the Rise of the Moral Majority, and the 1980 Election. Western Illinois Historical ReviewV, 133-155.

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