“We helped make a movement that went totally off the rails and, of course, politically is still going now.” (Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer)
Francis Schaeffer was a Christian theologian, pastor, author, political activist, founder of L’Abri community in Switzerland, noted intellectual, and profound speaker. He emerged as a powerful critic of American Evangelical churches and their many compromises with the world, especially abortion. He lectured, wrote books, and filmed a series of documentaries.
Schaeffer then crisscrossed America in the early 1970’s with his wife Edith and son Frank, pointing out our nation’s sins. His messages caught the attention of powerful Christian politicians: Congressman Jack Kemp, Senator Bob Dole, President Jerry Ford, Ronald Reagan, and the Bush family. These politicians believed the Republican Party needed to back Schaeffer’s ideas.
Also, during the 1970’s, Rev. Jerry Falwell, pastor and founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University, realized America was becoming more and more secular, moving away from its Christian roots. Although he had believed and preached for years that Christians should not be overly involved in politics, he noticed the success of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in changing America through the political process. He then traveled across the nation in his “I Love America” tour in 1976 and preached against Equal Rights Amendment, lack of prayer in schools, and abortion.
Schaeffer happened to see Falwell on a televised crusade in 1978. Schaeffer instantly recognized Falwell’s potential for building a broad fundamentalist-evangelical alliance. The two met and Schaeffer convinced Falwell that Christians needed to change America through political involvement.
From this meeting, Falwell went on to found the Moral Majority with Paul Weyrich, a Republican political activist. President Ronald Reagan stated that the Moral Majority helped put him in the White House in 1980.
The Moral Majority was eventually disbanded in 1989. Jerry Falwell stated: “Our goal has been achieved…The religious right is solidly in place and … religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration.”
I agree with Francis Schaeffer’s son Frank’s above quote, but for totally different reasons. More on that later.
But once again, what if Francis Schaeffer had never met with Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1978?
(Continued in Part 2)