Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List

Jerry Falwell: Founder, the Liberty Alliance

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

A Lynchburg, Virginia–based Baptist minister and televangelist who in 1979 helped found the Moral Majority, a group that dramatically infused fundamentalist religious values into American politics, Falwell, 71, remains one of the most influential leaders on the Christian right. Through regular appearances on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as on his own Liberty Channel, Falwell is a tireless political spokesman who downplays environmental ills, dismisses man-made global warming as "a myth," and promotes the literal application of biblical precepts to the use of natural resources. In this, he's representative of a huge number of conservative Christians who take their cue from the Book of Genesis and believe—as codified in a 2000 manifesto called "A Faith Community Commitment to the Environment and our Children's Future," which Falwell signed—that God created plants, oceans, and the beasts of the earth "all for the use of man."

Falwell's long view may not lend itself to careful stewardship, either. Like many fundamentalists, he believes the planet is heading toward a violent apocalypse that will precede a last judgment by God—a view that also drives the hugely popular Left Behind novels written by Jerry B. Jenkins and one of Falwell's fellow Moral Majority principals, Tim LaHaye. Environmentalists worry that such thinking fosters lax attitudes about earthly issues like global warming and resource conservation.

SOUND BITE: Falwell has dismissed global warming forecasts as propaganda "created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability... I urge everyone to go out and buy an SUV today."

NEXT UP: Not all Christians march to the same drummer. In March, the powerful National Association of Evangelicals—a group with 30 million members from 52 denominations—began a push to convince Washington policymakers that global warming is a threat, setting up a clash between Falwell's view and this emerging faith-based consensus.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web