This Independent Study is about Jerry Falwell, the most important figure in the early days of what is now referred to as the Christian Right. It is an examination of the sources of Falwell’s political ideology and the story of the development and expansion of an alternative political and religious network of activists, media, and political operatives; this network would come to take over the Republican Party and dominate the political agenda of the United States from the 1980s well into the twenty-first century. It describes, in detail, the sources of Falwell’s ideas and the cultural milieu in which he built his political and religious empire. Additionally, it traces his political ideology over time and across issues. This Independent Study is particularly focused on the development and deployment of Falwell’s fight against the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, in particular his demonization of LGBTQ peoples. This analysis shows that Falwell fed on anxieties developed from shifting norms during Gay Liberation and Women’s Liberation, providing a private political outlet for social and religious conservatives. He demonizes the homosexual and uses patriarchal language as a tool to instill fear and justify political involvement claiming that ‘the American family,’ and its values, are under attack. Using this approach, he is able to advocate for policies that would maintain patriarchy and white supremacy.
Blinka, Abigail, "Fundamentalist-in-Chief: How Jerry Falwell Built the Religious Right and Became the Face of Family Values in American Politics, 1956–1980" (2019). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 8576.
Christianity | Cultural History | History of Gender | History of Religion | Other American Studies | Political History | Rhetoric | Social History | United States History | Women's History
Falwell, fundamentalism, evangelical, Religious Right, conservatism, Gay Liberation, sexual revolution, backlash
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2019 Abigail Blinka