Falwell's Death Ends an Era

Fineman takes the measure of a partisan preacher and his political legacy
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2007 9:08 AM CDT
Advance, File)   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – It's impossible to grasp the profound change in American political life in the last quarter-century without understanding Jerry Falwell and the movement he fostered, writes Newsweek's Howard Fineman. Falwell, who died yesterday, created the Moral Majority, helped launch the Reagan Revolution, and dug the evangelical foundations—currently shifting—on which the modern Republican establishment stands.

"By turns gracious and crude, Falwell was a maddening combination of worthy, lofty ambition—and mean-spirited, uncaring ignorance," Fineman writes. He traces Falwell's rise from storefront evangelist to shepherd of a huge, increasingly disillusioned flock to creator of a lasting yet checkered legacy, one that blends intolerance and a burning need for acceptance.