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March 21, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-03-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

16 Friday, March 21, 1986


Have We
Been Misreading
Jerry Falwell?

In an exclusive interview with The
Jewish News, the minister of
Lynchburg, Va.'s Thomas Road
Baptist Church reveals that he
desperately wants to be a friend to
the Jews, but his media image
haunts him.

Special to The Jewish News

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Jerry Falwell greets you with a friend-
ly, downhome handshake in his elegantly
styled early American office at the
Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynch-
burg, Virginia.
He apologizes for the flesh colored
makeup on his face. He's just finished a
taping session for his Old Time Gospel
Hour Show. But in this case the makeup
couldn't be more appropriate. For years
American Jews have wondered what's
behind that makeup, that smile and the
outspoken support that Falwell and his
church have given to the State of Israel.
In an exclusive interview with The
Jewish News, Falwell talked about his
standing in the Jewish community. He
readily admitted that his Jewish support
is questionable and controversial. He
blamed the media for the suspicion Jews
feel toward him. He talked about his
church's undying support of Israel. He
talked about Jews and what they are miss-
ing in life. He talked about church and
state issues, ERA, abortion and sexuality.
But he kept coming back to his image. He
desperately wants to be a friend to the
Jews. But the image haunts him.
Falwell has been accused of calling for
the Christianiiation of America. He hds
been accused of being anti-Semitic, of us-
ing the political influence of his Moral Ma-
jority to help defeat several pro-Israel
American politicans in their re-election
bids. His staunch support of Israel has
been characterized by many Jews as simp-
ly a front for his alleged real intentions: to
see Jesus Christ return. Indeed, Biblical
prophecy said that Israel must be secure
and that Jews must be saved (except
Jesus) for all of this to happen.
And while he is much maligned in a large
part of the Jewish community, he does
have his Jewish supporters. This support
comes mostly from the Orthodox commun-
ity that backs his pro-family and pro-Israel
stance. It cannot be forgotten, after all,
that former Israeli Prime Minster Mena-
chem Begin bestowed the coveted Jabotin-
sky Award on Jerry Falwell.
Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church
stands in a quiet Lynchburg neighbor-
hood. It is a large brick complex that
houses schools and a sanctuary much like
any large Detroit synagogue. Walking
into the sanctuary, it is almost surprising
to see the bright television lights and the
cameras and sound equipment all around.
It looks almost Hollywoodish.
Lynchburg is a factory town. Its leading
business seems to be religion. There are



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