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In 1976, Baptist minister Jerry Falwell embarked on a series of “I Love America” rallies across the country to raise awareness of social issues important to him. These rallies were an extension of Falwell’s decision to go against the traditional Baptist principle of separating religion and politics, a change of heart Falwell says he had when he perceived what he described as the decay of the nation’s morality. Through hosting these rallies, Falwell was able to gauge national support for a formal organization and also raise his profile as a leader. Having already been a part of a well-established network of ministers and ministries, within a few years Falwell was favorably positioned to launch the Moral Majority.
Reverend Falwell and Paul Weyrich founded the Moral Majority in June, 1979, in Lynchburg, VA, where Falwell was the pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church. The Moral Majority was predominately a Southern-oriented organization of the Christian Right, although its state chapters and political activity extended beyond the South. The number of state chapters grew quickly, with organizations in eighteen states by 1980. The variety of resources available to the Moral Majority at its founding facilitated this rapid expansion, and included Falwell’s mailing list from his television program, “The Old Time Gospel Hour”.
In the 10 years that it existed, (The Moral Majority was dissolved in 1989), the organization had become both the rallying pedestal for the conservative movement and the whipping post for the disparagement of conservatism. At any rate, it served it’s purpose, but history has remembered the Moral Majority in a negative light, as a puritanical, holier-than-thou group of narrow-minded individuals, who were completely intolerant of anyone and anything that went against their understanding of moral and proper thinking and behavior. Moral Majorists were said to have excluded from their circle of friends those who didn’t share their rigid beliefs and lifestyles, and even their political affiliation, even to the point of eventually becoming pariahs in society themselves, and the subject of ridicule by the majority of people, to whom it became obvious that nobody could live up to the standards of ethical purity the group sought to impose on others, while not practicing it themselves.
Fast forward to 2017, where there has risen a new mutation of the Moral Majority of old. This time, however, the morality is not based on Christian fundamentalism, but rather on the “religion” of Secular Humanism. The tenets of the new puritanism include no tolerance for smoking, eating meat, raising animals for meat, selling meat in “fast food” restaurants inexpensively, using oil or electrical power, extracting or refining oil, transporting it, extracting minerals, processing extracted minerals, using plastic bags, using any genetic modifications to grow crops, using any pesticides or other enhancements to make food cheaper and make it possible to feed more people, and I could go on and on.
This new Moral Majority has no problem treating themselves to the finer things in life, in fact, they see themselves as the refined intelligentsia of our society, the arbiters of taste, couth and culture. As such, many of them have declared the duly-elected President-elect Donald Trump unfit to lead, and have refused to accept him as their President. What this even means, will be very interesting to observe.
One thing is certain, however. This new left-leaning “Moral Majority” is likely to meet the same fate as the last movement, and will eventually be ridiculed by historians future. I must say, I will not be sad to see it go.