The Falwell Faithful Consider His Political Legacy
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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook.
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NPR's Adam Hochberg is in Lynchburg where Liberty students and faculty pledged today that Falwell's work will continue.
ADAM HOCHBERG: For the past two days, remembrances at Liberty have been small and understated, like the prayer student Jeff Frasha(ph) led for a few classmates near a highway on the edge of campus.
JEFF FRASHA: Thank you, Lord God, for the life of Dr. Jerry Falwell and thank you for this man of faith who led us all these years. He's really an awesome guy.
HOCHBERG: Brittany Martin(ph) was among the students who mourned his death.
BRITTANY MARTIN: I just considered him my grandfather. We really loved Dr. Falwell. I think he did so much. He had such a good dream for this university and I'm really proud to be a part of it.
HOCHBERG: Martin and other people on campus are quick to pledge that Falwell's dream will continue. The preacher's sons likely will take over the university and Falwell's church, while Liberty senior Danielle Dill(ph) is confident the late preacher's legacy will live on through students and alumni.
DANIELLE DILL: Well, we were taught to be champions of Christ. And Liberty has produced so many missionaries and so many pastors and someone will step up. Or you might have to use a hundred people to fill Dr. Falwell's position, but God will still get his message out.
HOCHBERG: Most of today's Liberty students are too young to remember Falwell at the height of his fame and political power. In the 1980s, when his Moral Majority claimed six million members, when U.S. news and world report named him one of the 25 most influential Americans and when he delivered the benediction after Ronald Reagan was nominated at the 1984 Republican convention.
JERRY FALWELL: It is a great honor to ask our Lord's blessing upon a man that many of us believe indeed to be our greatest president since Lincoln.
HOCHBERG: Jim Guth teaches religion and politics at Furman University.
JIM GUTH: Evangelicals, traditionally - all the way through the late 1970s - had been much less active in political matters and in part, as a result of his efforts, that's changed. It has changed in almost every Evangelical Protestant denomination or group that you can think of.
HOCHBERG: But Guth says while Falwell served as a model for a generation of national religious leaders, it's unlikely any single person will again have the fame and influence Falwell did.
GUTH: Falwell received a lot of attention because he was the first. But I think in religious communities, generally, you have much more diversity internally within movements. You won't see anybody who - even by the outside media has referred to as the central figure in any major religious community.
HOCHBERG: Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Lynchburg, Virginia.
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