The Religious Right was born during the ineptitude of the Jimmy Carter presidency and came to maturity during the Bill Clinton years. It got old and feeble during the G.W. Bush years. And now under the Trump presidency, it is nothing but a rotting corpse. The Religious Right was created to be a cure, but it has become a blight.
I was a young preacher back in the 1970s when the Religious Right (as it was dubbed by the media) was birthed. I had recently graduated from what is now the Willmington School of the Bible (named after my dean, teacher and friend, Dr. Harold Willmington—he was the main reason I transferred to the institute) at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. In fact, I was a member of Liberty’s first full graduation class in 1975. I knew the Falwell children, Jerry Jr., Jeannie and Jonathan, when they were kids. The school was small then; and the school president, Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., and I became quite close.
Jerry spoke at my church in Florida several times, and he invited me to be the featured speaker at Liberty more than once. In 1979, Jerry asked me to be the executive director of the Florida Moral Majority, which I was happy to do. I traveled with Jerry several times on his private jet; he and I shared the platform together in several conferences; I was a featured guest on his nationally syndicated Old Time Gospel Hour television broadcast; and Jerry featured me in his national publication, the National Liberty Journal. I accompanied Jerry overseas twice, and we often spoke by phone.
During those years, I met most of the leaders of the Religious Right. I was there when Jerry led the Religious Right to endorse George H.W. Bush as Ronald Reagan’s running mate in 1980 (over the strong objections of a few of us). I was at the White House with Jerry on at least two occasions. I had audiences with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, several cabinet members, many U.S. senators, house members and governors. I was one of the young bucks in the room, but I was there.