LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)–Ed McAteer “led the charge” to put moral issues on the nation’s agenda, Jerry Falwell said.
“What the press calls today the ‘Religious Right’ really was his dream 35-40 years ago,” Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority in the 1970s, told Baptist Press in an interview Oct. 7.
McAteer, who died Oct. 5 at the age of 78 in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., founded an organization called the Religious Roundtable, encompassing leaders from the ministry, government, business and the military. Through the Religious Roundtable and numerous other involvements, especially in support of the state of Israel, McAteer played a key role in stirring Falwell and other evangelicals to contend for their beliefs in the public arena.
“When he first met me, he was [a sales executive] with Colgate-Palmolive, and he was asking me to use my influence to call America back to the faith of our fathers … to get involved in the moral and social issues facing America,” Falwell recounted.
“I was impressed with his sincerity and through the years he and I have been mutual friends and participants in many projects.”
McAteer “challenged me to use my television and radio ministry to awaken America to its moral decline,” Falwell said. “He and [the late theologian] Francis Schaeffer and others, Sen. Jesse Helms, were all mentors of mine back in the early days.
“Most evangelicals had been taught that religion and politics don’t mix and we had yielded the platform to liberal theologians.
“We had not shown up for the battle,” Falwell said. “Ed helped change all that…. He led the charge in America on issues like abortion, faith and family values.”
McAteer’s funeral was this morning, Oct. 8, at the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. He had been improving after treatment for cancer but died unexpectedly Oct. 5 amid a lighthearted exchange with his wife, Faye, at their home, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.