NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For the first time since social conservatives helped send Ronald Reagan to the White House in the early 1980s, Jerry Falwell will not be around for a presidential election.
But his son, Jonathan, thinks he knows what his dad — who died last year at age 73 — would think about the choice between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. Falwell was the long-time pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg Va., where Jonathan now serves as senior pastor.
Jerry Falwell got involved in politics in large measure to see Roe v. Wade overturned. In fact, that infamous 1973 decision — as recounted in the book “Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy” by his widow, Macel Falwell — is what drove Falwell to reverse his previous position that preachers should stay out of the political arena.
Falwell, his son said, would view the election as a critical one that could possibly lead to the fulfillment of his dream of Roe being struck down.
“I think what Dad would say is that we are sitting at a crossroads in our political landscape — really for the future, 30 to 40 years in the future,” Jonathan Falwell told Baptist Press. “The next president is going to nominate at least two and maybe more Supreme Court justices. When Dad started the Moral Majority back in the late ’70s, he had a vision, he had a plan to bring our country to the point where abortion on demand would no longer be legal. We are so close, with President Bush putting [Samuel] Alito and [John] Roberts onto the court, we are one vote away from a court that would be a strict constructionist court (and) not one that tries to legislate from the bench.”
Jerry Falwell had disagreements with McCain, Jonathan Falwell said, but would have supported him.
“So, for people — even conservatives — to say that Sen. McCain is not the perfect candidates and therefore we’re just going to stay home, that’s not a wise move and I don’t think Dad would support that move,” Jonathan Falwell said. “Dad would say, ‘It’s far better to have somebody who’s 90 percent your friend than to have somebody who’s 100 percent your enemy…. Sen. McCain has said he’s going to put strict constructionist judges on the court, and he went as far as to say like Alito and like Roberts. I can guarantee you that Sen. Obama … is not going to put judges on our court like Alito and like Roberts.”
Of the nine Supreme Court justices, two (Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia) are on record as opposing Roe. Roberts and Alito have not taken a public position on Roe but did vote to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortion.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.