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Reverend Jerry Falwell

by Alex Miller-Mignone

“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”

“The Bible is the inerrant word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc.”

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals. ...AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping into the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers.”

“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country. ... There is no separation of church and state.”

—the Reverend Jerry Falwell

Jerry FalwellWith the death of Jerry Falwell on May 15, 2007, the world lost a major voice for intolerance, and the American conservative movement lost an albatross around its neck. Falwell was the founder of the Moral Majority, the first serious attempt to mobilize evangelical voters, and arguably an instrumental factor in Reagan’s 1980 election, a forerunner of the more aggressive and successful Christian Coalition. In recent years the once politically powerful Falwell had emerged as a sneering caricature of himself, outing children’s TV characters and blaming pagans, gays and secularists for the 9/11 attacks.

Born 11 August 1933, in Lynchburg, Virginia, Falwell’s father was an agnostic and his grandfather a confirmed atheist. The family owned the local power station. Falwell’s father ran a dance hall and pushed bootleg liquor during prohibition; an alcoholic, he died of related complications in 1948. Falwell’s conversion to Christianity occurred shortly after, when he heard a sermon on a local radio show, the “Old-Fashioned Revival Hour.” Falwell enrolled in the Bible Baptist College in Springfield, Missouri, and after graduating he returned to Lynchburg to found the Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1956, which he took from an original congregation of 35 to a membership of more than 24,000. The church sports a 6,000-seat stadium sanctuary and includes educational space of more than a million square feet. Six months after the church’s founding, Falwell was on the airways with his “Old Time Gospel Hour,” which eventually gave him national exposure when it was syndicated on the Christian Broadcast Network.

In 1971 Falwell founded Liberty Baptist University, which grew to become the largest Christian institution of higher learning in the US. The facility opened with 154 students and only four full-time faculty members; full accreditation took several years, but in time the university became a de rigeur stop for GOP candidates on the campaign trail, and its commencement speaker roster reads like a Who’s Who of conservatism in America.

In his early career, Falwell was an avid proponent of segregation, often featuring stalwarts George Wallace and Lester Maddox on his TV show, and terming the equal rights struggle, “the Civil Wrongs Movement.”

Falwell openly questioned Martin Luther King, Jr’s “sincerity and non-violent intentions,” accusing him of communist sympathies. Only when the rest of America had left him in the dust on this issue did he moderate his stance. During the Reagan administration, Falwell was also highly critical of economic sanctions imposed upon South Africa’s apartheid government, a last gasp of his earlier segregationist roots, which he cloaked as worry for a backlash against its black citizens in retaliation. Less easy to square with his supposed humanitarian concerns was his simultaneous recommendation to his television audience that they invest in gold Krugerrands, the South African currency, and support US reinvestment in the country.

Falwell was a staunch supporter of Israel, but as with many evangelicals, his support is self-interested—unless the Jewish state reclaims its Biblical proportions, the Second Coming of Falwell’s Savior cannot occur. At that event, fundamentalists believe that the Jewish people who constitute the state of Israel, being unbelievers in Jesus Christ, will perish in a fiery apocalypse which claims all non-Christians, so his “support” of Israel can be said to be at best hypocritical, at worst ill-intentioned.

Originally, Falwell averred that Christians should be apolitical, but US Supreme Court decisions which eliminated prayer in public schools and legalized abortion caused him to reassess this position. In 1979 he used his televised platform to found the Moral Majority, a group devoted to mobilizing evangelical voters in support of candidates endorsing their reactionary views. His claim that he had brought more than 14 million new or lapsed voters into the process and assured Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980 is disputed, but the unholy alliance which Falwell and the leaders of successor organizations such as the Christian Coalition forged with the GOP have undeniably resulted in the paralysis and polarization that has afflicted American politics for the past two decades.

Falwell and his Moral Majority preached a return to “Biblical basics” for the country, a term whose definition was broadened to include opposition to the teaching of evolution, feminism, homosexuality, abortion and welfare, and support for nuclear weaponry, the free market and cuts in social spending. The Moral Majority, which at its height boasted some 4 million members, did not long outlive the Reagan administration, being dissolved in 1989, its remnants incorporated into the Christian Coalition, which has now apparently also gone the way of all flesh (with revenue down from $26.5 million in 1996 to $1.3 million in 2004).

But while Falwell’s ministry continued, both on air and in the ever-expanding facility in Lynchburg, his credibility waned. He regularly issued pronouncements which made himself and his adherents appear ridiculous. In the early 1980's he lost three court cases which alleged libel, two to Penthouse and Hustler magazines, in which he was the plaintiff, and one with gay activist Jerry Sloan, in which he was the defendant, when he characterized the gay Metropolitan Community Church as “brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system.”

In 1994 he funded and promoted “The Clinton Chronicles: An Investigation into the Alleged Criminal Activities of Bill Clinton,” a pseudo-documentary on video which sold 150,000 copies and explored the existence of a vast network of illegality and murder, masterminded by the 42nd president of the United States. In 1999 his publication, the National Liberty Journal, “outed” popular BBC pre-school TV show character Tinky-Winky as gay, based upon his purple color, triangular-shaped headgear, and his habit, despite being male, of carrying a red purse. In 2002 his comment that Islam’s founder, Mohammed, was a “terrorist” caused international outrage and prompted riots in India in which eight people died.

A smattering of Falwell quotations should suffice to illustrate the quality of his opinions and discourse:

On education:

“I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!’

On global warming:

“It is God’s planet—and he is taking care of it. And I don’t believe that anything we do will raise or lower the temperature one point. ...I believe that global warming is a myth. ...The whole global warming thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

On the American Civil Liberties Union:

“The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi Party is to Jews.”

On gay rights:

“I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One’s misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status. ... But I do not believe anyone begins a homosexual.”

On terrorism:

“You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”

On 9/11:

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’"

At approximately 10:45 AM on the morning of 15 May 2007, Reverend Falwell was found unconscious and nonresponsive on the floor of his Liberty University office. He was rushed to Lynchburg General Hospital, where CPR was unsuccessfully administered; he was officially pronounced dead at 12:40 PM, cause of death stated to be cardiac arrhythmia.

Falwell’s body lay in state at both the church and the university he had founded, and more than 33,000 mourners filed past in the week until his funeral. On May 22, he was eulogized in a 90-minute service attended by almost 10,000; Franklin Graham, famed evangelist Billy Graham’s son and successor, termed him “the prophet of our generation.” Following the public ceremony Falwell was buried in a private service on Liberty University grounds.

Jerry Falwell Although, as stated in the quotations which began this article, Falwell personally considered any non-Christian to be a “failure,” it could be fairly argued that Falwell himself was equally a failure as a Christian. Franklin Graham’s assertion of Falwell as a “prophet” may be apt, but as all good Christians know, the line of prophets terminated with the birth of the Christ, and Falwell’s philosophy of intolerance and finger-pointing resonates more with Old Testament strictures and diatribes and Pauline prejudices than with any words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth—words such as “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” “love thy neighbor as thyself,” “love thy enemies,” and “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Jerry Falwell fulminated about sin, damnation and hell on a frequent basis. He once stated, “I think hell’s a real place where real people spend a real eternity.” If there is any justice, perhaps he can now validate that statement.

Born 11 August 1933, Jerry Falwell’s Sun at 18 Leo lies at the open end of a Galactic T-Square of Deep Space energies, thus creating a Grand Cross in Fixed Signs, with an opposition to the Pulsar at 15 Aquarius and squares to the Pulsar at 14 Scorpio and the Black Hole at 16 Taurus. The Sun is further aspected to two additional Black Holes, at 18 Sagittarius in trine, and 19 Capricorn inconjunct. Although the Sun is not conjoined by any of these anomalies, they do afford him a high media profile (the Pulsars) and the ability to influence or direct large numbers of people, altering reality to his liking in the process (the Black Holes). In some ways, Falwell’s freedom of action in working with these energies is not as circumscribed as if his Sun was directly enmeshed within the bounds of one of them.

The Pulsar contacts afforded Falwell an ability to use the media—even his detractors—to bring more focus onto himself and his issues. Falwell once said in reference to the gay and lesbian protestors that hounded his public appearances, “Thank God for these gay demonstrators. If I didn't have them, I'd have to invent them. They give me all the publicity I need.” Falwell instinctively knew the value of the media, and the PR dictum that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Every shocking incident, every volatile pronouncement, added to his high public profile and gave him another opportunity to advance his views. With two Pulsar contacts to his Sun, Falwell was a natural on the airwaves—his rather pontifical yet playful, avuncular style reflects the dual Leo loves of pomp and high jinks. He could play the reasonable everyman effortlessly, still exuding an air of authority while spouting the most appalling, poorly reasoned drivel. The Pulsar contacts are also key to establishing his own media empire, on television and in print.

Multiple Black Hole contacts to a single celestial can act in two ways—as a dividing of focus, with the native striking out willy-nilly in many directions at once, lessening his overall impact; or as a magnifier, funneling greater amounts of energy and access into the native’s control. The latter would seem to be the case with Falwell, who built a grassroots organization of several million evangelical voters from virtually nothing at all. This ability to create from the void is an important Black Hole attribute, but one not easy to direct or control. It requires a focused mind and a greater-than-typical share of good fortune, as well as thoroughly knowing your audience. This Falwell certainly did, once commenting that “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” Falwell’s success in mobilizing his base crucially depended upon the truth of this assertion, and he was instrumental in assisting the GOP to understand the value of the credulous and nondiscriminating fundamentalist voter.

As to the focused mind, Falwell has this in spades, with an exact conjunction of natal Mercury with the Black Hole at 2 Leo and conjoined a Pulsar at 1 Leo, forming a Galactic Grand Trine with the Black Hole at 3 Sagittarius and minor planet Eris at 3 Aries retrograde, itself conjunct another Pulsar. Mercury linked with Black Hole energies creates a powerful, persuasive speaker, able to convince us of the truth of even the most idiotic or unfounded pronouncements. The access granted to the nonphysical realms in parallel universes beyond the singularity of the Black Hole also promotes creativity and allows the native to envision, not just the way things are, but the ways they might become. There is a great deal of mental focus granted with this combination, a certain ruthlessness in overcoming objections, and an unwillingness to concede defeat or error. Mercury is all the stronger for being just two days past its direct station, and thus a still point upon which the rest of the nativity revolves.

Some individuals with Mercury conjoined a Black Hole can have difficulty expressing themselves or being truly heard by others, as if their message has been trapped within the confines of the Black Hole’s supergravity and is unable to penetrate into this reality. Falwell is fortunate in this regard with Mercury’s placement in the Grand Trine and the inclusion of two Pulsars in the pattern, which supports the dissemination of his message, and allows him to effectively create the reality he desires out of the one he already experiences. The Pulsars lend a degree of weight or gravitas to his opinions; he is able to speak as a proponent of spiritual Truth simply because he unwaveringly believes that the information they impart from within his being is the infallible voice of his god. Those Pulsars may reflect Falwell’s Truth, but not any objective one.

Eris is the fly in the ointment here, for its tendency to disrupt and appear uncongenial, spiteful, or just downright mean was an obvious hindrance to Falwell, alienating most others who were not already inclined to share his views. Eris’ tendency to fractious, divisive commentary is clearly seen in the tenor of many of Falwell’s statements, and to those not predisposed to endorse his perspective, he always came across as sneering, condescending and intractable. His ability to magnify, define and direct the inchoate discontent felt by many cultural conservatives greatly enhanced his success in mobilizing them, and this stems directly from the Eris contact.

Jupiter at 23 Virgo, in square to the Pulsar at 24 Sagittarius and the Galactic Center at 26, gave Falwell a highly visible platform for his views. Not content with merely expressing these, Falwell founded a university (Jupiter-ruled) to train others in his philosophy, and these graduates propagated his worldview as well. Falwell’s grand vision was both sweeping and apocalyptic. He outlined his goal and the plan he had to reach it when he stated, “If we are going to save America and evangelize the world, we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth ... We need to pull out all the stops to recruit and train 25 million Americans to become informed pro-moral activists whose voices can be heard in the halls of Congress.” It is the Galactic Center contact which provided the exceptional level of visibility for his views, promoting as it does a universal or global impact and attention, while the Pulsar greatly assisted in allowing Falwell to air his opinions, using the controversy they evoked to convert the media into his unwitting accomplices in disseminating them.

Mars at 20 Libra in the nativity is tied to a Grand Cross composed of an opposition to Uranus at 27 Aries retrograde (conjoined a Black Hole) and squares to natal Pluto at 23 Cancer and the Black Hole at 19 Capricorn. This describes Falwell’s rather vituperative, unforgiving stance on sexual issues and the militancy with which he expressed them, his tendency to rabble-rouse, and the willingness to consign others to perdition for acts which he considered sinful. Interestingly, the asteroid Paul conjoins Pluto from 20 Cancer, in exact square to Mars, and Falwell’s philosophy mirrors the apostle Paul’s misogyny and homophobia; his unwillingness to live and let live in matters of sexuality. It may also reflect his conversion experience, which like Paul’s, was sudden and dramatic, propelling him from his upbringing as an unbeliever into a strident proponent of the faith which he adopted. Similarly, asteroid Israel conjoins Falwell’s 18 Leo Sun from 11 Leo, indicating his identification with and support of the Jewish state, but also the self-interested quality of that support.

Natal Saturn at 12 Aquarius is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, and opposed the Sun. Black Hole Saturn natives work best in an executive or supervisory capacity, as they often have difficulty with authority figures. We will never know how much of Falwell’s avid espousal of biblical inerrancy and fundamentalism was a reaction to the choices made by his father and grandfather, both noted unbelievers, but it is not at all uncommon for Black Hole Saturn sons to strike a very different course from their fathers. This combination also produces a gift for organization and self-discipline, the ability to build an impressive structure from modest beginnings, as when Falwell mentored a flock of 35 into a congregation of 24,000, taking them from a borrowed elementary school classroom to a 6,000-seat sanctuary. Black Hole Saturn can also be hyper-critical, of oneself and others, and disinclined to mercy or condoning human weakness or frailty.

Finally, natal Neptune at 9 Virgo is exactly conjoined a Black Hole, and in exact square to asteroid Midas at 9 Gemini. Falwell’s ability to solicit funds from the faithful via his televised appearances (both Neptune) was legendary, and over time gave him the income necessary not only to continue and expand his ministry, but to found a university to train others to carry it on after his death. This golden touch in converting spirituality into cash served him well, although Falwell himself lived comparatively simply.

Jerry FalwellAt the time of his death on 15 May 2007, Falwell was undergoing several difficult transits. He had just received a station of Saturn, ancient significator of death, exactly on his 18 Leo Sun the month before, and it was still at that degree, joined by an exact inconjunct from transit Uranus at 18 Pisces, and a trine from retrograde Jupiter at 17 Sagittarius. Mars at 29 Pisces, conjoined a Black Hole and in the final degree of the zodiac, seemed to be bidding a fond farewell to one of the champions and exemplars of the religious strife and intolerance so typical of the Piscean Age that thankfully is passing, with Falwell, into oblivion.

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at