Exactly a week before the Republican National Convention opened in New York, the renowned televangelist Jerry Falwell encouraged students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to start churches and let the faith of the nation be restored.
Paige Patterson, the seminary’s president, introduced Falwell as a "prophet and a man of true courage." Meanwhile, Falwell called Patterson "the only clergyman I know slightly to the right of me." Patterson is known to have spearheaded the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention 25 years ago.
In his message Falwell focused on the impact of visionary Christian leaders in America’s pulpits, courthouses and statehouses.
He began confirming his support for President Bush.
"The press is here today, expecting me to get into politics, which I'm not going to do -- except to tell you to vote for the Bush of your choice,” said Falwell.
His focus of the day was placed on “world evangelization. “
"That's the ultimate goal of the gospel,” Falwell said, as he explained his own beginning.
Falwell said God transformed his life and gave him a vision of starting a church in a city known for its ungodliness.
"There's nothing wrong with assuming a pulpit" in an established church, he said. "But there's something nobler about starting one.”
On the other hand, Falwell encouraged the seminary students to enter moderate churches to share the fundamental teachings of the bible with them.
"May God lead many of you to some of these moderate churches that deserve fundamentalist pastors like you. ... Sometimes it takes a full year before that church is who you are,” said Falwell.
In relation to the secular field, Falwell said the students must have a dream to "train men and women in the legal profession to be legislators and judges ...who can help bring this nation back to God and back to the faith of our fathers.”
"America is about to lose her vision. We're a nation under God, built on the Judeo-Christian ethic. Runaway judges have almost wrecked the country these last 40 years, expelling God from schoolhouses and now courthouses," he said.
These activist judges have attempted to "create a secular nation out of a Christian nation, which our founders clearly intended," he continued. "Your job and mine is to refuse to let them do it."
Falwell also mentioned that he had no intention of allowing Americans United for Separation of Church and State to steal the country from people of faith.
Americans United, spearheaded by Rev. Barry Lynn, has been at odds with many conservative Christian leaders, including Falwell. Last month, Lynn reported Falwell to the Internal Revenue Service because of a website posting endorsing Bush for President.
Despite the threat from Lynn, Falwell reiterated his viewpoint on the elections, saying, "I think John Kerry is a formidable opponent. I also think he is the most liberal person ever to run for the office of the president, and I hope he loses."
Nevertheless, Falwell reminded the students that the difference is made through get-out-the-vote efforts from churches, rather than pastoral endorsements of candidates.
"All the surveys indicate that people of faith who are regular church attenders will vote pro-life and in support of traditional families. In this election, that means George Bush," he said.