New Book Reveals Jerry Falwell's Finances

Contributed by Cary McMullen

June 18, 2009

In the June 16 edition of The Christian Century, retired Presbyterian pastor John Killinger -- who pastored for years near Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. -- reviews "Falwell Inc.", a new book by Forbes magazine senior reporter Dirk Smillie. The book takes an inside look at Falwell's financial dealings. According to Killinger, the picture that emerges is of a wheeler-dealer who was long on enterprise and short on prudence, who operated on "a chronic cycle of debt" and used the dire prospect of stopping TV broadcasts to fuel appeals for money.

Here's one shocking nugget from the review: "when the evangelist reported in 1992 that he had been bailed out of a particularly tight spot by two former Liberty fund-raisers, Jimmy Thomas and Daniel Reber, Smillie says it was 'probably the biggest whopper Falwell ever told' because the money actually came from Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in a deal 'almost certainly brokered by Ron Godwin,' who left Falwell in 1987 to work for Moon at the Washington Times..." Jerry Falwell, the absolute bastion of right-thinking biblical orthodoxy, taking money from Sun Myung Moon to keep his ministry afloat? Whew. He would have had a hard time explaining that one to the faithful, if it had become known in his lifetime.