French Friday: Falwell & the Fruit of Evangelical Leadership


He was the president of the largest Christian university and an influential political voice for millions of evangelicals. In a lengthy new Vanity Fair profile, however, Jerry Falwell Jr. now says he has contempt for “organized religion” and “religious elites.”


David French and Skye Jethani discuss the shocking claims Falwell makes about Liberty University, how he lived a double life, and what his downfall says about American evangelicalism. Do Falwell and other disgraced leaders represent a bug or a feature of evangelicalism, and are ministries protecting bad or abusive leaders because they’re focused on the wrong fruit? Then, what’s the Electoral Count Act of 1887, and why is reforming it essential to protect American democracy?


0:00 - Start

0:21 - STORY 1: Vanity Fair profile of Jerry Falwell Jr.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/01/inside-jerry-falwell-jr-unlikely-rise-and-precipitous-fall

4:17 - Falwell in context

8:16 - Victim or villain?

13:16 - Broader institutional implications

21:05 - Bug or feature?

27:14 - Measuring the wrong fruit

47:19 - An antidote: Being known

53:22 - STORY 2: Electoral Count Act reform

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/stop-screwing-around-and-reform-the

1:06:33 - End