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Exclusive: Jerry Falwell's FBI File

POSTED: 10:00 AM ET, 11/21/2007 by The Editors

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, stirred up passions with his attacks on abortion and homosexuality. Now, the FBI's confidential file on Falwell, who died in May at age 73, reveals that he also stirred up death threats -- including one that sent agents scrambling to figure out how many gay bars there were in Cincinnati. The bureau released 112 pages of the file to Post reporter Joe Stephens under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Read excerpts here. The file, it turns out, is comprised almost entirely of details about threats aimed at the Lynchburg, Va., fundamentalist. (There's no evidence anyone actually tried to harm Falwell.)

Falwell's FBI file contains a 1983 letter sent to his television ministry that concluded with the words, "Hoping you will die soon." It was accompanied by a small plastic box containing a live scorpion. Then there were the calls to Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg that same year, warning that a $10,000 reward had been offered for Falwell's "assassination" and that it was to be carried out by "gays in Cincinnati." One caller advised, "I know this is true, because my brother is one of them." Said another, "I intend to be the one to collect that money."

That sent FBI agents to a confidential informant they believed knowledgeable about the Midwestern gay community. They debriefed him in a session that generated this memorable passage, typos and all:

"Source furnished a current copy of the Yellow Page, June, 1983, which is Cincinnati's gay newspaper. Circulation in the Cincinnati area is shown to be 2000 copies which is not believed exaggerated. Source stated that the Downtown vicinity of Cincinnati supports eight (8) gay bars and one (Q) lesbian bar. Source restated the general dislike for Jerry Falwell within the Cincinnati area."

The informant led the agents through the history of New York City's Stonewall riots -- a watershed in the early gay rights movement -- and explained that the uprising was where a local political committee got its apparently enigmatic name: Stonewall Cincinnati. The informant offered to gather intelligence on the "content" of club meetings, including a recent gathering that featured a speaker from the American Civil Liberties Union.

There is no evidence in the file that anyone actually tried to carry out any of the threats, or that the people responsible were ever identified.

By The Editors |  November 21, 2007; 10:00 AM ET
Previous: Ruling Could Impede Probes of Congressmen | Next: Senate Demands FBI Files on Bullet Analysis


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Hate breeds hate!


How can ANYONE say they follow Jesus' beautiful teachings and also hate peaceful people for any reason?

Maybe they hate themselves?

Let's ask Ted Haggard!

Posted by: JBE | November 21, 2007 1:38 PM

The file indicates that several handguns, a rifle, and hundreds of cartriges were taken from two pro-gay, anti-Falwell protesters the day before Falwell was scheduled to speak. The protesters were well-armed and found at the location where Falwell would speak less than 24 hours before the informants said Falwell would be killed in Cincinnati.

So the assertion that there was no evidence anyone tried to carry out an attack is not truthful. The file does say that one of the men from whom the guns were taken had run for congress in his home state in 1982, so it would still be possible to search the Federal Election Commission records and find the protester(s) who appeared to be casing the rally site.

Posted by: Kacoo | November 21, 2007 2:25 PM

The Flunkee Bureau of Inptitude (FBI) protecting Falwell whilst the terrorists of 9-11 were allowed to roam free. Figures.

Hopefull Falwell reimbursed the government for time spent. If not reimbursement should come from the Falwell Estate. All being the government is not allowed to engage in a relgious activity, which protecting Falwell was.

Posted by: Maddog | November 21, 2007 2:37 PM

"The file indicates that several handguns, a rifle, and hundreds of cartriges were taken from two pro-gay, anti-Falwell protesters the day before Falwell was scheduled to speak."

The file does not say anything about the protesters being pro-gay. If anything, the file infers the protesters were there to oppose the Reagan Administration's support of China.

Posted by: KJ | November 21, 2007 3:15 PM

Kacoo, where do you get "two pro-gay, anti-Falwell protesters" from the FBI file? There's nothing indicating they were gay. In fact, they were handing out literature critical of President Reagan for "helping build steel mills in the People's Republic of China." Is that part of the "Gay Agenda?" I didn't know there was a Gay Foreign Policy.

Posted by: CT | November 21, 2007 3:24 PM

people like falwell need a taste of the evil they spawn. hopefully, he is receiving that now in HELL, where he and others like him belong!

Posted by: f | November 21, 2007 4:25 PM

I don't condone death threats.

But it's worth remembering that Falwell caused suffering amongst countless gay people. When someone is actively advocating that you be denied health care coverage, jobs, and places to live, it's a bit easier to understand why that person may get death threats.

Falwell didn't stop at threats. He took quite influential actions that made life significantly more difficult for countless Americans.

I've always wondered - exactly where did Jesus say to hound and persecute those that you disagree with? Specifically, even IF homosexuality is a sin, didn't Jesus teach us to love everyone? Making sure people can't see their loved ones in the hospital or denying them health care coverage isn't something the Jesus I'm familiar with would do.

Posted by: Hillman | November 21, 2007 5:05 PM

Yeah, scratch the words "pro-gay." I wrongly assumed one of the men was pro-gay because he had run for congress in California during the previous election cycle and had a Santa Cruz address. Sorry California.

How likely is it to have a death threat on a controversial person and then find two men with guns casing the speaking location the day before?

Posted by: Kacoo | November 21, 2007 5:35 PM

Hey Jerry, if you can hear me, didn't those guys have a second amendment right to bear those arms?

Posted by: khote14 | November 21, 2007 5:40 PM

First, Falwell was not a fundamentalist (whatever that term might mean today), he was an evangelical.

Personally, Falwell always struck me as a compassionate man. He disagreed w/ homosexual conduct, but I never heard him use slurs or disparage individuals. It is completely reasonable for a person in America to disagree w/ homosexual conduct. As an aside, the biblical foundation for Falwell's stance is well documented elsewhere. But he never sought to deny homosexuals health care or access to a home.

Posted by: h4f2007 | November 21, 2007 7:25 PM

It is my understanding that Jerry Falwell proclaimed a Jewish carpenter who purportedly lived some 2000 years ago is in complete and total control of the universe and all it contains. Scary stuff...

Posted by: Bill M | November 21, 2007 7:55 PM

In 2001, Jerry Falwell blamed gays and lesbians (along with other such "sniners" as feminists, "abortionists," and the American Civil Liberties Union) for the terrorist attacks in New York City. "I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen," he said on Robertson's television show, The 700 Club. Falwell later attempted to clarify his remarks, but he never withdrew them or apologized for making them.

h4f2007....guess you don't read much if you think a man who promoted hate was a good man.

Posted by: Mary Anna | November 21, 2007 8:35 PM

it is not "reasonable in america for a person to disagree with homosexual conduct" when what they really mean and support is the denial of EQUAL rights to gay people. gay people pay our taxes, just like born agains and others. i could give a flying f**k whether anyone "disagrees" with my existence, but when you people, with your pinched and holier than thou affects/pronouncements (yet your otherwise completely vile and sleazy behaviors-including the use of prostitutes/drugs/thievery/profound greed, and on and on) try to deny us rights, you have a huge fight on your hands. and, by the way, jesus hates you.

Posted by: f | November 21, 2007 9:45 PM

I would not be surprised in the least if "Doctor" Hyperbole invented or planted some of the so-called 'threats' just to get in the news. He was one of those who loved the limelight and loved being at the heart of controversy. From calling Tinky Winkey "gay" to blaming 911 on pro-choice individuals as well as homosexuals, he cared not what he said just as long as the news covered it! The world is better off now that he has stopped preaching his brand of the gospel of intolerance.

Posted by: Skeptic Tank | November 21, 2007 10:00 PM

Let's not forget what he did after September 11, 2001.

He was evil to the core.

Posted by: Proud American | November 21, 2007 10:01 PM

I volunteer to go to hell to see how Jerry is doing. Go ahead christians, send me to hell in the name of jee-zuss!

Posted by: barf | November 21, 2007 10:16 PM

He had strong convictions, not all nice.
But, now let him R.I.P. And who says the
terrorist were not gay.

Posted by: sardony | November 21, 2007 11:38 PM

It is interesting and entertaining to see the many different versions of intolerance people express regarding gay people, depending on their personal history, style, and education and many other things.

One of my favorites is "I don't have any problem with them, but why do they have to always flaunt their sex lives like that?"
"I disagree with 'homosexual conduct'" is a really nice one, too. Very reasonable.

Posted by: mozcram | November 22, 2007 6:37 AM

He has gone to his reward. He can no longer hurt us. I refuse to give a dead man the power to continue ruining my peace.

Posted by: Phalanx | November 22, 2007 9:57 AM

Are we going to believe or trust the FBI, who has a long history of several decades of persecuting gay men and destroying our lives? Or, are we going to trust that Jerry Falwell is now getting his just rewards, wherever the HELL he may be?
Let us not forget that this man preached hatred and fomented substantial violence over several decades against not only gay men, but anyone who was not a flag-waving, deity-worshipping, heterosexual Republican-cum-fascist. Check out the book "God's Bulllies" for an expose of Falwell'streatment of people: it was an unauthorized biography written in the 1980s and presents a man who had little respect for anyone who differed from him. His worldview and many of his followers' worldview hails from the Dark Ages, not from the unconditional love teachings of their founder.

And, for the record (read: FBI): I am vigorously anti-violence.

Posted by: James | November 22, 2007 3:13 PM

I hope he is sizzling like a slab of bacon, the dirty hate monger. If there is a God in heaven is most certainly is.

Posted by: Simone | November 22, 2007 9:44 PM

Having talked with Falwell on several occassions (most recently in the Fall of 2006), he was anything but a hateful man IMO. He will be missed, especially among those that knew him best. He was among the few that did not allow his celebrity status affect him negatively. We have seen several televangelists blow it, but Falwell in and among his people as a common man. He lived what he preached.

Posted by: Belle Cherbuoy | November 22, 2007 10:43 PM

His role a religious "leader" of a few radical "christians" will be forgotten, while in history he will ALWAYS be remembered as an example of someone who is willing to use national tragedy to advance their agenda by spreading hatred. After 9/11 he was the first out of the gate to use the bombings as a way to demonize those those who did not agree with him. A deeply evil man.

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."
-- Rev Jerry Falwell, blaming civil libertarians, feminists, homosexuals, and abortion rights supporters for the terrorist attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001,

Posted by: RJP3 | November 26, 2007 10:57 AM

Well after considering all the given information I hav to agree with most of you there was no information that stated that the protestors were "two pro-gay, anti-Falwell protesters". The problem with this world is that we all love being involved with others personal business and beliefs that all we create is more chaos. Overall I believe that we should just let people be without having to critizice them for who they are.

Posted by: Joanna | November 27, 2007 2:32 PM

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