Exclusive: Jerry Falwell's FBI File
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.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: JBE | November 21, 2007 1:38 PM
Posted by: Kacoo | November 21, 2007 2:25 PM
Posted by: Maddog | November 21, 2007 2:37 PM
Posted by: KJ | November 21, 2007 3:15 PM
Posted by: CT | November 21, 2007 3:24 PM
Posted by: f | November 21, 2007 4:25 PM
Posted by: Hillman | November 21, 2007 5:05 PM
Posted by: Kacoo | November 21, 2007 5:35 PM
Posted by: khote14 | November 21, 2007 5:40 PM
Posted by: h4f2007 | November 21, 2007 7:25 PM
Posted by: Bill M | November 21, 2007 7:55 PM
Posted by: Mary Anna | November 21, 2007 8:35 PM
Posted by: f | November 21, 2007 9:45 PM
Posted by: Skeptic Tank | November 21, 2007 10:00 PM
Posted by: Proud American | November 21, 2007 10:01 PM
Posted by: barf | November 21, 2007 10:16 PM
Posted by: sardony | November 21, 2007 11:38 PM
Posted by: mozcram | November 22, 2007 6:37 AM
Posted by: Phalanx | November 22, 2007 9:57 AM
Posted by: James | November 22, 2007 3:13 PM
Posted by: Simone | November 22, 2007 9:44 PM
Posted by: Belle Cherbuoy | November 22, 2007 10:43 PM
Posted by: RJP3 | November 26, 2007 10:57 AM
Posted by: Joanna | November 27, 2007 2:32 PM