Why I Like Larry Flynt Better than Hugh Hefner

By Matt Sutton

I have a new text coming out entitled Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents as part of the Bedford Series in History and Culture. This was a fun book to write—essentially I got to put together a greatest hits list of players and ideas that formed the modern Religious Right. I also had help. Bedford takes their books seriously, which is reassuring as more and more presses seem to be cutting corners. They subjected the book to nine—NINE—peer reviews. Reviewers included blogmeister Paul Harvey (Paul’s review was not positive enough to merit a cover blurb but he did cost me $250 insisting that the Falwell waterslide image be included—thanks Paul, for nothing); fellow RiAH bloggers Steven Miller and John Turner, and friends of the blog David Sehat and Dan Williams all offered helpful suggestions among other great scholars.

Miller, however, led me astray by encouraging me to use an absolutely amazing 1977 Playboy interview with Anita Bryant. Getting it was a challenge—it turns out that here at WSU Playboy microfilm is hidden behind the counter (it takes some work to find it since it is not filed where it is supposed to be) and in order to check out a roll of film you have to leave some collateral with the staff to make sure you don’t steal it. For some reason they do not have the same requirements for checking out Christianity Today.

Unfortunately, we could not get permission to use it. Apparently Hefner plans to reprint the interview himself sometime soon, and since we share such a large audience—Playboy readers and history students—he was afraid of a little competition from me.

I also used Larry Flynt’s moving obituary for Falwell. Flynt gave me permission with no problem at all. Thanks Larry!

Here is the TOC for the book:

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Evangelicals and the Reconstruction of American Politics and Culture
Making Jerry Falwell
The Origins of American Fundamentalism
Remaking American Evangelicalism
Race and the Politicalization of American Evangelicals
Focusing on the Family
Building the Religious Right
The Moral Majority and the Reagan Revolution
Beyond the Moral Majority

The Documents
1. Modern Evangelicalism Comes of Age
1. Harold John Ockenga, The “New” Evangelicalism, 1957
2. Billy Graham, America at the Crossroads, 1958
3. Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 1970
4. Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, November 25, 1973
5. Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, 1981

2. Race and Religious Activism
6. Nelson Bell, A Southern Evangelical on Integration, August 17, 1955
7. Carl McIntire, A Minister Denounces the Civil Rights Act, March 26, 1964
8. Jerry Falwell, Ministers and Marches, 1965
9. Bob Jones University v. United States, 1981, 1983
10. Clarence Hilliard, Down with the Honky Christ, January 30, 1976

3. The Battle for the Schools
11. Engel v. Vitale and the End of Official School Prayer, 1962
12. Tim LaHaye, A Christian View of Radical Sex Education, 1969
13. The Benefits of Lynchburg Christian Academy, Advertisement, 1975
14. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, God in American History, 1977
15. Duane Gish, Dinosaurs and Young-Earth Creationism, 1977

4. Focusing on the Family
16. Carl F. H. Henry, Abortion: An Evangelical View, February 1971
17. The House Debates “Pro-Life” Civil Disobedience, 1985, 1986
18. Anita Bryant, When the Homosexuals Burn the Holy Bible in Public . . . How Can I Stand By Silently, c. 1977
19. Jerry Falwell, Homosexuality: Is It an Acceptable Lifestyle? 1978
20. Marabel Morgan, The Total Woman, 1973
21. Interview with Phyllis Schlafly on the Equal Rights Amendment, November 1978

5. God and the GOP
22. Pat Robertson, Action Plan for the 1980s, 1979
23. Jerry Falwell, Organizing the Moral Majority, 1980
24. Evangelicals Share Their Concerns with President Jimmy Carter, January 21, 1980
25. Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983
26. Ronald Reagan, Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984
27. Larry Flynt, A Pornographer’s Eulogy for Jerry Falwell, May 20, 2007

A Chronology of the Religious Right (1925–2007)
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography


The book will be available in October for Spring classes. Get your orders in!


Paul Harvey said…
You're most welcome, Sutton, always glad to lighten your wallet (next time, skip the image and just send me the $250 directly, k?).

Oh - and CONGRATULATIONS! This collection is going to get used a lot -- maybe even at Liberty Univ.
Mark T. Edwards said…
Congratulations, Matt, on an important book. I especially appreciate the emphasis on race.

Do you think this will open doors for you to be Liberty's next commencement speaker, following in the hollowed steps of Beck and Romney? :)
Edward J. Blum said…
already slated to use it for spring!
Matt Sutton said…
Thanks guys. Mark--I don't think race was the ONLY factor leading to the rise of the RR, but it was certainly one of a small handful of primary causes.

I am waiting for the invitation to Liberty. I am sure it will be arriving shortly.
Mark T. Edwards said…
I agree entirely, Matt, sorry if I implied otherwise. It's just good to see it listed as one causative factor, since it is so often ignored and/or understated.
Curtis J. Evans said…
Looking forward to purchasing this text. I love the Bedford series. Have used several of them for my classes. Seems like another excellent addition. Thanks, Matt.
Anonymous said…
Why "Religious Right" rather than "Christian Right"?
Randall said…
Looking forward to getting a copy. Nice to see how you laid out the book. But . . . I'm a little disappointed that there's not a whole chapter on Jack Chick tracts!
Randall said…
Looking forward to getting a copy. Nice to see how you laid out the book. But . . . I'm a little disappointed that there's not a whole chapter on Jack Chick tracts!
Matt Sutton said…
Anonymous--I went with the most common, most comprehensive term, but it can certainly be problematized in the classroom. Dan Williams has a good discussion of Christian Right vs. New Christian Right vs. Religious Right.

Randall--I would have given Blum's left arm to include a Chick tract, but they have never granted anyone reproduction permission and they ignored my requests. You would think they would want to spread their love?
Bobby said…
Looking forward to the Carl McIntire chapter. I wrote my MA thesis on his protest of the Civil Rights Movement between 1960 and 1964.

This book proves I need to hurry on the dissertation. haha

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