What is the Moral Majority? - Definition & Issues

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson focuses on the Moral Majority organization started by Jerry Falwell in 1979. The organization was founded to give evangelical Christians a stronger voice in American politics.

The Making of a Movement

Politics is a dirty business. Who doesn't agree with that statement? Maybe the politicians themselves, but the majority of Americans dislike the notion of politics and the people who practice it. Look at the approval numbers for any Congress during the last decade. According to Gallup, the polling gurus, congressional approval topped out at 39% in March of 2009 and the figure hasn't exceeded 20% since June of 2011. This statistic shows that many people do not like politicians. So why would anyone want to sully their own reputation by starting a national organization with political ambitions?

People liked politics no better in the 1970s. According to Gallup, the average congressional approval rating between April 1974 and June 1979 was about 33%, with a low of 19% in 1979. In the same year, Jerry Falwell sought to change politics by forming an organization called the Moral Majority in order to give evangelical Christians more political power. At the time, Falwell was the pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, one of the most influential evangelical churches in America. After leading the 'I Love America' rallies, which were both religious and patriotic, he was viewed as a prominent leader of the Christian right. Subsequently, several conservative politicians asked him to found the Moral Majority.

Jerry Falwell

What Was the Moral Majority?

Many conservative Christians believed that they had no proper voice in politics. Falwell started the organization because he thought evangelicals made up a large voting block and needed better representation in Washington, D.C. and state governments. The Moral Majority acted through Political Action Committees (PACs), whose goal was to influence politicians regarding issues important within the structure of Christian moral law.

The goal of the organization was not to force a new form of politics on the nation, which would defeat its mission to act as a positive force. Instead, it intended to give the disenfranchised a voice.

What Did the Moral Majority Believe?

Since politics had long been a game that was played in smoky back rooms and far from the public eye, Falwell wanted his organization to operate out in the open. He also wanted to present issues that he believed were necessary to reestablish the moral code of Americans. Among these issues were:

  • The organization believed that the decay of the traditional American family was the reason that immorality was so prevalent in society. They saw rises in the crime rate and unwed pregnancies, among other issues, as a consequence of this breakdown.
  • The Moral Majority believed that homosexuality was a sin and fought to unseat any state or national politician who viewed it as a legitimate practice.
  • They fought the media, focusing on programs that opposed what the organization believed were wholesome family values.
  • The Equal Rights Amendment, which was in the process of ratification during the early 1980s, was seen as a danger to the traditional family.
  • The organization wanted the Supreme Court to overturn the abortion provisions of Roe vs. Wade. The leaders of the Moral Majority and many of its members did not believe that abortions should be legal under any circumstances.
  • They believed that America should be protected and opposed any attempts to decrease the nuclear arsenal via Strategic Limitation Talks.
  • The group wanted prayer to be returned to schools.

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