Home > History > Lester Roloff: Freedom’s Last Call

Lester Roloff: Freedom’s Last Call

Lester Roloff was one of the most important men within East Coast Fundamentalist Baptist circles in the Seventies and very early Eighties (along with John R. Rice, Lee Roberson, Bob Jones, and Jack Hyles) and helped set the standard for the kind of civil disobedience that was part of fundamentalist culture between about 1970 (when the Nixon-era IRS notified Bob Jones University that it was about to lose its tax-exempt status) (link) and the founding of the Moral Majority in 1979.

In 1976 Roloff spent five days in jail for contempt of court rather than let the state of Texas license the reform schools (for lack of a better term) for boys and girls he ran under various names. Some kind soul has posted in its entirety the Roloff documentary Freedom’s Last Call on YouTube in seven installments. Here’s the first:

Among the charges leveled against Roloff at the time was that the homes overworked the kids, fed them a raw-food vegan diet, and used corporal punishment. The early segment focused on food is fascinating; this is a film produced by Roloff’s organization, but he comes across as awkward and uncomfortable.

This is a fascinating little time capsule, and I wish it were available on DVD. If it is I can’t find it anywhere.

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