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“the Devil’s had it long enough”

One of the great puzzles of Jerry Falwell’s biography after he became involved in politics was his relationship with the various parts of the Sun Myung Moon (of Unification Church fame) organization, including

  • Why his relationship with the Washington Times was relatively cozy, at least until Fox News came on the scene
  • Why he rehired Ron Godwin after the latter’s stint in the Moon/Times organization
  • Why he took a donation and borrowed money from two branches of the Moon organization in the Nineties

A John W. Kennedy/Christianity Today article from 1998 describes the last bullet this way:

Affiliates of Sun Myung Moon, controversial leader of the Unification Church, have a history of supporting and courting conservative evangelicals. Now, according to published reports, financial support has been filtered to Liberty University from Moon-related enterprises. But Liberty founder Jerry Falwell told Christianity Today that the source of the funds does not influence his ministry.

“If the American Atheists Society or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an unrestricted gift to any of my ministries,” Falwell says, “be assured I will operate on Billy Sunday’s philosophy: The Devil’s had it long enough, and quickly cash the check.” [link]

A 1997 Washington Post article by Marc Fisher and Jeff Leen fills in some details:

Also in 1995, the Women’s Federation [for World Peace] made another donation that illustrates how Moon supports fellow conservatives. It gave a $3.5 million grant to the Christian Heritage Foundation, which later bought a large portion of Liberty University’s debt, rescuing the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Lynchburg, Va., religious school from the brink of bankruptcy.

Journalist Robert Parry, who first reported the bailout in I.F. Magazine, quoted an official with the Women’s Federation confirming that the $3.5 million was meant for “Mr. Falwell’s people.”

The Post has learned of more recent and direct financial support from Moon to Falwell. Last year, News World Communications, parent of the money-losing Times, lent $400,000 to Liberty at 6 percent interest, according to the promissory note.

Liberty University spokesman Mark DeMoss said the school was not aware of News World’s connection to Moon when it obtained the loan through a broker. “I’m not going to be pious and tell you we would have turned it down,” DeMoss said. “Because it was a business transaction, we probably would have moved forward even if Dr. Falwell or somebody in the organization knew who News World Communications was.” [link]

This looks bad, but I suppose in the mid-Nineties it’s possible that DeMoss’s characterization of the situation regarding the unnamed broker is plausible; it’s not like he could just Google “News World Communications,” etc. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that Moon thought he’d be buying influence with Falwell if the loan were being brokered anonymously.

I haven’t been able to source the Billy Sunday quote; author David L. Larsen credits it to Methodist evangelist Samuel Porter Jones [link], where it surfaces in a story about Jones taking a donation from a gambler.

Finally, the John W. Kennedy above is the same Christianity Today writer who wrote about various bloggers and their questions about Ergun Caner’s authenticity and honesty back in May [link].

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