Falwell Invigorated by 2004 Election

Invigorated by what he calls the "greatest victory" in the history of the religious right, Rev. Jerry Falwell (search) says he is going to resurrect the Moral Majority (search) — the movement he started in the 1970s that some say led to the march of Christian soldiers to Washington.

"We just experienced the greatest conservative victory in American history — we have never had a victory like Nov. 2 — and it's the most dangerous time for our movement ever," the evangelical activist and pastor told FOXNews.com.

Falwell said the movement must now fight complacency in the face of looming battles over gay marriage and possible vacancies on the Supreme Court.

"We therefore will be pounding, pounding doors through the media and the pulpits of our churches for the next 48 months to make sure we don't get into trouble," he said.

But one Democratic insider says Falwell's often controversial and divisive presence on the Republican landscape may not be welcome.

"If he becomes the voice of the evangelicals, they've got big problems," said Democratic strategist Tom King, who called Falwell a lightning rod who wants to cash in on the acclaim given to "moral values voters" credited, in part, with re-electing President Bush.

"I think he wants to be part of the action, and in resurrecting himself, he is trying to do that," King said.

Conservatives who spoke with FOXNews.com disagreed, saying the more people who join in the movement, the more effective it will be.

"I'm more than happy that the Rev. Falwell reconstituted the Moral Majority coalition," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (search). "I think anything that can be done to keep up the resurgence of moral values voters is good for the country."

Falwell, 71, has a long religious, educational and political career that includes being the host of the longest running evangelical radio show, the Old-Time Gospel Hour (search), and the establishment of Falwell Ministries, the conservative Liberty University and the Thomas Road Baptist Church.

He began the Moral Majority in 1979 in order to energize Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals, who had previously shunned the political process.

"[In the 1970s] good Christians did not participate in politics," said long-time conservative activist, Richard Viguerie, who was there at the start of the organization, often meeting with religious leaders and activists in his home.

"But sometime in the mid-'70s, Dr. Falwell and other Protestant leaders stepped up and said ‘No, no, the government is going to take away freedom of religious worship and continue to move the country in a direction that we don't approve of, unless we step up and involve ourselves politically,'" Viguerie added.

Emboldened by what conservatives said was moral decay caused by counter-culture hubris and newly legalized abortion, Falwell's Moral Majority struck a nerve and sent conservatives flocking to the polls in 1980 to elect Ronald Reagan.

"It became a sea change in how Protestants saw how to solve the problems of the world," Viguerie said.

Falwell said today's Christian evangelicals are more politically involved than ever. "Today, it's hard to find a pastor who is not politically savvy or involved," he said.

The Moral Majority, which had built an impressive ideological organ of grassroots activism and direct-mail fundraising, disbanded in 1989, after religious conservatives saw Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, as lukewarm on their issues.

The "religious right" did not die down, however, and a new group of leaders, headed in part by the Christian Coalition (search), helped bring about the Republican Revolution (search) of 1994, achieving GOP majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in decades.

In 2004, President George W. Bush's re-election team was able to tap into growing concerns about gay marriage, abortion and religious freedom, and Christian conservatives responded accordingly, Falwell said.

The Lynchburg, Va., native nevertheless remains a serious target for people who do not share his brand of social conservatism. He has been called a bigot and homophobic, and he was harshly criticized last year when he called Islam's prophet Mohammed "a terrorist."

He was also forced to explain comments he made following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, in which he blamed liberal "secularists," including gays, lesbians and the American Civil Liberties Union (search), for making the United States a target for foreign terrorists. He said later that he didn't intend to place blame on anyone but the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"Jerry Falwell's negatives are higher than those of a car salesman," King said.

Richard Semiatin, professor of government for American University, said Falwell has "marginalized himself politically" during the years by his brand of over-the-top evangelical politics.

"He will be more of a hindrance than a help – that's the key," he said.

Comments like that don't bother Falwell. He said evangelical networks were widely responsible for helping place constitutional amendments barring gay marriage on 11 states' ballots. All of them passed, and some say were responsible for driving conservatives to the polls.

It's a strategy Falwell expects to employ again.

"Between now and '08, we are going to be putting on state ballots family initiatives and controversial initiatives to awaken our people out to the polls," he said, underscoring another main goal of the new Moral Majority – to elect a social conservative to succeed Bush in 2008.

"I want to see that red map on my wall get even redder," he said, referring to the color denoting Republican territory.

Falwell said he wants 1 million members on board by January, and while he insists the new Moral Majority does not need to fund-raise, the Web sites, www.faithandvalues.us and www.Falwell.com, are accepting donations.

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition, said Falwell's new endeavor is welcome, but it's not the only game in town.

"All Jerry Falwell is doing is starting another organization – it's not like the movement is monolithic," Combs said. "I think it's great, there's lots of room for a lot of organizations. There is a lot of work to do, but that doesn't mean there aren't already groups out there doing their job."