From its beginning four years ago, the Moral Majority has officially clothed itself in nonpartisan garb. In May, however, Jerry Falwell’s operatives were caught letting their Republican slip show by sending out an “urgent” mail-gram designed to disrupt the recent Democratic National Committee fundraising telethon.

“Please help!” the memo began. “Democratic National Committee [DNC] plans to use the telethon to raise between $8 and $10 million to elect liberal, anti-family, pro-homosexual, pro-nuclear freeze, pro-abortion candidates.” Falwell urged his troops to do three things: watch the telethon, call in to “let them know that you support the President and resent their slanted distortions,” and, incidentally, “send a gift of $15 to Moral Majority.” Ann Lewis, political director for the DNC, fielded calls in California during the telethon. “I received four hang-ups or anti-Democratic calls for every pledge,” she said. Computer records show this ratio was approximated across the country. Despite the interference, Lewis said the DNC raised more than $12 million—“more than any other single fundraiser.”

It is not known how many crank calls were incited by the Republican mailing to one million party members, and how many originated with Moral Majority’s list of 100,000 supporters.

“Many of us thought that dirty tricks were behind us,” Lewis said. “When an organization run by a minister deliberately and openly tries to practice sabotage against a political party, it is no wonder people are so cynical about politics and so reluctant to get involved.”

Moral Majority spokesman Cal Thomas is quick to point out, “We are not a Republican organization. A lot of conservative Democrats are with us.” The mailing, confined to states east of the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.