The Rev. Jerry Falwell and Americans United have tangled frequently over the years, and now AU is taking the fight to the Religious Right leader’s own door\xadstep.
The recently formed Lynchburg, Va., chapter of Americans United is on the march literally in Falwell’s hometown. The group held its first public event, a First Amendment march and rally, Oct. 1
Marchers gathered at the Lynchburg Public Library and, hoisting an AU banner, marched to nearby Miller Park for a rally and speech by the Rev. Dick Weston-Jones of Lynchburg’s First Unitarian Church. The 60 attendees waved signs supporting Americans United and church-state separation.
Prior to the march, Rick Howell, chapter president, told the Lynchburg News & Advance, “What we hope to do, first of all, is to let the city know we exist. Besides being the home of Jerry Falwell, Lynchburg is also the home of a group that will stand up and fight the Religious Right.”
The new Lynchburg AU affiliate, like similar chapters around the country, includes people of faith as well as those of no particular religion.
Chapter Treasurer Dave Burford told the newspaper, “We are absolutely patriotic. We love our country, and we’re not anti-religion.”
Lynchburg, a city of about 65,000 in central Virginia, is home to Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church and his Liberty University. Falwell has also announced plans to build a Christian school and retirement center in the area. Due to the number of local people Falwell’s enterprises employ, he has considerable influence in the area.
To find out if there is an Americans United chapter in your area or for information on forming one, visit www.au.org and click on the tab marked “Get Involved” or write to the AU Field Department at 518 C St., N.E., Wash\xadington, D.C. 20002.