The Reverend Jerry Falwell, taking a break from his tour of battleground states, has urged members of a Central Texas congregation to get active in politics. "There's a revival sweeping our land," Falwell told several hundred people at Bannockburn Baptist Church on Sunday. "Our people are getting saved.... They're getting registered to vote, and they're voting Christian."
Falwell declared this summer in his weekly newsletter that the only candidate for "conservative people of faith" is President Bush. Falwell, whose conservative ministry is based in Lynchburg, Va., said that only Christian leaders will protect the United States from terrorism, abortion, and gay marriage. Falwell, who addressed an Austin church congregation two years ago, returned to Central Texas as a favor to the Reverend Ryan Rush, Bannockburn's senior pastor, who served under Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg.
Avoiding the endorsement of a candidate or party from the pulpit, Falwell did mention Republican Alan Askew, who is trying to unseat Democratic state representative Patrick Rose. The conservative pastor said he would vote for Askew, 29, if he lived in his district. Askew is a graduate of Falwell's Liberty University. His father, Neal Askew, serves on the school's board of trustees. Neal Askew had loaned or donated $341,000 to his son's campaign through September 23.
Alan Askew's wife was formerly Falwell's receptionist, and Rush is Neal Askew's son-in-law. "This boy's got moral values and Christian leadership on his heart," Falwell, describing Alan Askew, said in the Austin American-Statesman's online edition Monday. "Pray for him."
Falwell's political advocacy has prompted complaints from the Campaign Legal Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State that he improperly engaged in politics by endorsing Bush in a newsletter published on his Web site.