A quick chronology:
1977 – Jerry Falwell founds the Moral Majority
1977 – 1.31 million abortions performed in the U.S.
2006 – 1.29 million abortions performed in the U.S. 
2007 – Jerry Falwell dies
Yes, I’ve heard the old saw about lies, damned lies, and statistics as well. But in this case the numbers surely tell us something. And it must be stated at the outset of any overview of the life of the recently deceased Reverend Jerry Falwell that the cause for which he labored so passionately was an abject failure. In terms of effecting social change, it simply didn’t work. It didn’t work in 1977, and it didn’t work in 2006. It didn’t work much in between, either, in the years when the Republican Party that Jerry Falwell championed controlled the White House for 20 of the past 28 years.
In the middle – in the thirty years that that admittedly skewed chronology skips over – was a life. It was a life characterized by private grace and public pugnaciousness, one of the many conundrums that those who seek to understand this complex man will need to address. Falwell was capable of blaming "the pagans, the abortionists, the feminists, and the gays and lesbians” for the September 11th attacks, and of labeling warnings about global warming as "Satan's attempt" to turn the church's attention from evangelism to environmentalism. He could also be generous with his time and money, and gracious to those with whom he disagreed. The Rev. Al Sharpton and pornographer Larry Flynt called him friend, a fact so startling that it should give pause to those of us in the Church family who disliked him. He started with a tiny congregation and turned it into a megachurch and multimedia conglomeration. He founded a thriving Christian college. And he very nearly singlehandedly lit the fire under the dormant derriere of the evangelical church and caused it to rise from its private, pietistic stupor and to scream out in pain and cultural indignation. There is much to admire. But oh, that cultural indignation.
The language that he used in his public pronouncements – that of the warrior, the battlefield, the crusade, the myriad enemies – tells us a lot about his worldview. For Jerry Falwell, the “world” wasn’t the field of lost souls, the unharvested crops waiting to be loved unconditionally into the Kingdom of God. The “world” was the adversary, full of secular humanists and relativists opposed to eternal truth, butchers and baby killers, queers and godless liberals. And if Jerry Falwell never abandoned the language of the evangelist, his was an evangelism by eradication.
Early on he crawled in bed with the Republican Party, and persuaded millions of other evangelical Christians to play the whore. It’s nothing personal, you Republicans. I would say the same thing if Jerry had crawled in bed with the Democrats. Predictably, the Republican Party used him, tossed him a few dollars every once in a while, and conveniently ignored him. Look at those abortion statistics again. This is Jerry Falwell’s great failure; his inability to differentiate between God’s eternal truths and the inevitable compromises and concessions that come with any political party bent on power and its own perpetuation. Jerry certainly read the Bible, and quoted from it liberally, ironically enough. Sadly, he never seemed to read the whole Bible, and he missed the parts about caring for the poor and oppressed, about sitting down and reasoning together, about a gentle answer turning away wrath.
And now he is gone. I couldn’t stand the man, although I admit my grudging admiration for some of the things he accomplished. He stood for some things that were right, and he stood for some things that were wrong, but at least in his public life he mostly stood up and yelled shrilly. For what it’s worth, I have the same tendencies. Speaking the truth in love is the damndest thing, and I frequently fall on one side or the other, and often enough fail at both. I suspect he was a great man, in both the great good and the great evil he accomplished. God grant him peace and eternal life. I hope and I pray that I am nothing like him, and I see every day how much I follow in his footsteps.
 National Right to Life Website