From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
The Rice of Life

January 13, 2005 7:24 AM

Jerry Falwell is raising $100,000 for a rice and gospel aid trip to India and Sri Lanka. $25,000 for 80 tons of rice, and $75,000 for travel, medical supplies, and "printing and distribution of Gospel literature."

The relief effort will be filmed for broadcast to Falwell's syndicated and satellite television audiences, and is the start of a broader effort over the coming years to flood the zone with mission trips to Asia.

More from the archive in Tragedy.

The Rice of Life (01.13.2005)

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Read the 17 comments.


The article you linked to makes no mention at all of:
A. The amount to be raised
B. The breakdown of expenditures
C. Any upcoming "flood[ing]the zone" - a particularly repellent metaphor when it refers to the area devastated by this tsunami.

If Fox posted something this misleading and unsubstantiated and tasteless you and your (really, really obsessed) folks at NewsHounds would be all over it....

Thu Jan 13 2005 11:17 AM

Jim Gilliam:

The facts were all in the email newsletter Falwell sends out, which he doesn't post on his web site. He didn't use the term "flood the zone" -- I made that up.

Thu Jan 13 2005 12:16 PM

Jim Gilliam:

Here is the full text of the newsletter:


Falwell Confidential
Insider weekly newsletter to The Moral Majority Coalition and The Liberty Alliance

Date: January 12, 2005
From: Jerry Falwell


As you are well aware, more than 158,000 (and counting) lives were lost in the recent Tsunami tragedy in places like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. Many more victims of this killer wave have lost family members and loved ones or are homeless and facing starvation. Hundreds of thousands are in dire need of medical attention and personal counseling. And in this heavily Muslim part of the world, millions have never even heard of Jesus Christ.

Liberty University is sending a team into this flood ravaged area in the next few days. We will be delivering 80 tons (10 truckloads) of rice plus medical supplies. Relief efforts are being organized using hundreds of local Christian workers. In addition we will be presenting the Gospel to tens of thousands of persons through distribution of Gospel tracts written in the native languages of the area.

Each 8- ton truckload of rice will feed 1,000 families two meals a day for one week, meaning that our 10 truckloads will enable us to feed a total of 10,000 families (about 50,000 people) twice daily for a week.

This is especially critical in these immediate days following the tsunami as existing food sources for many towns and villages have been totally disrupted.

Each truckload will cost us $2,500 for a total cost of $25,000.

If you can pay for one truckload of rice -- enough to feed 1,000 families for a week -- I urge you to make a tax-deductible $2,500 gift today to Liberty University Foundation, either by putting your gift on your credit or debit card through our secure online website or by calling our office toll-free at 1-800-368-3801.

A gift of $250 will pay for 10 percent of a truckload and will feed 100 families two meals a day for a week. A gift of $125 will provide meals for 50 families for a week. Even a gift of $25 will mean that 10 families will not go hungry for a week.

If you prefer to send your gift by U.S mail, please write to: Jerry Falwell Ministries, Tsunami Emergency Relief, Lynchburg, VA 24514. Make your tax-deductible check payable to Liberty University Foundation.

To make your online gift now using your credit or debit card, please visit our secure website set up for our Liberty Tsunami Relief Efforts at

Dr. Jerry Spencer, Liberty's Director of International Crusades, will be leading this team to India, Sri Lanka and other areas that have been decimated by the tsunami catastrophe. Dr. Spencer has been conducting relief missions and preaching the Gospel in Third World nations for 30 years. He will be joined on this mercy mission by Dr. Eddie Pate, professor of missions at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. A Liberty Broadcasting Network camera team will also accompany the team to record the relief efforts. Our ultimate purpose for this first mission is to set the stage for many other missions trips to this Asian region by hundreds of Liberty students in the months to come.

As we prepare to send this team into this flood and diseased-ravaged area, I ask for your prayers for protection for all who are traveling and for the success of this mission.

In addition to the emergency delivery of the 80 tons of rice, we must also must raise funds for travel, medical supplies and printing and distribution of Gospel literature. A total of $100,000 must be raised within the next two weeks.

I urge you to make your gift of $2,500, $250, $125, or even $25 today. Use your debit or credit card to make your gift through our online secure server at:

In appreciation for your gift, and to show you firsthand the vital work that is being done, I will send you the video documentary that will be produced by our own LBN camera crew on either DVD or VHS videotape. (Indicate your preference of VHS or DVD on our secure website where comments are requested... or tell my assistant at 1-800-368-3801 during office hours.)

Thank you for your generous support

Thu Jan 13 2005 12:19 PM


I'm all for spreading the Gospel (in a respectful, non-condemning manner), but I can't help but feel a little suspicious at the combination of food + religion. I know people rely on God in times of need (as I do at times)... it's just I think people should accept God whole-heartedly and not because they're in a horrible situation.

It's giving me the same feeling I had when I saw Ricky Martin over in Phucket, Thailand on TV. There's just something wrong about it...

Fri Jan 14 2005 5:12 PM


Finally, Jerry Falwell is doing something unquestionably Christian for a change. Good for him. Now, if only he doesn't mess it up with some of his outrageous pronouncements....

Sat Jan 15 2005 4:06 PM

Tom from Madison:

I applaud the effort of anyone who is getting food to people who need it.

That said, I suspect that Falwell is siezing this opportunity to engage in a spiritual conquest. Afterall, Jerry Spencer's title is "Director of International Crusades".

There is a cultural arrogance in assuming that because these people are non-Christian they must somehow be in need of conversion or enlightenment. Barabara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" illustrates this point eloquently.

The religion practiced by many of the Tsunami victim families is one of their greatest assets. Real charity would look to build on their spritual foundation, not replace it.

Sun Jan 16 2005 7:15 AM


"There is a cultural arrogance in assuming that because these people are non-Christian they must somehow be in need of conversion or enlightenment."

I agree, and not even in terms of the tsunami victims, but just in general. That "cultural arrogance" has a proper term (that I love using): ethnocentrism. I find that it's the cause of a lot of problems, in my opinion.

Sun Jan 16 2005 1:12 PM

Tom from Madison:

The political right in the US seem to have run away from "cultural diversity" as a concept to be embraced. Jerry Falwell and company have a very ethnocentric perspective. They seem to be devoid of intellectual curiosity concerning other peoples, preferring to convert rather than to accept and understand.

Discussion of cultural differences should be given weight--especially in matters of foreign policy. Unfortunately President Bush appears to have littel understanding or concern for cultures different from his own. His political supporters, e.g. Falwell, seem to like it that way.

Sun Jan 16 2005 3:20 PM


You talk about Christianity and the religions of the peoples of South Asia as if they are the same: It's just religion. You speak as though Falwell is evengelising in order to increase his army or support, like some sort of political base??

It's very simple: Jesus Christ said "No one enters the Kingdom of Heaven but through me." Jesus excluded every other way to Heaven but Himself. So Christians see the religions of Asia (Buddism, Taoism, Hindi, etc) as a path to Hell, unless these people turn to Christ. What better opportunity to share Christ with these people than through disaster relief. Show these people that are brought to their knees that you really care for them and their souls! The World hates Christ becaue he was exclusivist. He's the only way, and the world hates that kind of thinking.

Falwell doesn't look down on these people; rather, he looks to them in an attempt to share with them the saving Grace that he knows.

If you saw someone that you knew were headed to disaster, wouldn't you try to help them as well in any way you could?

Sun Jan 16 2005 5:45 PM

Tom from Madison:


Jerry Falwell certainly doesn't speak for all Christians. There are many interpretations one may attach to every verse in the Bible including the one you quote.

I dispute the notion that Falwell knows these people are going to hell. He believes it. There is a huge difference.

What one believes is in the realm of faith. I feel very fortunate to have been born in America where religious freedom is the rule. We have no state religion. That's a very good thing.

There are many non-Blblical literalist Christians who don't subscribe to the "my way or the highway" theology touted by Falwell. Shelby Spong comes to mind. I have read several of his books and find his non-literalist Christianity very appealing. I recommend "Why Christianity Must Change or Die."

Falwell and the Virginia fundamentalists have a racist record worth acknowledging. Both Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's behavior in the early 1960s was shamefully racist. Their subsequent empire building was partially based on attracting financial donations from segrationists who didn't want their children to share public schools with Black children. Pat Robertson helped shut down public schools in parts of Virginia for several years rather than allow them to be integrated. Jerry Falwell was noted for his disdain of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Personally I'm much more comfortable knowing the just by their actions rather than by the theology to which they claim to subscribe.

Mon Jan 17 2005 6:21 AM


My point in all this is that most of the people here in the U.S. have the attitude that we do everything right and everyone else is doing things wrong. We need to get away from that mentality because it's very DANGEROUS and as Tom pointed out, horrible for foreign policy.

I know many fellow Christians that believe that if you don't believe in God, you're going to Hell. Simple as that. And even though it sounds like someone would be doing a non-believer a favor, it's almost insulting to tell someone of a different religion (or no religion) that basically "Hey, believe in this one God or else you're going to Hell." It tells them that whatever they believe in is wrong (or lack of belief), and that should never be the case, nor do we have the RIGHT to tell these people that, either. It's the job of a Christian to spread the Word, not to force it on them. You can help them all you want, but in the end it's THEIR decision. Turning to God shouldn't be about being saved, but accepting Him because you BELIEVE in Him and all that He's done (and will do) for you. If you're just in it cuz you don't want to go to Hell, you're in it for the wrong reason.

And I can say that Jerry Falwell doesn't speak for this Christian, either.

Mon Jan 17 2005 11:19 AM


I guess the conservatives should be more accepting like liberal comunist Maureen Dowd, it doesn't matter if you believe in in God, Christ, Heaven or Hell, or even how one lives their life. What does matter is how you voted in the last election - a vote for Bush sends you to Hell (or to a room with Air America piped in).

Shortly after the presidential election Maureen Dowd appeared on "The Chris Matthews Show". Dowd, pissing and moaning throughout the program about the voters recent rejection of the Democrat presidential candidate and social agenda gave this bizarre response when Matthews asked his guests to tell him something he didn't know.

"The Rapture is coming," Dowd told her host and fellow Democrat, and "you and I are going up," but "all these hypocritical conservatives" who want to tell everyone what to do are not.

Talk about a dangerous MENTALITY.

Mon Jan 17 2005 11:45 AM

Tom from Madison:


thanks for the very thoughtful post. There are obviously many ways to practice Christianity. I prefer the type that leads by example and keeps the money changers out of the temple.

...Somehow I think Maureen Dowd's point in bringing up the rapture is to question the moral authority of a policy that is killing tens of thousands of Iraqis while claiming to liberate them and doing it based on lies [e.g. WMDs].

She also effectively parodies the absurdity of literal Bible-based debate when it comes to foreign policy. If fact, there was little debate of ANY kind concerning the loss of innocent life in Iraq as a direct consequence of this war.

Bush didn't seem to have any problem ignoring the Pope's opposition to the Iraq War. In fact, many religious leaders opposed the Iraq invasion on moral grounds. Bush ignored all of them. It is disingenuous for the right to claim to have the moral high-ground when THEIR policies have killed so many innocent people in Iraq.

Mon Jan 17 2005 1:15 PM



Mon Jan 17 2005 2:27 PM

Tom from Madison:

Did anyone happen to see Bill O'Reilly's appearance on George Clooney's telethon for Tsunami relief? I understand Bill's appearance was brief. On the bright side, apparently nobody was told to "Shut UP!"

Mon Jan 17 2005 2:42 PM


"What does matter is how you voted in the last election - a vote for Bush sends you to Hell (or to a room with Air America piped in)."

So does that make it okay for someone to say that voting for Bush makes you a good Christian (as was mentioned in one of Jim's previous entries)?

Of course, if Dowd is as "nuts" as dhermesc makes her out to be, it's not like I'd be supporting her either cuz she wouldn't be any better than another Christian saying you'll go straight to Hell for not believing in God.

Didn't see good ol' Bill on that telethon, but I wonder what it would've been like... especially without this coined "shut up" phrase.

Mon Jan 17 2005 8:55 PM

Tom from Madison:


thanks for being rational. Our neo-con buddies seem to suggest that there are only 2 alternatives: Bush or Nutty Liberals. Obviously I disagree. I would suggest doing your own research regarding Maureen Dowd. She is on the neo-con hitlist of reporters / organizations / media organizations to attack.

I would ask readers to consider alternatives. Yes the New York Times has issues, but if you get your news from the New York Post you need serious help. Similarly, the Washington Post has some problems, but the Washington Times is controlled by Rev Moon. It's pure propoganda.

Our Neo-con friends seem to want to live in a country where there is no dissent. That strikes me as anti-American and anti-Democracy.

A questionning press is an important check to unfettered government power--Republican OR Democrat. The talk of an Iran invasion is truly chilling. America was not founded to be an empire. The "War on Terror" can't be used to justify another invasion. It is always a fair to question to ask "why we are going to war?" and to demand a reasonable answer.

Tue Jan 18 2005 9:23 AM

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