Donald Ellis Wildmon (born January 18, 1938) is an ordained United Methodist minister, author, former radio host, and founder and chairman emeritus of the American Family Association and American Family Radio.
Life and career
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Wildmon was born in Ripley, Mississippi, the son of Johnnie Bernice (née Tigrett), a schoolteacher, and Ellis Clifton Wildmon, a civil servant. Wildmon graduated from Millsaps College in 1960. In 1961, he married Lynda Lou Bennett, with whom he has two sons and two daughters. From 1961 to 1963, he served in the U.S. Army. He gained his Master of Divinity (MDiv.) from Emory University's Candler School of Theology in 1965.
He was ordained as a minister of the United Methodist Church in 1964 and served as a pastor until 1977, when he left the pastoral ministry to campaign against pornography and violence in the media.
In June 1977, he moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, to establish the National Federation for Decency (NFD), the predecessor to the modern American Family Association, because after watching television one night in December 1976 he felt that no primetime television program was appropriate for his family with young children. With a membership of 1,400, NFD's first television advertiser boycott was during spring 1978 and against Sears for sponsoring All in the Family, Charlie's Angels, and Three's Company. Sears withdrew sponsorship of the latter two programs.
In February 1980, Wildmon founded the Coalition for Better Television (CBTV), this time with the help of Jerry Falwell and claiming a nationwide membership of 5 million. However, following a dispute with Falwell, the organization disbanded two years later. That same year, Wildmon formed a new organization, Christian Leaders for Responsible Television (CLEAR-TV).
Wildmon's son Tim is president of AFA and ran a news organization called Agape Press, which went offline in early 2007, when it merged with AFR News to create online newswire One News Now.
Campaign for Decency
Other productions and organizations against which he has campaigned include:
- Disneyland/Walt Disney World for not actively preventing LGBT community groups from hosting "gay days" at the park.
- The Last Temptation of Christ
- Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video
- Blockbuster Video for stocking NC-17 rated movies
- Howard Stern for discussing sexual topics on the radio
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures for allegedly showing the title character "snorting cocaine".
Up until mid-April 2007, Wildmon hosted the daily radio program AFA Report, which can be heard weekdays on AFR or anytime on AFR's website. Wildmon left the program because he felt he didn't have adequate time to prepare for it each day, and he needed more time to fulfill other duties. He returned to the program in late April 2008, after receiving letters from listeners asking for him to come back, and after expansions in staff and studio space allowed him more preparation time. In early September, however, Wildmon suddenly left the program once again, this time for undisclosed reasons. He also hosted My Turn with Don Wildmon, a short devotional segment, which no longer airs.
Damned in the USA
In 1991, the British film Damned in the USA, directed by Paul Yule, chronicled the battle between Wildmon and artists Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe. The documentary won the International Emmy for Best Documentary, amongst several other awards. Wildmon sued the producers for $8 million in damages after a distributor got the rights to show the film in the United States, stating that he had signed a contract with the producers that prevented distribution in the USA. A federal court found that Wildmon's contract did not support his claim concerning distribution of the film and the documentary was released in 50 cities nationwide.
Illness and retirement
On August 18, 2009, Tim Wildmon released the news via email that his father had been admitted to the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo over the weekend of August 15–16, with what was thought to be a serious case of meningitis. After running tests, however, doctors determined that he had St. Louis encephalitis, a disease usually contracted from mosquitoes. He spent 121 days in the hospital and rehab, and later underwent surgery for cancer on his left eye. On March 3, 2010, it was announced that Wildmon was stepping down as chairman of the American Family Association. His son Tim was expected to become the new chairman.
- Christian right
- Culture war
- Speechless: Silencing the Christians
- Mary Whitehouse, seen as the British equivalent to Wildmon.
- Chapman, R. (2010). Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 1–53. ISBN 9780765622501. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Ownby, Wilson, Abadie, Lindsey & Thomas (2017). The Mississippi Encyclopedia. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 1330. ISBN 9781496811592. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- Capace, N. (2001). Encyclopedia of Mississippi. Somerset Publishers. p. 321. ISBN 9780403096039. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Gale Research Inc (1989). Newsmakers. Gale Research. ISSN 0899-0417. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Donald Wildmon Archived November 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Limberg, Val E. "Wildmon, Donald". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- Winbush, Don (June 19, 1989), "Interview with Rev. DONALD E. WILDMON: Bringing Satan To Heel", Time, 133 (25), archived from the original on 2007-11-07,
I sat down one night to watch television with my family...Very shortly into the program, somebody was jumping into bed with somebody else's wife, a scene of adultery. Of course it was normal, approved -- you know, there was no kind of condemnation or showing it as being wrong...I got into another program, which we watched for five minutes or so, and the first thing I know, somebody has called somebody else an s.o.b., but they didn't use the initials. And I asked my children to change the channel again. This was in 1976, and we had three networks plus PBS. I got involved in a pretty good mystery, and all of a sudden the scene changed and one man has another man tied down and is working him over with a hammer. I asked the children to get up and turn the set off.
- "Three's Company". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- Clarke, Gerald (June 29, 1981), "Sanitizing the Small Screen", Time, 117 (26)
- "The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Encyclopedia of Television | Three's Company archives". museum.tv. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Koehler, Robert (September 10, 1992). "Wildmon Fails in Bid to Thwart Film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Donald Wildmon retires as Chairman of the American Family Association
- Wildmon, Donald E. (1975) Stand up to Life. Abingdon Press. ISBN 978-0-687-39290-2
- Wildmon, D. (1985) Home Invaders. David C. Cook Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-89693-521-1
- Wildmon, D. (1986) The Case Against Pornography. David C. Cook Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-89693-178-7
- Wildmon, D. (and Randall Nulton; 1989) Don Wildmon: The Man the Networks Love to Hate. Bristol Books. ISBN 978-0-917851-14-8
- Wildmon, D. (1997) Following the Carpenter: Parables to Inspire Obedience in the Christian Life. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-0-7852-7215-1
- Wildmon, D. (2009) Speechless: Silencing the Christians: How Secular Liberals and Homosexual Activists are Outlawing Christianity (and Judaism) to Force Their Sexual Agenda on America. Richard Vigilante Books. ISBN 0-9800763-3-1
- Friedeman, Matt. Wildmon, Donald E. (2001) In the Fight: A Mississippi Conservative Swings Back. Well Writers' Guild. ISBN 978-0-9711004-1-1