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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Falwell Takes a Backseat

After spending several hundred thousand dollars and 18 months getting prepared, the American evangelist Jerry Falwell found himself upstaged by the Russian Orthodox Church.


Organizers had predicted a turnout of several thousand people last weekend at Moscow's Olympic Stadium to hear Falwell preach. They had distributed some 3 million books in advance to Moscow residents and handed out a further 80,000 Russian-langauge papers to trainee preachers.


In the end, nearly 8,000 people did turn up, but Falwell was only one of a number of speakers at a ceremony to honor the memory of the Russian Orthodox priest Alexander Men, murdered four years ago.


"I came here to pay respect to Alexander Men who is the conscience of our Church and the Russian people," said Klavdia Sorokina, 63, a pensioner. "I know nothing about any protestant organization."


Falwell addressed the crowd for some 10 minutes, but few appeared to be paying attention. A huge illuminated screen above the stadium did not even show his name as he was speaking, but merely described him as "an American evangelist."