Falwell Labels Bishop Tutu a ‘Phony’

Times Staff Writer

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, on Tuesday branded South African Bishop Desmond Tutu a “phony” as the conservative television minister and others launched a lobbying drive to block proposed U.S. economic sanctions against the white-minority Pretoria government.

At the same time, right-wing fund-raiser Richard A. Viguerie announced that he is organizing a telephone and direct-mail campaign on behalf of the Conservative Caucus to prevent sanctions legislation now before the Senate from becoming law.

Falwell, who returned Tuesday from a five-day trip to South Africa, pledged to promote more American investment there--contrary to the growing demand that U.S. banks and communities divest themselves of shares of companies doing business in the white-ruled nation. Both Falwell and Viguerie, however, maintained that they oppose apartheid, the Pretoria regime’s policy of racial separation.


House Approval Voted

The sanctions measure, which mandates several actions designed to indicate American displeasure with apartheid and the state of emergency declared last month by South African President Pieter W. Botha, has already been approved by the House and is pending in the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily after Congress’ summer recess ends in September.

Both Falwell and Viguerie--who estimated that their lobbying drives could cost more than $1 million each--asserted that restricting U.S. economic ties to Pretoria would only backfire, hurting black workers most while destabilizing the South African government.

“We see it as a fight between communism and freedom,” Viguerie said in an interview. “The idea that this (sanctions) is about ending segregation is nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Falwell contended that Tutu, a black Anglican bishop at the center of the current South African campaign against apartheid, has been rejected as a spokesman by most blacks. Tutu--who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent opposition to apartheid and white rule--has warned that a continuation of apartheid will lead to escalating violence.

“If Bishop Tutu maintains that he speaks for the black people of South Africa, he is a phony,” Falwell declared. He said that blacks he met during his trip urged more, rather than less, American economic involvement in their country.

American Blacks Furious

Some U.S. black leaders expressed outrage at Falwell’s lobbying plans and at his attack on the Nobel Prize winner. Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.), a co-sponsor of the sanctions bill and, like Falwell, a Baptist minister, said he is “ashamed and embarrassed” by the conservative religious leader’s remarks.


And the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, likened Falwell’s tactics to those employed in the 1950s and 1960s by Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace and other avowed segregationists who then opposed the U.S. civil rights movement.

“What Mr. Falwell has done has placed himself with the immoral minority,” Lowery remarked.

President Reagan has criticized the notion of sanctions but has refused to indicate whether he will veto the sanctions bill. The measure bars new U.S. bank loans to the South African government, bans American computer sales to many South African government agencies and halts imports into this country of gold Krugerrand coins, a major source of foreign exchange for Pretoria.

TV Blitz Planned

Falwell said he will kick off his anti-sanctions campaign with a nationwide telecast Sunday that will include an interview with Botha. He said he will also seek an audience with Reagan to urge a veto and then will press congressmen and senators to uphold it.

In addition, he said his followers will be urged to buy more Krugerrands, support American companies that maintain South African interests and boycott firms that disinvest.