The Rev. Dr. Donald Ellis Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association (AFA) and the American Family Radio network, died Dec. 28 in Tupelo, Mississippi, following a battle with Lewy Body Dementia. He was 85.
Wildmon, who was born in 1938 in Dumas, Mississippi, became an ordained United Methodist minister in 1964 after serving in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963. He received his Master of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in 1965.
He served various churches in Mississippi and Georgia until leaving the ministry in 1977 to found the National Federation for Decency, which later became the AFA, according to an obituary posted by the organization.
Wildmon founded the grassroots organization after growing alarmed at the increasingly questionable and unbiblical content on television. He drew national media attention for urging his congregation to turn it off for a week.
“The soft-spoken minister from a small-town church in Mississippi launched a far-reaching ministry that inspired millions to join their voices together on issues of ultimate consequence to our nation’s future — life, marriage and family, religious freedom, public policy, justice, and more,” his obituary reads.
Wildmon wielded his influence through his watchdog group to steer advertisers away from inappropriate TV programming and often appeared on prominent talk shows to promote Judeo-Christian values.
“Under his visionary leadership, AFA developed a broad range of resources, strategies, and media outlets aimed at promoting Christian values in all areas of public life,” AFA said.
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