Visionary Founder of AFA, Rev. Dr. Donald Wildmon, Dies at 85

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James Lasher

Reverend Dr. Donald Ellis Wildmon, the influential founder of the American Family Association, passed away on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was 85. Wildmon battled Lewy Body Dementia courageously until the end, leaving behind a legacy of pro-family advocacy and Christian leadership.

Wildmon’s journey into activism began in 1977 when he, a pastor and father of four, took a stand against unbiblical content on television. His call to his family and congregation in Southaven, Mississippi, to turn off their television sets for a week gained local attention and soon captured the nation’s focus.

The American Family Association, birthed from Wildmon’s vision, became a powerful force addressing issues such as life, marriage, family and religious freedom. Under Wildmon’s guidance, AFA successfully spearheaded campaigns that influenced major corporate sponsors to distance themselves from explicit programming, prompting changes in their advertising policies.

The impact of Wildmon’s efforts extended beyond campaigns, as AFA became a prominent pro-family resource, including the establishment of the American Family Radio network in 1991, growing rapidly to encompass 200 stations. Today, AFA continues its mission under the leadership of President Tim Wildmon, the son of the late founder.

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AFA President Tim Wildmon reflected on his father’s legacy, stating, “My father was a man with great conviction and vision. He knew how important it was for Christians to remain firmly entrenched in their faith in the face of an openly immoral society, and he lived his life for the gospel every single day.”

Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi acknowledged Wildmon’s impact, praising his “impressive legacy of Christian ministry,” predicting it would endure for years to come.

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, paid tribute to Wildmon in a post on X, noting his remarkable impact on cultural forces. Perkins stated, “Don was a remarkable man who I had the privilege of working very closely with during my first decade at FRC. Don had the true heart of a servant.”

Wildmon is survived by his wife, Lynda, four children, six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, one sister, one sister-in-law and one brother-in-law. His commitment to Christian values and pro-family advocacy leaves an indelible mark on American society, and his memory will be cherished by those who knew him.

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James Lasher is Staff Writer for Charisma Media.

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