AFA Founder Donald E. Wildmon Passes Away: ‘He Lived His Life for the Gospel’

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PHOTO: Donald Wildmon (Courtesy: American Family Association)

Rev. Dr. Donald Ellis Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association (AFA), died on Thursday, December 28, 2023, in Tupelo, Mississippi after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia. 

He was 85.

Wildmon is recognized as one of the leaders of American conservatism, and AFA was birthed out of his vision to see strong Christian leadership on the front lines of America’s culture war.

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The grassroots organization began in 1977 when Wildmon, who was a pastor and father of four young children, became alarmed with unbiblical content on television. He turned it off and encouraged his church in Southaven, Mississippi, to turn their television sets off for a week. 

Wildmon’s challenge to his family and his church hit the local media, and that effort soon drew national attention.

Wildmon then launched his ministry that inspired millions to join their voices together on issues such as life, marriage, family, and religious freedom. 

Under his national influence and ability to generate grassroots activism, Wildmon led several successful campaigns to help guide major corporate sponsors away from obscene programming, ultimately leading them to change their advertising policies. 

Since then, AFA has been a popular resource for promoting Christian values including the American Family Radio network, which began in 1991 and grew quickly to 200 stations. 

Today, AFA is led by President Tim Wildmon, Don’s son, and remains one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country.

“My father was a man with great conviction and vision,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “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.”

“His heart for Christ and his passion for the American family will be sorely missed, but we on Earth can take comfort in knowing that he is at peace with his Heavenly Father, hearing the words, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,'” he continued. 

Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves praised Wildmon’s impact on X, writing, “His impressive legacy of Christian ministry will live on for many years to come.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also paid tribute to Wildmon.  

He wrote on X, “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.  He wasn’t fazed by criticism because he was not interested in the accolades of man; he was focused on making sure the cultural forces of the country didn’t prevent or inhibit the saving message of the Gospel…I am thankful for godly men like Don Wildmon.”

A memorial service for Wildmon was held on December 30, 2023. 

He is survived by his wife, Lynda, as well as four children, six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, one sister, one sister-in-law, and one brother-in-law.

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