SOUTH Africa has become a cause c'el`ebre for the Rev. Jerry Falwell, a leader of the new religious right. Despite the criticism Dr. Falwell has gotten for defending South Africa's government, he has stood his ground.
``I see South Africa as probably the most crucial issue as far as America is concerned and free people around the world are concerned . . .,'' says Falwell.
``If South Africa falls to the Soviets, all of Africa will be gone permanently, like Eastern Europe.''
Falwell notes that right-wing, autocratic regimes frequently give way to democratic movements -- as in Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and most recently, the Philippines.
``Unfortunately, no Marxist regime, regardless how weak -- like Poland -- ever gives way to democracy,'' he says. ``I think that to know Christ is to be free. . . . He himself said, `Ye shall know the truth,' speaking of himself, `and the truth shall make you free.'
``The very dynamic of Marxism-Leninism is slavery.''
US conservatives have been staunch supporters of aid to Israel, which they see as a bastion against Soviet encroachment in the Mideast.
Falwell also quotes the Bible on the subject of Israel. He notes God's covenant to Abraham in Genesis: ``I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.'' Says Falwell: ``I disagree always with anything that might compromise the safety and security of Israel.''
As for South Africa, Falwell says its loss would force the US to ``buy our basic mineral necessities from the Soviet Union [the USSR and South Africa are the major sources of a number of critical minerals]. The sea lanes around the Cape, which carry 90 percent of NATO's oil, would be lost.''
Falwell declares: ``I don't know anyone who does not want an end to apartheid.''
However, South Africa must be moved toward reform with without pushing that country ``into a collapse,'' he argues.