Killinger took his first pastorate at the First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, a small city that Jerry Falwell had put on the map. Arriving there in 1980, Killinger felt obliged to speak out against the rise of the religious right because of its distortion of the gospel, but also because people in his own congregation were under Falwell’s sway. Killinger tried not to attack Falwell personally, yet when Falwell became aware of Killinger’s challenges he struck back. Killinger received death threats, he was sure his telephone line was tapped, some of his mail was diverted to Falwell’s Liberty University, his garbage was raided, and he and other Falwell opponents in Lynchburg were repeatedly harassed by the Internal Revenue Service during the Reagan administration. Killinger and Falwell eventually became acquainted, but they never were able to discuss theology.