Evangelist Falwell dies after being found unconscious in office
Fundamentalist pastor and televangelist Jerry Falwell was found unconscious in his office today and rushed to a hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia, but later died, according to various media reports.
According to Ron Godwin, the executive vice president of Falwell's Liberty University, the evangelist - who "has a history of heart challenges" - was "unresponsive" when first found in his office around 10:45 AM.
Godwin told the Associated Press, "I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast. He went to his office, I went to mine and they found him unresponsive."
At around 1:30 PM, the Associated Press reported that the 73-year-old Falwell had passed away.
"In June 1979, Falwell organized the Moral Majority, a conservative political lobbying movement which the press soon dubbed the 'Religious Right,'" notes a biography at the Jerry Falwell Ministries website. "During the first two years of its existence, the Moral Majority attracted over 100,000 pastors, priests, and rabbis and nearly seven million religious conservatives who mobilized as a pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, and pro-strong national defense lobbying organization."
The biography continues, "Since 1979, about 30% of the American electorate has been identified by media polls as the "Religious Right". Most recent major media surveys have acknowledged that these "faith and values" voters re-elected George W. Bush in November 2004."
Through the years, Falwell has drawn criticism for various comments he made against gays and even victims of the September 11 attacks.
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America," Falwell said after 9/11, although he later apologized. "I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Falwell once also referred to AIDS as "the wrath of a just God against homosexuals."