Guest / Limited Access /

Jerry Falwell, the conservative preacher whose television ministry helped fuel the rise of the Religious Right, died Tuesday, May 15, after being found unresponsive in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was 73.

Ron Godwin, an executive vice president at the university, said Falwell was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m. "He has had a history of heart problems," Godwin said in a news conference.

Dr. Carl Moore, a cardiovascular specialist, said Falwell was found "unconscious without a heartbeat" about 11:30 a.m. Efforts to resuscitate him in his office, in an ambulance, and at the hospital were unsuccessful.

Moore said Falwell had a cardiac arrhythmia—an irregularity in the heart's rhythm—that occurs "without warning and cannot be predicted."

Evangelist Billy Graham, in a statement, called Falwell "a close personal friend for many years. We did not always agree on everything, but I knew him to be a man of God."

For many, Falwell represented the public face of evangelical Protestantism, particularly its involvement in politics. Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 to lobby politicians to "reverse the politicization of immorality in our society," he said at the time.

By then, Falwell had already been a radio and television preacher for 20 years. He rode a politically conservative wave and used his television ministry as a platform to advance conservative causes, including voluntary prayer in public schools, opposition to abortion, and military strength.

"When most people think of the Christian Right, they think of the Moral Majority," said John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The Moral Majority was "an opportunity to ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueWhy Every Christian Should Be Ambitious
Subscriber Access Only Why Every Christian Should Be Ambitious
How drive and dogged pursuit are aspects of bearing God's image. An adapted excerpt from 'A Woman’s Place.'
RecommendedGender and the Trinity: From Proxy War to Civil War
Gender and the Trinity: From Proxy War to Civil War
An explainer: the latest complementarian debate isn't over women’s subordination—but Christ's.
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickGo Ahead, Evangelicals: Use the P-Word
Go Ahead, Evangelicals: Use the P-Word
Only some believers are ordained. But all are priests.
Christianity Today
Jerry Falwell, Architect of Religious Right, Dies at 73
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.