Rev. Jerry Falwell


The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Baptist preacher who founded the Moral Majority and Liberty University and led the religious-political conservative movement known in the 1970s and '80s as the New Right, died May 15. He was 73. Rev. Falwell, who had a history of heart problems, collapsed in his office at the university and was rushed to Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, where efforts to revive him failed. Born in Lynchburg, he was ordained a Baptist minister in 1956 and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church in his hometown. He soon started a half-hour radio broadcast, which grew by 1971 into a national television show with an audience estimated in the millions. In 1979 he formed the Moral Majority to reverse what he and many others saw as a growing immorality in American life, politics and public policy. The New Right or Religious Right, as it was also dubbed, was a loose coalition of conservatives, Catholic pro-family groups and fundamentalist evangelicals largely united around opposition to such things as abortion, pornography, homosexuality, the Equal Rights Amendment, gun control, sex education and the ban on school prayer, and around support for family values, strong national defense and arms superiority over the Soviet Union. The extent of the role it played in the rise of U.S. political conservatism and Republican Party political victories in the 1980s has been widely debated. Rev. Falwell's political influence peaked in the late 1980s, but he remained a notable public figure until his death. He is survived by his wife, Macel, and three children.



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