Jerry Falwell passes
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. evangelist Jerry Falwell, a leader of the religious right who battled in the political arena against abortion and homosexuality, died on Tuesday at age 73.
Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority as a conservative political force in 1979, was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was taken to a nearby hospital. He had a history of congestive heart problems.
Falwell had no heartbeat when he was found by colleagues at around 11:30 a.m., Dr. Carl Moore, his personal physician, said. He could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead just over an hour later, Moore told a news conference.
Falwell was one of the most prominent figures in the religious right, a powerful movement that seeks to redraw public policy in the United States along evangelical Christian lines.
Fond of quipping that the Bible referred to "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve", Falwell provoked a storm of protest when he said gays, lesbians and health workers who provide abortions were partly to blame for the September 11 attacks.
"I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians ... all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen," he said.
For decades, Falwell had been an influential conservative voice in politics.
Falwell founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church in his hometown of Lynchburg in 1956. He went on to found Liberty University in 1971 -- a conservative centre of higher learning -- and in 1979 started the Moral Majority organization, which became a major vehicle for getting out the vote for the Republican Party.
He disbanded the Moral Majority in 1989 but it was resurrected as The Moral Majority Coalition, with an explicit political purpose, after President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; - Matthew, 5:44