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TV evangelist, Moral Majority founder and the granddaddy of all fundamentalists Jerry Falwell had breakfast this morning and by 10:45 AM, he was unconscious at his office in Liberty University. He was 73.
THE RELIGIOUS EMPIRE OF JERRY FALWELL
- 24,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia
- The "Old Time Gospel Hour" carried on TV stations around the country
- 7,700-student Liberty University in Lynchburg (founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971)
It was his Moral Majority that got millions of conservative voters registered, electing Ronald Reagan and giving Republicans Senate control in 1980. He was against abortion, homosexuality, pornography, stem-cell research and bans on school prayer.
He was on the cover of Time magazine on September 2, 1985. Thunder on the Right: The Growth of Fundamentalism
His book: Building Dynamic Faith (1995) by Dr. Jerry Falwell
In 1983, Hustler published a parody of a Campari ad, featuring a fake interview in which Falwell admits his "first time" was incest with his mother while drunk. Falwell sued for invasion of privacy, libel and emotional distress. A federal jury found the fake ad did not libel him and was not an invasion of his privacy, but did award him $200,000 for emotional distress. That verdict was overturned in a landmark 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that pornographic spoofs about a public figure enjoy First Amendment protection. The case was depicted in the Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love movie The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996).
In the wake of September 11, 2001, the Reverend blamed feminists, gays, lesbians and liberal groups for bringing on the terrorist attacks.
"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals."
— Jerry Falwell
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS
As a high-school student, Falwell was barred from giving the valedictorian's speech after he was caught using counterfeit lunch tickets his senior year. He ran with a gang of juvenile delinquents before becoming a born-again Christian at age 19.
In 1987, the blue-eyed preacher took over Jim Bakker's Praise the Lord ministry in South Carolina. Falwell slid fully clothed down a theme-park water slide when donors gave him the funds to rescue the organization. He gave it up seven months later after learning how deep PTL's financial problems were.
He wanted Liberty University to be to fundamentalist Christians what Notre Dame is to Roman Catholics and Brigham Young University is to Mormons.
In 1999, he said the Antichrist was a male Jew who was probably already alive.