Television evangelist Falwell dies at 73
UPDATE: The AP is now reporting that Falwell has died. We'll keep an eye on this as more info becomes available.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell was hospitalized in “gravely serious” condition after being found unconscious Tuesday in his office at Liberty University, a school executive said.
Ron Godwin, the university's executive vice president, said Mr. Falwell, 73, was found unresponsive around 10:45 a.m. and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. Mr. Godwin said he was not sure what caused the collapse, but he said Mr. Falwell “has a history of heart challenges.”
“I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast,” Mr. Godwin said. “He went to his office, I went to mine, and they found him unresponsive.”
Mr. Godwin said Mr. Falwell was receiving emergency care. A hospital spokeswoman said she had “no information to release at this time.”
Mr. Falwell, a television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority, became the face of the religious right in the 1980s. He later founded the conservative Liberty University and serves as its president.
and from CTV
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, a television evangelist who became the face of the religious right in the 1980s, died on Tuesday. He was 73.
Falwell was found unconscious at his office in Liberty University at about 10:45 a.m., a school executive said.
He was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, the university's executive vice-president Ron Godwin told The Associated Press.
Rev. Jerry Falwell, a four-star general in the Religious Right's culture wars and a televangelist whose Moral Majority group forged conservative Christians into a formidable political force, died Tuesday after collapsing in his office in Lynchburg, Va.
Falwell, an influential man with a booming voice and a penchant for provocative statements, was 73. Speaking at a news conference, Falwell's personal cardiologist, Dr. Carl Moore, said Falwell had suffered from heart problems and likely had died from cardiac arrhythmia, a heart rhythm abnormality that occurs without warning.
Founder and pastor of Lynchburg's Thomas Road Baptist Church for more than 50 years, Falwell played a major role in taking evangelism from the revival tent to the television screen to a prominent seat at the table of national politics. He achieved national stature -- as well as the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines -- for spurring conservative Christians into political action beginning with his founding of the Moral Majority in 1979, a development that helped propel Ronald Reagan into the White House
Falwell's Death Draws Mixed Editorials
The death Tuesday of conservative minister Jerry Falwell, who led the rise of Christian politics, but sparked controversy with his anti-gay and anti-liberal comments, drew mixed reactions on editorial pages today as some papers sought to point out his successes, while others called him a divider and an exploiter.
While The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times or USA Today did not offer editorials on his death, a string of other dailies weighed in, from Maryland to California.
The News & Advance of Lynchberg, Va., where Falwell's Liberty University is located, praised the late leader, calling him "a minister who loved the Lord and took seriously Christ's admonition to carry the Gospel to the four corners of the globe." The paper also devoted its entire front page to Falwell's death, with more than four pages of inside coverage.
"Falwell was determined to counter what he saw as a coarsening of American culture with a message calling the country back to its faith, the faith of a simpler time from his days growing up in the Brookville section of Campbell County," the editorial stated."
By contrast, the more liberal San Francisco Chronicle, while noting Falwell's impact and political power, stressed his use of faith to counter progressive beliefs.
"Falwell ... knew how to exploit the growing power of television to expand his ministry by reaching out to new audiences. His rise as a political force in the 1980s, however, came through his adeptness at identifying and exploiting cultural and religious divisions," a Chronicle editorial stated. "Over time, Falwell marginalized himself with his over-the-top statements, such as his contention that purple-clad TV character Tinky Winky was a gay role model and morally damaging for kids. Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, Falwell suggested that abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU, liberals and others who tried to 'secularize America" had made God angry and had "helped this happen.' He later apologized."