Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University in Virginia was found unconscious in his campus office Tuesday by members of his staff, who tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him. Falwell had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality, said Dr. Carl Moore, his physician.
But Falwell’s views, sometimes outlandish, turned off many, including fellow Christian conservatives. Falwell suggested in 1999 that Tinky Winky, a purse-carrying “Teletubbies” character on TV, was gay.
Shortly after September 11, 2001, Falwell blamed America’s lack of morality for the terrorist attacks:
“The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ ”
When HIV came, he thought it was God’s retribution to gay men.
His political and social agenda often took precedence over communicating the love of Christ, which is a minister’s first responsibility.