A major figure in the Religious Right, Jerry Falwell was found unconscious in his office after breakfast this morning and was pronounced dead a few hours later at Lynchburg General Hospital. He had a recent history of heart problems.
Founder of the now defunct Moral Majority in the 1980s, Falwell was arguably one of the architects of what is now called the Religious Right in this country. He held a consistent and vocal anti-gay stance and XGW has had occasion to report on his views and actions a number of times over the years. Recently, however, he seemed to change direction a bit on equality and basic rights for gays and lesbians.
The Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, was once associated with Falwell as a ghost writer among other things. He has devoted a great deal of time and effort into convincing Falwell to change his anti-gay views, as he remembered Falwell changing his anti-civil rights stance for African Americans decades before. Now we will never know how far this change of heart may have gone.
It is unknown who will replace Falwell in his ministry leadership position.