Jerry Falwell (1933–2007)
Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority and Liberty University died on 15 May.
One of America’s leading Fundamentalists, Falwell began his work at Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1956, transforming an abandoned bottling plant into what today is the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church. During the same period his Old time gospel hour expanded to appear on national television.
Some 7700 students attend Liberty University, which he opened in 1971 as Liberty Baptist College. A network of Christian elementary schools, homes for unwed mothers, and a treatment centre for alcoholics also owe their origin to Falwell.
During the 1970s, Falwell was one of many conservative Christians who entered the political arena and in 1979, the Moral Majority, with about six million activists, emerged under his leadership.
Following the Jim Bakker scandal, Falwell stepped in to resolve disputes and restore public confidence in television evangelism. Similarly, he became a unifying figure in both the Southern Baptist and Bible Baptist communities.