Tennesseans React To Falwell's Death

Televangelist and conservative leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell died at a Virginia hospital. (Click here to watch the NewsChannel 5 Video of this story)

Falwell was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University, a Christian liberal arts college he founded in Lynchburg, Va.

Falwell, who was also founding pastor of Lynchburg's Thomas Road Baptist Church, suffered from a heart rhythm abnormality. His wife and two of his three children with him at Lynchburg General Hospital at the time of his death, according to a news release posted at the Liberty University Web site.

Tennesseans such as the Rev. Dr. Jerry Sutton, senior pastor of Nashville's Two Rivers Baptist Church, remember Falwell as someone who deeply loved God.

The Southern Baptist pastor and historian said Falwell's heart's desire was "to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ and you didn't have to talk to him long before he made that the subject of conversation."

Sutton said Falwell loved his family, his God and education.

Falwell was pastor of Thomas Road for more than 50 years. In 1971, Falwell established Lynchburg Baptist College, which later became Liberty University.  Falwell, who was also chancellor, put thousands of students through college by giving scholarships. Many people recognize the school as the nation's largest evangelical university.

His religious services broadcast on television became known as "The Old Time Gospel Hour," which was

He was credited for helping elect President Ronald Reagan. He was also credited with empowering conservatives in the 80's to become more politically active through the Christian advocacy group, the Moral Majority he established in 1979. The Moral Majority disbanded in 1989. Three years ago, he created another political activist group called the Faith and Values Coalition.

Falwell also caused controversy by making sharp comments about Jews, Muslims and homosexuals.

"He said a lot of nasty things about us during AIDS," said Joe Brant, columnist for "Out and About", a publication that caters to the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual communities. "He said a lot of bad things about us after Sept. 11.

But I'm just of that generation that kind of found him to be so far to the right that you didn't really offer a lot of credibility."

Falwell is survived by his wife, Macel Pate Falwell, and their three children: Jerry Falwell Jr.; Jonathan Falwell; and Jeannie Falwell Savas.

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